Charron History

Note: Not all of this is a part of my lineage, but the information was interesting. My lineage is identified below.

The castle of Ménars attests to the prestige of the Charrons

It has been noted that, when it comes to family names, some of these result from the individual's trade or profession. It could easily be guessed that this is the case for the name Charron, since they were builders of charrettes (carts or barrows) who, in time, came to specialize in the production of wheels.

Most pioneers in New France were from working-class families. One of the three Charrons who came to us during the seventeenth century, however, belonged to a more prestigious line.

The Charrons who lived on the banks of the Loire River were wine-growers. Jehan Charron, born at the very beginning of the sixteenth century, cultivated a vine arbour at Montlivault, close to Blois. He had two sons, Baptiste and Guillaume. Although the first chose his father's trade, the second wanted to raise himself to the aristocracy. Good fortune crowned his efforts, and he was able to buy the seigneury of Ménars, quickly replacing the modest country house which existed on the site with an elegant château in the style of Louis XIII. The château still exists today, and constitutes the central element of the current building.

If, from Orléans, you take the N152, which runs parallel to the right bank of the Loire, you will reach Beaugency (25 km) then Mer (13 km), before arriving at Ménars (10 km). You are now no more than 8 km from Blois.

Guillaume Charron expanded his domain by the acquisition of lands he obtained upon his elevation to viscount. His nephew and heir, Jean-Jacques Charron, would make it into a marquisate. Jean-Jacques would go on to become the most illustrious member of the family: his sister, Marie, married none other than Jean-Baptiste Colbert — the future minister of the Sun King, Louis XIV — and Jean-Jacques himself became president of the Paris parliament. Furthermore, not only did his château at Ménars receive important additions, it also received important guests, including the father-in-law of . . . Louis XV: Stanislas Leszczynski, the King of Poland-in-exile, who made his summer residence there for five years. In 1760, when New France was reeling from the after-effects of the Seven Years War, the château of Ménars passed into the hands of Mme de Pompadour, the favourite of Louis XV. In the Mémoires of the Société généalogique canadienne-française, Élisabeth Revai has penned a very interesting article on this family (vol. XIV, p. 215).

But this munificence did not necessarily benefit all members of the extended family. Claude Charron, a second cousin to Jean-Jacques, decided try his luck in New France. Born in Blois in 1622, he married in 1649, in the Sainte-Solenne church of that town, Claude Camus.

If you go to Blois, don't search for this church in its original form, because it was destroyed in 1678 by a tornado. Thanks to Colbert, it was rebuilt between 1679 and 1702, and was dedicated to Saint-Louis. The episcopal seat of Blois was created during the work, in 1697, and the church became a cathedral. In 1928, a crypt dating from the tenth and eleventh centuries was brought to light: a remnant of the church where Claude Charron married Claude Camus in 1649.

Claude Charron undoubtedly came to New France a little after his marriage, because the Journal des Jésuites tells us that on April 29, 1653, in his house at Île d'Orléans, he was wounded in the throat by a pistol shot fired by two servants who attempted to assassinate him. One of the servants was hanged; the other escaped the noose by accepting the post of hangman!

Claude Charron, who took the nickname La Barre, became one of the colony's most important merchants. His wife bore him six children, of which one, named Jean-François, also a merchant, founded the order of the Hospitaliers de la Croix et de St-Joseph, as well as the Hôpital général de Montréal.

But the most prolific of the Charrons to come to New France during the seventeenth century was Pierre Charron dit Ducharme, originally from Meaux, in Champagne. In 1665 at Montreal, he married Catherine Pillat of La Rochelle; she bore him 12 children, all of whom married. In 1697, Pierre, who had been named for his father, married Madeleine Robin: 11 children, of which five were sons. Two years later, Nicolas founded a household with Marie-Madeleine Viau: 15 children, of which 11 were sons. Finally, in 1711, Jean set his heart on Madeleine Guertin: nine children, of which three were sons. The Charron daughters were also richly blessed with children. Catherine married François Chagnon (1679); Marie-Charlotte, Claude-Louis Lemaire (1686); Antoinette, Pierre Goguet (1686); Thérèse, Jacques Hubert (1689); Catherine, Guillaume Adam (1701); Hélène, Charles Édeline (1701); Louise, Michel Colin (1703); and Marie-Jeanne, François Bouteille (1706). It was at Longueuil that the patriarch Pierre Charron raised his numerous family.

~~~~~~~~ My Lineage ~~~~~~~~

The other pioneer to arrive during the seventeenth century — with the given name Jean, and known as Laferrière — was from Saintes. In 1669 at Quebec City, he married Anne d'Anneville, daughter of Brice d'Anneville and Marguerite Roy, and widow of Antoine Filion. He was a tool-maker, and belonged to the Company of La Fouille of the Carignan Regiment. Nine children were born of this union, of which five were daughters. Four of these founded households: Jacqueline with Antoine Plumeteau (1687), Marie-Anne with Joseph Charpentier (1689), Geneviève with François Bienvenu (1701) and Marie-Madeleine with Michel Chabot (1703). Of the four sons, the genealogical dictionaries mention only one who married: Jean-Baptiste, in 1710, to Geneviève Dupil, who also gave him nine children, of which one was a son.

We should also mention two other pioneers who arrived during the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Charles Charron dit Larose et Cabanac was originally from the parish of Saint-Aignan, Chartres. At Montreal, in 1713, he married Élisabeth Poupard, daughter of René Poupard and Marie Gendron, who bore him ten children, of which five were sons. This couple figures among the pioneers of Verchères.

Finally, there is mention the stonemason Martial Charron, originally from the parish of Saint-Pierre in Bordeaux, son of a master in the art of slate roofing. He signed a marriage contract with Marie-Catherine Cavelier, daughter of a soldier of the Dumesnil Regiment, but instead chose Marie-Anne Vacher dite Laserte. The marriage remained without issue.

— Robert Prévost, Éditions Libre Expression