According to Placide Gaudet, Acadian genealogist, Louis is the ancestor of all the Robichauds of Acadia. He was born in France around 1609. According to Adrien Bergeron, Louis would have married his wife Marie at La Chaussée, around 1633. Around 1642, or shortly after, he would have moved to Acadia with his wife, and two young children, Charles and Estienne (Étienne). Certain information coming from André Penot du Poitou, who did research on the Acadians, informs us that the wife of Louis whose first name would have been Marie would have had as children Charles in 1637 and Étienne in 1639, and Martin and Perrine who would have remained at La Chaussée.
During our visit to La Chaussée in 1988, an amateur genealogist informed us that certain families who had become Acadian, including possibly the Robichauds, were sharecroppers at the Château de la Bonnetière in La Chaussée. Louis and Marie had two sons; Charles, born around 1637, married a daughter of Vincent Brun and would have had only daughters; Estienne, born around 1640, married Françoise Boudrot. It is presumed that Louis took land in Port-Royal and that he devoted himself to culture. However, he did not have to live long to see the results of his labors. He died on January 3, 1649 while traveling to Quebec. The death certificate written in Latin and kept at the Archdiocese of Quebec reads as follows; “On January 4, 1649 was buried in the Quebec cemetery Louis Robichaux, who died yesterday at the Hôtel-Dieu at the age of about forty”.
The link between this Louis Robichaux and Estienne Robichaud, listed in 1671 in Port-Royal, is a hypothesis, even an error, of Placide Gaudet which was supported by Bona Arsenault, initially by Donat Robichaud and most of the other genealogists, until to a few years ago. It is unlikely that there is a connection between Louis and Estienne. According to Régis Brun, “… looking more closely at the burial record, we realize that the family name is spelled Rebicher rather than Robichaud”, Ivan Robichaud makes the same observation and notes that according to the Repertoire of acts of baptism, burial and censuses of ancient Quebec, this Louis Rebicher would have been 37 years old when he was buried on January 4, 1649. According to Régis Brun, the first comer would be Étienne around 1660. There will always be some doubt. Ivan Robichaud notes “… that there were in the 18th century, in St-Chartes and Marnes, a few kilometers from La Chaussée, Rébéchaud. This surname is even found in the records of La Chaussée from the 18th century. (According to) recent information from the Poitevin genealogical circle and Annie Boudairon (whose father is Rébéchaud), there would be. (in the records of the Chaussée) an Estienne Rébécheau (this concerns the birth, in 1664 of Jeanne and Renée Rébéchaud and in 1664 (?) of Denise Rébéchaud, daughter of Estienne and Vincent Guiet.) ”
In a recent publication, Ivan Robichaud indicates: “We must forget the myth of Louis Robichaud, born around 1609. (…) Stephen White, genealogist at the Center d’études acadiennes (…) concludes that no link can be made between Louis Rebicher and Étienne Robichaud. Our common ancestor would therefore be Étienne Robichaud. ” According to Maurice Basque, it must also be recognized that the existence of Charles is improbable. “If Etienne’s presence is attested by the 1671 census of Port-Royal, the same is not true for his alleged brother Charles. Here again, the genealogist Placide Gaudet seems to have allowed himself a great margin of imagination. Indeed, no known historical document mentions a Charles Robichaud who would have settled in Port-Royal at the same time as Etienne. It therefore remains to be concluded that Etienne Robichaud was the only pioneer of this surname in Acadia.
What could have been the experience of the improbable Louis Robichaud during the seven years, at most, that he possibly lived on American soil? “Léopold Lanctôt affirms that Louis Robichaud arrived in 1632 aboard the Saint-Jehan. (…) Stephen White, genealogist at the Center d´études acadiennes, rejects Lanctôt’s work as pure invention. ” Three other boats on which it is possible that our improbable ancestor Louis and his Robichaud family could have made the crossing are: the St Elie or La Vierge in 1642, or the Grand Cardinal in 1644. These three boats are the property of (our ancestor ) Emmanuel le Borgne, a merchant from La Rochelle, whose owner is Charles de Menou d’Aulnay. The St Elie (150 tons) left La Rochelle on May 16, 1642. From September 25, 1642, a second boat, La Vierge (120 tons), left this port to arrive at Port-Royal on December 5, stopping over , probably previously, in La Hève. In 1644, a larger boat, with a capacity of 200 tons, Le Grand Cardinal, went to Port-Royal. He remained there until 1645 and took part in the combat at Fort Latour.
Rebicher and Rebecheau: false leads
Denis Savard in the Acadie Nouvelle web journal for his part writes about Étienne Robichaud:
Little is known in the documents about the life of the ancestor of the Acadian Robichaud. These documentary gaps have given way to the imagination of some genealogists in the past.
First, it was believed that Etienne was the son of Louis Rebicher (the name was read “Robichau” by mistake), buried in Quebec on January 4, 1649. Following the work of Geneviève Massignon, we believed the ‘to have found in La Chaussé, son of Louis and Marie Sauvage. One only needs to look a little further in the parish registers to see that this Étienne Rebecheau never left his region. He is still there at La Chaussé while the Acadien is based in Port-Royal.
Étienne Rebecheau is married to Vincente Guiet. They have a daughter Denise baptized on April 17, 1668 in La Chaussé. During this time, Étienne Robichaud and Françoise Boudrot had two children in Port-Royal: Charles (around 1667) and Prudent (around 1669). It therefore cannot be in two places at the same time. A generation later, Étienne Rebecheau is still present at La Chaussé, at the marriage of his daughter Denise to Vincent Chempion on February 6, 1687. On that date, Étienne Robichaud died and was buried in Port-Royal. In the 1686 census, his wife was declared a widow.
Étienne Rebecheau dit La Ville, for his part, died at La Chaussé at the age of 86 on February 25, 1718.
Despite these established facts, a French group is still promoting the “La maison Robichaud” project in the Loudun region. The targeted domain, La Plauderie, was a smallholding opposite the Château de la Bonnetière. Louis Rebecheau would have worked at the castle as a servant. Significant funds (11 million euros) were voted by the Departmental Council of Vienne – subsidized last week by an additional 2 million euros – for L’Historial du Poitou, which includes the space dedicated to the “Cradle of Acadia in the Loudun region ”. The community of communes of Loudunais has for its part acquired land from La Plauderie for a nominal sum (500 euros), but the estimated budget for the memorial and the sums raised have not yet been disclosed.
The group cites “private archives” to associate La Plauderie with the Rebecheau family (which is not the Acadian family), but even there there are doubts. According to documents found by Jean-Marie Germe in the public archives, a certain Claude Turquois lived in the house in 1632. He was mentioned during a purchase of land by Mme de Jousserand on February 21, 1632. If these “private archives” exist, they must be produced, otherwise it’s too easy to invent what you want under this veil.
The sums swallowed up in this adventure could have been better used by the departmental archives to digitize the notarial collections, for example, which would allow us to excavate our history from a distance. As you have noticed since the beginning of this column, we still do not know the origins of many families, and there is still a titanic work to be done in the French archives to discover them. In fact, nothing is known about the origins of l’Acadien Étienne Robichaud, besides that they are surely French.
What we know about Étienne (Estienne)
Estienne (Étienne) Robichaud was born, probably in France, around 1640. In 1663, around the age of 23, he married in Port-Royal Françoise Boudrot, born in 1642, daughter of Michel Boudrot, justice of the peace and lieutenant general in Port-Royal (in 1686), and Michelle Aucoin;
Estienne and Françoise had six children, four sons and two daughters: Madeleine, known as Cadet (around 1664), wife, around 1682, Pierre Landry (René and Perrine Bourg). They are in Beau-Bassin around 1700. She died in Port-Royal, buried on June 8, 1710; Charles, dit Cadet (v1667), wife, around 1686, Marie Thibodeau (Pierre and Jeanne Terio) and in second marriage, around 1703, Marie Bourg (Jean and Marguerite Martin), widow of Jean Dubois. He died before May 18, 1737; Prudent (around 1669), wife around 1691 Henriette Petitpas (Claude and Catherine Bugaret); he died in the summer of 1756; \ n \ nMarie (circa 1672), wife before 1689 Denis Petitot, dit Saint-Seine, surgeon in Port-Royal; Alexandre (around 1675), wife in Port-Royal around 1700 Anne Melanson (Charles and Marie Dugas), widow of Jacques de Saint-Étienne de la Tour. He died in Port-Royal on March 26, 1742, at the age of about 67, and;
François, dit Niganne (v1677) married around 1702 Madeleine Thériot (Claude and Marie Gautrot). He died in Port-Royal on December 8, 1747. Little is known about the life of Estienne. Let us remember what Father Laurent Molins, a Cordelier religious, parish priest of Port-Royal, told the census of Port-Royal in 1671 (the first census in Acadia): “Plowman: Estienne Robichaud did not want to see me. He left Luy’s house and told his wife who told me that he did not want to tell me the tale of his cattle and lands … “. Additional proof that “the legendary mistrust of the Acadians dates from long before the Deportation” …! Even in France, in their country of origin, the expression “a response of Norman”, that is to say an evasive and uncompromising response, was part of the everyday vocabulary.
In the next census, in 1678, Estienne is identified as having two arpents of land, less than the average of 5.7 Arpents of Port-Royal. He had ten horned animals, the average in the village; however, he did not own a gun. According to Maurice Basque, Étienne Robichaud does not stand out from the majority of the pioneers of Port-Royal by its land heritage or its livestock. However, his children will show much more dynamism in economic matters and in leadership. Étienne died in Port-Royal in 1686, aged about 48. Father Lanctôt gives us the following information, which he seems to draw from a census of 1704: “Michelle Aucoin lives with her daughter Françoise and her grandson (1706). Françoise Boudrot (62 years old), … widow of Estienne Robichaud, has four daughters and two sons, including François, all married and living in Port-Royal. ” Étienne, through his marriage to Françoise Boudrot, made his entry into a well-established family in Port-Royal. His father-in-law, Michel Boudrot, would become the king’s lieutenant general, thus responsible for the administration of justice.
According to Maurice Basque, Estienne’s children will follow their father’s example by making good marriages. Through their matrimonial strategies, these Robichauds now found themselves relatives or allies of economically influential families of Port-Royal, such as the Melansons and the Thibodeaus, of seigneurial families, such as the Saint-Étienne de La Tour and the LeBorgne de Belleisle, and of families close to the colonial authorities, such as the De Goutins, the Petitots and the Petitpas. According to Jacques Vanderlinden, Françoise Boudrot, through the influence of her father and her siblings, would have had a decisive role in the good marriage of her children. According to Basque, these marriage strategies of the Robichauds will continue until the 20th century.
Three of Estienne’s sons lived on Chemin du Cap (or Equille) in Port-Royal, now Saint George Street, in Annapolis Royal. Prudent and François dit Niganne were neighbors, while Charles lived further south. Alexandre settled in Village-des-Melanson (near the old Habitation).
After his house was burnt down by the Anglo-Americans on June 6, 1707, Charles Robichaud, aka Cadet (the eldest son), moved to Grand Cobequid, now Great Village, near Truro. This locality was also known, at the time when Charles and his boys lived there, under the name of Village-des-Cadets. After the Dispersion, we find his descendants in Louisiana, Quebec and France. His grandson Joseph, after having been to Saint-Malo in France with his parents, returned to Acadia and became one of the pioneers of Saint-Charles-de-Kent. Joseph’s brothers, Jean-Baptiste and Isidore, settled in Shippagan and Inkerman on the Acadian peninsula and were among the founders of these villages.
Prudent Robichaud, who married the daughter of the notary Claude Petitpas, was a very prosperous merchant and well regarded among the Acadians. He traded with the English and the Indians, whose language he knew very well. He had a good education and was one of the Acadian leaders under the English regime. He was appointed justice of the peace in 1729. In 1755, at the age of 86, he boarded the ship Pembroke to be deported to North Carolina. The Acadians seized the ship during the crossing and ran aground in the harbor of the Saint John River. They then fled to Quebec. They may have stopped at the “Eagle’s Nest”, where Prudent’s nephews (Pierre and François) were. It was during this perilous journey that Prudent Robichaud died.
Charles Melanson, founder of the “Village-des-Melanson”, is the son of the Huguenot Pierre Laverdure who married an Englishwoman, Priscilla Melanson, in England, and emigrated to Acadia during the time of the English governor Temple. When Acadia became French again, two sons, Charles and Pierre, remained in Acadia and took their mother’s name, Melanson. Archaeological excavations undertaken in the summers of 1984-85 gave rise to an excellent publication, which documents the experience of this Village-des-Melanson. Alexandre Robichaud, husband of Anne Melanson, was one of the deputies appointed to discuss with the new English government in 1720.
The Robichaux of Louisiana are, for the most part, descendants of Charles dit Cadet and Marie Thibodeau, and of Prudent and Henriette Petitpas.