Chapter 5


Quebec winter sceneSince 1598, land in la Nouvelle France was distributed to settlers through the seigniorial system, similar to the feudal system. Although the system would be modified over the course of time, in essence it comprised of a huge segment of fertile land granted to a landlord called a seignieur who did not have a right of property (that remained vested in the Crown), but a right to distribute strips of the land to meritorious male settlers who, in turn, promised to aid, upon demand, in the support and defence of the territory.

The system also provided that the tenants would pay an annual rent to the seignior and would agree to work the seignior's land for a few of days each year.

The seignior enjoyed an elevated social position in the community. For example, the best seat in the churches were reserved for the seignior.

But the harsh conditions of life equalized most social distinctions between seigniors and their tenants although the former remained, for most, the sole source of land.

Judith Rigaud purchased two properties, one to rent and one to reside in.

At Riviere-du Loup, Judith met a local doctor, Dr. Jean de Laplanche, who, as it turned out, spent almost as much time in the fur trading business (Laplanche also owned the land next to Villeroy).34 They were married in Trois-Rivières on October 6, 1675 - a third marriage for Judith.

Within a whirlwind period of five days in January of 1676, a series of extraordinary transactions were registered by a local notary, Antoine Adhémar de St. Martin (1639-1714) which would ensure the future prosperity of many of Judith Rigaud's children and shape the common destiny of the Duhaime/Duheme ancestors for generations to come.

First, on January 21, Laplanche and Rigaud agreed to a marriage contract that included a rare stipulation for the times: their property would be separate. Judith's reputation, is seems, had preceded her.

Then, a marriage contract between her daughter Marie (she had dropped "Louise") and another local fur trader and land owner, Jacques Passard, Sieur de La Bretonnière was completed.

The next day, La Bretonniere sold land to Dr. Laplanche and to François Lemaistre dit Lamorille, Judith's second-oldest son.

In May of that same year, although only 12 years old at the time, her youngest daughter Marguerite was wed to Christophe Gerbault, Sieur de Bellegarde.

Iroquois chief, circa 1710Tired of the constant threat of Iroquois attack, the new Laplanche-Rigaud family decided to move to the larger community of Montreal in 1677.

But the marriage was to be short lived. Dr. Laplanche returned to France in June of 1678. Some historical records also show 1678 as being his year of death.

In a 1950 article35, Quebec historian, Raymond Douville wrote:

"Three successive unions did not make (Judith Rigaud) any wiser because in 1679, she was arrested under the accusation of having deserted the family home and of living under the same roof with Pierre Cavalier to the scandal of the Montreal population."

Records show that part of Dr. Laplanche's land holdings had been leased to Pierre Cavalier. Judith apparently picked her husband's tenant as lover.

Moving in with Cavalier would prove ruinous. By March, 1678, law suits began once again to accumulate against her: failure to pay for the lease of a house; failure to pay back a loan; failure to pay her servant's salary. Meanwhile, Cavalier had also leased land from l'abbé Jean Cavalier (no relation) and fell behind in his payments.

The rest of this story is best told by Quebec historian, E.Z. Massicotte36:

"The Sieur Abbé did not have just one adversary to contend with. There was a women, and what a woman!

"Perhaps there were never any who displayed more masculinity than Judith Rigaud and it was above all regarding Abbé Jean Cavalier that she displayed the full measure of her aplomb. When the attempt was made to evict her from the farm, she received the (service) processor and his men at the point of a pitchfork and they had to back off. (But) Pierre Cavalier having been jailed, she had to give in. Realizing that the cause was a lost one, poor Judith disappeared."

On April 14, 1679, Judith Rigaud was sentenced in absentia to ten years exile from the Island of Montreal under threat of corporal punishment should she return. The judge was likely Jean-Baptiste Migeon de Branssat (1636-1700), chief justice for Montreal from 1677 to 1690.

Destitute, Judith returned to live on the Manereuil River with her daughter Marie-Louise.

She was only 46-years-old. She eventually returned to Riviere-du-Loup (now called Louiseville) and began her fur business anew with the assistance of her sons and a friendly merchant, Joseph Petit dit Bruneau of Québec;37 the 1681 census shows her at Louiseville.

From this point on, she was referred to in society as simply "Madame Rigaud".

Life on the Manereuil River was difficult.

Murderous raids by Iroquois continued unabated. Even the seignior abandoned the community. In 1681, Rigaud's sons-in-law Gerbaut and Passard were sentenced to fines of 200 pounds for trading with the Indians without license. Their guns and canoes were confiscated and sold in auction.

But not all news was bad.

In 1682, Gerbaut joined the Compagnie du nord expedition under Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers (1618-1696), and became one of the first Europeans to see Hudson's Bay.38 There, they built a fort at the mouth of the Hayes River, which eventually caused friction bertween England and France.

On November 11, 1681, Judith's sons Pierre and François formed a company "for commerce and wholesale" although the partnership lasted but two years.

Des Groselliers & RadissonOn April 20, 1683, Jean le Chasseur (1633-1713) was appointed new Seigneur de Manereuil (aka Rivière-du-Loup).39 He commissioned notary Adhemar to draw up new titles which was done through hearings held in Riviere-du-Loup between June 9 and 14, 1684. Of the nine owners confirmed were Pierre and François Lemaistre; Judith Rigaud in the names of her sons Charles and Jean (then on a trading expedition along the Ottawa River) and two of Judith's sons-in- law, Charles Gerbaud and Jacques Passard. In June of 1686, Pierre hired coureur des bois Pierre Burel40 to lead a fur trading expedition down the Ottawa River. A year later he obtained a trading permit with his brother Charles confirming their right to trade along the Ottawa river. In 1688, Pierre leased part of his land in Manereuil and, with Iroquois raids reaching a frightening frequency, moved to Trois-Rivieres.

A record exists in France that suggests that as of February 6, 1686, Judith Rigaud had moved back to France, to the town of Saint-Jean-d'Angély and that she married a fourth time, to Louis Gilet de Laplante on that day, in that town, before a notary by the name of Hardy.

Laplante, in May of 1686, bought a house on St. Paul Street in Montreal from François Pougnet, with the purchase contract notarized by Antoine Adhémar, notary public.

In 1687, all-out war broke out again with the Iroquois. Under the command of Marquis de Denonville, 46 men were conscripted from Riviere-du-Loup and an ill-fated offensive was undertaken against the natives. At first, the settlers try to survive by fortifying their dwellings.

In 1686, Seignior le Chasseur was appointed governor of Trois-Rivières. He leased his Manereuil manor to Jacques Landry of Cap-de-la-Madeleine. In July of 1688, a band of Iroquois burned the manor and killed Vandry.41

Most of the settlers abandoned their homesteads. By 1688, there were only four families left on the Manereuil River. The entire Lemaitre-Rigaud clan, while retaining their titles, and their lives, were among those who abandoned their homesteads until security could be improved.

By 1689, Marguerite and her husband, Jacques Passard had settled in Montréal. Pierre moved to Trois-Rivières. François, Jean and Charles also went to Montréal as did Judith`s daughter Marguerite with her husband Mons. Gerbaud.42

In 1689, Judith Rigaud's 10-year exile from Montréal ended and she returned to the Island of Montreal.

On October 11, 1689, her son Charles Lemaistre-Auger, at the age of 23, married Madeleine Crevier, daughter of Cap-de-la Madeleine residents Nicolas Crevier de Bellerive and Louise Le Coutre.43 Some record refer to her surname as Crevier-Bellerive.

Seven years later. at the age of 63, Judith attended the marriage of her son Jean Lemaistre dit Lalongé (1661-1710) to Catherine Michelle Godefroy de Vieux-Pont (1680-1760) at Montreal on November 22, 1696.

Judith Rigaud spent the remaining years of her life in Montreal where she died on May 13, 1703.44

The surname Duhaime had made an appearance but was not yet firmly anchored in North America.

It would not be long before it would, first as a sobriquet (nickname) and then, over the years, and only for some branches of the family tree, the de facto and sole surname of the ancestors of Charles Lemaitre-Auger.