La Famille Pétel en Normandie.

Late in the 17th century Michel Pestel married Jeanne Esnault. They had at least two sons, our ancestor Louis born about 1688 and Jacques who was born about 1691.

Michel died before 1714, before his sons' marriages to the Legros girls, who were likely sisters. Jacques and Anne Legros were married prior to 1718 for Anne is noted as his wife in a church record that year.

Saint-Pair church has been rebuilt, but
this Romanesque doorway was present
in Pierre's time. Rollover the image to
view baptismal font.

Our ancestor Louis married Jeanne Legros 7 November 1714 in the small village of Sartilly in Normandie, France. Her father Jean Legros, brother Charles Legros, along with Joseph Gaillant, Robert Heon, and Jean Golin were witnesses to the wedding ceremony which was officiated by the curé Pestel (a relative?). Jeanne's mother was Marguerite LeChevalier.


Two sons were found for Louis and Jeanne. Their first, Julien, arrived a year after the wedding on 8 November 1715. Our ancestor, Pierre, was born the evening of 17 October 1718. Baptized that very night in Saint-Pair church, his sponsors were Pierre Heon (the son of Robert Heon and Elisabeth Chauvin) and his aunt Anne Legros who was married to his uncle Jacques Pestel.

Pierre's paternal grandmother, Jeanne Esnault, passed away 2 February 1721 at the age of 62. Her son Jacques and her nephew Pierre Esnault were witnesses to the death record. Pierre's father, Louis, died a few years later and was buried 12 February 1726 when Pierre was 5 ½ years old.

Sartilly, the Village of Seven Hills.

Sartilly is located inland on the Cotentin or Cherbourg Peninsula, about seven miles north of Avranches. The elevated view from Avranches, west down along the Fleuve Sée, provides a view of Mont-Saint-Michel on the coast of La Manche. Following the curving shoreline to the west, beyond the fishing village of Cancale with its rich oyster beds, was the port at Saint-Malo.


With his father gone Pierre certainly began an apprenticeship, perhaps as early as age eight. Later records would alternatively refer to his occupation as journalier, pescheur or navigateur indicating ties to the sea. Fishermen in France traversed between the small ports along the coast as a caboteur catching mackerel and haddock. The skate they hooked would curl itself in a ball as it was reeled in, but that did not save it from being served in French homes cooked in a sauce of butter and white wine.

Pierre no doubt took part in expeditions on one of the 200 or so ships that routinely sailed back and forth across the Atlantic from the coast of France to Les Grands Bancs de Terre-Neuve to catch cod for the French markets before he finally settled in Québec.