Marriageable Young Women.
Over 260 young women left France to settle in the New World between about 1634 and 1663. They were a mix of daughters of peasants and of poor nobles, of members of the military and of artisans. They lived in a world of arranged marriages where good matches were less available to those with limited resources. In a leap of faith they chose a hard life in an inhospitable land. Their average age was 22 years when they undertook the voyage that would likely sever all ties to everything they ever knew.
Sponsors included various individuals or religious organizations who agreed to pay travel expenses and provide lodging. In New France the women had the ability to pick their own mate. The ratio of men to women so favored them that they were able to choose from an array of eligible men. Social classes were not as distinct in the frontier which offered the potential of a fuller life.
Several of our grandmothers took the initiative to gamble on life in Canada. Shown below with their approximate year of arrival they are:
- Before the King's Daughters: The Filles à Marier, 1634-1662 by Peter J. Gagné. Pawtucket, RI: Quinton Publications, 2002. pp 13-38; Peter J. Gagne has defined the qualifications to be considered a fille à marier as follows: Must have arrived before September 1663 Must have come over at marriageable age (12 thru 45) Must have married or signed a marriage contract at least once in New France or have signed an enlistment contract Must not have been accompanied by both parents Must not have been accompanied by or joining a husband