Origins in Normandie.
Robert LeBer married Colette Cavelier, who had been born in Pîtres south of Rouen, Normandie.
Three of their children made their way to Montréal in the French colony of New France. Among them their son, our ancestor François, who was born about 1626.
It is estimated he arrived between 1656 and 1660, joining his brother Jacques who was there by 1658. Their sister Marie entered the Ursuline religious order; she became a novice on 14 October 1688 at age 24 and took her vows two years later. Though she spent some time in her brother Jacques' home in Montréal she later moved to Ville de Québec where she died in 1714.
François had married in France and they had a daughter named Anne who was born about 1656. He brought his child with him to Canada presumably after the death of his wife. In time, Anne married Antoine Barrois who was a surgeon in the compagnie La Varenne of the Carignan-Salières Régiment. Her marriage record in 1672 states her mother was François Le François, though the mother's name does not match one given in an earlier record. Anne and Antoine's daughter, also named Anne, joined her cousin Jeanne LeBer, the famous recluse, working as her attendant.
François was confirmed on 24 August 1660 in Montréal to affirm his Catholic faith. By 1663 he served in the defense of their village as a member of the Milice de la Sainte-Famille.
Marriage in Montréal.
Jeanne Testard, who was among the numbers of les filles à marier, arrived in Montréal before November 1662. She and François LeBer signed a marriage contract on the 23rd of that month before the notary Bénigne Basset. The contract would lay out what each party was bringing to the union. They had much in common, both were from Rouen and both had come with their siblings. The couple married on 2 December 1662 in Notre-Dame de Montréal.
In this record it states he was the widow of Marguerite Leseur, which conflicts with the name given in his daughter Anne's 1672 marriage record. This could be explained either as an error in the daughter's later record, or that his first wife and the mother of his daughter were two different people.
The witnesses to his marriage to Jeanne included his brother Jacques LeBer and Jeanne's brothers Jacques and Charles Testard. There were local dignitaries including Jacques' partner Charles LeMoyne and the first Governor of Montréal Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve who signed the record.
The King conducted two back to back censuses. Montréal in 1666 boasted a total population of 627. It lists François Le Ber, "habitant", his wife Jeanne Testard, 10 year old daughter Anne (from his first marriage), and son, Joachim, 19 months.
The 1667 census of the Isle de Montréal reveals he was 40 and had one bestiaux or horned beast. He had a sizable 23 terres en valeur. His wife Jeanne Testart, 23; 3 children including Anne 11, Joachim 3, and our ancestor Marie just five months old. She had been born 6 December 1666 and was named for her marraine or godmother, her aunt Marie LeBer, a nun. The family was mentioned in the census just before Fiacre Ducharme (uncle of Catherine Ducharme).
They lived in Point-Saint-Charles in a house he had built around 1660. He sold the house and barn on 21 September 1668 to Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Filles de la Congrégation who bought the farm to support the Sisters. The space was used to house some of the filles de Roi and later a school. (The property was later named Maison Saint-Gabriel).
From there the family moved across the river into La Prairie. A map of the period places the LeBers next to the Bourassas on a farm near the church.
François LeBer shows up again in the 1681 LaPrairie census. He was 56 and had acquired arms: 1 fusil (a light flintlock musket) and 2 pistols. They had 6 arpens of land under cultivation. Jeanne Testard, 40, and their children Joachim 17, Jean 10 and Francois 7 were at home.
Marie LeBer and Charles Robert.
Their daughter Marie, our ancestor, was 15 when she married Charles Robert dit Deslauriers on 9 January 1681 in Contrecœur. He had a farm at Fort Saint-Louis (Chambly) with 6 arpens cultivated. Charles had served in Du Prat's company of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. His death occurred mid-1684 leaving the 18 year old Marie a young widow.
François lived to the age of 68, passing on 19 May 1694 in La Prairie. Jeanne Testard was about 80 when she died on 18 January 1723.
- Jetté, René, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Quebec des origines à 1730 (Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1983)
- Tanguay, Cyprien. Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu'à nos jours. Québec, Canada: Eusèbe Senécal, 1871-1890, page 499.
- Jeanne Le Ber, Angel of Ville-Marie, by Thomas Angelitti
- Colonial Archives. Greffes de notaires. 1668, septembre, 21 / Ville-Marie. Vente par François Leber et Jeanne Testard, sa femme, aux filles de la congrégation avec une quittance des lots et ventes par monseigneur Galinier de 24 septembre 1668, Bénigne Basset, notaire. Call No: MG8-A23, Transcript Vol 13, p 1867-1871