Mathieu Gervais dit le Parisien.
In the King's Service.
Mathieu Gervais' parents were Pierre Gervais, a boulanger and Catherine Saillard. They lived in the little settlement Saint-Maur-des-Fossés encircled by la Marne river just outside of Paris, France. He became a soldier.
Once in the service, Mathieu used the dit name of Le Parisien as a nod to his origins. The second contingent of le régiment de Carignan-Salières departed La Rochelle, France on 13 May 1665. Boarding the Royal ship l'Aigle d'Or with other members of capitaine Hector d'Andigné de Grandfontaine's company were our ancestors Mathieu Gervais and Antoine Vermet.
In all, seven ships carried the military force charged with the responsibility to defend the New World. They made port at ville de Québec on 18 August 1665. By September 2, much of the regiment was engaged in building a fort at the entrance to Lake Champlain. The Rivière Richelieu had long been used by the Iroquois as a conduit to attack the French settlements in Canada; the new fort was part of the French strategy to defend the colony from such incursions. They had few tools, and no carpenter, but managed to complete the project.
The soldiers were offered the opportunity to remain in the colony when the regiment was recalled a few years later. And to Mathieu it was an offer he could not refuse. By 1671 he is found on a farm in La Prairie which at the time had a population of about 100. Mathieu, 30, ventured to nearby Montréal to find a wife, as only about 15 women lived in La Prairie. He found Michelle Picard, the 15 year old daughter of Hughes Picard. They signed their contract for marriage before notaire Bassett in Montréal on the 10th and wed there 31 August 1676.
The 1681 census of La Prairie reveals Mathieu was 35, had 1 fusil or flintlock, 4 bestes à cornes (horned beasts), and 4 arpens land under cultivation. His wife Michelle Picard, age 20 and son Mathieu, age 2 (this must be his daughter Jeanne!) rounded out the family. We descend from two of their children, Jean-Mathieu born 10 February 1683 and Marie-Catherine born 7 May 1689.
A palisade was constructed around the village in 1687 to protect man and beast from attack by the Iroquois and the English. Even so, the Battle of La Prairie was waged in 1691 and like our ancestor Jacques Suprenant Mathieu was called upon once again to defend the settlement, this time from the English assault led by Major Pieter Schuyler of New York.
Michelle lived to see her three older children marry before she died 15 April 1710 in Montréal at age 48. For the burial record of Mathieu, the priest wrote "the 31 January 1728, died in Longueuil, Mathieu Gervais, age about 80 years, ancient soldier of Carignan, buried 1 February in the presence of his children."
Use the right sidebar links to navigate to our ancestors Jean-Mathieu or Marie-Catherine's pages.
- Jetté, René, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Quebec des origines à 1730 (Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1983)
- La Prairie article from the Quebec Memory (2017)