Louis Tétreau, from Tessonnière to Trois-Rivières (by Josée Tétreault)

Origin of Louis Tétreau

On Wednesday, January 8th 1631, Louis Tetreau, the son of Mathurin Tetreau and Marie Bernard, was baptized in the  parochial church of Tessonniere1. His godfather is Jacques Bernard and his godmother, Marie Marthin. Louis Tetreau is the young man of about 28 years who will cross the Atlantic Ocean to settle himself in New France in the greater region of Trois-Rivieres

Le huictiesme jour de janvier mil six cent trente et un a esté baptizé Louis fils de Mathurin Tetreau et de Marie Bernard ses pere et mere le parrin est Louis Bernard & la marraine Marie Marthin tous paroissiens de ceans qui ne scavent signer.2

On this Eight day of January one thousand six hundred and thirty one was baptized Louis son of Mathurin Tetreau and of Marie Bernard his father and mother the godfather is Louis Bernard and the godmother Marie Marthin all parishioners herein who cannot sign.   

What is revealed to us by the registers of Tessonniere? 

This baptismal act was sought after by many persons over the years. Nevertheless, it was not until February 2008 that I discovered this precious document in the registers of Tessonniere, a commune located just north-west of Louin. This latter town was presumed to be the place of origin of our ancestor2. In reality, the family of Mathurin Tetreau and Marie Bernard lived between Louin and Tessonniere in a place called “La Guichardiere3

Besides our ancestor, at least two other children of the couple were baptized in this same parish: Mathurine, on May 11th 1621 and Louis, on June 16th 1624. It is highly probable that this last child died at an early age since Louis, our ancestor, was baptized with the same name a few years later. In December 1631, a daughter of Mathurin Tetreau was buried in the parish cemetery of Tessonniere. Was this the Mathurine born in 1621? The priest simply wrote “daughter of Mathurin Tetreau” without any mention of the child’s first name, nor the exact date of that act. 

The parents of Louis, Mathurin Tetreau and Marie Bernard, were married in the church of Notre Dame of Tessonniere on Wednesday, July 29th 16204. Unfortunately, the priest of this parish, who was a man of few words, did not record the names of the respective parents in the register. The act is written as follows: “Le vingt neuf a este espouse par moy viquer de Tessonniere Mathurrin Tetreau avecq Marie Bernard”

The first appearance of Mathurin Tetreau in the registers of Tessonniere was in 1615, when he was the godfather of a son of Julien Gabillet and Martine Hubert. Besides the children of Mathurin, only three other persons with the name Tetreau are mentioned in the registers of this parish within this time frame: Germaine, spouse of Mathurin Serton; Perinne, spouse of a man named Jourdain; and Pierre. When looking carefully, the acts in which they are mentioned, it is likely that they are brothers and sisters of Mathurin. It is also possible that Louis Bernard, the godfather of our ancestor Louis, could be his maternal uncle. 

Église de Tessonnière

The plague of 1631

According to the writings of the priest of Availles-Thouarsais, a commune about 6 km north of Tessonniere, it is lucky that our ancestor, Louis, survived his first year of life. Indeed, an epidemic scourge hit the area of Poitou, Anjou and Brittany. The contagion and plague were so strong and vehement in the parish of Availles and the circumjacent parishes in 1631 that people would starve. The famine was over the Poitou. Having harvested very little wheat in the fields, a third of the population had to resort to begging. The people were forced to leave their homes, furniture and rags to go in the provinces of Brittany, Limousin or other to beg for their food5

Consulting the burials of the year 1631 reveals that the village of Tessonnière - like many communities of the Kingdom of France - was strongly affected by the plague. While only six deaths were recorded in 1630 and ten in 1632, 29 were recorded in 1631. These numbers indicate that about three times more deaths occurred because of the plague compared to the previous and the following years. The 29th death from this terrible year was that of “the daughter of Mathurin Tetreau.” 

After 1631, we do not find any further reference of the family of Mathurin Tetreau in Tessonniere. Did Mathurin, Marie and their children leave the area searching a better future? Already, since a few years, the registers are mute on the subject of Germaine, Perrine and Pierre Tetreau. Briefly, after 1631, the name of Tetreau disappeared almost completely from the registers of Tessonniere

The crossing

During the 17th century, the region of Poitou was confronted with serious economic and social problems. In fact, the majority of the land was under seigniorial regime and the population struggled to pay its taxes. The appropriation of the seigneurs, the tithe as well as the royal taxes added to the poverty of the land, caused the young men to leave for America where the future prospects seemed more promising. 

According to current research, it seems probable that Louis came to New France during the summer of 1659, hired by the Jesuits6. In the fall of 1662, his three-year commitment contract ended, Louis settled in Trois-Rivières. Indeed, a lease, dated October 15th 16627, tells us that the Jesuits rented him a parcel of 100 acres for the next four years. Ready to start a family, our forefather will soon ask the hand of the young Noëlle Landeau, widow of Jean Beaudoin.

In Trois-Rivieres, June 9th 1663, Louis and Noelle unite their destinies.

Text from the newsletter Les Tétreaul disent... special Edition 350e (December 2013).


1 From the civil registers of Tessonniere, department of  Deux-Sèvres, France. 

2 At his marriage in 1663, Louis said to be a native of Louin. 

3 In the baptismal act of Mathurine in 1621, the parents are said to be living in the village of “La Guichardiere.”

4 La date du mariage des parents de Louis est incertaine à cause d'ajouts et de ratures dans la page du registre de la paroisse. Le mois pourrait être janvier ou juillet et l'année 1620 ou 1621. Puisque Mathurine, la soeur de Louis, est baptisée en mai 1621, nous présumons que ses parents se sont épousés l'année précédente.

5 Extracted from the baptismal, marriage, and death registers from Availles-Thouarsais 1631-1652.   

6 Roland J. Tetreault, L’histoire de Louis Tetreau (1635-1699), 2005, p. 19. 

7 Notary Louis Laurent, October 15th 1662.