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Marthe Quitel (c. 1638-1722)

September 22, 1665, was a big day for Marthe Quitel as she prepared to wed Barthélemy Verreault dit le Bourguignon at the church in Château-Richer. For the daughter of Denis Quitel and Louise Bénard, born around 1638 in Normandy, it was the culmination of several turbulent months and marked the beginning of a new life.

After many long weeks at sea aboard the Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Marthe reached Québec on June 18, 1665. Along with 89 other would-be brides and 130 soldiers, Marthe had embarked for the New World in search of a better life. Without the paid passage and hope chest she was provided by King Louis XIV, she would never have had the opportunity to make the voyage.

Colour reproduction of a watercolour showing seven women dressed in colourful frocks disembarking. The women are seen in profile on the right half of the painting, and are facing two men wearing official dress. The woman at the front of the group is curtseying before them. The first of the two men, Jean Talon, is decked in finery. He has a sword tucked in his belt, and is wearing a wig and holding a large, feather-adorned hat. The other man, François de Laval, is wearing a prelate’s robe and a burgundy stole. Around his neck is a large golden cross. The other figures in the scene include several bewigged gentlemen and a soldier. In the foreground stands the stone wall of a wharf and the lowers steps of a stone staircase.

Arrival of the Brides


Carrying only a chest containing a few garments, needles, thread, and scissors, Marthe arrived at a home in Québec where she received room and board as she waited to find a husband. In exchange for the king’s generosity, Marthe and her travel companions, who came to be known as the “Filles du Roy,” were expected to fulfill a singular mission to help populate the colony, that is, to marry and found a family.

But Marthe faced an additional hardship. Since the King’s colony was to be strictly for Catholics, she was forced to officially forswear her Calvinist faith at the Notre-Dame Church in Québec on July 17, 1665. Once accepted into the Catholic fold, she was free to take a husband. And there was no shortage of eligible bachelors to choose from!

Archival map depicting part of the City of Québec (including Charlesbourg and Beauport), the Côte-de-Beaupré region, Île d’Orléans, the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, and the rectangular plots of land running perpendicular to the river. The circle in the centre of the map features a blow-up of the lot bearing the name “F. Vero” as well as several adjacent lots.

Lot occupied by Marthe Quitel and Barthélemy Verreault in Château-Richer, map dated 1709

She settled on Barthélemy Verreault, a blacksmith and bladesmith who had arrived in New France three years earlier. In June of that same year, Verreault acquired a plot of land in Château-Richer from Jacques Cauchon dit La Motte. The marriage contract was signed before a notary public in late August, and Marthe and Barthélemy were ready to make their union official in church and begin their new life together as man and wife.

Sylvie Asselin steps into the shoes of Marthe Quitel (English and French subtitles available) –View the video with transcript (EN)

The ancestors of the Verreault family in North America, Marthe and Barthélemy had nine children, six of whom survived past the age of 18.

Sylvie Asselin describes how she came to be involved in Société d’histoire des Filles du Roy (English and French subtitles available) – View the video with transcript (EN)

Today, Château-Richer looks back at… Marthe and the twenty-two other “filles du roy” who played a role in developing the Côte-de-Beaupré region through their descendants and their hard work, and whose memory is proudly upheld by Société d’histoire des Filles du Roy.