Sunday, July 2, 2017

Philippe Foubert voyageur for the Compagnie des Habitants, 1649

Philippe Foubert (1616-1661) our 10th great-grandfather appears to have been a voyageur for the Compagnie des Habitants in 1649.

 • From the files of Laurent Bermen, royal notary in New France, we find a record (above) dated 1649, Sep 12, for the engagement of Philippe Foubert to Charles Sevestre. 

About Philippe Foubert

Philippe Foubert
Born: 1616, St Vivien, Rouen, Seine, France
Married Bef 1641, St Vivien, Rouen, Normandie, France, to Jeffine Riviere
Died: 1656 to 1661, Capmadeleine, Champlain, Quebec
Burial: 1661 Cap De Madelaine, Champlain, Quebec 

In 1652, Philippe Foubert was referred to as a miller, when he bought a home in Trois-Rivieres of two arpents of frontage on the river. On 3 Oct 1655, Philippe and his brother, Robert signed a note of obligation for 100 livres to Charles Sevestre, probably the downpayment required to bring their wives to New France. 

The women arrived in Quebec the summer of 1656, Jeffine Riviere, age 48 wife of Philippe, accompanied by her daughter, Marie age 15, Marguerite Riviere age 50, wife of Robert Foubert and the young wife of Georges Pelletier, age 32. 

They made haste to return to Trois-Rivieres to announce the prospective marriage of Marie Foubert to voyageur Jean Cusson which took place 16 Sep 1656.

About Charles Sevestre

We  know Charles Sevestre was a clerk in the fur trade monopoly of the Communauté des Habitants [aka  Compagnie des Habitants] at its storehouse at Quebec, and eventually, before 1649, became the general manager of the storehouse. He was also financier and outfitter for investors and traders based at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal.


Charles Sevestre emigrated from France in 1636, and served as the clerk and manager of the warehouse of the fur trade company of New France through the 1640s and 1650s, at Quebec. Source:

Charles Sevestre and his wife Marie Pichon. Clerk in the fur trade monopoly company's storehouse at Quebec, and eventually the general manager of the storehouse. Also financier and outfitter for investors and traders based at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal. Source:

Charles Sevestre [clerk in the Quebec warehouse, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants [aka  Compagnie des Habitants], special lieutenant of the seneschal’s court of Quebec] was born 17 January 1609 in Paris, France. Charles Sevestre was the child of Charles was an immigrant to Canada, arriving by 1636. He married  Marie Pichon 1631 in Paris, France .  The couple had (at least) 7 children. Marie Pichon  was born abt. 1600 in Paris, France .  She died 3 May 1661 in Québec, Québec, Canada .  Charles Sevestre died 8 December 1657 in , Québec Province, Canada . Source:

CHARLES SEVESTRE, clerk in the Quebec warehouse, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants, special lieutenant of the seneschal’s court of Quebec; son of Charles Sevestre and Marguerite Petitpas; d. 1657 at Quebec.

The Sevestre family came from Paris, where, some time around 1627, Charles had married Marie Pichon, the widow of Philippe Gauthier de La Chenaye. We know of four of Charles’s brothers: Louis, who was a bookseller; Étienne, Ignace, and Thomas, who probably arrived at Quebec with Charles not later than 1636. They brought with them their widowed mother. The Compagnie des Cent-Associés granted them lands at Quebec in the spring of 1639.

Charles Sevestre’s first occupation is unknown to us; he is referred to in 1641 only as a “settler living at the aforesaid Quebec.” But in 1645, when the Communauté des Habitants was founded, Sevestre makes his appearance as clerk of the warehouse. On 23 Aug. 1648, at a meeting of all the notables of the Quebec region, he was elected procurator-syndic of the Communauté. It was in this capacity that he was required, in 1649, to initiate the construction of the first church at Trois-Rivières. On 8 May 1651 he is mentioned as being provost judge of the Lauson seigneury, an office that he was the first to hold. During the years 1651 and 1652 he was one of the churchwardens of the parish of Quebec. Finally, from 1651 until his death, he was the first appointee to the important office of special civil and criminal lieutenant in the seneschal’s court of Quebec, created by Governor Jean de Lauson.

Charles Sevestre died at Quebec and was buried on 9 Dec. 1657 under his pew in the church; his wife was to follow him on 4 May 1661.

About the Compagnie des Habitants

The Compagnie des Habitants (or Communauté des Habitants, as both names can be used) was formed in 1645, in Quebec. Its promoters were Pierre Le Gardeur de Repentigny, François de Chavigny, Noël Juchereau des Châtelets, Jacques Leneuf de la Potherie, Michel Leneuf du Hérisson, Guillaume Couillard, Jean Paul Godefroy, Jean Bourdon, Mathurin Gagnon, and Jean Guyon. 

In 1645, thanks to the influence of the Jesuits at court, it obtained from the Company of New France the transfer of its trade monopoly, outside Acadia, on condition of assuming all the administrative, military, and religious charges of the colony, as well as the yearly transportation of 20 colonists, and an annual payment of one thousand beaver skins. This agreement was confirmed by a royal edict of March 6, 1645.

The company was open to all the inhabitants, divided into three classes: the important men, the middle-class citizens and the common people. Profits were to be divided equally among members of each class, but unequally among the classes, and directors were elected by the members. As a matter of fact, the company was composed of the better-off families of the colony.

In a small country of about 500 souls, the company had to borrow all its capital, mostly in France, at very high interest. During the first years, the monopoly proved profitable, but in face of the directors' extravagance, the King in March, 1647, appointed to take their place a council consisting of the governor, the superior of the Jesuits, and the governor of Montreal, and this council was entrusted with the necessary trade and financial administration. At the same time, the fur barter was thrown open to every one, on condition of taking the skins to the company's stores at Quebec or Three Rivers. 

By a decree of March, 1648, while the European trade was also made free, the council was reformed so as to include two inhabitants selected by the permanent councillors, and later, in 1657, was again remodeled so as to include four councillors elected by the inhabitants of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal.

Scene at first meeting of the Council elected in 1657

After the dispersion of the Hurons by the Iroquois, the fur-trade suffered a sudden collapse. 

The company soon found great difficulty in defraying the colonial budget of about 40,000 livres a year. 

In 1652, a duty amounting to half the beaver traded was imposed, but was reduced to one-fourth the following year, and the Tadoussac territory trade was leased out for a lump sum. Nevertheless, the company was obliged, in 1653, to suspend the annual shipment of the 1,000 beaver skins to the Company of New France and to secure from the king, in 1655, a five-year moratorium of its debts. All these measures proving insufficient, in spite of an additional duty of one-tenth on moose skins, it offered, but vainly, to give up its monopoly. The situation not improving, it was forced, in 1658, again to lease for 9,000 livres the Tadoussac trade. 

Two years later, in order to rescue the company, a new duty of 10 per cent. was imposed on all imported goods, and farmed for 10,000 livres to Aubert de la Chesnaye. Yet, in February, 1660, the company had to sublet for four years its fur monopoly to a French company, headed by Toussaint Guenet, agreeing to pay 10,000 livres a year to extinguish the Community's debts, as well as 50,000 livres in exchange of the moose and beaver duty, but this agreement was cancelled by the king in 1662. 

Then the Tadoussac trade was again leased and the 10 per cent. duty sublet the same year by Governor D'Avaugour himself.

In 1663, with the suppression of the Company of New France, the Communauté des Habitants ceased to exist, but the king allowed the 10 per cent. collected on importation to be applied to the discharge of its debt. This debt was estimated at 163,000 livres, and seems to have been repaid, but very slowly, through a long period of years.


See G. Lanctot, The elective council of Quebec (Can. hist. rev., June, 1934).

W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 109-111.

About the Colony Company

Of the many companies who have held a monopoly on furs only two were controlled by Canadians: Community of Inhabitants, for fifteen years in the middle of the 17th century, and the Company of the Colony. 

In 1699, because of a crisis of overproduction of the beaver, which had prevailed in recent years, colonial merchants were faced with an alternative: to reduce the price of hides they sell to the farmers of the Domaine d'Occident with the monopoly on the purchase of fur and their sale in Europe - or to take control of the monopoly. 

Opting for the second solution, they set up the Compagnie de la Colonie and sent two delegates to France to negotiate the transfer of the monopoly. An agreement was signed on 9 June 1700 between the two parties; In October, at Château Saint-Louis in Quebec City, it was ratified by representatives of Canada's elite, on behalf of the entire colony. In debt and unable to cope with the beaver crisis, the Compagnie de la Colonie was liquidated in 1706 and the monopoly was sold to French merchants.


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