52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 7: Pierre Miville dit Le Suisse

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Pierre Miville was born around 1602 in Fribourg, Switzerland to Isaac Miville and Salome Lomene. He was a joiner (a kind of detail carpenter, making stairs, window frames, other things with joints) in Fribourg, and later joined the Swiss army, to be sent to neighboring ally France to participate in Cardinal Richelieu’s siege of LaRochelle (a religious war between Catholics and French Protestant Huguenots). After the siege of La Rochelle, Pierre next went to nearby Brouages, where Richelieu was appointed governor and began many new construction projects. It can be assumed that Pierre, with his past as a joiner found employment there. In 1631 he married local French woman Charlotte Maugis in Brouages and the couple had seven children. Several important Brouages figures served as Godparents to his children, suggesting that he had a relatively high social standing amongst his French peers.

Pierre brought his family and his capacity for skilled work to New France in the 1640’s, one of the small group of French colonists to come freely and of their own accord, not bound to any company or cause. The Governor of New France granted him a tract of land in the seigneurie of Lauzon. He took up the “dit name”, of “Le Suisse” and is known as “Pierre Miville dit Le Suisse”. Dit names were popular in New France – they were aliases, sometimes referring to a persons’ place of origin, as in Le Suisse, sometimes referring to a physical characteristic of a person – “Lebrun”. Sometimes they referred to an ancestor’s given name, “dit Noel”. There are other sources for these dit names as well, and they sure do add complications to French Canadian genealogy. Some family branches dropped the original surnames altogether, and many dit names-turned-full-fledged-surnames live on today – Lavallee, Lafleur, Lavigne, Laframboise, Desrochers, Desjardins, Lebrun, Langlois… Castonguay is another, derived from original settler Gaston Guay. Some dit names were dropped though, as is the case of Le Suisse. Miville is carried on today in descendants in Quebec.

His family flourished and multiplied in the harsh new world. He became Capitaine de la Cotes in the late 1660’s in his parish – a community leader, justice keeper, defenseman of sorts. He died at age 67, on 14 Oct 1669 in Lauzon and was buried in Quebec City.

 

I am descended from Pierre through more than one of his children, and I am not alone on that one – Pierre left a plethora of descendants of all different surnames, especially since he had many daughters who married into other family names. He is considered to be the 7th of 10 French settlers identified by the University of Montreal’s PRDH with the most descendants married by the year 1800. He has been well researched by other descendants, there are even several websites devoted to the research of his descendants and the details of his life.

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