Finding out more about an individual

This week I had a particular goal: to learn more about the children of my 7th great-grandfather, Nicolas Roy.

Nicolas was married to Marie-Madeleine Leblond and they had 10 children together. He married a second time after the death of his wife and had one more daughter with Marie-Renée DesRivières.

My book delves more specifically into the patrilineal line of the Roy family. It follows primarily the sons from whom I am descended through to my father. But following just the progenitor sons wasn’t enough for me to feel satisfied. I still wanted to know more about the siblings. Who were the other children which this man Nicolas had and what had happened to them?

I have found that when you can spend a bit of time doing this kind of research, some interesting facts might turn up. As it turns out, I did find out something interesting. Namely, that one of the daughters, Angelique, was murdered by her husband with an ax. The case went to trial and the husband was executed by being hung in a public square in lower town Quebec.

I found this information without leaving my house.

I used 3 main tools for finding this information:

  1. Family Connections: To find the family, I used Nos Origines. This website is free to use and you can find many of the individuals from the first 200 years of French-Canada. They start with the immigrant from France and each subsequent family that descends from them. It allows for a quick way to move through the individuals, to see their children, their spouses’ family of origin, and so forth.
  2. Family Data: I also used Genealogie Quebec and PRDH. They are connected. Genealogie Quebec has the transcriptions and fields of data and the PRDH has the records from which they are derived. Using them does require a subscription if you want to do substantial research. A free version is available, but has limitations. You can use them to verify the information available in Nos Origines and sometimes find more information on families. I found, for example, where an ancestor was buried and noticed that it was 70 kilometers from where she had originally been living. Glancing at her family page, I saw that one of her sons lived there, thus I could conclude that she had moved in with her son in her old age and subsequently died there.
  3. Family Facts and Stories: To find out anything of detail on the lives of the family, I found a very useful resource called BAnQ, and particularly their “Pistard” collection within the Archives. The Pistard collection includes any court records and documents, including legal cases. This is how I found out about the trial for the murder of Angelique Roy, my ancestor’s sister.

From these three sources, I was able to write a brief life story of Angelique Roy, sister of Etienne Roy, and daughter of Nicolas Roy and Madeleine Leblond:

“The Hanged Man,” by Paul-Albert Besnard, 1873

Angelique married her first husband Louis Baudouin, who was from Isle d’Orléans in 1705 in St-Michel-de-Bellechasse. They had eight children, five of whom married. After her husband died, his land in Berthier (also in the seigneury of Bellechasse) was divided among his heirs. In 1729, Angelique married her second husband, Nicolas de Launay dit Lacroix, who was born in St. Mâlo, in Brittany, France. They had three children together. They may not have had a very happy marriage.

On 12 September 1751, Nicolas de Launay went to trial for the murder of his wife, Angelique. He was accused of murdering her with an ax. According to the case summary, the ax was brought in to the trail as exhibit piece, witnesses were called, the man who arrested the accused was questioned, and testimonies were made to show proof of confrontations.

The man was found guilty and was sentenced to death, to be strangled on the gallows in a public square in lower town of Quebec. It was ordered that his body remain there for six hours, his property to be confiscated, and a fine of 300 pounds to be paid to the king for the expense of the trial. Angelique was buried on 24 August 1751 in Montmagny. She was sixty-three years old. Their surviving daughter moved to Montreal, no doubt to avoid the stigmatism attached to the murder of her mother. There was no motivation provided for the murder.

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