The Kings’ Daughters

In the early days of new France, the vast majority of immigrants were men. Population growth was very slow in Quebec as most men returned to France after they had fulfilled their employment contract.

The French people knew a lot about their wilderness colony as the Jesuits published a best sellereach year called, Jesuit Relations which was based on written reports from their missionary priests. to be sure, some passages in the books were genuine hair raisers

Nevertheless, a trickle of Frenchmen migrated to new France in hopes of getting rich in the lucrative fur trade or building a large farm from the vast lands waiting to be claimed and cleared.

The French king, Louis IVX, wanted to increase the flow of his Roman Catholic subjects to new France rather than just dumping convicts and undesirables on the Quebec waterfront.

The obvious solution to population growth was to encourage French women to start a new life in Quebec. King Louis came up with a proposition. all young, single, unmarried women who were willing to immigrate to new France would be given a dowry of money, sewing and household items and other goods a new wife needed to start a home. and of course a one way ocean passage. these young ladies were soon referred to as the Daughters of the King.

Early on, the streets of Paris and other towns were swept clean of homeless women, female criminals, prostitutes, etc. and all were encouraged to make the trip.

Soon, the King realized that it would be better to recruit women who grew-up on farms as they would already be accustomed to the rigors of a pioneer wife.

When the ships carrying Daughters of the King docked at Quebec each year, a gaggle of bachelor Frenchmen would be waiting. The men would rush aboard to meet the women, hoping to find a keeper. Choosing was not the exclusive right of the men. The young women could reject a suitor as well. Some of those who agreed to wed were immediately married by Jesuit priests waiting on the dock.

As you might imagine, the most desirable ladies were big and muscular and able to work side-by-side with their husband clearing land, building a log cabin home, tending livestock as well as keeping house and birthing babies.

However, these pioneer ladies of new France liked to doll-up too. if they could, they’d buy the latest Paris fashions and show off at church to such an extent that the priests were constantly complaining.

The Kings’ Daughters

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