Morency History

Map of the greater Paris area with the Montmorency domain highlighted in red

After the great expeditions of Jacques Cartier to North America from 1534 to 1541, a half century elapsed before the French became interested again in the new continent. Samuel de Champlain, the geographer of King Henry IV, set out in 1603 on the first of many voyages, sailing up the Saint Lawrence River, and returning to France to inform the King of the economic opportunities and strategic importance of the area. Thus began 50 years of French exploration, development and trade in New France.

With the need to populate and develop the new territory, the King awarded land grants to meritorious citizens willing to immigrate to New France. Most of those who immigrated were peasant farmers who worked as serfs on the feudal domains of their respective lords. However, if they elected to immigrate, they would own their grants by royal mandate if they remained in New France and farmed the land for at least three years.

As time passed, New France began to be referred to as “kanata” (Canada) from an Iroquois word meaning village/settlement and used when referring to the area. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain established the French settlement called Kebec (Quebec), an Algonquin name that means “where the river narrows”, and now one of the oldest cities in North America. In 1867, the country became officially known as Canada after maps and usage of the name became commonplace.

The earliest record of our family in France is that of Didier Baucher who was living on the Montmorency domain (depicted in red on the upper left map) of the Val d’Oise Department in the Ile de France Region 9.5 miles north of Paris. There he married Jacqueline Fond. Of their children, we only know of their son, Antoine Baucher dit (also known as) Montmorency (1596/12-30-1648), the father of Guillaume, who, along with his brother, Rene, elected to immigrate to New France in 1653.

Map of Quebec Region Since most of the shipping activity was at the port of Honfleur, we can safely assume that Guillaume Baucher dit (also known as) Montmorency (first generation), set out on a ship from this port. Upon his arrival he settled on the land grant that was awarded him at the Ste Famille Parish on the Ile d’Orleans (shown on the map at the right).

His initial grant was three arpents (about 2½ acres) fronting the St. Lawrence River. Take a moment to view the layout of the original grants, the appearance of Guillaume’s orginal grant today and the Morency general store and chalets. He farmed this land over the next ten years, sold it at a profit and purchased a larger piece of property of 6 arpents. By the time of his death in 1687, he had parlayed his property into a profitable farm of more than 50 arpents with 13 head of cattle, a better than average size farm at that time. He also had entered into partnerships purchasing and selling land in Quebec and bought into a portion of his father-in-law’s estate.

Guilllaume’s future wife, Marie Paradis, arrived in New France in 1652 with her parents, Pierre Paradis and Barbe Guyon. Her family came from a somewhat privileged class that was relatively cultured for that time. She went to private school in Quebec operated by the Ursuline nuns where she completed her education.

It is unknown how she met Guillaume Baucher dit (also known as) Montmorency, but at sixteen years of age she married him on October 16, 1656 at the Notre Dame Church in Quebec as the recorded document attests. Her parents and grandparents gave her a very generous dowry which helped to accelerate the growth of Guillaume’s original land grant.

A little less than two years after they were married, Marie gave birth to her first born, Martin. She would eventually give birth to 15 children, the twelth of which, Joseph Marie, would become the second generation of Franco-American Morencys that bear my name today.

Ste Famille Church and cemetery where Guillaume 
was buried Guillaume died on October 26, 1687 and was buried on the Ile d’Orleans at the Sainte Famille Church Cemetery pictured on the left. Following his death, the locality name of Montmorency associated with Baucher was shortened to Morency and it became the surname of his children.

There is nothing recorded regarding the lives of Joseph Marie (second generation) nor of (Joseph) Basile (third generation). However, records show that Augustin (fourth generation) moved from Ile d’Orleans about 150 miles north to Trois Pistoles (pictured below) on the right bank of the Saint Lawrence River, married Josephte Lebel on January 19, 1768, and was heir to paternal land.

Augustin’s son, Basile (fifth generation), along with his son, Cyriac (sixth generation), built and operated a number of saw mills along the Trois Pistoles River to meet the demand for wood from England. In 1853, they sold their land and mills for an agreed upon annuity and a cash settlement for Cyriac. Unfortunately, in 1871 the mills went bankrupt under the new owners and Basile and Cyriac lost everything.


Trois Pistoles City Hall Cyriac and his family, including his son, Basile (seventh generation) and his family, left Canada during the late 1890s to settle in Salem, MA.

After arriving in Salem, one of Basile’s sons, Vezina (eighth generation), my grandfather, became a U.S. citizen in 1902.

Vezina married Augustine Thibault on November 16, 1903 in Salem, MA and had five sons, one of whom was my father, Ernest (ninth generation) (4-5-1910/4-3-1966).

My father married my mother (Beatrice Morin) at St. Joseph’s Church in Salem, MA on September 4, 1933, and they had four children : my brother Conrad, me, and my two sisters, Joan and Dorothy. We are the tenth generation of Franco-American Morencys in North America.