Today, during my research, I found an interesting topic in one ebook:
Toutes petites choses du régime français. Volume 2, Contrat de mariage d’autrefois.
When I examine a marriage contract in the time of New France, I am always amazed at the number of details that the latter possess. For a historian or a genealogist, these notarial acts are true mines of information to better interpret the histories of our ancestors.
On the other hand, did you know that the marriage contract,
“Under the French regime, brought together almost as many parents and friends than the religious ceremony itself. The invitations for the signing of the contract were send several weeks in advance and people prepared accordingly. The guests did not hesitate
to travel long distances to attend this celebration because it was truly a feast. “
So, parents and future bride and groom invited relatives and friends, who live near and far from the place of celebration. In examining certain acts, we can observe that the distance between the place of marriage and the village where some guests live, was really long:
At the time, the Montreal-Quebec ride lasted from four to six days, depending on the condition of the road and the weather.
Map showing the route of Chemin du Roy from Repentigny to Quebec. In reality, a route along Route 138,
which closely follows the route of Chemin du Roy.
In the early days, the families of Quebec invited the governor and the intendant of New France at the signing of the marriage contract. I presume these men were seen as royalty in Quebec. So, while family and friends were preparing for the big events of signing the contract and celebrating the marriage, for the notary, it is an anxious time. The notary’s task was not only to gather the necessary information, presented it all to the bride and groom and their guests and collect the signatures. The notary was also required to obtain the signature of all guests in the order of precedence (The order of precedence is the hierarchical order in which an element or person is placed relative to each other. – Wikipedia).
The importance of social rank was inestimable. The notary was to compose this list of individuals according to the priority of their title and importance in society. According to the old fashioned marriage Contract:
« Mais malgré touts ces précautions les froissements et les récriminations
arrivaient souvent, et le pauvre tabellion avait fort à faire pour contenter
ou satisfaire les parties lésées. On pardonnait toutes sortes de fautes mais
une injure à la préséance ne s’oubliait pas. Tous ces gens venus de leur
province nus comme des vers voulaient singer la cour de Versailles. »
“Every one wanted to sign his name according to his social rank.
An officer of the naval troops would have been insulted if his
Signature had been placed after that of a mere militia captain.
A councilor on the Superior Council would have roused if tabellion
Had brought before him a simple merchant or an untitled individual. “
And it was not only in New France that precedence was paramount. It seems that the history of Louisiana tells a few anecdotes.
The article of old fashioned Marriage contract , speaks of a marriage contract of Jean-François Hazeur with Catherine Martin de Lino. This contract took place under the French regime and receive by
« par le notaire Chamblon donne les noms de chaque invité avec
sa qualité, ses titres, sa relation de famille avec le futur marié et
la future mariée, etc. Il va sans dire que chaque invité signe dans
l’ordre de préséance établi, après le gouverneur, l’intendant et
les parents, les plus rapprochés. »
“By the notary Chamblon gives the names of each guest with
Quality, titles, family relationship with the future groom and
The future bride, etc. It goes without saying that each guest signs in
The order of precedence established, after the Governor, the
The closest relatives. “
The marriage contract in question has nearly 10 pages, two of which are entirely devoted to signatures. I found these signature pages here: