Surnames of Bay St George

Marche's of Bay St George

Marche As Seary (E. R. Seary) notes, confusion can arise between the English form MARCH and the French MARCHE (and, indeed, the English MARSH). The former is widespread in Newfoundland, whereas MARCUS is common on the west coast. Seary refers to family tradition claiming a MARCHE from Acadia settled at the Creek (du Cric) in St. George's Bay. Butler (228) notes a MARCHE from France, settling at St. George's before 1834. Indeed, in the 1839 listing there is a Rose MARSH, a native of Cape Brelon, with a family of two, a Francis MARCH, Sr., with a family of four, and a Francis MARCH, Jr., also of Cape Breton and also with a family of two. There is a John MARSH, with a family of seven, and a widow R. MARSH with a family of six, noted in the 1858 Forrest document. It is not known if the Rose MARSH of 1839 is the same person as the widow R. MARSH of 1858. It is clearly a distinct possibility. A Victor MARCH is noted in the 1871 Petition.

In his notes on the Jesso family (see above). Stride (Allan T. Stride) includes the name MARCHE amongst those deportees from Acadia who were at St. Pierre between 1764 and 1789, and again, as MARSH, as a prominent family of French descent at Little Bras d'Or in 1818 and later in the century at Bay St. George. Butler (36-37) includes a marriage entry from Fr. Belanger's records noting the marriage in 1854 of Guillaume SIMON, native of Brittany, domiciled at Bay St. George, and Marie MARCHE, a minor, daughter of the late Francois MARCHE and Emilie LeJeune of Port-a-Port (the more common earlier form of Port-au-Port). Stride (1990), proposes that as far as he can determine, the Newfoundland Marches, as well as most of the Nova Scotia Marches, are descendants of Jean-Joseph MARCHE. He died in Cape Breton, but a number of his sons and some "...of his daughters emigrated from Petit Bras D'Or—the area called the French Village -to Bay St. George in the 1830-35 time frame. It's possible a family or two may have arrived at a later date. Prior to Cape Breton, Jean-Joseph Marche had lived a number of years at St. Pierre after previously having come from France" (72).

Benoit's of Bay St George

The First Acadian Mi'kmaq Benoit's, four brothers named Luc, Georges, Paul and Isaac, came from Arichat, Cape Breton . The first three brothers had married three sisters, Elisabeth, Victoire and Seraphic LeBlanc of Margaree. Isaac's descendants settled in the Codroy Valley where, according to Stephen White, his descendants spoke English and Gaelic. Descendants of Paul went to the Bay d'Espoir area, while Luc and Georges remained in the vicinity of St. George's Bay, where the four had first settled in 1850. Their descendants spoke French until the third generation, when the males began taking english speaking wives; their children tended to be purely anglophone.

Allan T. Stride of Ottawa provides further details on the BENOIT family history. He notes that Isaac BENOIT died in 1830 at the age of 32, leaving five children: Thomas, Michel, Marie, Joseph and Louis-Toussainl. Isaac's widow, Felicite Longuepcc, married Germain Leblanc in 1834 and eventually settled at Flat Bay, Isaac's eldest son. Thomas, settling in the Codroy Valley.

Stride takes up Brosnan's 1948 account. Brosnan relates the story of Henry L'Official who, having left Quebec with his Mi'kmaq wife, was shipwrecked off Newfoundland, eventually settling at Sandy Point, Bay St. George, where his daughter "formed an alliance with a Frenchman born on the passage from France, this man's name was Benoit." Of L'Official's three children, Marie, Anne and Georges, Stride notes that Marie married Jcan-Rene CAMUS of St. Pierre in 1792. and Anne married Francois Benoit at Sandy Point in 1790. Stride then refers to an Augustin Benoit, deported with his parents Claude Benoit and Anne Comeau from Ile-Royale to France in 1758. At the same time, Pierre and Marguerite Guerin, and their daughter Francoise, also deported from Ile Royale, were linked by marriage at St-Servan-sur-Mer, near St-Malo, with the union of Augustin Benoit and Francoise Terriot in 1760. Together with their children, Sebastien (b. St-Servan, 1760), Francois (1764), Adelaide (1765), and Anne (1767), these last three all born in the Falkland Islands, they returned to St-Servan, where Louis was born in 1769 and Anne-Marie in 1773, and thence to St. Pierre, which the growing Family may have reached as early as 1776. Adelaide was married in St. Pierre in 1787. by which time both Augustin and Francoise had died.

It is the son Francois Benoit, born in the Falkland Islands, who married a Mi'kmaq Anne L'Official in 1790, at Sandy Point. Their marriage was "rehabilitated" at St. Pierre in 1791 in the presence of Georges L'Official, Anne's brother, and Magdaleine Terriot, a maternal aunt. In the autumn of 1799, together with Jean-Rene CAMUS and Georges and Marie L'Official, Francois Benoit journeyed to Quebec City where Jean and Marie's marriage was blessed; Jacques, Jeanne and Elisabeth CAMUS were baptized, as were Marie-Magdaleine (b. 1795) and Georges (b. 1798) Benoit. The Benoit family took root in the Bay St. George region. Butler (33), drawing on Fr. Belanger's records, notes that a Benoit from "Canada" settled in St. George's in 1788. It may be the Francois Benoit born in the Falkland Islands. In 1839, however, three families of Bennetts are noted at Sandy Point: a Brzou (?) Bennett with a family of three, a native of Cape Breton; a John Bennett, one in his family, also born in Cape Brcton; and a Francis Bennett, a native of Canada, aged 80, established at Sandy Point for 50 years- i.e. since about 1789 or 1790. He is certainly the Canadian who married Anne L'Officiall in 1790 at Sandy Point. An annotation says that Francis Bennett was an English subject, but of French descent.

That branches of the BENOIT family were well established in the area by the middle of the nineteenth century is attested to by documents published by the Newfoundland and Labrador Genealogical Society. The Society's Newsletter of the Summer, 1987 (Vol. 3, No. 3) contains (pp. 15-17) in an article by Provincial Archivist David Davis entitled "A Document from St. George's Bay, 1858," an appendix from the Journal of the House of Assembly. It was an appeal for relief for the distressed people of Bay St. George addressed to the Governor, Sir Alexander Banerman, by Henry H. Forrest, a merchant of St. George's. It concludes with the names of destitute families and the number of children in each. Seventy-nine families are named, including a John BENOIT, an Oliver BENOIT, a George BENOIT Sr., a George BEN01T Jr., a Louis BENOlT Sr., and a Louis BEN0IT Jr. Between these six heads of households they had forty mouths to feed. According to Ommer (226) there were as many as five families of BENOIT in the Codroy Valley in the period 1845-1870.

In 1871, fishermen of Bay St. George petition the Governor of St. Pierre & Miquelon. The petition, with a list of 123 petitioners, is provided in translation in an article by Stride (1988). In the petition we find twelve BENOITs listed, including Edouard, Francois, George, Honore, James, Jean, Jean pere, John, Magloire, Maxime, Michel and Paul. We note how the first names are in a majority French, with English names occurring George for Georges, James for Jacques, John for Jean. But none as yet have apparently changed BENOIT to BENNETT.

BEN0IT ranks 44th amongst Acadian family names (Massignon, 58), all of whom descend from a single line first attested in a 1686 census at Port Royal, and originally from Rochefort in the former French province of Aunis. Oral tradition on the Port-au-Port Peninsula suggests that they are of Mi'kmaq descent, but spoke french. Butler (39) notes the arrival at Fox Island River of BENOlTs prior to 1851.

Benoit, like its English equivalent BENNETT, is a very widespread name in their respective countries, deriving from the medieval BENEDICTUS, 'blessed.' It is listed in Le Menn as the 367th most common surname in Brittany, but the 100th overall in France. One must assume that the vast majority of BENNETTs in the area were originally BENOITs, the name, like so many others in the region being anglicized over time.

The northwest coast BENNETTs or BENOITs presumably descend from a branch related to that which settled in the Bay St. George area in the early decades of the 19th century. According to Hutchings and Buehler (25), Charles, Moses, John and Henry (Harry) benoit came to Cow Head from Bay St. George, Charles and John BENNETT being listed in 1871 by Lovell. A Sebastian benoit may have come from Arichat, Cape Breton Island. Charles BENOIT, a Mi;kmaq settled at St. Paul's in the 1850s, and alter marrying Rebecca HUTCHINGS, a daughter of Elias GIFFORD, an Englishman who was the first settler at St. Paul's, became the progenitor of all the BENOITs, or BENNETTs as they now are, at St. Paul's.

On the south coast, six instances of BENOIT, and eleven of BENOITE are recorded al Burgeo. BENOITE may be an anglicized spelling of an already anglicized family, an alternative to the outright anglicization of the name as bennett, also found in some south coast, communities; bul the form bunoite is also known in France, as a malronymic version of the name. Following two and a half columns of BENNETTs in St. John's, there are 13 BENOlTs listed, twelve in St. John's, one in Upper Gullies. Two BENOITs occur at Maryslown, one each at Shoal Harbour, Applelon. Lewisporle and Seldom. Amongst a dozen BENNETTs in the Placentia area, there was a single BENOIT at Little Barasway. There were three instances at Labrador City-Wabush.

A final mention should be made of the BENOITs of Conne River and St. Alban's. with respectively 31 and 17 occurrences. We may assume that the majority of these BENOlTs are Micmacs, who, following the custom noted by Scary, sometimes adopted the surname of Europeans with whom they worked as guides. It was noted' earlier that Paul BENOIT, one of four brothers coming to Newfoundland fron Arichat, Cape Brelon Island, moved to Bay d'Lspoir. According to Bob Cuff (corr.. Jan. 1997), Paul BENOIT apparently acted as a guide to the telegraph survey in the1850s, living with his family at White Bear Bay; he and members of his family were later telegraph linemen on the south coast, finally settling at Conne River, li documents Paul benoit is mentioned as being a Micmac Indian, though the reference may be to a "Jackylar" son of the same name. Jackylars, or Jacotars c French Jacquotard?) were the offspring of mixed French-Micmac marriages. It also means that the four original brothers, from Arichat, must themselves have been Mi'kmaq.

Jesso's of Bay St George

Alexander JESSO (1815-1927), from Cape Breton Island, settled on the Port-au-Port Peninsula in the mid-19lh century. While maintains that the first JESSEAU settled in St. George's about 1830, coining from Bras d'Or in Cape Breton.

Referring to various censuses from Cape Brelon Island, Stride notes the evolving forms of the name JESSO: 1818, JESSAM (Alexander, Andrew, Baptiste, Joseph, Lewis); 1838, JESSOME (Andrew); 1861, jassome (Alexander, Ldward, Isaac, Henry, John, Thomas, William); 1871, jassome (Alexander, Kdward, Francis, Henry); JESSO (Alexander, Isaac, Henry, John, Thomas, William); the repeated first names must clearly be the same individuals. Allan T.Stride notes that there was a JOSSEAUME family in Prince Hdward Island before 1755, and that Joseph, Alexander Sr., and Didier JESSEAU and their families were established in Newfoundland by the mid-1850s. In 1839, a Joseph JESSOU, a native of Sidney, Cape Breton, with a family of twenty, was listed as a resident of Sandy Point, as was a Louis JESSOU, with a family of one. The 1858 Forrest document notes an Alexander JOSSFiAU with a family of nine, and a Daisley josseau with "about nine" in his family.

Further research prompted Stride to assert that the JESSAMs (JHSSOs) of Little Bras d'Or, noted in the Cape Breton Census of 1818, might well be the descendants ol'Jean JOSSEAUME and Maric EOURNIER who were at St. Pierre in 1787. It is a well established fact, according to Stride, that the French village of Petit Bras d'Or, C'ape Breton Island, was founded by two groups of people, including some families from St. Pierre & Miquelon, and others directly from France (the census does not indicate that many of their grand-parents had been deported from Acadia to France afler 1755).

Stride notes that the names EEJEUNE, ROY, MARCHE, JOSSEAUME and ALEXANDRA were all listed at St. Pierre between 1764 and 1789; the names YOUNG, KJNU, MARSH imarche, march), jessam and alexander, all of French descent, were prominent at Little Bras d'Or in 1818, as they were at Bay St. George in the 19th century. Both Jessome and Jesso are found in present day Nova Scotia.

Alexander's of Bay St George

E. R. Scary, noting that the name is common in England, Scotland, Ireland and Jersey, does include reference to a merchant of the name at Sandy Point in 1849, and to John ALEXANDER, a fisherman at Indian Head (St. George's Bay) in 1871, originally from Chezzetcook, Nova Scolia, and of French stock. Scary further notes that the name is now found almost exclusively on the west Coast, especially at Stephenville and Kippens.

White notes a family of Pierrots from Bras d'Or settling at St. George's in I830. The head of the family, Alexandre PIERROT, for reasons unknown, took as its Family name Alexandra; Butler (32-33), taking up this point, insists on writing ALEXENDRE, without apparent justification for the spelling modification. In the 1858 Forrest document, a Desire ALEXANDRE is listed, with a family of 11, and a John M. Alexandre with a family of six. The latter (John) is presumably the same John ALEXANDER noted by Scary.

The 1871 Petition includes a Desire ALEXANDRA senior and a Desire junior, as well as a PierreALEXANDRIA. Stride reports (Corr., Oct. 1985;) the presence of the names LEJEUNE, ROY, MARCH, JOSSEAUME and Alexandre at St. Pierre between 1764 and 1789, and that the names YOUNG, King, Marsh, Jessam and Alexander, all of French descent, were prominent at Little Bras d'Or in 1818, as they were later in the 19th century at Bay St. George. The name ALEXANDRE is present at St. Pierre in 1765 (Poirier 197) and recurs as part of the band of Acadian exiles. Clearly, names appeared both in their English and French forms, depending on circumstance.

Chaisson's of Port au Port and St. George's Bay

Guyon Denis Chaisson came from France to Port Royal, Acadia in 1664. E.R. Seary notes a CHAISSON, captain of the Providence in 1854, and an Isidore CHAISSON, a fisherman at Channel in 1871; he records at the same date a badly garbled version of the name, SHUISOING, of Codroy.

The Newfoundland form of the name, CHAISSON, is a variant of the more usual Acadian form CHIASSON (although they arc indistinguishable in prounication), and not, as Scary believes, a variant of the French family name CHASSON. Thomas W. White is aware of the (Phillip)Nazaire CHIASSON and brother Julien who settled at Cape St. George in about 1855.

Rosemary E. Ommer ( notes three families of CHAISSON in the Codroy Valley betwen 1845 and 1870. The name CHIASSON remains common in Cheticamp.

Allan Stride confirms Seary's early references, asserting that the CHIASSONs most assuredly lived in Newfoundland as early as 1858 since the Cheticamp church records record the birth of Clotilde CHIASSON, daughter of Felicien and Domitilde CHIASSON, as being born in Bay St. George, Newfoundland, in 1858. Felicien CHIASSON, however, did not return to Newfoundland, but lived the remainder of his life in Cheticamp.

Stride's own ancestors included Placide CHIASSON and Peqictue LE BLANC of Margarec, who were in Newfoundland by I860 or earlier; their daughter, Mary Anne, who married Stride's great grandfather, Louis Young, and lived at Clam Bank Cove, was born in Newfoundland in 1864. There are many descendants living in the Bay St George area today.


French Family Names of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1999, by Gerald Thomas

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posted on March 11, 2002

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