Pioneers: François Amirault and Maire Pitre
François Amirault dit Tourangeau was the first and only person to settle in North America to have this name. We do not know exactly when he came to Acadie or in what capacity (colonist or soldier). Since he has a “dit” name it has often been assumed that he must have been a soldier who stayed in the New World after his service was complete. Tourangeau however could simply have been a nickname to indicate that he was originally from Tours or Touraine in France. Unfortunately, DNA tests carried out in 2004 could not link him to any Amirault’s currently living in that area of France.
Some authors have speculated that he arrived on L’Oranger, which sailed from La Rochelle in 1671. This however has not been confirmed. The first census of Acadie was completed in 1671, and our ancestor’s name does not appear in that document. This could mean that he either was not yet in Acadie, or it could be another indication that he was a soldier. Unless more documents surface, we may never know more about François’s life before he came to Acadie.
One interesting bit of information that the 1671 Census does include is the name of François’s future wife, Marie Pitre who was born at Port Royal in 1666.
This reads: (edge tool maker) Jean PITRE, age 35 years, wife Marie Peselet age 26 years, their three children: Marie age 5 years, Catherine age 3 years, and Claude age 9 months. Live stock, one cow.
François appears in the 1686 Census as François Tourangeau, living in Port Royal. He is listed as being 42 years old (born 1644) and married to Marie who is listed as 22 years old and they have one daughter, Jeanne who is listed as being 2 years old. The ages of the parents seem suspect as François would be 20 years older than Marie who should actually be listed as 20 years old in 1686 if the census of 1671 is correct. This would then make François 22 years her senior. This seems a mistake, not so much because of the large difference in ages between François and Marie, but more so because we know that the patriarch lived until sometime after 1737. This would mean that he lived to 93 years of age which, though not unheard of, would have been quite unusual at that time.
The 1686 Census also indirectly tells us that François and Marie would have been married at Port Royal around 1683 or 1684, but no record survives of this union. They do not seem to have any worldly possessions (no gun, no tilled land, no cow, no sheep).
In the 1693 Census, François and Marie are now living at the River of Port Razoir and have 4 children and 1 gun. They likely moved to land that had been given to Marie by her mother. In general, Acadians are mostly known for their unique form of lowland farming of reclaimed salt marshes around the Bay of Fundy. However, our ancestor, and those Acadians who settle around Cape Sable, survived mostly from fishing, hunting, subsistence farming, and trading.
In the 1708 Census, François and family are now located in Cape Sable with nine children (family number 4). Their eldest daughter, Jeanne (Marie-Jeanne) is married and has formed her own family (family number 6 in this census). She has 5 children and is married to Joseph D’Azy (Muis d’Entremont)?
At this point, François disappears from census documents, but we can trace his whereabouts from baptismal and marriage registers of the parish of St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal. Between May 22 and 23 of 1705, eight of François and Marie’s children were baptized (Charles, Jacques, Marguerite, Anne, Joseph, Jeanne, Magdaleine, Pierre). Both parents are listed as being habitants of Cape Sable. François and Marie are both listed as inhabitants of the East Coast of Acadie in 1714 on the marriage registration for François (son) and Magdelaine Laure. They are still on the East Coast of Acadie in 1718 according to the marriage registration of Joseph and Marguerite Laure. In 1719 they are simply referred to as habitants of the coast in the marriage registration of Magdaleine and Jean Comeau. In the 1723 marriage registration of Marguerite and Jacques Mius de Pobomcoup, François and Marie are said to be living in Cape Sable. By November 1725, they are both listed as living in Cobequid (present day Truro), in the marriage register for Jeanne and Jacques Giroard. In 1726, they are still listed as living in Cobequid in the July marriage registration of Pierre and Anne Brun, and on both the August marriage registrations of Jacques and Jeanne Lor, and Charles and Claire Dugast. (source of marriage registrations information http://novascotia.ca/archives/virtual/acadian/archives.asp?ID=1118)
After 1726, Marie Pitre disappears from records, age 60 years. François would live another 11 years. The final document which has been found indicating that François is still living in Cobequid on 15 Apr 1737, is a bill of sale of his land in Cape Sable to his children. As he was illiterate, he signed this document with an X, which was notarized by Nicolas Gautier. After this, François also disappears from history.
François Amirault dit Tourangeau and Marie Pitre had 11 children:
1. Marie-Jeanne Amirault: b/abt 1684, Port Royal, Acadie. m1/ abt 1699 – Joseph Mius d’Azy (Port Royal). m2/ 29 May 1731 – Jean Benois (Cobequid).
2. François (fils) Amirault: b/ abt 1687, Port Royal, Acadie. m/16 Jan 1714 – Magdelaine Laure. Deported from Port Royal, NS, in 1755, to Connecticut with his entire family. They would spend 12 years there and resettle in St.Jacques-de-l’Achigan, Québec in 1767, where they became known as Mireault.
3. Joseph Amirault: b/ 18 Dec 1689, Cape Sable (?), bap/ 22 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 30 Jan 1718 – Marguerite Laure. Deported from Port Royal, NS, in 1755, to Connecticut with his entire family. They would spend 12 years there and then resettle in St.Jacques-de-l’Achigan, Québec in 1767, where they became known as Mireault.
4. Anne Amirault: b/ 14 Dec 1691, Cape Sable (?), bap/ 23 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 12 Jan 1717 – Jacques Leger.
5. Jeanne Amirault: b/ 4 Nov 1694, Cape Sable (?), bap/ 23 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 26 Nov 1725 – Jacques Giroard, d/ 14 Jun 1740 (widow of Jacques Giroard).
6. Magdaleine Amirault: b/ 4 Mar 1697, Cape Sable (?), bap/ 23 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 3 Oct 1719 – Jean Comeau.
7. Pierre Amirault: b/ 9 May 1699, Cape Sable (?), bap/ 23 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 8 Jul 1726 – Anne Brun. Died in Beaubassin, NS, 1752.
8. Charles Amirault: b/ 14 Jun 1700, Cap de Sable (?), bap/ 22 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 28 Aug 1726 – Claire Dugas. Deported from Bacarro, NS, in 1756, to Marblehead and Boston, Massachusetts with his entire family. They would spend 10 years there and then resettle near their lands former lands in present day Amirault’s Hill, NS, in 1767.
*9. Jacques Amirault: b/ 31 Jul 1702, Cap de Sable (?), bap/ 22 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 24 Aug 1726 – Jeanne Lor, d/ aft 1767, Butte-des- Amirault, NS. Deported from Bacarro, NS, in 1756, to Marblehead and Boston, Massachusetts with his entire family. They would spend 10 years there and then resettle near their former lands in present day Amirault’s Hill, NS, in 1767.
10. Marguerite Amirault: b/ 9 Dec 1704, Cap de Sable (?), bap/ 22 May 1705, St. Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadie, m/ 30 Sep 1723 – Jacques Mius de Pobomcoup.
11. Elizabeth (Isabelle) Amirault: b/ 1709, Port Royal, m/ 1730 – Antoine Aucoin (Cobequid), d/ 21 Jan 1766, St. Enogat, France.