Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Nicholas Marsolet de Saint-Aignan

Male Bef 1601 - 1677  (> 76 years)


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  • Name Nicholas Marsolet de Saint-Aignan 
    Alternate birth Abt 1601  Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Born Bef 7 Feb 1601  [2
    Gender Male 
    Baptised 7 Feb 1601  Saint-Pierre-le-Portier, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 15 May 1677  Québec City, Québec Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Buried 16 May 1677  Québec City, Québec Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Person ID I31691  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 7 Dec 2019 

    Father Nicolas Marsolet 
    Mother Marguerite de Planes 
    Married Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F18810  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Marie Barbier,   b. Bef 20 May 1619,   d. Bef 21 Feb 1688  (Age < 68 years) 
    Married 26 Mar 1637  Saint-Sauveur, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Children 
    +1. Louise Marsolet,   b. Bef 17 May 1640,   d. 18 Apr 1712  (Age > 71 years)
    Last Modified 7 Dec 2019 
    Family ID F7403  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Called by the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (citation details below) "interpreter, clerk in the fur trade, ship’s master, trader, and seigneur." "In Marsolet’s long career two periods are distinguishable, during which he adopted in turn each of the two conceptions of colonization whose partisans were at variance in New France. On the one hand the merchants and their clerks, concerned solely with furs and wealth, were opposed to the establishment of a French population; on the other hand Champlain and his associates were struggling to populate the colony and preach the gospel to the Indians. Until about 1636 Marsolet seems to have supported the merchants; subsequently he went over to the other camp."

      He appears to have been of an irascible and mercurial disposition, playing multiple sides of various conflicts with little evident heed for the opinions of others. His skill as an interpreter of native languages no doubt helped him weather the wrath of powerful people, such as Samuel Champlain, whom he affronted. More from the Dictionary: "From the moment he reached New France, Marsolet probably divided his activities between the posts at Tadoussac, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and the Algonkin villages of the Ottawa River region, living with the Indians in the greatest licence and continually on the look-out for substantial profits. This at least is what Champlain hinted at in 1629, when he accused Marsolet and Brûlé of remaining 'without religion, eating meat on Friday and Saturday,' of indulging themselves 'in unrestrained debauchery and libertinism,' and especially of having 'betrayed their King and sold their country' for love of money, by putting themselves at the disposal of the English when Quebec was taken by the Kirke brothers."

      He remained in New France throughout that period of English occupation, and when the French returned, he switched his allegiance to the party that favored colonization. It is at this point that we see him marry and father a large family. But he appears to have never made much use of the various grants of land made to him. He made over the seigneury of Bellechasse to Alexandre Berthier; he neglected and in many cases sold various other tracts, preferring to concentrate on the highly profitable fur trade. His Dictionary entry concludes "We take pleasure in recognizing in him one of those men venturesome in spirit, courageous, rugged in endeavour, who even although they were not always above reproach contributed to the building of New France." Okay then. Much of the Dictionary is like this, an un-selfconscious paean to the glories of white colonialism. But it's clear that even in the context of those times, Marsolet was a character.

  • Sources 
    1. [S38] Genealogy of the French in North America, by Denis Beauregard. Complete version, 2021.

    2. [S2180] Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

    3. [S38] Genealogy of the French in North America, by Denis Beauregard. Complete version, 2021., year and town only.