Snag: Marie Pinel

Marriage record of Pierre Masse and Marie de la Chesnaye.  15 May 1644.

Marriage record of Pierre Masse and Marie de la Chesnaye. Notre Dame, Quebec, 15 May 1644. Drouin Collection.

Who was Marie Pinel?  Some claim she is the sister of Gilles Pinel.  I am inclined to doubt this.  First, that would have meant that in 1672 Gilles’ daughter Catherine married her first cousin, Denis Masse.  Kind of gross to the modern imagination.

But there are other reasons that I doubt the relationship too.  Marie Pinel, wife of Pierre Masse and neighbor of Gilles Pinel, had an unrelated “dit” name.  Gilles father was known as Nicolas Pinel dit LaFrance.  Marie was known as Pinel dit de Lachesnaye.  I know sons often picked up their own dit names in this era, but it seems very unlikely for a daughter to do it.

Marie’s name is also confusing because it varies over time.  She is de la Chesnaye when she marries in 1644.  She is Pinel at her first child Denis’ baptism in 1645.  She is Pinet or Pinette at the baptisms of her children in 1649, 1652, 1655, 1658. and 1660.  So there is a chance that she was never a Pinel at all.

But assuming she was a Pinel, another reason that I suspect Marie is not Gilles’ sister (as is widely claimed on the web) is the seemingly good documentation at the Ste. Marguerite chapel in La Rochelle for Nicolas Pinel’s marriage and the baptisms of his sons .  Nicolas married Madeleine Maraud on 29 September 1630.  They had their first son on 7 September 1631, and additional sons in 1635 and 1636.  If the records at Ste. Marguerite are good, why doesn’t Marie show up on the list?

It could be that she was overlooked. I can imagine her fitting in, let’s say in 1633 – but that wouldn’t makes sense with what we know of her life in New France. The first Canadian record of Marie Pinel is her marriage to Pierre Masse on the 15th of May, 1644 at Notre-Dame de Quebec. Around this time her “father” Nicolas Pinel was arranging to spend three years working for hire in Acadia, not Quebec, and her “mother” Madeleine Marauad was preparing to stay behind in France to watch their boys. If Marie Pinel had been born in the gap of Nicolas and Madeleine’s childbearing (1633,) then she would have been about 11 on her wedding day — and this would have been after her family sent her across an ocean to find a husband on her own.  Seems a bit heartless.

And then there are the other records that give us data about Marie Pinel’s age.  She would have been born in 1624 according to her 1659 confirmation where she was listed as 35, she would have been born in 1626 according to the 1666 census where she was listed as 40, and she would have been born in 1617 according to the 1667 census where she was listed as 50.  Nicolas Pinel was born @1605 — he would have been anywhere from 12-19 and unmarried if he were truly her father.

Still, I like the idea of Marie’s presence in Sillery (her husband acquired land there in 1645) drawing Nicolas to the area after his service in Port Royal, Acadia was completed.  As heartwarming and tidy as that story could be though, I don’t think she is Nicolas Pinel and Madeleine Maraud’s daughter.  My guess is that she is Nicolas Pinel’s young sister, a cousin or a niece, if she was any relation at all.

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2 thoughts on “Snag: Marie Pinel

  1. This reminds me of untangling a mess of necklaces – slow and sometimes tedious. But so rewarding when they all hang straight and separately. Of course I am a girl and untangled necklaces many times when I was young. You probably did not experience that on a regular basis like I did. I sometimes wonder if I have drawn a false conclusion and unintentionally sent that out into the world and someone else is just going to have to come along and untangle my mess. I suppose it’s better to make a mess on occasion than not to work on your tree at all. Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts.

  2. It is definitely better to make a mess than not to work on your tree at all! I have been guilty of false conclusions myself — I just think it is important to update and fix when we find ourselves down the wrong road. :-)

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