When I first ran into Gilles Pinel in the family tree, I didn’t trust him. I don’t share blood with him. He was Anne Leodet’s second (and enduring) husband and Barbe Nepveu’s step-father. Gilles and Anne’s first-born daughter, Catherine, married the boy next door, Denis Masse – even though Denis had been of marriageable age for years. I thought maybe Gilles tried to save the “best” for his own blood, that maybe he didn’t accept my kin into his heart.
But it turns out that Denis Masse was not such a great catch. He was dead within a few years of marriage to Catherine. Besides, Gilles did not abandon Barbe in her adult life. Instead, he served as a godfather for her first child (1669) and he asked her husband, Nicolas Sylvestre, to serve as godfather to his son (1673.) He couldn’t have been that bad of a guy.
So I came to wonder: how did Gilles come to Sillery where he met and married Anne Leodet? Well, the answer is simple: he followed his father, Nicolas Pinel.
Nicolas Pinel was born around 1605 in Champagnoles, Normandy, France. He married Madeleine Marault at Ste. Marguerite chapel, in La Rochelle, France on 29 September 1630. Together they had five sons: Antoine (b. 1631), Gilles and Pierre (b. 1635, only Gilles survived), Pierre (b. 1636), and later, Isaac (b. 1645).** In 1645, Nicolas signed a three-year contract to work at Port Royal in Acadia. It is believed that Madeleine remained in France to raise their boys. After Nicolas’ contract was completed, he settled outside Quebec. On 16 September 1650 he acquired land and a home near the Cap Rouge River, next door to Sillery.
It is believed that Nicolas Pinel had his sons Gilles and Pierre join him and that they worked the land there together.
It is hard to figure out exactly how Gilles first met Anne Leodet, but it is easy to imagine that they would have come to know each other quickly in small neighboring communities. Gilles was definitely in the community by 1651, Jean acquired his Sillery land in November 1652, Anne Leodet arrived in Quebec in December 1652, and Jean and Anne married in January of 1653.
I don’t know whether Gilles knew Jean well before he knew Anne (Jean was 10 years his senior) — but Gilles must have been, or become, close to the couple somehow. On October 11th, 1655 Jean and Anne had Gilles stand as their second daughter Suzanne’s godfather. But whether it was friendship — or a neighborly show of support for a man who had just lost his father– it is impossible to uncover. Gilles’ father, Nicolas, had died a few weeks earlier on September 18, 1655.
A couple of years later, everything would be different. Jean would be exiled on bigamy charges and Gilles would marry Anne.*** Together Gilles and Anne raised a family that included Anne’s two children with Jean Nepveu and nine children of their own. Anne and Gilles would remain in Sillery on Jean Nepveu’s land until about 1680, and then see the remainder of their days in nearby Neuville. Anne and Gilles died within a year of each other: he passed in January, and she died in December, of 1700.
* Catherine Pinel went on to an enduring second marriage with Jean Prou after her first husband, Denis Masse, died.
** Disclaimer – this information on Nicolas Pinel is culled from the internet, and not fact-checked with primary sources – though I have sought multiple references and weighed credibility.
*** This timeline shows how much happened in two and a half short years.
- September 18, 1655 — Gilles’ father, Nicolas Pinel, dies
- October 11, 1655 — Gilles stands as godfather for Jean Nepveu and Anne Leodet’s daughter, Suzanne
- November 1656 — Gilles buys land in Sillery, two plots away from Jean and Anne from Nicolas Patenostre for 80 pounds
- July 28, 1657 — Gilles sells Sillery land for 120 pounds to Guillaume Routhier
- September 2, 1657 — Gilles marries Anne Leodet
- April 7, 1658 — Gilles and Anne’s first child, Catherine, is baptized.