Why did Etienne Denevers godparent native Americans in the 1600s?

Etienne could have been a godparent for historical reasons. He certainly lived in a place and time when Europeans and natives intermixed.  This moment wouldn’t last long near Quebec. His children moved away from Sillery in the late 1670s. The last natives left the Jesuit reserve by the end of the 1680s.

Still some ancestors, such as the Leodet/Nepveu/Pinel line did not appear in native baptisms even though they lived at the same place during the same time.  So Etienne could have been a godparent because of temperament.  Maybe he was outgoing.

If so, other ancestors were too.  The Hayot family that Etienne Denevers married into served as godparents to native Americans also.  In the following 1654 record, both Etienne’s father-in-law, Thomas Hayot, and Etienne’s wife, Anne Hayot, served as godparents to native children.

1654 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of familysearch.org record

1654 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of familysearch.org record

Thomas’ children/Anne’s siblings, Genevieve and Jean, also served as godparents to native Americans at Sillery in the 1650s.

Did they all have bubbly personalities? My guess is no; that temperament is only part of the answer.  Instead, I think ambition united them. The Leodet/Nepveu/Pinel line was wracked with challenges (a marriage dissolved by bigamy, a brother convicted of rape).  I think they had their hands full getting by.  On the other hand, Thomas Hayot was a community representative (Cap-Rouge’s delegate to the People’s Assembly.)  Etienne Denevers held three concessions at Sillery when most only held one.  I am thinking that these ties through god parenting — to natives and to the Jesuits — might have been useful networking to people working to get ahead.

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2 thoughts on “Why did Etienne Denevers godparent native Americans in the 1600s?

  1. I am trying to connect my GGF, Joseph Boisvert B.1870 to Etienne.

    The line is:

    Étienne de Nevers 1597-1652 d’Espinay, Champagne, France
    Étienne Denevers dit Brentigny dit Boisvert 1660-1731

    5349 Etienne Denevers Brentigny dit Boisvert 1627-1678 Espinay, Champagne FR
    son of Ètienne de Nevers and Agnes Luobisec

    5347 Etienne Denevers dit Boisvert 1661 – 1731

    30335 Joseph Denevers dit Boisvert 1691 – 1691

    1062320 Pierre Denevers dit Boisvert 1732 – 1809

    1049920 Augustin Boisvert 1776-

    1049918 Augustin Boisvert 1808-

    1049916 Joseph Boisvert 1845-

    1050012 Joseph Hyacinthe Jr. Boisvert 05/15/1870 – GGF
    St-Valere d’Arthabaska, Québec

    Married: Marie Roy 07/02/1875 – GGM
    St. Henri-Lauzon, Québec

    Cecilienne Anäis Boisvert my paternal grandmother

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Norman LaPolice

  2. Hi Norman,
    Sorry for the delay, I was on a bit of a digital holiday with family. I don’t know anything about your line. The best source to “prove” them might be the Drouin/Catholic parish records available through Ancestry and family search (https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1321742). If neither source covers 1845, you might have to try the PRDH or LaFrance databases.

    Another possible resource might be found through the Association of Boisvert Families (http://www.famillesboisvert.org). They are friendly and will converse with you in English.

    Thanks for taking the time to post. I am always fascinated to run into a new distant cousin. If you have the time and the inclination, I would love to hear about the stories your family passed on about the Boisvert. I love family tales!

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