GRANDMAISON, ÉLÉONORE DE, seigneuresse, in turn the wife of Antoine Boudier de Beauregard, François de Chavigny de Berchereau, Jacques Gourdeau de Beaulieu, and Jacques de Cailhault de La Tesserie; b. c. 1620 at Clamecy, in Nivernais; d. 1692 at Quebec.
She was still in her teens at the time of her first marriage, in France, to Antoine Boudier de Beauregard, of whom little is known.
She very soon became a widow, and married again, probably in 1640; her second husband was François de Chavigny de Berchereau, born about 1615. They went to New France in the spring or summer of the following year. As early as December 1640 they had received from the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France grants of land in the town and on the outskirts of Quebec, as well as at Sillery, and a seigneury on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, 15 leagues from Quebec. This fief was later ceded to Chavigny’s son-in-law, Jacques-Alexis de Fleury* Deschambault, who gave it his name. In 1647 the company granted Chavigny a further extension of this fief. On 24 June of the same year Governor Huault de Montmagny granted him two acres fronting on the Cap-Rouge road. Finally, in March 1649 Olivier Letardif, in the name of the seigneurs of the Île d’Orléans, made over to Chavigny and his wife a seigneury (later given the name of the Beaulieu fief) on the western extremity of the island.
Chavigny was present in May 1649 with Jean Bourdon, the chief engineer of New France, at the signing of the report drawn up by Governor Louis d’Ailleboust to fix the boundaries of the fief granted to the Jesuits at La Prairie-de-la-Magdelaine (now Laprairie, near Montreal).
Éléonore de Grandmaison’s second husband stood high in the favour of M. de Montmagny, who chose him as his replacement at the head of the colony during his absences. When the Conseil de Québec was created in 1648, Chavigny was summoned to sit on it with Robert Giffard and Jean-Paul Godefroy. Like Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance, and Marguerite Bourgeoys, he came from Champagne, and was their friend and counsellor.
Chavigny and his wife resided first at Sillery, then, in 1645, on the Chavigny fief, which was an undeniable sign of courage; nobody at that time, because of the Iroquois menace, dared to live far from Quebec. In 1648 they moved to the Île d’Orléans, where no white woman was believed to have dwelt before.
In 1651 François de Chavigny decided to return to France to have medical treatment. He died at sea. Éléonore de Grandmaison had had by Chavigny five daughters and one son, François,* who accompanied Daumont de Saint-Lusson when he took possession of the western territories at the Sainte-Marie falls (Sault Ste. Marie) in 1671.
On 13 Aug. 1652, in the chapel of the Île d’Orléans, Father Chaumonot celebrated the marriage of Éléonore de Grandmaison with Jacques Gourdeau de Beaulieu. Gourdeau, the son of a king’s attorney at Niort, in Poitou, was born around 1614; as early as 1637 he was at Quebec, where he became a clerk of the seneschal’s court and from 1662 a notary. Gourdeau de Beaulieu was assassinated on 29 May 1663 by one of his servants, who to hide his crime set fire to the house.
Four children were born of this marriage, of whom three reached adulthood: Antoine, contrôleur du castor (beaver) at the Bureau des Fermes; Jacques*, seigneur of Beaulieu; and Jeanne-Renée, who married, in 1686, Charles Macard*, councillor in the Conseil Souverain.
Éléonore’s fourth marriage, in the parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, was on 15 Oct. 1663 with Jacques de Cailhault de La Tesserie, who was born around 1620 and came from Saint-Herblain near Nantes. The Cailhaults were of the old nobility, and were seigneurs of La Chevrotière, in France. He was an important person in the colony, and was in turn a member of the council of the fur trade and, from 1664 to his death, a member of the Conseil Souverain. In 1666 Cailhault acted as an interpreter for Fathers Beschefer* and Bailloquet when a deputation was sent to Fort Orange (Albany). In the same year he discovered a mine at Baie Saint-Paul, where he had been sent by the intendant Talon. In 1668 he swore fealty for the La Grossardière fief, situated on the Île d’Orléans and adjacent to the Beaulieu fief. He died in 1673. His spouse was to survive him by nearly 20 years.
Éléonore appears to have been a woman with a head for business. In 1651 the remnants of the Huron nation took refuge on the Île d’Orléans, under the guidance of Father Chaumonot. Éléonore de Grandmaison rented lands to them, and they lived there until 1656. In October 1674 we find her taking proceedings against Louis Jolliet and others, in respect of a society for trading in the Ottawa country of which she was a shareholder. She also appeared before the Conseil Souverain, as the agent of her last husband. Nevertheless, she does not seem to have become rich. In 1679 the intendant Duchesneau interceded on her behalf with the minister, calling her a “poor widow.” He added: “the lady de La Tesserie [. . .] has children and very little money; her eldest son, named La Chevrotière, who has been urged several times to go into the woods, has always resisted this suggestion despite his poverty.”
Éléonore de Grandmaison died in 1692 at Quebec, where she was buried on 22 February. Her descendants include Jeanne-Charlotte de Fleury Deschambault, wife of the Marquis Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, the last governor of New France.
JR (Thwaites), XI, 68, 278; XVIII, 255; XXVII, 311f.; XXXVII, 92. Jug. et délib., I, 20, 118, 196, 863, et passim. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions. L.-E. Bois, L’Île d’Orléans (Québec, 1895). P.-G. Roy, La famille de Chavigny de la Chevrotière (Lévis, 1916); “François de Chavigny de Berchereau,” BRH, XXI (1915), 311–17; L’Île d’Orléans (Québec, 1928). Sulte, Hist. des Can. fr., II, 80, et passim. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 163, 186, 279. L.-P. Turcotte, Histoire de l’Île d’Orléans (Québec, 1867).
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Québec, CE301-S1, 13 août 1652, 15 oct. 1663, 22 févr. 1692.