Matrilineal Line: The One That Raises the Fewest Doubts


When new to genealogy, we usually start with our patrilineal line, climbing up our family tree through our father, then his father, his father's father and so on, until we identify the first European pioneer whose surname was transmitted throughout generations up to ours.

Once this research is achieved, how about looking up for your matrilineal line? This time, you need to find your mother's mother, her maternal grandmother, and so on, always going through the mothers. For each generation, a new surname is therefore added to your tree, each woman's maiden name that is. Your mother's maiden name is unlikely to be the same as her mother's, still who knows? Everything is possible.

Some may ask, what is the point of searching for one's matrilineal line? For the fun of it, of course. And I am sorry, gentlemen, but this line is most certainly the one which raises the fewest doubts in your tree. If a man recognizes a child as his own at the time of the birth, it is more difficult for a woman to hide her pregnancy, even if exceptions do exist. Sometimes a grandmother declares being the mother of a child to save the family's reputation as well as her daughter's.

This research will be rewarding as you will identify the European pioneer, possibly a "Fille à marier" [single woman] or a "Fille du roi [King's Daughter]. You may even climb up one or two additional generations in France. The pioneer's mother or grandmother has passed her native language and culture to this woman who crossed the Atlantic and perpetuated the tradition in New France.

As far as I am concerned, Jacquette Grignon, Pierre Lavoix's wife, of Aytrée, in Charente-Maritime, is for now the earliest matrilineal ancestor whose lineage has been proved and documented. This woman hasn't made the trip to New France. Her husband, then a widower, came to New France with his four children, including three daughters. One of them is my ancestor: Marie de Lavoix who married Pierre Grenon in 1676, in Quebec.