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FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 4 - Laurent Desnoyers

Petits Soins

Monsieur Conroyd wrote:

I have several ancestors who were apparently in the French military, but I will pick one here, of whom I seem to have enough information to make a little bit of an interesting story, though I actually have more about his wife.  I have not been able to find his certain origin or baptism and would like to.  I suppose I am hoping that military records might unlock something about him, but I don’t know how to pursue them...

Laurent De[s] Noyer[s]  

  • abt 1697 born, perhaps native of Dain in Artois, bishopric of St. Omer [This is from a book by Winston Deville giving his wife’s origin]
  • "native of Dain in Artois" diocese Saint Omer [Saint Omer existed from 1559 - Revolution; 1801 merged with Arras] [Artois Province or County contained cities: Arras, Saint-Omer, Lens, & Bethune; now in Pas-de-Calais dept.] Dainville?, Pas-de-Calais?, just west of Arras; 54 km from Marconne (wife's native village)
  • [Natchez Post founded in 1716]
  • Perhaps about 1715-18 entered the French military, navy?
  • abt. 1718 married in France (marriage record not yet found, but a
  • baptism found for a apparently legitimate daughter Marie Angelique Desnoyers on 26 Dec 1718 in Marconne, France, dying 11 days later.) “fille legitime de Laurent” was inserted into the text.
  •  [1718, May 7 New Orleans founded]
  •  1720 Aug 20 departed France aboard the ship L'Elephant apparently with wife Angelique, sergeant in the Navy Regiment with hope of becoming Ensign, for New Orleans
  • 1722 Aug 15 a second sergeant at Yazoo[Mississippi], witnessed a testament of Father Nicholas Arquevaux a native of Verdun, Lorraine, aged 34 years [La. Museum, N.O., on-line, document 32 with signature of DeNoye[?]
  •  1729 Adjutant Major and manager of the Terre Blanche concession at Natchez. 
  • 1729 Nov 28 Slaughtered by the Natchez Indians at Fort Rosalie, later Natchez, he only arriving [perhaps returning] that morning, and like all the other French, not aware of the Natchez ruse: acting friendly, borrowing French guns claiming to go hunting, then upon signal using them to kill almost all the un-armed French men, and many women and children at close quarters instead.
  • He apparently married [no marriage record yet found in Hesdin or nearby Marconne, wife’s origin] Marie Anne Angelique Charton and had possibly 4 children; 1 in France, 3 in French Louisiana or Mississippi territory.

It is our experience that these very early settlers have been thoroughly researched and that what has not yet been found is not going to be found. Still, in genealogy research one must never say never, so here is what we suggest:

  • We spoke with the representatives of the Association Généalogique du Pas de Calais, who were very generous with their time and expertise, at their stand at the Congrès national de Généalogie in Poitiers. They checked their databases for the entire department and found no Laurent Desnoyers at all. They checked various spellings but found nothing. (They did find a great deal on his wife, Marie Anne Angélique Chartron, who, along with about twenty other women, is reputed to have been the inspiration for the story of Manon Lescaut. Monsieur Conroyd already has the Chartron information.) Mind, the content of their databases is what people have extracted from parish and civil registrations and one tiny variation in spelling means that a name could be missed. We would not continue searching the parish registrations with much energy without more clues.
  • All at the stand scoffed at a village named Dain. "There NEVER was such a place!" they all agreed. Possibly Dainville or Houdain (both of which Monsieur Conroyd has already searched) possibly -- based on the idea of pronunciation -- Dohem (which is in the modern arrondissement of St. Omer). Dohem's registers are not big and it would not take long to search them, bearing in mind that the spelling would probably be other than Desnoyers.
  • Desnoyers and Chartron my have had a marriage contract. If so, even if they married elsewhere, it may have been written in or near her home of Marconne or in St. Omer. Her father may have left a will. Checking the répertoires of the actes of the notaires who served Marconne for the relevant years, say 1715 through 1718 for the marriage, could reveal something that has not been found by others yet. A complete list of the notarial records for the department can be found here and it can be seen that not many go back as far as is required, so it would not be that much of a difficulty to look through them. However, only the finding aids are online. The search would have to be done in person at the Departmental Archives of Pas de Calais.
  • No search of the records for Louisiane and Natchez on the IREL search engine for the Archives nationales d'outre-mer brings up anything for Laurent Desnoyers. However, there is a great deal on Louisiana and Natchez, with quite a lot of correspondence, not all of which has been indexed online. Much of it is, however, digitized and can be viewed on the website. Reading the letters and reports for Natchez during the relevant years could yield something on Desnoyers.
  • The same holds true for correspondence and other documents held at other facilities, all of which are listed on the excellent government website La Louisiane française, under the heading Resources Documentaires. 
  • The Compagnie des Indes search page on Memoire des Hommes has the passenger and crew lists for ships to Louisiana from 1720, though these are not always complete.
  • It seems unlikely, given his military rank, but should Desnoyers have been one of the prisoners or his wife one of the women rounded up in Paris, then their names could appear in the records of the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal


This will be a tough one for, as we say, it is unlikely that all of the above have not been combed by many researchers over the years. Nevertheless, we wish Monsieur Conroyd the best of luck. As always, suggestions from our Dear Readers would be most welcome.

©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy