Some people refer to all of the young women who immigrated to New France in the 17th century as the "Filles du Roi" or King's Daughters . But is this accurate?
Actually, it's not. About one quarter of all of the single women who immigrated to New France through 1673 were not part of the King's recruitment of marriageable women which took place between 1663 and 1673. The "King's Daughters" as they were called, were part of a concerted effort to balance the number of men vs. women in the colony with the intent that this effort would convince the current male colonists to remain in New France while encouraging others to migrate to the colony. The expectation was that this balance of the sexes would result in a desperately needed population increase as couples married and produced children. However, approximately 262 young, single women migrated to New France between 1634 and 1662 after being recruited by religious groups or individuals who had to assure and account for their good conduct. These women were not "King's Daughters" but were part of a distinct group which we now refer to as the "Filles à marier".
The "Filles à marier" were marriageable girls who likely migrated to New France for many of the same reasons as did the "Filles du Roi". Most were in search of a better quality of life and as well as the freedom to choose a husband of their choice - a freedom they did not often enjoy in France where marriages were often arranged. In addition, the young women had the right in New France to change their mind after signing a marriage contract with a perspective groom at which time they'd be free to find a more suitable husband. Unlike the King's Daughters, these young women were often poor, uneducated, and were not recruited by the Crown. They were not provided a dowry of any kind by the King and usually lived in the home of their recruiter after arriving in New France. Today, to be defined as a "Filles à marier", a female must have been between the ages of 12-45, not accompanied by BOTH parents or a husband and must have signed an enlistment contract, one marriage contract or gotten married in the colony. However, the most important thing to remember about these women is that, due to their arrival in the very early stages of the formation of New France, they played a significant role in populating the colony.
The Filles du Roi or King's Daughters, were some 770 women who emigrated to New France (Canada) between 1663 and 1673, under the financial sponsorship of King Louis XIV of France, with the hope that they would marry and start families in order to populate the new colony. Initially, the girls sent were of good backgrounds and had some education but the men wanted strong, intelligent and beautiful girls of robust health suitable for farm work. Therefore, most were single French women and many were orphans. Their transportation to Canada and settlement in the colony was paid for by the King. Some were given a royal gift of a dowry of 50 livres for their marriage to one of the many unmarried male colonists in Canada although this was often higher if they married an officer. These gifts are reflected in some of the marriage contracts entered into by the couple at the time of their marriage. [Note: Women who migrated to New France between 1634 and 1662 are referred to as "filles à marier" (marriageable girls) and are not considered to be "Filles du Roi".]
"The women debarked in Québec City, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal, and most had few difficulties finding a husband, as single men waited at the docks to begin courting them. If both parties were satisfied with each other, they would seek out a notary to draw up a marriage contract, and usually were married with a few weeks of that in a religious ceremony at the church. Many filles du roi were married within a month of their arrival in New France." (Source: Wikipedia)
The Dowry...50 livres if married to a soldier/habitant; 100 livres if married to an
They were also given (by the King):
small hope chest
1 head dress
1 taffeta hankie
1 pair shoe ribbons
1 spool white thread
1 comb 100 sewing needles
1 pair stockings
1 pair gloves
1 pair scissors
4 lace braids
When match made, couple given:
pair of chickens, ox, cow
2 barrels salt meat
11 crowns in money
Reading:List from La Société des Filles du roi et soldats du Carignan