Josephte Tourville (née Robillard) (1737-1821): Her Retirement Plan

The day Louis Tourville Sr died in Lachenaie in December 1790, at age 63, his wife Josephte Robillard probably thought that, at just a few weeks shy of her 54th birthday, her life was over, when she became a widow for the second time of her life.

Mother of twelve children—only four of them made it to adulthood—she did what most widows would do in that period. Leave everything to one son—the eldest in her case—and ask him to take care of her.

At the time his father died, Louis Jr was 30 years old and still single. He would marry Marie-Louise Trudeau only four years later.

On March 26, 1791, Josephte goes to Notary Public Joseph Turgeon, in Terrebonne, mentioning that at such an advanced age and unable to do her work, she wants to get rid of material things in her life in order to devote herself to her own soul’s salvation, and hence, donates the following to Louis Jr:

  • One piece of land located in Lachenaie, on the River Jesus shore, with half the buildings erected thereon;
  • One piece of uncleared land located in the “côte” called “les cent arpents”.

His mother—as everyone is entitled to maintain a decent lifestyle—wants to keep for herself the following:

  • Her bedroom located on the southwest corner of the house and the adjacent cabinet;
  • Half of the attic and of the basement;
  • Half of the vegetable garden; and
  • Half of the dairy and of the snuffbox.

Moreover, Josephte adds that she is donating all the furniture that was mentioned in her marriage contract, except her own.

Louis Jr also agrees to procure the following, starting at St-Michel of this year (September 29) to his mother:

  • Fifteen bushels of wheat, converted to flour and delivered in her attic, a half on September 29, the rest on March 15;
  • One pig of 150 pounds, delivered at the beginning of December;
  • Fifteen cords of wood to be delivered at her door as well as the wood for her log stove to be cut and delivered by Louis;
  • Fifty pounds of beef to be delivered at the beginning of December;
  • Four gallons of wine or rum, at the discretion of Josephte, delivered at her request;
  • One “minot” of salt and one half pound of pepper delivered at the beginning of December;
  • Six pounds of fat, delivered at the beginning of December;
  • One dairy cow fed and wintered at Louis’ expense. In case of death, the cow should be replaced and delivered, without the calf, on the first of May and returned on November 1;
  • A horse hitched to a comfortable buggy, delivered at her request;
  • A cash sum of twelve “francs”, to be paid on March 15;
  • In case of sickness, Louis will make sure that she has access to a priest, a surgeon and all types of soups needed for a sick person;
  • Twelve pounds of candles, at her request;
  • Washing and care of apparel and shoes, both on Sundays and working days; and
  • Three pounds of tobacco, at her request.*

Furthermore, Louis cannot sell any portion of the donation he received without her express consent and under any circumstances whatsoever.

Didn’t I read above that Josephte “wishes to get rid of material things in her life”? Let’s say that she indeed got her mind cleared with any material or financial concern one has to deal with in life.

The life pension and conditions will be extinguished at the time of her death.

Speaking of her death, Josephte—always bursting with creative ideas—requests to be buried as soon as possible after her funeral service, the next day, if necessary, and she wants 25 requiem mass to be celebrated for the repose of her soul within one year following her death.

Finally, Louis also agrees to pay to each of his siblings the sum of fifty shillings, old course, one year after their mother’s death.

In June 1814, at age 76, Josephte went to a notary to ask that her newly appointed legal representative make sure that her son Louis respect all the conditions of her previous donation and pays her pension. In the following September, Josephte declared void her legal representative appointment. I suppose it must have been a rough summer for both of them.

Ms. Robillard died seven years later, on January 2, 1821, at the age of 83, in Lachenaie and was buried two days later, on January 4 (right after Mass we hope, for the repose of her soul).

Louis Jr survived her mother merely eight years, as he died in 1829, at only 69.

So, you probably want to know, who is related to Josephte Robillard? Louis Tourville, married to Susan Belec, who went to Chicago, is her great-grandson; and Alphonse Tourville, married to Valerie Rose, who went to Chicago and Nebraska, is her 2G grandson.


* You are aware, I guess, that it was far from common that inter vivos donations would comprise such a detailed list of expectations.

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