Archange Tourville (1765-1840) | 100 Years Old, Really?

It’s strange how you forget about things—but not surprising, especially when you previously had the bad habit of not taking notes. Because you see, I made a discovery about a woman named Archange Tourville this summer when I visited the Archives and I wondered how come I did not have that person’s death in my database.

Well, just last Saturday, I looked up for Archange Tourville in Généalogie Québec’s church records and this Archange came up, buried in Montréal on October 15, 1840, dead on October 10, at age 100, with no further details. And then, I remembered: more than a decade ago, as I couldn’t figure out who she was, I put her name aside—in my brain, that is, a very unsafe place I must say.

The story goes like this: the name of Archange Tourville is listed in Montréal’s Prison Registry for the year 1840. She was arrested on July 29, for disorderly conduct and sentenced to two months in jail. Unfortunately, as she was sentenced by a Justice of the Peace, there is no record of her arrest. She was discharged by time expired on September 29. However, on that very day, she was recommitted to 15 days this time on the same charge. Interestingly enough, this sentence was from Dr. Arnoldi. The register indicates that she died in prison on October 10, 1840.

No criminal record, but I have unearthed something even better as I got the coroner’s inquest record which reads as follows:

Arcange Tourville, an old woman upwards of seventy years old and Blind, was committed as a vagrant upon her own confession By B. Gugy, Esq. for two months on the 29th July last. I have occasionally administered to her for her ailments and on the 29th September, I, as a Magistrate recommitted her for two months [the prison registry indicates 15 days] as a “houseless vagrant, and a person unfit to be turned out of Goal, she being infirm” and she died in the ordinary course of nature, this morning at Eleven O’Clock.

Danl Arnoldi, Dr. M.G.
Montreal Goal
Oct. 10, 1840

The coroners’ verdict reads as follows:

Arcange Tourville, a woman of seventy years of age, infirm and blind destitute and houseless, was on the 29th September last committed to the common jail of this district, at her own request, as a vagrant, deceased died this morning from a general decay of nature

Isn’t it fascinating to learn that in those days, the prison was also used as a refuge for vagrants. If life in prison was everything but an easy ride, life on the streets must have been, at least, bumpy.

Now, my own verdict:

When I look in Généalogie Québec, the only Archange Tourville unaccounted for who fits the bill is from the Hubou-Tourville line—I, of course, made sure she was not from the Dutaut-Tourville line—and is Marie-Archange Tourville, born in Mascouche on September 22, 1765, and baptized the next day in the same parish. She was the daughter of Charles Tourville and Marguerite Dufour.

Among the eleven children born to that couple (seven made it to adulthood), two are unmarried with an unknown death date. The first, Marie-Françoise, must have died as a child as she is the only one who isn’t a godmother at one point or another. Her name doesn’t appear on any church record. The second, Archange, has been the godmother of two nephews in 1790 and 1797. Moreover, she was mentioned at her sister’s marriage in 1781.

So, if Archange is the vagrant referred above, she would have been 75 years old at the time of her death, thus close to the age estimated by the doctor. I do not know where the priest’s estimate of 100 years old comes from. I strongly believe though she would be the right one.

This woman, my dear fellow readers, was the sister of Charles Tourville, married to Marie-Amable Charpentier, as well as of Marie Tourville, married to William Bangle (there we go again!).

Having studied that family for a while, still, I am not sure I understand why she was left on the street as she had at least two siblings alive at the time of her death. I will certainly take another look at the 1825 and 1831 Census to see if I can trace her living with her siblings.

Rest assured that the foregoing is all duly noted in my research book.