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Elizabeth Corse, the Captive

 John P. DuLong

 First Draft, 9 September 2001

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Elizabeth Corse, the captive, was the daughter of  James Corse and Elizabeth Catlin of Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts.  In comparison to her father, there is an abundance of information about her life.  Elizabeth's life, particularly in New France, has been well documented in the records of Québec (Baker [1897] 1990, 204-205; Coleman [1926] 1989, 1:127, 2:73-77; Fournier 1992, 116-117, 124-125; Jetté 1983, 384, 823; Lefebvre 1966, 86; Roger n.d.; Sheldon [1895-1896] 1983, 2:133, 398; Tanguay [1871-1890] 1974, 2:575, 3:538, 6:65).

Despite the wealth of information about her in Québec, there is some confusion over Elizabeth's birth date back in New England.  According to Fournier (1992, 116-117) she was born on 16 December 1696, Jetté (1983, 384) says 16 February 1696, but Sheldon ([1895-1896] 1983, 2:133) states she was born 4 February 1695/6.   Fournier's suggested birth date seems to be wrong for the month and day.  The difference between Jetté's and Sheldon's is due to the use of the Julian calendar in New England and Gregorian calendar in New France.  Jetté took the date for Elizabeth's birth date from her Catholic baptism in 1705 (PRDH no. 210968).  However, it should be the 14 February 1696 as there was only a ten day difference between calendars when she was born (Jacobus [1930] 1986, 110-112).  For the remainder of this paper, all dates will be Gregorian.  Her most likely birthplace would be Deerfield. 

Elizabeth died on 29 January 1766 and was buried on 30 January 1766 at Laprairie, Laprairie County, Québec (PRDH no. 370559).  Her age was recorded as being 70, which reflects her birth in 1696.  She was survived by her second husband, Pierre Monet, and five of her 14 children from two marriages.  Between 1696 and 1766 she certainly had a dramatic and full life.

Elizabeth was taken captive at the age of eight, with her mother who was killed on the march to Canada, during the 11 March 1704 Deerfield raid. See Figure 1 for the route the captives may have taken. We do not know when she arrived in Québec and how long she lived with her St-François Abenaki and Caughnawaga Mohawk captors.  At some point Elizabeth was taken into the home of Pierre Roy (or Leroy) of  St-Lambert.  This village is near Longueuil, just north of Laprairie, in Chambly County.

Figure 1: March of the Deerfield Captives, 1704

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This map is based on Carter (1884).

On 14 July 1705, age 9, Élisabeth Casse, daughter of the deceased Jacques Casse and deceased Élisabeth Catlin of "Dearfield, Nouvelle Angleterre" was baptized at Montréal by Fr. Henri Antoine Mériel (PRDH no. 210968).  Her godparents were Gilbert Maillet, master mason, and her godmother was Catherine Ducharme, the wife of her guardian Pierre Roy.  

In New France, Elizabeth Corse is usually found in the records as Élisabeth Casse, but sometimes her given name appears as Isabelle or Marie Élisabeth.  Even the marginal notes on her burial record indicates that she was called either Isabelle or Élisabeth (PRDH no. 370559).  Likewise, her surname is usually spelled as Casse or Cas in the French records, and never as Corse.

In May 1710, Élisabeth Coss was granted French nationality at the age of  fourteen (PRDH no.401438; Roy 1924, 230).  It was not uncommon for captives from the Dutch and British colonies to convert to Catholicism, become naturalized, adapt to life in Québec, and refuse to return to their homelands (Eccles 1983, 198, n. 31).  

A few years later, Elizabeth gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Marie Françoise Casse, who was baptized on 20 April 1712 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 18239).  No father is mentioned.  The godparents were Clément Lériger and Marie Leber and a man named Brion was a witness (probably Pierre Brion who is associated with Elizabeth at other events).  Marie François died a few days later and was buried on the 26th (PRDH no.19222). 

That same year, on 6 November 1712, again at Laprairie, the parish register records that Élisabeth Casse married Jean Dumontet dit Lagrandeur (PRDH no.18927).  Her origins are noted as "Deerfield, Nouvelle-Angleterre" and her parents are recorded as Jacques Casse and Élisabeth Cattelin.  Her husband was born around 1659 or 1667, son of Jean Dumontet and Georgette Forand.  His origins were mistakenly assumed to be English (Jetté 1983, 384) or Huguenot (Fournier 1992, 124), but other evidence suggest he is French (see Origins of Jean Dumontet dit Lagrandeur).  Elizabeth was only recorded as being 17, but she was really 16 when she married Jean.   From other records we know he was either 45 or 53.  Neither the bride or groom were able to sign the parish register.  The witnesses at the wedding included Clément Lériger, sieur de Laplante, Lieutenant in the colonial marines and the godfather of her deceased daughter, Pierre Roy her guardian, Jacques Roy the son of her guardian and husband of Martha French from Deerfield, and François Lefebvre.  Fr. Jean Gaschier performed the marriage.

Jean and Elizabeth would have eight children, four sons and four daughters.  Only two daughters and two sons survived to adulthood.  The children from Elizabeth's first marriage were:

  1. Marie Élisabeth Dumontet, baptized on 17 January 1715 at Laprairie, godparents were Jean Poineau and Marie Leber the wife of Pierre Herve (PRDH no. 18311).   Deceased and buried on 22 January 1715 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 19257).  Her residence was recorded as "Notre-Dame et St-François-Xavier" on her burial record.   Pierre Brion is the witness at her burial.

  2. Marie Élisabeth Dumantet [sic], born on 12 November 1717 and baptized 14 November 1717 at Laprairie, godparents Jean Lefort and Marie Delaplante (PRDH no.18391).   She married, age 15, on 5 May 1732 at Laprairie to François Monet, age 25, the son of François Monet and Marie Dumas (PRDH no. 123806).  Her groom was her mother's brother-in-law!  See Figure 2 for a diagram of this relationship.  The witnesses at the wedding including François Monet the father of the groom, Jean Baptiste Monet probably the brother of the groom, Michel Hardi (Hardy dit Jolicoeur) the brother-in-law the groom, Marie Judith Monet the sister of the groom and wife of Hardi, Jean Lefort, Louis Haguenier, and François Laurent.  Élisabeth died on 21 February 1767 and was buried on 23 February 1767 at parish St-Jean-François-Régis, St-Philippe, Laprairie County, Québec (PRDH no. 370955).

Figure 2: Relationship between the Corse, Dumontet, and Monet Families

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  1. Antoine Dumontest [sic], born on 28 August 1720 and baptized on 29 August 1720 at Laprairie, godparents Antoine Bourassa and Judith Monet dite Laverdure (PRDH no. 18478).  It is noted that he was "baptisé sous condition."   This means that he was probably baptized at home in an emergency situation because of poor health.  As a precaution, the priest would then repeat the baptism under the condition that the first baptism might not have been valid.  He was confirmed on 9 March 1731 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 403344).  Antoine married first Marie Mari (Marie), the daughter of Michel Mari dit Ste-Marie and the deceased Marguerite Brosseau, on 23 February 1745 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 123915).  The bride and groom were unable to sign the register.  The witnesses were Michel Mari dit Ste-Marie the father of the bride, Étienne Bariteau, Charles Gagnier, Pierre Lefebvre, Jean Baptiste Dumontet brother of the groom, Pierre Marie and Michel Marie brothers of the bride, and Claude Bisaillon.  Antoine married second Françoise Bisaillon, the daughter of Étienne Bisaillon, Lieutenant of the Militia, and Françoise Leber on 12 November 1759 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 318745).  Fr. Étienne Montgolfier, the Vicar General, agreed to the dispensation of one of the bans of marriage.  The witnesses included Joseph Bonneau, Pierre Girard, Louis Lefebvre, Pierre Lefebvre, Jean Côté, and Joseph Bauvet.   Antoine died on 13 January 1776 and was buried on 15 January 1776 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 370717).

  2. Pierre Dumontet, born and baptized on 3 March 1722 at Laprairie, godparents Pierre Hetue (Hétu?) and Marie Leroy (PRDH no.18527).  No further record is found for Pierre, therefore, he must have died before reaching adulthood.

  3. Jean Baptiste Dumontet, born and baptized on 27 June 1724 at Laprairie, godparents Pierre Lerige (Lériger) and Charlotte Pinconneau (Pinsonnault?) (PRDH no. 18613).  He was confirmed on 9 March 1731 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 403344).  Jean married first Suzanne Charbonneau, the daughter of deceased Jean Charbonneau and deceased Anne Ebert (Hébert) on 23 November 1744, Varennes, Verchères County, Québec (PRDH no. 183457).  The bride and groom were unable to sign.  The witnesses were Augustin Ebert (Hébert) and Jacques Boyer.  Jean married second  Marie Josephe Jetté, the widow of Antoine Archambault, on 26 September 1753 at St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, St-Hyacinthe County, Québec (PRDH no. 325552).  The groom was 29 and the bride 44!   Fr. Louis Normand, the vicar general, dispensed the reading of two of the bans in the parishes of St-Antoine and Varennes and Fr. Jean Baptiste Lacoudray of Varennes furnished a certificate that the bans were published once in the parish of the husband.   The witnesses included Jean Louis Bourgrette, Augustin Heber, and Joseph Archambault and François Archambault the brothers-in-law of the bride.  I can find no record for Jean Baptiste's death in the PRDH database.  However, we know that he was present at the marriage of his daughter Suzanne Isabelle Dumontet to Pierre Archambault on 1 February 1762 at St-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Verchères County, Québec (PRDH no. 331414).  Therefore, he must have died after 1 February 1762.

  4. Marie Charles [sic, she used Charlotte at her marriage] Dumontet, born on 19 December 1725 and baptized on 20 December 1725 at Laprairie, godparents Pierre Roy and Charlotte Laplante (PRDH no. 18675).  She married Richard Barre, of the parish of Kaorg, Ireland, the son of the deceased Antoine Barre and Élisabeth Demone, on 5 November 1759 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 318744).  Tanguay ([1871-1890] 1975, 2:131) suggests that Karog is Cork.  Neither the groom or bride could sign their name.  The witnesses included Étienne Baritault (Bariteau?), Pierre Girard, Jeanne Moore, Pierre Monet the step-father of the bride, Jean Baptiste Monet probably the step-uncle of the bride, and Pierre Senécal.

  5. Louis Dumontet, born on 8 April 1727 and baptized on 9 April 1727 at Laprairie, godparents Louis Lefebvre and Marguerite Lefebvre (PRDH no. 18726).  He is probably the boy buried on 11 August 1727 at Laprairie under the surname Lagrandeur, age 8 months (PRDH no.19363).

  6. Pélagie Dumonte [sic], of the village of La Tortue near Laprairie was born 29 December 1728 and baptized 30 December 1728 at Laprairie, godparents François Monet and Suzanne Rosier (PRDH no. 18803).  She was buried on 2 May 1730 at Laprairie, age 17 months (PRDH no. 124000).

Jean Dumontet, recorded under the name Jean Baptiste Lagrandeur in the register, died on 20 May 1729 and was buried on the 21 May 1729 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 19404).  His age was recorded as 70.  The witnesses were René Jorian and Moïse Dupuis.  The latter witness is an interesting case, he was married to Marie Anne Louise Christiansen, a captive from Schenectady (or Corlar, as the French called the place), New York (Jetté 1983, 391; Lefebvre 1966).  However, Dupuis's appearance on the burial record in truth reveals no special relationship with Jean as he was apparently a sexton and is recorded on many Laprairie burial records as a witness.

On 19 January 1730 at Laprairie, Elizabeth remarried to Pierre Monet (dit Laverdure) from the coast (côte) of La Tortue (Coleman [1926] 1989, 2:75; PRDH no. 123781).  The location of La Tortue is open to debate.  It was probably a small hamlet along the La Tortue (tortoise) River, probably near the present-day town of Delson, Laprairie County, west south west of Laprairie.  Pierre was the son of François Monet and Marie Dumats (Dumas).  Elizabeth is recorded as being "Anglaise" and the daughter of Gimse Casse and Élisabeth Queteline, "Anglais" and "Anglaise" respectively.  The register records that the bride is age 35 and the groom age 26.   The witnesses were François Monet and Jean Baptiste Monet the brothers of the groom, Marie Roy wife of (Clément) Lériger, René Dupuy (Dupuis), and Pierre Jorian.  Fr. André Jorian performed the wedding.  Curiously, there is a duplicate record of this marriage dated 16 January 1730 but it is incomplete, lacking signatures of the witnesses.  A marriage contract was also drawn up on 19 January 1730 before the notary Guillaume Barette dit Courville (Jetté 1983, 823). 

Pierre Monet was baptized 19 March 1704 at Laprairie, the son of François Monet and Marie Dumas (PRDH no. 18063).  Ironically, he was born the same year that Elizabeth was taken captive and in a sense reborn.  Having tried an older man as a husband, Elizabeth now took a younger man as her mate.  Pierre was only 26 years old, while Elizabeth was almost 34.  Curiously, as we have already noted, her daughter, Elisabeth Dumontet, from her first marriage, would wed François Monet dit Laverdure in 1732, the older brother of Pierre.  Elizabeth was probably still an attractive woman in 1730 to attract such a younger man.  Pierre Monet was buried on 16 February 1774 at Laprairie, age 69 (PRDH no. 370692).  

Pierre and Elizabeth would have six children, two sons and four daughters, but only a daughter would reach adulthood.  The children from Elizabeth's second marriage were:

  1. Marie Céleste Monet, born 17 May 1731 and baptized 18 May 1731 at Laprairie, godparents Gilbert Lériger dit Laplante and Agnes Bourassa (PRDH no. 122510).   She was buried on 22 April 1733 at Laprairie, age 2 year (PRDH no. 124105).

  2. Constance Monet, born on 6 June 1732 and baptized on 7 June 1732 at Laprairie, godparents Jean Baptiste Monet and Marie Anne Roy (PRDH no. 122566).  She died and was buried on 15 August 1732 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 124068).

  3. Louis Monet, born on 24 August 1733 and baptized 25 August 1733 at Laprairie, godparents François Gournois and Marie Angélique Dupuy (Dupuis) (PRDH no. 122631).   He died on 19 December 1754 and was buried on 20 December 1754 at Laprairie, age 21 years and some months (PRDH no. 319065).

  4. Marie Anne Monet, born and baptized on 12 September 1734 at Laprairie, godparents François Pinsonneau (Pinsonnault?) and Marie Anne Dumas (PRDH no. 122692).  She married first Jean Louis Vignon, a solder in the Bearn Regiment, Captain Ponchat's Company, originally from the parish of Dive, diocese of Noyon, Picardie province, France, on 4 April 1758 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 318730).  His deceased parents were Louis Vignon and Marguerite Bigot.  The bride and groom  were both unable to sign their names.  The witnesses include Pierre Monet the father of the bride, Nicolas Chaleau, Bernard Platrie, Jean Baptiste Brescaille, Étienne Baritault, and Jean Baptiste Monet probably the uncle of the bride.  She married second François Dubois (dit Bonnville), soldier of the Royal-Roussillon Regiment, Captain d'Estor's Company, originally form the parish of L'Oneville, diocese of Toul, Lorraine Province, France, on 27 October 1760 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 318754).  His parents were François Dubois and the deceased Marie Lemarin.  Neither the bride or groom could sign.  The witnesses included Nicolas Mongeau, Pierre Mari (Marie?), Étienne Baritault, and Pierre Girard.  Marie Anne died on 13 July 1779 and was buried on 14 July 1779 at Laprairie, age 44 (PRDH no. 370789).

  5. Marie Louise Monet, born on 25 February 1736 and baptized on 26 February 1736 at Laprairie, godparents Jean Baptiste Menard and Louise Hubert (PRDH no. 122781).   She died on 29 February 1736 and was buried on 1 March 1736 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 124175).

  6. Jacques Monet, born 12 April 1737 and baptized 15 April 1737 at Laprairie, godparents Ignace Bourassa and Marie Anne Bisaillon (PRDH no. 122859).  He died on 25 October 1746, age 9 years, and was buried on 26 October 1746 at Laprairie (PRDH no. 124544).

Elizabeth was not forgotten in New England.  In 1716, Elizabeth's brothers agreed to pay her, on demand, 17£, 4s., which was a third of the value of their mother's estate.  The estate included, among other items, three yards of lace, one child's coat, and "one box & what was in it" (Coleman [1926] 1989, 2:76).  Her brother James Corse, Jr., visited her in 1730 to recover her.  Since he departed on 27 April 1730, he arrived after her second marriage (Sheldon [1895-1896] 1983, 1:518).  Elizabeth decided to remain in New France with her children and new husband.  It is unknown if her brothers distributed her inheritance to her.  Unfortunately, her brother makes no mention of Elizabeth in the journal that he kept on this trip (Coleman [1926] 1989, 2:77). 

We do not know if Elizabeth socialized with her Deerfield childhood friends also held in captivity.  Her cousin Martha French, daughter of Thomas French and Mary Catlin, was married to Jacques Roy, sieur de St-Lambert, on 24 November 1711 in Montréal (Coleman  [1926] 1989, 2:84).  Roy was the son of Elizabeth's guardian.  Did Elizabeth attend the wedding?  She is not listed among the witnesses (PRDH no. 48043).  But is seems very likely that she would have been there.   Martha and Elizabeth would have lived nearby one another.  Did they share memories of their past lives when they would meet by chance?  Or did they rendezvous regularly to discuss the twists and turns of their lives?  We simply do not know, but it seems unlikely that they would not dwell on it occasionally when they would come into contact.

Looking at the people who were godparents or witnesses at the baptisms and marriages of her children, it is clear that Elizabeth was part of a network of friends and in-laws in Laprairie.  However, it is interesting to note that Elizabeth appears as a godmother only three times.  We only find her mentioned in this role at the baptisms of Pierre Decent in 1714, Marie Félicité Lamarque in 1744, and her own granddaughter, Suzanne Élisabeth Dumontet, in 1745 (PRDH nos. 18297, 123343, and 123457).    Why she was not asked to be a godmother more frequently?  Was there some doubt about her conversion to Catholicism or was she just too busy raising her own children to be a godmother to other children?  Furthermore, it is interesting to note that she is not marked as being present at most baptisms and marriages recorded in the parish register for her children.  This was probably because she was illiterate and hence did not sign the registry and thus her presence is not verified.  It is very unlikely that she would have missed all these opportunities to be with her children at turning points in their lives. 

One wonders at the end of a long day of doing chores and caring for her children if Elizabeth ever thought back on her childhood in New England.  Did she retain some of her English language or customs?  Did she tell her children of her Puritan up bringing?  Did she have any knowledge of her father's origins?  Did she welcome the English soldiers who came as conquerors in 1760?  Here the records of Québec are silent and we are left to ponder her solitary thoughts.


All references can be found on the References web page.

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