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Le Neuf Family Research

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Family Secrets Revealed

Every family has secrets. Most of these secrets are harmless and as the generations pass they are often forgotten. For some French families before the Revolution there was a secret that would be very important to keep hidden because of the social consequences. Some French noble families were really of bourgeois ancestry and had never been granted noble status by the king. If this was revealed, this information could threaten their status. In France, to be a noble not only meant more prestige, but was also a very effective way to avoid paying many taxes. To be caught pretending to be a noble could have devastating financial and social consequences. Bourgeois ancestry had to be kept secret.

Due to the thorough research of Roland-Yves Gagné in surviving tabillion and other French records the secrets of the Le Neuf family have been exposed. He has found that the family covered up their bourgeois origins and pretended to be nobles. This charade is true of Le Neufs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Previous research had exposed that the Canadian Le Neufs were Huguenots, which was an additional family secret they had to hide in New France. Protestants were not allowed to remain in New France. Those who did settle in the colony had to hide their religious persuasion.

Through the research of Gagné—as well as that which he conducted along with René Jetté, Paul LePortier, and John P. DuLong—we know that the maternal lineage of the Canadian Le Neufs leads back to French royalty. Gagné has gone further and revealed many details about the Le Neufs in France. He has established the exact relationship between the Canadian Le Neufs and their cousins who remained in France. He has documented the relationship between the Le Neufs and the Le Gardeurs back in France. Lastly, he traces these families back several generations in France.

This website is dedicated to reporting on the progress that has been made in researching the Le Neuf family and to point readers to the necessary published findings that must be consulted.

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Who are the Le Neufs?

The Le Neuf siblings--Michel Le Neuf, sieur du Hérisson; Jacques Le Neuf, sieur de la Poterie; and Marie Le Neuf (who was married Jean Godefroy de Lintot)--came with their mother Jeanne Le Marchand, children, and Le Gardeur kinsman to New France in 1636. They were the regarded as the first French nobles to settle permanently in Canada. The Le Neufs and Le Gardeurs became an influential kinship group in colonial New France.

The Le Neuf brothers played an important role in colonial New France and their lives are documented in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Michel Le Neuf du Hérisson and Jacques Le Neuf de la Poterie. Despite holding prominent official positions, the Le Neuf brothers were not always well behaved towards their fellow colonists and could be difficult in their relationship with the church and the colonial administration. Their behavior was not that of nobles groomed to practice noblesse oblige, but that of bourgeois businessmen determined to make a fortune in the fur trade.

Jacques Le Neuf left a mystery behind when he registered his proof of nobility with the Soverign Council of New France. He provides a rich family tree of Le Neufs extending back to Richard Le Neuf in the fourteenth century. However, Jacques does not indicate how he fits into this lineage. Rather, he has two Le Neufs back in France (one of them was a Catholic priest) write a deposition stating that Jacques is part of the Le Neuf family. These two French Le Neufs are clearly identified in the Le Neuf family tree, but neither their exact relationship to Jacques, nor Jacques' place in the family tree are established by the evidence presented to the Soverign Council..

Although the Le Neufs were an important family in the history of New France, nobody now carries the surname Le Neuf in North America. They did leave behind descendants in Canada and the United States through female Le Neuf ancestresses. Also, after the fall of New France, some of the male Canadian Le Neufs returned to France and presumably have descendants there.

Despite all the knowledge historians and biographers have provided to us regarding the Le Neufs in Canada, the mystery remained as to how they were related to the French Le Neufs. These scholars failed to detect their bourgeois origins and Huguenot background. Due to the diligence and genealogical research of Gagné—who carefully examined the original documents—the Le Neufs origins in France and their relationship to the Le Neufs in France is no longer a mystery. Much that has been written about the Le Neufs in the past by historians will have to be updated.

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New Findings Regarding the Le Neufs

To date the research conducted on the Le Neufs has resulted in several important findings:

bullet The baptismal records of Josué, Jacques, and Madeline Le Neuf in the Protestant church of Caen.
bullet The marriage record of Mathieu Le Neuf, sieur du Hérisson, and Jeanne Le Marchand, in the Protestant church of Caen.
bullet The names of the grandparents of the Canadian Le Neufs: Jean Le Neuf and Marguerite Le Gardeur.
bullet Provided generation by generation evidence of the Le Marchand maternal pedigree of the Canadian Le Neufs going back to Robert II, King of France, and to Charlemagne.
bullet Established the exact relationship of the Canadian Le Neufs to their French cousins.
bullet Documented a missing generation along the Le Neuf lineage to Richard Le Neuf, namely Jean Le Neuf, m. —?— Porin.
bullet Found that much of the earlier generations were misrepresented in papers submitted to the Judge of Arms as nobles when they were bourgeois and involved in the tannery business.
bullet Documented their occupations and residences in France.
bullet Established that the Le Neufs were in debt before leaving France for Canada.
bullet Established how Marguerite Le Gardeur, the wife of Jean Le Neuf, is related to the other Le Gardeurs in France.

In addition to the Le Neuf findings, Gagné has collected data on the Le Gardeur family that has not been previously published.

A genealogical table using the most recent data that Gagné has published summarizing the relationship between the Canadian and French branches of the Le Neuf family may be found here:

Connection Between the Canadian and French Le Neufs

A careful review of this table will show how the Le Neufs metamorphosed from bourgeois to nobles over several generations with one of them ultimately becoming a Count. Unfortunately, just as Count Louis Bernadin Le Neuf reaches the level of the titled nobility the French Revolution came along and he was one of the Reign of Terror victims to lose his head on the guillotine.

The Le Neuf story was even highlighted on Canadian television on the show Qui êtes-vous? (session 1, episode 5) broadcast on 7 décembre 2013. Guy A Lepage, a Québec comedian and director, was spotlighted and his ancestry leads back to the Le Neufs. In the image below Gagné is on the right reviewing some Le Neuf information with Lepage on the left.

Le Neuf on Canadian TV

A chart showing Lepage's ancestry back to Henry I, King of England, and his relationship to Prince George can be found at Radio Canada.

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Published Le Neuf Research

The following published works are listed in chronological order:

Hozier, Louis Pierre d'. Armorial général de la France, ou Registre de la Noblesse de France. 13 vols. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1738-1908, Le Neuf chapter, vol. 9, part 2, 5th registry. pp. 861-868 plus leading genealogical table.

Here you will find the summary of the Le Neuf family prepared by the royal Judge of Arms based mostly on documents submitted by the family and now residing in the Cabinet des titres at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. For your convenience I have prepared a copy of the chapter for you to view. Please note that the earlier generations must not be accepted without reading through Gagné's published findings.

Raymond Douville, "Le dictature de la famille Le Neuf," Cahiers des dix XX (1955):61–89.

This article discusses the role of the Le Neuf brothers in colonial affairs and their often harsh relationships with other colonists.

Raymond Douville, "LENEUF DU HÉRISSON, MICHEL," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 1, 2014,

Léopold Lamontagne, "LENEUF DE LA POTERIE, JACQUES," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 1, 2014,

Barry, Mary J., trans., and John P. DuLong, ed. "The Le Neuf Family Nobility Evidence." Michigan's Habitant Heritage 12:3 (July 1991):73-80.

This is a translation of the papers Jacques Le Neuf, sieur de la Poterie, submitted in 1675 to the Sovereign Council of New France to prove his noble status. These documents were previously published in French in George-Pierre Roy, Lettres de nobless, généalogies, érections de comtés et baronnies insinués par le Conseil Sourverain de la Nouvelle-France, 2 vols. (Beauceville: L'Éclaireur, Ltée., 1920), vol. 1, pp. 57-65. A draft of this article is presented here.

DuLong, John P. "The Family Secrets of the Le Neuf Origins in France." Lost in Canada? 17:2 (Spring 1993):58-71.

In this article you will find information about the Huguenot background of the Canadian Le Neufs, the Protestant marriage of their parents, and speculation on why Jacques Le Neuf, sieur de la Poterie, would be vague about his ancestors. A draft of this article is presented here. DuLong thought that Jacques was hiding both his Protestant upbringing as well as the downward mobility of his family from the ranks of the nobility into the bourgeois. Gagné would demonstrate in his research that the secret being covered up was upward mobility, that is, the Le Neufs were bourgeois masquerading as nobles.

Jetté, René, Roland-Yves Gagné, John Patrick DuLong, and Paul Leportier. "Les Le Neuf: état des connaissances."  Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 51 (Autumn 2000): 209-227.

This article summarized what was known about the Le Neuf family. The authors establish that Anne du Hérisson was most likely the illegitimate daughter of Michel Le Neuf, sieur du Hérisson. Although progress is made in extending the Le Neuf lineage, we were unable to connect the Canadian Le Neufs to the noble French Le Neufs. The article then proceeds to trace the pedigree of Jeanne Le Marchand, the mother of the Canadian Le Neufs, back to several noble families and eventually to Robert II, King of France, and Charlemagne. It concludes with a demonstration of how the singer Céline Dion is related to Elizabeth "Sissi," Princess of Bavaria, and wife of Franz Joseph, Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, through their common descent from Jean de St-Germain and Jeanne de La Poterie who were ancestors Jeanne Le Marchand.

Jetté, René, "Du neuf sur les Le Neuf," Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 53:2 (Summer 2002): 143-144.

This is an update to the 2000 article in which Jetté reviews information regarding the marriage of Jean Le Neuf, sieur de Vaux, to Anne Jemblin in 1613. We learn from this document that Matthieu Le Neuf, sieur du Hérisson, is an uncle of the groom, and the brother of Jean Le Neuf, the husband, of Suzanne Blanchard. We also learned that Pierre Le Neuf, écuyer, sieur de Montenay, was a paternal cousin. Thus indicating that the relationship between the Canadian and the French Le Neufs is probably not as remote as we thought in the 2000 article.

Jetté, René, Roland-Yves Gagné, John Patrick DuLong, and Paul LePortier. "The Le Neuf Family: State of Knowledge." Michigan's Habitant Heritage, 3 part series:

    • Part I, 23:4 (October 2002): 149-159;
    • Part II, 24:1 (January 2003): 1-9;
    • Part III, 24:2 (April 2003): 49-55.
      Click on the parts to download the series.

The 2000 article was translated and published in English by the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan.

Gagné, Roland-Yves, "Les origines des familles Le Neuf et Le Gardeur," Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française:

    • Part I, "Les origines des familles Le Neuf et Le Gardeur," 63:3 (Autumn 2012) : 174-198;
    • Part II, "De Richard Le Neuf à Jean et Jean dits Le Neuf, frères," 64:1 (Spring 2013): 9-27;
    • Part III, "Les enfants de Jean Le Neuf le jeune et de Marguerite Le Gardeur," 64:3 (Autumn 2013): 199-216;
    • Part IV, "Les cinq enfants de Mathieu Le Neuf et Jeanne Le Marchand," 64:4 (Winter 2013): 261-280;
    • Part V: "Les frères Robert et Jean Le Gardeur," 65:1 (Spring 2014): 23-40;
    • Part VI: "Les familles alliées Lainé et Poullain," 65:2 (Summer 2014): 97-108;
    • Part VII: "Jean Le Gardeur, Jeanne Le Tavernier et leurs enfants," 65:3 (Autumn 2014): 213-226;
    • Part VIII: "Boniface et René Le Gardeur, sieurs de Tilly," 65:4 (Winter 2014): 261-276.
All previous research published on the Le Neufs, with the possible exception of the maternal lineage back to royalty, were small steps, Gagné's solo research in the original records of Normandie makes giant steps towards uncovering the facts regarding both the Le Neufs and the Le Gardeurs.

Gagné's articles are essential readings and finally solve the problem of how the French noble Le Neufs and the Canadian Le Neufs are related. Gagné also demonstrates how both sides of the family managed to hide their bourgeois origins. Lastly, his series of articles reveals information about the Le Gardeurs not previously known.

You can order copies of articles published in the Mémoires from the Société généalogique canadienne-française (SGCF). You can visit the SGCF web site or write them at:

Société généalogique canadienne-française
3440, rue Davidson
Montréal, Québec H1W 2Z5

No English translation of this series is currently planned.

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Le Neuf Arms

The Le Neuf arms are De gueules à trois coussinets d'or, les houppes posées en sautoir [On a red field three small cushions of gold, the tassels laying saltire crosswise]. A colored depiction of the arms can be found in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cabinet des Titres, Armorial général, Normandie mss. vol. 20, Caen part 2, p. 626, ca. 1696.  These were the arms recorded for Gabriel Le Neuf, sieur de Montenay, écuyer, seigneur de Sourdeval.  His exact relationship to the Canadian Le Neufs has now been established by Gagné. They were second cousins, once removed.  A drawing of the arms in black and white is found in d'Hozier, Armorial général de la France, vol. 9, part 2, p. 861. 

Pierre Le Neuf, priest, sieur de Courtonne, and François Le Neuf, esquire, sieur de Montenay, brothers dwelling at Caen, Normandie, attested before Ollivier and Bougon, royal scriveners, on 5 May 1673, that Jacques Le Neuf, sieur de la Poterie, formerly of Caen, was of the same family and carried the same name and arms. (Roy, Lettres de noblesse, vol. I, pp. 57-65). While Jacques Le Neuf was acknowledged to be of the same family and carry the same arms, Gagné warns us that there is no evidence that he or his brother every used these arms, or for that matter any arms, while in New France.

Furthermore, Gagné points out the erroneous assignment of different arms to Michel Le Neuf, sieur du Hérisson, the brother of Jacques Le Neuf. According to Édouard-Zotique Massicotte and Régis Roy's Armorial du Canada français (2 vols., Montréal: Beauchemin, 1915-1918 vol. 2, pp. 24 and 113), Michel Le Neuf used D'argent, à trois hérissons de sable [On a white field, three black hedgehogs].  The first impression is that these arms are an obvious pun on his alias and might refer to property his family may have once owned in Normandie. However, Gagné points out that these are actually the arms of a family surnamed Hérisson from Bretagne and has no relationship at all the the Michel Le Neuf or any other members of the Le Neuf family (Henri Jougla de Morenas, Grand armorial de France, 7 vols., Paris: Les Editions Héraldiques, 1934-1952; reprint ed., Paris: Frankelve, 1975, vol. 4, p. 297).

If either Jacques or Michel Le Neuf used the family arms, then they did so by presumption, even with the permission of their cousins. They were commoners posing as nobles in New France. Had they remained in France and had lived long enough, then they might have had arms assigned to them for the purposes of taxation in 1696. The following generic arms were found for a Jean Le Neuf, merchant, bourgeois of Caen. He might be Jean Le Neuf, the son of Jean Le Neuf, sieur de Vaux, and a cousin of the Canadian Le Neufs. These arms are registered in the Armorial général de France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cabinet des Titres, Armorial général, Normandie mss. vol. 20, Caen part 2, p. 261, ca. 1696):

The blazon would be D'or parti de sinople à trois barres d l'un en l'autre. Scanning pages before and after this illustration there are several similarly blazoned arms. The clerks assigned to collect the 1696 tax on arms would simply make up bogus arms and assign them to anyone they thought could afford the tax including merchants and well off peasant. It appears that this Jean Le Neuf was the victim of this tax scheme and was assigned rather plain and unimaginative arms.

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This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1995 by John P. DuLong and associates, Berkley, MI. Created 23 November 1995. Modified 31 October 2015. The heraldry art work on this web page was accomplished using Adobe Illustrator CS and Armorial Gold Heraldry Clipart ver. 15.4.