Zacharie Cloutier

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Zacharie Cloutier
Born c. December 1589 or 1590
Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Mortagne-au-Perche, France
Died September 17, 1677 (aged 85 or 86)
Château-Richer, New France
Occupation carpenter, colonist
Spouse(s) Xainte Dupont
Children Zacharie
Parents Denis Cloutier and Renée Brière

Zacharie Cloutier (c. December 1589 or 1590 – September 17, 1677) was a French carpenter who immigrated to New France in the first wave of the Percheron Immigration from the former province of Perche, in Normandy, to an area that today is part of Canada. He settled in Beauport and founded one of the foremost families of Quebec.[1]

Early life[edit]

Most sources state that Zacharie Cloutier was born in December of 1590 in the parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Mortagne-au-Perche, France. Cloutier was one of the nine children of Denis Cloutier and his first wife Renée Brière. The notary Mathurin Roussel of Mortagne called Cloutier the "family peacemaker," describing how Cloutier helped his father and brother solve a dispute involving inheritance.[2] In the parish of his birth, Cloutier wedded Xainte Dupont of Feings (also known as Sainte) in July 1616. She had been born in 1596 to Paul-Michel and Perrine Dupont, and was the widow of Michel Lermusier.[3]

In 1619 Henri II de Montmorency purchased the New France colony from his brother-in-law Henry II of Bourbon. Included amongst the laborers hired to assist Samuel de Champlain in “inhabiting, clearing, cultivating and planting” New France were the names of Zacharie and his father Denis. This group was not a group of settlers, but a group of laborers, who would return to France once their work had been completed. Several years later, however, Cloutier returned to Canada to help establish a new settlement at Beauport.[4]

Life in New France[edit]

Cloutier was one of the first Frenchmen recruited by Robert Giffard de Moncel to expand the colony of New France by settling the Beauport area near Quebec City. Cloutier arrived in 1634 (at the age of 44) and either arrived with or was soon followed by his family. This was an important addition to the colony's population which numbered about 100 prior to his arrival. Cloutier worked with fellow emigre Jean Guyon du Buisson to construct Giffard's manor house (the oldest house in Canada) and other colonial buildings.

Cloutier and Guyon resisted for several years paying the fealty and homage owed to Giffard under the Seigneurial system of New France until the Governor of New France explicitly ordered them to do so. This was one of the first disputes against transplanting Old World hierarchy to the New World that would carry through the centuries even past the time of the British conquest.[5]

In 1652 Cloutier received a grant of land from Governor Jean de Lauzon in Château-Richer. The land on which Cloutier lived in Beauport was known as La Clouterie (or La Cloutièrerie). In 1670 Nicolas Dupont de Neuville purchased this land from Cloutier. This action resulted in disagreements between Cloutier himself and his neighbor Jean Guyon and with Giffard, his seigneur, resulting in the Cloutier family's relocation to Château-Richer.[6]

Zacharie Cloutier died 17 September 1677 at the age of about 87. His wife died shortly after. The couple is buried together in Château-Richer.[7]


Together Zacharie and Xainte had six children, one of which died in childhood. The marriage of his daughter Anne to Robert Drouin is the oldest recorded marriage in Canada. In 1636 when her marriage contract was drawn, Anne was merely ten years of age. The religious sacrament of marriage was not performed until a year later on 12 July 1637. However, according to the contract drawn the year prior, the couple would only be allowed non-conjugal visits for the next two years.[8]

Name Birth Death Notes
Zacharie-Pierre 16 August 1617 3 February 1708 Married Marie-Madeleine Emard, 29 March 1648.
Jean 13 May 1620 16 October 1690 Married (1) Jeanne Duval, evidently prior to 1634 in France.
Married (2) Marie-Anne Martin, 21 January 1648.
Marie-Xainte 1 November 1622 19 September 1632 Died in childhood.
Marie-Anne 19 January 1626 2 February 1648 Married Robert Drouin, 27 July 1636 (contract), 12 July 1637 (sacrament).
Charles 3 May 1629 5 June 1709 Married Marie-Louise Morin, 20 April 1659.
Marie-Louise 18 March 1632 22 June 1699 Married (1) François Marguerie, 26 October 1645.
Married (2) Jean Migneault dit Châtillon, 10 November 1648.
Married (3) Jean Matthieu, 3 February 1684.

Notable descendants[edit]

Zacharie Cloutier is the common ancestor of the Cloutiers of North America, some with spelling variations.[9] By 1800, Cloutier had 10,850 French-Canadian descendants, the most of any Quebec colonist, according to marriage records studied by the Historical Demography Research Program of the Université de Montréal.[10]

Cloutier is a common ancestor of:[11][12][13]


Little is known about the Cloutier ancestors. Most genealogists agree that Zacharie Cloutier was the grandson of Nicolas Cloutier of Perche. The most common variation of the surname is Cloustier. Most sources state the surname was originally given to a person who crafted and sold nails, coming from the Latin word "clavus" meaning nail ("clou" in French). Some descendants of Cloutier who immigrated to the United States from Canada changed their surnames to Nailer in this respect.[citation needed]


In 1972, a house originally built and lived in by Cloutier was reconstructed and named a provincial heritage site.

In 1984, a monument was erected in Beauport (which has since been merged into Quebec City as of 2002) to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Cloutier's arrival.

See also[edit]