Hi David,In my genealogy files in the mid to late 1600s there are three cases refering to witchcraft.Below is one about my 9th great grandmother that you and others may enjoy reading about.Janet
"Filles à Marier", page 61 and 257, Françoise Bénard was born about 1630 in Vouvray-sur-Loire (near the diocese of Le Mans), Maine, the daughter of Pierre Bénard and Catherine Riverin.
At 25 years old, on 30 August 1655, Françoise married Marin Janot dit' Lachapelle at Montréal. She signed the marriage contract drawn up 01 August, by notary Saint-Père, but it is not known if her husband could.
In November 1658, Françoise testified in the witchcraft trial of René Besnard dit Bourjoly, accused of making "Filles à Marier", Marie Pontonnier and her husband sterile.
On 20 July 1665, Françoise married Guillaume Bouchard in Montréal.
Françoise had a run-in with the law, and on 19 July 1673 (notary Basset), she had to make retribution to Montréal bailiff Monsieur d'Ailleboust and his officers for an undisclosed offense.
WITNESS at the FIRST WITCHCRAFT TRIAL:
Francoise was a WITNESS against Rene Besnard dit Bourjoly in the first trial for witchcraft in New France.He was accused of casting a spell on ""Filles à Marier"," Marie Pontonnier and her husband Pierre Gadois.This most interesting story of Marie Pontonnier goes as follows:
With marriageable men out numbering women by six to fourteen in colonial Québec, there was bound to be some competition for brides, and there apparently was competition over Marie. She chose Pierre as her husband over another suitor named René Besnard dit Bourjoly, a corporal in the Montréal garrison. Rebuffed, the jilted Besnard swore revenge, proclaiming that the marriage would be childless and vowing to ensure this by casting a spell over the couple using a knotted cord. Superstition held that if the person casting the spell secretly knotted a cord three times in the presence of the couple during the marriage ceremony, the couple would be sterile unless the cord was un-knotted.
Pierre was allegedly told to recite the psalm Miserere mei Deus backwards in Latin during the wedding Mass to ward off the spell, as was the custom in France at the time. In the church that day were numerous dignitaries, for not only were Marie and Pierre getting married, but the ceremony would also celebrate the marriage of Major Lambert Closse and Elisabeth Moyen. Governor Maisonneuve was present, as were notary Bénigne Basset, Charles Lemoyne, Mathurin Langevin, Sieur de La Croix and René Besnard dit Bourjoly, there to celebrate the marriage of his superior officer Lambert Closse and to curse the marriage of his rival Pierre Gadois.
When no children were born in the first year of their marriage, the couple was advised to go to Québec City to receive a second nuptial blessing from Bishop Laval. When the bishop's blessing proved ineffective, Besnard was accused of making Pierre sterile. On 02 November 1658, he was tried for sorcery in the seigniorial court of Montréal, the first trial for witchcraft in New France. The proceedings were presided over by Louis d'Ailleboust, Seigneur de Coulonge. Faced with the prospect of being burned alive for sorcery, Besnard denied using witchcraft on the couple, but alleged that Marie had promised to sleep with him if he would break the spell, claiming that she suggested this "remedy" to him and not the other way around, as Marie testified. Confronted with testimony that he had boasted of "knowing how to tie the knot and who tied it for her husband,"Besnard claimed that he was speaking of lacing a corset. Fellow "Filles à Marier", Françoise Bénard testified that Besnard told her that he knew of the spell, which he claimed could last 17 years. He also allegedly spoke of the spell to file a marier Jeanne Godard. Besnard admitted speaking with Jeanne, but claimed not to remember what the conversation was about. He also testified that he was only joking if he spoke about witchcraft, in an effort to scare Pierre. The court did not believe Besnard's denials and equivocation. He was imprisoned and later banished from Montréal, settling at Trois Rivières.
Whether Besnard actually cast a spell or not, the damage had been done just the same. After a three-year waiting period imposed by canon law, Marie and Pierre's marriage was annulled by Bishop Laval on 30 August 1660, "because of permanent impotence caused by an evil spell."Two weeks after the annulment, on 13 September 1660, Governor Maisonneuve sentenced Pierre to pay Marie 100 livres on the feast of Saint-Michel (29 September) and another 300 livres on Christmas, as an "indemnity" for the time that she lived with him, based on a provision in their marriage contract that would give Marie a rent of 60 livres, plus an additional 300 livres in the event that the couple had no children. In 1665, Pierre married Fille du Roi Jeanne Bénard, who helped him disprove the stigma of "impotence" by giving him 14 children.
Less than a month after the annulment, on 08 October, notary Basset drew up a marriage contract between Marie and Pierre Martin dit La Rivière in his Montréal study. The two were married 03 November 1660 in the church of Notre-Dame de Montréal, in a ceremony celebrated by Father Gabriel Souart.
Tragically, only four months after her second marriage, Marie became a widow at the age of 18. Pierre Martin dit La Rivière was killed in an Iroquois ambush on 24 March 1661. His decapitated body was found on 22 June 1661 and buried at Montréal six days later. On 09 November 1661, his posthumous daughter was baptized in Montréal and given the name Marie, after her mother.
On 05 December 1661, Marie married Honoré Langlois dit Lachapelle et Croustille, with Father Souart again performing the ceremony. Both spouses signed the marriage contract drawn up 16 October by notary Basset. A hat maker, Honoré was born about 1632 in Paris, the son of Jean Langlois and Jacquette Charpentier.Honoré and Marie had ten children, disproving her "impotence" as surely as Pierre Gadois'.
The incident of the alleged spell cast over Marie's marriage to Pierre Gadois had its legacy in the official policies of the Catholic Church in New France. In his Ritual of the Diocese of Québec, published in 1703, Bishop Saint-Valuer included an article that admitted "It sometimes occurs that by a just judgment of God, the married persons are prevented by an evil spell or charm from consummating the marriage."The afflicted couple was to pray for release from the spell, confess their sins and take communion. If this remedy did not work, they were to seek the assistance of priests, who would determine if Church prayers or an exorcism were necessary. Under no circumstances were they to ask the person who cast the spell to undo it with another or to renounce the first marriage and contract another, "which would cause insult to the Sacrament, and could only come from the Devil".