Seigneurs and censitaires
At the time in New France, most people in the colony were only there temporarily to do business, or to work for a while before returning to France. When Robert Giffard founded the Beauport seigneury in 1634, he became one of the first colonizing seigneurs of New France. The colonists who settled on Giffard’s seigneury were there to start a family and live permanently in the colony. They were not there for the fur trade, which was quite rare at the time.
Relations between the seigneur and the censitaires
A seigneur was someone who ran a large piece of land called a seigneury. On this land, the seigneur was the boss. He gave out parcels of land to the peasants, who in New France were known as the habitants. On a seigneury, these habitants were tenants called censitaires, and paid the seigneur dues called the cens. They also had to acknowledge the seigneur as the most important person of the seigneury.
Author: Alexandre Lanoix
See also – Traces of the past:
- Farming / New France around 1645