1 – First French In the Antilles

originally posted 02/15/2001

(by Anne Marie Danet)

It is a sad, sad state of affairs, when a people have been deprived of their history.  But what is even more distressing is that so many people have no desire to learn about their ancestors, to know their heritage.

In many interviews with some of the descendants of the original French pioneers to the Antilles, we have been amazed at their lack of knowledge and at the cavalier attitude in which it is dismissed.  Can we wonder then, that complete strangers, who know nothing about the history, make up their own stories about the origins of the French settlers?  Here are the origins of the first settlers on Saint-Barthelemy.

The first persons to arrive in the Antilles, who bore names which are still found today, were:

– Jacques Aubin who is said to have arrived with Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc.  Jacques Aubin was listed as being from  Octeville.
– Robert Questel, a native of Saint-Arnoult, Normandie, France.  He was hired in 1636 to travel to the islands (of the Antilles).
– Jean Bernier, a native of Chateau Chinon, Burgundy, France, whose marriage certificate indicates that he arrived in  the islands in 1657.
– Jacques Greaux, sometimes listed as Gruau and/or Gruault, whom documents indicate arrived before 1660.
– In a census taken on Saint-Barthelemy, in 1715, we find listed in the employ of the Comany LeGrand, Charles Questel,  armed.
– Listed as unarmed employees of the same company are, Jacques Questel, Martin Daniel… common ancestor of the Daniels  of Saint-Barthelemy.
– Pierre Bernier, common ancestor of the Berniers.
– Jacques Gruau, father, Ancestor of all the Greaux.
– Jacques Gruau, the son.

Another document later that same year lists Jacques Greau and Pierre de LaPlace.  There are no Aubins listed so we  presume that the Aubins had not yet arrived on Saint-Barthelemy.   (…to be continued!)

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