Chretien Du Bois

Chretien du Bois was the father of three Protestant French-speaking immigrants to colonial New York. One of these, Louis Dubois, was among the founders of New Paltz, New York, in the late 1600s. Chretien du Bois was the son of Antoine du Bois and Anne Cousin, and was married to Françoise le Poivre.

Chretien du Bois lived in the village of Wicres, outside of Lille. Documents from the Archives Départementales de Lille indicate he was bailli, lieutenant, greffier & receveur of the Comté of Coupigny. He died sometime after 1641.

Internet pages frequently—and incorrectly—claim that Chretien du Bois' wife was named "Cornelia." This claim was first made by researcher Matthew Hilt Murphy in a 1980 presentation later re-printed in William Heidgerd, "The American Descendants of Chretien Dubois of Wicres, France." Murphy referenced a 1646 item in the church records of Middlebourg, Zeeland referring to "Bois/Cornelia du/vefve de Jen de Chrestien, native de Tournay." Murphy, who apparently was not familiar with the French custom of referring to women in documents by their maiden names throughout their lives, misinterpreted this as a reference to a woman who had married (1) Jean du Bois and (2) Chretien DuBois. In fact, the record refers to a woman whose maiden name was "Cornelia du Bois", who was the widow of "Jean de Chrestien." There is no basis to associate her with Chretien du Bois of Wicres.

Chretien du Bois is of particular interest to American genealogists, both because of the notability of his descendants and because several different -- and inaccurate -- versions of noble ancestry have been claimed for him.

Several prominent Americans figure among Chretien du Bois' descendants, including former governor of Massachusetts William Floyd Weld, actor Marlon Brando, Jr., painter Mary Cassatt, journalist Maria Shriver (wife of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), Samuel Walton, General George Smith Patton III and film director George Lucas. W. E. B. Du Bois is also said to be a descendant.

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Famous quotes containing the word bois:

    This spirit it was which so early carried the French to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi on the north, and the Spaniard to the same river on the south. It was long before our frontiers reached their settlements in the West, and a voyageur or coureur de bois is still our conductor there.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)