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St. Gatien-des-Bois, France

Origin of the Samson Family


Toussaint Samson of St. Gatien-des-Bois, France
The ancestral home of the Samsons of Quebec and Nova Scotia has been traced back to the region of France known as Normandy. This area was characterized by rich farmlands, large orchards, and picturesque villages. Its agricultural products included dairy, grains, and apples, the cider of which was distilled to a potent spirit called calvados. Much of the old medieval character, such as thatched roofs and half-timbered homes can still be found in the smaller towns of the region.    
Our earliest Samson ancestor of record was Toussaint Samson, who lived in the village of St. Gatien-des-Bois.  Located about 150 miles north west of Paris, St. Gatien is only a few miles from Deauville on the shores of the English Channel, and almost as close to the port of Honfleur. The name Gatien or Grathien was the name of the Bishop of Tours. In the 17th century, the small village had less than 500 people, with about twenty to thirty Samson families in the area.  Today, there are no Samsons in the vicinity of St. Gatien, although the Samson surname is still fairly common in other parts of Normandy.   
Toussaint Samson MarriageOn November 30, 1641, Toussaint Samson married Catherine Le Chevalier in the parish church of St. Gatien. Unfortunately, neither the bride nor the groom’s parents were recorded, and therefore, the Samson lineage has not been traced beyond Toussaint. 
Catherine may have been the daughter of Jean (Jehan) Le Chevalier and Isabeau Hebert, as she was the only person by that name born at St. Gatien around that time. She was baptized on August 19, 1607, named by Catherine, wife of Jehan Hebert. However, it was unusual for a woman of 34 years of age to marry for the first time, suggesting that this was not the same Catherine, or possibly that she was a widow when she married Toussaint Samson.
Within two years, the couple had a son. His baptism in the church records reads: “A son for Toussaint Samson was baptized and named Gabriel by Gabriel Samson son of Paul and Suzanne Perrone wife of Paul Samson, Sr. of Aulnes, on August 28, 1643”.
Birth of Gabriel SamsonAnother child, Jacques, was born four years later in 1647. The couple may have had other children, although no records of others have been found. After eighteen years of marriage, Toussaint Samson died, and was buried in St. Gatien on May 19, 1659. Three years later, his widow Catherine died and was buried on March 5, 1662. These dates were recorded in the church records as follows: "Toussaint Samson was buried at this church, 19 May 1659.   Catherine Le Chevalier, widow of Toussaint Samson was buried at this church, 5 March 1662"
The young Samson brothers, now orphans, decided to leave France, and in 1665 set off for the New World. In January of 1997, a plaque commemorating the Samson brothers was erected in the original church of St. Gatien-des-Bois.
Originally written by Charles A. Samson in December 1997, and revised in March 2010.
Source: “Familles Samson, Tricentenaire au Canada”, July 23, 1967, Roger and Marcel Samson; “Portrait of Normandy”, Derek Pitt and Michael Shaw; “The Normans”, R. Allen.


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