Guillaume Couture
1617 - 1702

Guillaume Couture was born in 1617 in the capital of Normandy, parish of Saint-Godard, Rouen. His father, Guillaume, taught his son to be a carpenter. The father allowed his son to become a donné - a volunteer who agreed to share for a few years the hardships of the priestly missonaries, includeing their clerical vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. The young Guillaume saw this a path to get out of his dead-end life in Rouen and travel to New France.

Guillaume emigrated to Canada sometime before 1640.

In 1640, Guillaume is a lay missionary with the Jesuit Fathers to the Huron missions in New France. His job was to convert Hurons and other Indians to Catholicism. As a missionary he had to give up all his possessions. As a result he gave up his inheritance from his father to his mother and sister in June 1641.

On August 1, 1642, forty men who had gone up the river to Trois-Rivières and were heading on missionary trip to Huron territory. Their method of travel was by foot and by canoe. The second day out they were attacked by an Iroquois hunting party.

Guillaume was able to escape the attack because he hid out during the night near the canoes in case of attack. When he realized Father Jorges and another friend were captured, he went back. There were Indians still there and one tried to shoot him but his musket misfired. So Guillaume shot the Indian. This Indian was a highly respected Indian chief. The remaining four Indians attacked Guillaume by removing his clothes, beating him, and tearing out his fingernails by using their teeth.

The captives spent thirteen days traveling with the Indians to their camp. Since Guillaume had killed a chief he was tortured some more. They tried to cut off his right forefinger with a dull knife.

The Indians decided to keep the captives from Quebec since they could be used with Negotiations with Quebec. Guillaume was sent to live with an old sqaw who had lost her husband in battle. During this time Guillaume learned the Mohawk language and dressed as an Indian.

After three years of captivity, Guillaume was involved with peace negotiations at Trois-Rivières since he could speak both languages. Guillaume acted as interrupter for the negotiations.

When he returned to Quebec Guillaume asked to be relived of his vows as a lay missionary. He obtained land in Pointe Levy where he built his home.

In 1649 he married Anne Emard in the house he had built. The couple had ten children; six boys and four girls.

Marriage Guillaume Couture and Anne Emard
Transcript of marriage for Guilluame and Anne Emard

Guillaume also obtained a house in the lower city of Quebec on the Place Royale which is known to as Old Quebec.

Guillaume was captain of the militia on the Lauzon coast. When he was 73 he and his men fought against Sir William Phips with 34 ships and 2,000 New Englanders. Phips and his men were trying to capture Quebec. Captain Couture and his men prevented the New Englanders from landing at Lauzon. If they could land in Lauzon then they could easily cross the Saint Lawrence river into the City of Quebec.

Guillaume was also magistrate on the Lauzon coast until his death. He settled legal and civil issues among the residents.

Descendant Report

Pedigree Chart


Fenn, Michael, From Torture to Trimuph The Lost Legend of a Man Who Opened America: Guillaume Couture, Lulu Publishing Services, 2015.

King, Charles W., The King/Leroy Family of Quebec and New England, Otter Bay Books, Baltimore, MD, 2010, pages 125 - 133.

LaForest, Thomas J., Our French Canadian Ancestors Volume I, Lisi Press, 1983, pages 59 - 68.