Marie Magdeleine Hénault was my 6x great-grandmother. [In the parish records the family name was more often spelled “Enos” or “Enaud”, which are homophones in French.] She was the second wife of Louis Olivier dit Lavictoire, the original immigrant ancestor of the Olivier family, who had arrived in Berthier, Quebec, Canada about 1742 from the parish of St-Eustache in Paris, France.
The official story of her life, as given in “Généologie des Olivier dit Lavictoire” [written by Ernest Olivier in 1929] says:
We do not know when Louis came to live in Berthier-en-Haut, but we find him there first in the parish records on 24 Oct 1757 when he married his second wife Madeleine Enaud, a/k/a Marieé Hénault, who was 36 years old at the time. To this marriage were born twelve children baptized at Berthier.
You will find this “fact” almost universally mirrored across dozens of family trees on Ancestry.com and elsewhere on the web. Her birth date is given as 3 Jun 1721 in Richelieu, Quebec, Canada. It is, however, unlikely to be correct given the facts.
The official marriage record for Magdeleine does indeed show that she married Louis Olivier at Ste-Geneviève, Berthierville, Québec, Canada on 24 Oct 1757. It says:
“Solemnly celebrated the marriage between Louis Olivier, widower of the late [Marie] Joseph Buisson, as one party, and Marie Magdeline Henaud, daughter of Jean Pierre Henaud and of Geneviève Généreux, as the second party.”
Their first child, Louis, was born on 12 Sept 1758 almost a year later, theoretically when Magdeleine was about 37 years old if the 1721 birth year is correct. Their last [and 12th] child, Théophile Amable Olivier, was born 4 Feb 1781. The birth record states:
“The 5th February 1781 by me, the undersigned priest, was baptised Théophile Amable, born the night before of the legitimate marriage of Mr. Louis Olivier, captain of militia, and of Magdelaine Enos…”
If the 1721 birth year is correct, Magdeleine would have been 59 years old at the time of the birth of their last child. Technically, this is not impossible, but I put it in the category of “extremely improbable”.
Looking further, her burial record from 6 Aug 1813 at Ste-Geneviève states:
“We [..] have interred on the evangelical side inside the church, the body of Magdeleine Henault, widow of Mr. Louis Olivier who had lived in this parish, deceased for two days, furnished with the sacraments, aged about eighty years.”
Based on that age she had been born about 1733 and would have married at the age of 24 or 25. Her last child would have been born when she was 47, which is still stretching things, but at least not impossible.
The reason for the erroneous birth date is the Tanguay Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families, which shows her as having been baptized in 1721. I believe it’s clearly incorrect when the facts are examined. I’m guessing she was born more like 1738 and would have been about 43 when her last child was born.
Her parents Jean Pierre Hénault dit Fresnière (1691-1756) and Marie Geneviève Généreux (1704-1788) were in the parish of St-Pierre, Sorel, Québec, Canada for the birth of her brother François Hénault on 20 Oct 1725, and had moved directly across the Saint Lawrence River to the parish of Ste-Geneviève, Berthier, Québec, Canada by 1727 when her sister Geneviève Hénault was born. We know they stayed in Ste-Geneviève through at least 1733 when her sister Marie Josephe Hénault was born.
Unfortunately, the parish records for St-Pierre don’t exist for the years 1683-1724, and the records for Ste-Geneviève are missing between 1734 and 1750, so it’s possible we may never find a baptism record proving the exact birth date for Magdeleine Hénault.