Ancestors and their foibles: Much ado over a pew
I was recently reading through a book Mississippi Provincial Archives, 1701-1729, French Dominion, Dunbar Rowland and Albert Sanders.
In it I came across a funny little story about my husbands ancestor, (well a grand aunt of) one Jeanne Louise Trudeau. One of the Pelican girls who arrived in Biloxi with her parents Etienne Burel and Marie Marguerite Roussel, to marry the settlers. Jeanne married Francois Trudeau.
As it goes in 1723 the Capuchin priests in New Orleans were given a house to use as a church. The parishioners brought their own chairs to hear Mass said or stood. The parishioners petitioned the priest to make pews and to sell them to earn money for improvements on the church. They did this and made an announcement that they would be sold on the 14th of the month. It was said that then Mrs. Trudeau wife of the carpenter and mother in law to the cashier wished to distinguish herself and when she saw the first pews had been taken, asked for a closed one. She was denied. She put up a ruckus, contacting a Mr. Perry saying "it was unheard of that these priests should have done a thing like that without having obtained the written permission of the Council, that it was necessary to have these pews taken out and that it was not right that certain persons should be above others because they had been first at the awarding" Perry agreed with her reasoning and went to the priest about it. The priests in turn upset over the issue went to other officials to complain and were told to continue as they were. Mr. Perry determined to get his way then complained to the priests Superior only to be told that the pews had been paid for and who was going to pay to have them removed? The Superior then said, "but that one saw clearly that a woman here had more influence than an honest man since she made them change their minds, that he had no ground to complain, that the first pew had been reserved for his wife and his family, that indeed since their arrival in this town they had not been seen at mass at all, that he, Perry, had not yet at that very time taken the Sacrament and that he was not surprised if he was not inclined to the welfare of the church."
Madam Trudeau did not get her way apparently.