Jean Guyon du Buisson, (1592 - 1663), was born in either Saint-Jean-de-Mortagne, Normandy or in Tourouvre, Orne, France in 1592. Guyon was patriarch of "one of the earliest French families to settle in (New France), one of the most numerous in the beginning, one of the most respected and best known."

Guyon made his living as a mason and was regarded as a "master mason of excellent reputation". In 1615, he finished the interior stone staircase of the church Saint-Aubin.

Life in New FranceEdit

Guyon and family emigrated to North America as part of the Percheron Immigration, a small group of families and some single men from the region of Perche, in the province of Normandy, brought over to New France in 1634 to colonize new areas.

Jean de Lauzon, the Governor of New France, awarded a concession of land to Robert Giffard de Moncel, physician to the colony. Giffard, now Seigneurie of Beauport, recruited Guyon and other tradesmen to the new colony with the offer of 1,000 arpents of land with hunting and fishing rights in exchange for three years of service.

Guyon traveled aboard a convoy of four ships under the command of Charles Duplessis-Bochart and arrived in New France in 1634. Guyon was awarded land in newly-established Beauport, Quebec, one of the oldest European-founded communities in Canada (and now a borough of Quebec City). Under the Seigneurial system of New France|seigneurial system, he received a rear fief (arrière fief) near rivière du Buisson. He attached its name to his own, Guyon du Buisson.

Guyon lived there until he died in 1663. He built a small mill and helped build the parish church of Québec and the governor's residence.

For nine years, he and Zacharie Cloutier disputed Giffard's seigneural rights to receive foi et hommage (fealty and homage). Refusing to accept him as their superior, they did not stake their lands or pay him annual taxes. On July 19, 1646, the governor of the colony took action to force Cloutier and Guyon to comply with their contractual obligations. Such cases of censitaire refractoriness filled the time of the courts for the duration of the seigneurial system, both during the French regime and under the English.

Marriage and ChildrenEdit

Guyon was wedded to Mathurine Robin in France sometime before coming to New France. Together Jean and Mathurine had ten children, eight of whom lived into adulthood and married:

  • Barbe Guyon (1617-1700), married Pierre Paradis
  • Jean Guyon (1619-1694), married Élisabeth Couillard
  • Simon Guyon (1621-1682), married Louise Racine
  • Marie-Madeleine Guyon (1624-1696), married François Bélanger
  • Marie Guyon (1627-c. 1637)
  • Claude Guyon (1629-1694), married Catherine Collin
  • Denys Guyon (1631-1685), married Elizabeth Boucher
  • Michel Guyon (1634-1704), married Marie-Géneviève Marsolette
  • Noel Guyon (1638-1638)
  • François Guyon (1639), married Madeleine Marsolette

After his death, his heirs engaged in a protracted legal dispute over his lands.

The eldest son, also named Jean Guyon, married Élisabeth Couillard, granddaughter of Louis Hébert, the first French colonist established with his family in New France. Their wedding was accompanied by the “two violins...which had not been seen yet in Canada.”


Guyon is known to be an ancestor of many French Canadians. By 2006, news media noted that at least three out of four pure laine (old stock) French Quebecers descend from him. The descendants are often recognized as Dion, sometimes as Despres, Dumontier, Lemoine and in Louisiana as Derbanne. He has been linked to the family trees of Alanis Morisette, Camilla, Dutchess of Cornwall, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

By 1730, more than 2,150 births of Guyon descendents had been recorded, according to The First French Canadians: Pioneers in the St. Lawrence Valley. By 1800, Guyon had 9,674 married descendents, the second-most of New France immigrants, according to the Historical Demography Research Program of the Université de Montréal. This study enabled neurological researchers to trace 40 cases of classical Friedreich's ataxia, a rare inherited disease, across 12 generations to 14 previously unrelated French-Canadians kindreds to one common ancestral couple: Guyon and his wife Mathurine Robin. The disease causes progressive damage to the nervous system resulting in symptoms ranging from gait disturbance and speech problems to heart disease. The finding allows for gene chromosomal localization studies that had previously been judged to be almost impossible in rare autosomal recessive disorders.


In 1984, the 350th anniversary of Guyon's arrival, Quebec City named a park after him and a commemorative plaque to honour Guyon was mounted on the church in Beauport by the Association des Dion d'Amérique inc. In 2006, the city renamed a street after him.


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