Fougeres is a town in France on the edge of Brittany, Maine, and Normandy. Its inhabitants are referred to as Fougerais and Fougeraises.
Fougere is also a family name dating back to medieval northwestern France in the region of Brittany. The name is derived from the old French word “fougere” meaning “fern,” perhaps indicating an area heavily grown with the plant of the same name. As is the case with most Acadian surnames, there were numerous variations of the name, probably in excess of 25.
The first Fougere known in North America was Jean Fougere, a native of Poupry, a community 100 miles south of Paris. He reportedly arrived at Port Royal in the Annapolis Valley in 1698. However, his date of birth was about 1685 so these dates may lack some accuracy. What documentation does reveal is that on February 5, 1709 Jean Fougere attended the wedding of Claude Giouard and Elizabeth Blanchard at Port Royal. His name appears in the register as a witness. He would have been around 24 years old at the time.
On November 27, 1713, Jean Fougere and Marie Bourg (Bourque) were married. A Recollet missionary priest, Father Justinian Durand, presided at the ceremony and the witnesses were Abraham Bourg, Pierre Allain, Madeleine Bourg, and Pierre Broussard. Twin girls were born to the young couple but, tragically, died within three months. There ensued three daughters and two sons, all born at Port Royal.
The Port Royal church records show that on April 21, 1715, Marie Bourg, wife of Jean Fougère, was godmother to her niece, Marie-Josèphe Bourq, daughter of Pierre Bourq and Élizabeth Broussard.
In 1715 Jean Fougere’s name appears once more in official records on the occasion of his swearing allegiance to King George II of Great Britain as many Acadians did at the time.
Whether there was any connection between this and the Fougeres leaving Port Royal for the French territory, then known as Port Toulouse and later as St. Peter’s, is unknown.
Jean Fougere and his family arrived in Port Toulouse in 1722. There were 13 Acadian families there numbering 26 persons. The census of 1724 lists Jean Fougere, a navigator from Orleans with a wife, two sons, three daughters, one servant, and three employees. With one boat Fougere began his fishing business, and within a few years had expanded his work force to eight men. The employer paid the passage from France with the agreement the man would work the designated time in return for board. Often they were badly treated.
Three children were born to Jean and Marie but in 1727 both Marie and Jean, their nine-year-old son, died. A few years later, the widower married Marie-Madeleine Belliveau, daughter of Jean Belliveau and Cecile Melanson. Jean and Marie-Madeleine had 10 children of which three died young. In all Jean Fougere fathered 18 children of whom nine left descendants.
In 1740 Jean Fougere sold his boat, Le St. Jean, to Michel Daccarette, a merchant living in St. Peter’s and Dominique Hirard, a naval captain. The transaction was recorded on October 12, 1740. Michel Daccarette died tragically while walking on the ramparts of Louisbourg discussing military strategy during the seige of 1745. He was struck on the head with a cannon-ball and died instantly. His companion was unharmed.