The origin of the Previlles in America

Preville's name is found in many places in France. We retraced 3 fiefs (communities) with the name of Preville in the North: Preville in Boulogne, Preville in Ponthieu and Preville at Crecy, besides a cemetery Preville in Nancy area and several buildings, quarters and other structures with this name. Many nobles and at least one knight bore this name and several families have added the surname of Preville in their name.

A castle is called Preville in Orthez in the region of Aquitaine in south-western of France. This castle was built by André Richaud de Preville in 1893, descended from the family Richaud whose members were appointed Count Chauvette after having saved the dauphin of a plot to kidnap him during a hunting party in the early 15th century . Today the castle houses a clinic for psychiatric patients and alcoholics.

So where does this name yet knighted by France and supported by so many people in Quebec and more than a hundred families in the United States?

Despite all our research in many records, we could not find a single individual with the surname Preville who have immigrated to Canada in the 17th or 18th century.

However, few families living during the 17th and 18th century in the province of Quebec have added ‘‘said Preville’’ to their patronymic name : Dubus, Gallou, Villedieu and many others have done it in France. To this list must be added the many names which were added ''de Preville’’. This applies among Brenier, Pelisson and Roussel. In Quebec, we found in addition Cottenoir / Cotnoir, names like, Lincourt, Pinet, Potier, Rivard, Vinet and others who have added ''said Preville'' in their name and whose descendants have possibly adopted the surname Preville, dropping their initial last name.

In 1728, at Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, we found a man named Jean Gayon said Preville and towards 1704, we traced a Pierre Godin said Preville in Acadia. However we could not trace the descendants of these two people and therefore we do not know if the name Preville survived them.

We found that in the 18th century, in the lordship of Cap-de-la-Madeleine belonging to the Jesuits, there was a fief named Preville (the story does not say why this name was given but it was granted in 1646 by François Christophe de Lévy, duke of Danville, count of Brion and vice-roi in New France from 1646 to 1650). We must keep in mind that Françoys Cottenoyre arrived in Canada about 20 years later! An other fief bearing the same name was found in the lordship of Batiscan, also belonging to Jesuits. There was also a fief bearing the name of Sainte-Marie in lordship of Cap-de-la-Madeleine. A fief was a land enjoying privileges and feudal Jean Lemoyne has acquired several concessions on the lands from the Jesuits over the years and has sold many lands to settlers he hired for clearing.

We know that Anthoyne Cottenoir bought land from Charles Legardeur de Villiers, Lord of Cap-de-la-Madeleine and Villiers (Bécancourt) in 1680 and worked as a servant for Jean Lemoine in 1681. He also purchased land from Jean Lemoine lord of the fief of Sainte Marie in 1685 and another one in Ile Dupas in 1718 where he died in 1731.

We found that some families living in this region added ‘‘said Preville’’ to their name. Without being able to assert, we assume that some settlers who lived on the lands of the fief of Preville and some of their descendants, as well as Cottenoir added ‘‘said Preville’’ to their surname name and that it could be from there that Preville's name has spread to the province of Quebec, the Canada and the northern United States in the 19th century. Furthermore the Dictionary of Canadian Biography on line, privileges this explanation: ".....children followed the contemporary custom of taking the name of the land they occupied".

Concerning the ancestors who lived in the seigniory of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, we know that in 1703 Jean Rivard added ‘‘said Preville’’ to his name when he got married to Genevieve Trottier at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. The Rivard families has bee very active in the lordship of Batiscan where a fief bearing the name Preville was also found. One of his son, Joseph Rivard said Preville married in 1735 Marie Catherine Cottenoir in Berthier. They had a daughter named Mary Elizabeth Rivard said Preville. This line does not have descendants bearing the name of Preville.

We also know that Pierre Boucher, founder of Boucherville had stayed in the seigniory of Jean Lemoine and others like Pierre Cartier also a resident of the manor, went to join him in that area. Is that the origin of the name of the Preville municipality annexed to St-Lambert in 1969? Research in various archives do not allow us to verify.

Our researcher in genealogy, Raymond Trudel able to connect to this day a great number of people bearing the name Preville descendants of one or other of Cottenoir or Cottenoir and Cotnoir, our ancestors.

According to various records existing in Quebec, on the Cottenoir’s side, Josephte Appoline Cottenoir (1731) daughter of Antoine Cottenoir and Marie Josephte Desrosiers was the first to add the surname''said Preville'' to her name . She got married under the name Cottenoir said Preville in 1768 to Jean-Baptiste Carpentier. Their children were baptized Carpentier and the name Preville has therefore turned off for this strain.

Pierre Cottenoir (1729-1807) is from the 3rd generation descendants of Anthoyne Cottenoir. He got married under the name Cotnoir to Antoinette Carpentier in 1807. Their 11 children were baptized in the name of Preville.

Joseph Etienne Cottenoir (1738-1801) also of the 3rd generation, changed his name to Preville at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Mailloux in 1774. The couple had 10 children, 7 of them bore the name of Preville, one was named Cottenoire said Preville and 2 others were baptized Cottenoir said Preville.

Etienne Preville a son of Joseph Etienne had several children and Charles and Joseph Preville had a total of 33 children including 22 men with the name of Preville! All were born in Ile Dupas in the lordship of Cap-de-la-Madeleine. We can therefore see the large number of male individuals living or having lived between 1774 and 1850 which helped to perpetuate the name of Preville connected by their origins to Cottenoire.

Other Cottenoirs or Cotnoirs have used the surname Preville, but their progeny did’nt keep the name.

Louis Treffle Cottenoir (1842-1911) was married under the name of Preville / Cottenoir, but all his children were baptized Cotnoir, Cottenoir or Cotenoire. His son, Romeo Honorius Cottenoir (1876-1958), was baptized Cottenoir, got married in the name Preville / Cottenoir but all his children bore the name of Cotnoir or Cottenoir. Another of his son George was baptized Cotnoir, got married under Cotnoir-Preville and died George Preville. He had two daughters, one was named Adilda Preville-Cotnoir and the other, Cotnoir.

Ephrem Cotenoir (1883-1965) the youngest child of Louis Treffle changed his name to Peter Preville when he emigrated to the United States in 1910 and named to 3 of his 5 children Preville, the others being baptized Cotnoir. Unfortunately to this day we have’nt been able to trace the descendants of the children of Ephrem (Preville Peter) but we know they were living at Genesee Michigan in 1920. Twenty families Preville live in Michigan today according to 411.

If we can not certify that all Previlles living in Canada and the United States are our cousins, we were able to link most of them to our ancestors and we can say that the vast majority of Previlles were originally Cottenoirs.

We invite your to read about the history of Becancour-Villier. (In french ) Click here. You can see the location of the seigniory of Becancourt-Villiers by a simple click here

References: Our roots local histories of Canada Online Library and Archives nationales of Quebec

Michel Langlois:''Biographical Dictionary of Quebec ancestors (1608-1700 ) Volume 1''MF

Drouin, Loiselle,
Dictionary of Canadian Biography on line

Raymond Cotnoir