ARE YOU REALLY A CHENIER DESCENDANT?
When I began my research into my family tree it soon became apparent that my real ancestral name was not CHÉNIER but in fact CHESNAY. At first I had not really thought of the significance of this matter. Then I began meeting other Chénier people and soon discovered that we had different ancestral lines and that they were not even related to me. This was very intriguing and also at the same time very confusing. Yes, confusing because I kept running into "unconnected" Chéniers and would spend considerable time looking for their ancestors, only to discover that some were not descendants of Bertrand Chesnay dit Lagarenne, my first ancestor to Canada or Nouvelle France, but in fact were descendants of Jean Chénier and Jacqueline Sédilot.
As I soon discovered, my present family name is Chénier, my father was a Chénier, my grandfather was a Chénier, my great-grandfather was Chénier, but then on it changes. My great-great-grandfather was a Chéné, his father was a Chéné, then it goes on up my ancestral family tree as Chenay then to Chesnay. Bertrand Chesnay dit Lagarenne being my first ancestor to Canada or Nouvelle France.
So today, even though I carry the family name of Chénier I am really a Chesnay.
Why is this? Well one would really have to appreciate the intricacies of genealogical research and their findings. They really would be too monumental and too detailed to explain why the name Chesnay became Chénier. In fact if one really wanted to compound the complexity of the differences in the Chesnay surname I only need only mention that in all of my 15 years of research I have discovered approximately 14 variations of the Chesnay surname.
It seems that somewhere along the way in the area of Lac des Deux Montagnes, a county slightly northwest of Montréal, the name was Chéné. However, there were Chéniers in the area also. And it is known that in some of the local parishes, like St.Benoit, St.Eustache, St.Hermas, Oka, etc, the baptism, marriage and death registers often mistook Chéné for Chénier. And therefore this is where many descendants today with the name of Chénier are in fact descendants of Bertrand Chesnay dit Lagarenne and NOT Jean Chénier.
To many it is very confusing. And this is why I embarked at the very beginning of my hobby to do both lines, the CHESNAY descendants as well as the CHENIER descendants. Even though I have absolutely no connection genealogically to the Chénier line I maintained a family tree on the Chéniers. My research was simply to ensure to record whatever Chénier I came across in its proper ancestral line.
To date my records indicate that in the CHESNAY family tree I have approximately 2902 individuals with the family name CHENIER but in fact are descendants of the CHESNAY family name. However, in the CHENIER family tree which I also maintain there are only 1013 individuals with the family name of Chenier.
Though I have endeavoured to do as much of the CHENIER family tree as much as possible it is still strange to find more Cheniers in the CHESNAY family tree than in the CHENIER family tree. Perhaps if I quote from an explanation in the book by René Chénier: "Dictionnaire généalogique des familles CHÉNIER-CHAINÉ-CHÉNÉ", it may explain this: "Jean Chenier has one family of thirteen children and four families of twelve. Bertrand Chenay, on the other hand, has one family of twenty children, two of nineteen, two of eighteen, two of sixteen, four of fifteen, seven of fourteen, five of thirteen and six of twelve. One had to find some way to keep warm during the cold winter months: what better way."
I hope this little explanation will help those to understand why same may be a CHÉNIER today, but if they check their ancestry they may find out that they are in fact a CHESNAY descendant.