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About the Foley Family

There are two Foley families in North America. We can assume that they are ancestors from the same family in old France. This focus of this web site is the first Foley family to come from France and settle in North America around 1650. This was Francois Foley and his wife Jeanne Aucoin. They left France and came to North America to live in Port Royal, Acadia, New France. Today this is now known as Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. The group of French people that established this colony have came to be known as the Acadians.

The Acadians were a peaceful people that found the Bay of Fundy environment to be easy to manage by creating dikes on the inlets. The Acadians families helped each other and lived peaceably with the native Indians, the Micmacs. The rule of this new land passed a number of times between the French and the English,but all the Acadians wanted to do was to be neutral in the conflicts. They refused to take sides and sign an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. In 1755 an English Governor, Charles Lawrence had 10,000 Acadians deported from their beloved Acadian homeland, burned their villages, and killed their animals in case they somehow returned. They were dispersed to various locations on the Atlantic seaboard and England. In some cases families were split up never to see each other again and many died

The Acadian Foley Family is now split into 3 groups, those who found their way back to Canada and settled in Quebec, those who escaped the deportation found themselves in New Brunswick, and the third which were sent to England prisons, then to France and finally in a Spanish colony which we now know as Louisiana. A large number of the descendants from the 2 Canadian groups came into New England during the expansion of the textile mills in the 1850s. Their descendants have now spread across the US.



Acadian History

This section of the web site is devoted to the history of the Acadian people. It explores how and why the French settled this new land and called it "Acadia" which was part of the New France. How a group of less that 100 families, including Francois Foley and his wife Jeanne Aucoin, took a chance and left France to inhabit this new land and called it home. Although Europe still controlled how and who managed this colony of people and how the prospered even under English rule. You can explore how the Acadian people lived, what type of homes they built, and how they farmed with the with the help of the dikes.
You'll see how the Foley family grew with the help of the Census Records that not only list the names and ages of the family members, but also their livestock. There is also a map of Port Royal that shows the location of what was known as the "Foley Village" (Number 38), across the river from the the foundation of an Acadian home found by archaeologists in 1983.

In 1755, everything changed when the British Governor Charles Lawrence, in collaboration with the Governor of Boston William Shirley, decided to deport the Acadians from their lands, and burn their homes and kill their livestock to be sure that they would not return. Over the next 7 year 10,000 Acadians were put on ships and sent through out the English Colonies and Europe. Some escaped the deportation, only to be hunted down and either killed or put in prison in Halifax. Today Acadians and the Foley family can be found around North America, but there are a few places that the majority can be found as you can see in the present day dispersion.

Little Known Foley Facts

If you as grew up, as I did, in the US you might have wondered if anyone else had the last name or surname Foley, and spelled it that way. That is unless you lived in Louisiana, even growing up in New England I would not find many people that had the last name or surname of Foley. I know that myself and others have gone to the phone books when visiting another state or city and look up Foley to see if anyone shared the same surname. Well I bet you didn't know that:

Southeast of Montreal off the Canadian Highway is a city called St. Hyacinthe. There are over 250 families with the surname Foley that live in this city. There is also an exit off the highway for Foley Ave, which has both St. churches.
Also in St Hyacinthe is there is a Foley University, which is also on Foley Ave.
There are over 6 Streets, Avenues, Roads & etc., in different areas of Montreal that have the Foley name.
There was a Printer (Imprimeur) to King Louis XIV that was a Foley in the 18th century, Jacques Foley. He is listed as one of the 2,700 people put to death by the Guillotine after the French Revolution of 1793. His name is listed on the plaque on the wall at the Conciergerie. The picture on the right is a part of the plaque showing his name amongst some of the others killed. The Conciergerie is the building that housed the prisoners, including Marie-Antoinette while they awaited their death.
There are thousands of Foley families or telephone listings in the US and Canada that have the surname spelled "Foley".
There are also hundreads of families or telephone listings with the surname "Gerrior or Girrior", which, I feel, are the English derivative of Foley, which make sense if you only spoke English and someone came up to you and pronounced "Foley" in French and asked you to spell it.


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