Claude-Mathias* Fanef
(Born Matthias Farnsworth)
Ancestor of the


* In French, " Matthias " is written with only one " T ".

The History of the Phaneuf/Farnsworth family


Catherine Charpentier and Claude Mathias Fanef, ancestors of all Phaneuf.

While the  Farnworth roots seem lost in the time when England spoke French under William the Conqueror 22 the Phaneuf history has a clear beginning, in Rivière-des-Prairies, on October 2, 1713, with the marriage Catherine Charpentier and Claude-Mathias Fanef, born Matthias Farnsworth, third of that lineage1 .
All Phaneufs, around the world, are descended from this union.

Catherine’s parents, Gilles called Jean Charpentier and Françoise Hunault were married on April 22, 1691 in Rivière-des-Prairies 2. While some of the church records were lost to fire, it is likely that Catherine was the eldest child of the Charpentiers. She was born around 1692, probably in Rivière-des-Prairies, because records are missing.

Catherine’s grandparents were Jean Charpentier, called Lapaille, and Barbe Renaud. They were married in Quebec City on January 10, 1661. Jean was born in Veulettes-sur-Mer, Normandy.  His parents were Cyprien Charpentier and Catherine Thérelle. Barbe was the daughter of Vincent Renaud and Marie Martin of Notre Dame de Cogne, in La Rochelle 3 .

Regarding Claude-Mathias Fanef, or Matthias Farnsworth III: he was born in Groton, Massachusetts on August 6, 1690 4, according to the old style Julien calendar, which was in force at the time in New England. He was the sixth child of Matthias Farnsworth Jr. or Matthias II, and Sarah Nutting, who were married in Groton, Massachusetts, on  March 1, 1681 15.

The grandfather of Claude-Mathias was also called Matthias (Matthias I). The records of   St. Mary Church at Eccles, in England, indicate he was born August 20, 1615 16, at Eccles, in the Manchester area. His first marriage took place in England in 1646. The name of his wife is uncertain. From this first union, we know that were three children: Elizabeth, born October 3, 1647, Matthias (Matthias Jr, or Matthias II), in January 1649 and John in 1651, the last of the clan to be born in England 16.
Matthias Farnworth I was the first of his lineage to settle in New England. His name appears in the records of 1657 19. He lived in the vicinity of Lynn, Massachusetts, where he married his second wife, Mary Farr, who would give him eight children. Around 1660, the family moved to Groton, also in Massachusetts, where Matthias I would be one of the pioneer, and occupy important positions in the community  5.

Matthias III, who became Claude-Mathias Fanef, never knew his grandfather, because he had died a year before his birth (november 8, 1693). As for his father, the young Matthias III was only three years old when he (Matthias II) died in 1693. Matthias III's mother then remarried to John Stone, on December 7, 1698, in Concord, Massachusetts. The family continued to live in Groton, since the couple's two children, the Farnsworth-Stones, were born there : John in 1699 and James in 1701 6.

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At that time, New France and New England were continually at war. A number of Native American tribes were involved in these conflicts on both sides, depending on their alliances.

On August 1, 1704, according to the old English calendar, or August 11, 1704, according to the French Gregorian calendar, young Matthias III was captured by some 20 Native Americans who were allied with the French, while he and other men were harvesting crops in a field at Groton. The skirmish was fast and resulted in two deaths, one in each camp. According to reports at the time, two men were captured by the attackers: a man named Butterfield who later, in New France, succeeded in escaping, as well as an "other man"5.

This other man will turn out to be the young Matthias III. The Native Americans brought him to Montréal, to their tribe at Sault-au-Récollet.
Matthias remained a captive of the Indians until the end of 1705 or early 1706.  He was then bought by Sir François Vachon de Belmont, the Sulpician's director, and Lord of the island of Montreal, who redeemed him from the "Indians who had him in slavery"10.

On January 10, 1706, by his baptism, Matthias Farnsworth III became Claude-Mathias Farneth  8. As Mathias did not know how to write and as the parish Meriel did not know how to spell Farnsworth, he recorded Farneth in the registry, reproducing as close as possible the sound of the English name at that time. His godfather was Claude de Ramezay, Governor of Montreal (hence becoming Mathias' middle name).  His godmother was Elisabeth Souart, wife of Baron Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil.

A few months later, on October 30, 1706 17, we find his name, along with 52 others, in an application for naturalization. In May 1710 9, the fifty-three applicants receive a "common" naturalization document. Interestingly, in March 1714, another naturalization letter, formally addressed to Claude-Mathias Fanef, will be issued and registring in june 25, 1715 20.

This second letter is rare and appears to be a special reward, in which Vachon de Belmont is probably involved. Claude-Mathias will work for the Sulpicieans for several years. His work will be appreciated, with the effect that on July 19, 1711, he will receive a tract land of three acres by twenty at Rivière-des-Prairies. Then on September 14, 1714 21.  he receives  another tract of land of equal size. Moreover, the Sulpicians commit to provide:

"a barn fifty feet long by twenty-five wide in logs, planks slides, and also the next             season's harvest and in addition a log building piece by piece (his house) twenty-eight feet long by twenty wide at the request of the said future husband."
Thus, at twenty-three years old, through his work and his determination, this former captive had what every man dreamed of having: land and a house, near a river, to raise a family.

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On October 2, 1713 Claude-Mathias married Catherine Charpentier 11. They were neighbors, and were about the same age. Catherine must have been very devoted to her family, because at the wedding her parents expressed their gratitude by rewarding them with various gifts.

In Rivière-des-Prairies, the Fanef-Charpentier couple's home was on a hill, at the place where today 94th Avenue ends. There, it was safe from spring floods. It was in a house that they raised their twelve children. Two died in infancy. Six boys ensured the lineage: Joseph established himself in Sainte-Rose, as do four of his sisters, while the others will settle in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu. As was the case for their ancestors, they were among the pioneers of these places 12.
Towards the end of their life, Catherine and Mathias, as he is usually called 18,  will join their children who settled in Saint-Antoine.

Judging by the 1765 census 13, they are likely to have stayed with their son Jean-Baptiste. Before dying, Claude-Mathias will know 110 of his 115 grandchildren 18.
Mathias died on August 7, 1773 at 83 years of age, and Catherine on June 29, 1777, probably at 85 years of age. Both were buried in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, each on the day after their respective deaths 14. The parish registers reveal that "Mathias" was buried in the church, a special honor given to him, and paid for by his children.
October 2, 1999, Mathias and Catherine’s descendants inaugurated a monument in their memory, at the entrance of the cemetery, near the church.
Today we find their descendants  across Québec, Canada, United States and Europe 18.  

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Note that in England, the ancestors of Claude-Mathias Fanef wrote Farnworth, without an "s". It will be during the time when the clan lived in America that it will be written Farnsworth  19.
In New France the surname gradually transformed into Phaneuf, influenced by phonetics, certainly, but also by the spelling variations used by priests and notaries. Spread over fifty years,  Farnsworh became Farneth then Farnouth, Fanef, Faneuf, Faneuffe and finally Phaneffe or Phaneuf during the second half of the nineteenth century.  It thus became anoriginal surname in Quebec 18

In the United States, most of the descendants of Mathias and Catherine kept the surname Phaneuf. Some faithful to the time when their ancestors crossed the border, always  continue to write Faneuf while others have become Fanaff, Finuf, Finuff, Fanof, etc ... according phonetic variations.

  1. Brother ELIE, La famille Phaneuf-Farnsworth, 1915.
  2. Programme de recherche en démographie historique de l'Université de Montréal,1980.
  3. René JETTÉ, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec, 1983.
  4. VITAL RECORDS OF GROTON, MASSACHUSETTS, To the End of the Year 1849, The Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., 1926, vol. I, Birth, p. 78.
  5. Samuel A. GREEN, M.D., Groton during the Indian Wars, 1883, p. 10, 68-69.
  6. Caleb BUTLER, History of the Town of Groton, 1848, p. 438.
  7. Samuel A. GREEN, M.D., History of the Town of Groton, Massachusetts, 1890, vol. II, p. 364-365.
  8. Baptism of Claude-Mathias Farneth, Archives nationales du Québec, Registers of   Notre Dame Church of Montréal,10-01-1706.
  9. Naturalization of Claude-Mathias, Archives nationales du Québec, no 4M00-6366.
  10. Concession of a land to Claude-Mathias, Archives nationale du Québec (Montréal), Office of P. Raimbault,
  11. Wedding contract of Claude-Mathias Fanef and Catherine Charpentier, Archives nationales du Québec (Montréal),Office of P. Raimbault, 25-09-1713.
  12. Le livre du 225 /su anniversaire de Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, 1975.
  13. Rapport de l' arrchiste de la province de Québec, p. 77, Archives nationales du Québec.
  14. Register of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Archives nationales du Québec.
  15. New England historical and Genealogical Register.
  16. Register of the Church of St. Mary, Eccles, Lancashire, England, Checked against transcript by the Lancashire Parish register Society, help by the Society of Genealogists in London under reference LA/R25 (Given by PatriceF.S. Farnsworth, One-Name Study, Society of Genealogists UK).
  17. Naturalization request, Archives de la Ville de Montréal, Fonds Philéas Gagnon, numéros IG 4378 et D 41065,cartable 26.
  18. Guy LETELLIER and Jean-Marc PHANEUF, Claude-Mathias Fanef, ancêtre de tous les Phaneuf, Montréal, 3 édition, 2000, p. 212-213.
  19. Information obtained from research of Reverend Patrice F.S. FARNSWORTH of the  Society of Genealogists of London, UK, through exchange of information that took place in summer 2001. This information was also posted on its website
  20. Claude-Mathias Fanef naturalization letter , dated in Versailles in March 1714, "registered" at the Registry of the Supreme Council of Québec, June 25, 1715, National Archives of Québec.
  21. A grant of land of 20 x 3 acres Claude-Mathias, National Archives of Québec (Montréal), minute-P. Raimbault, 14-09-1713. # 1175C.

    Of the two hundred anniversary of the
    ON THURSDAY 2, 1913
Your grandparents or great-grandparents may have attended this memorable day. It is possible that in your family some souvenirs of this October 2, 1913 may still subsist (photography of the drawing of the manor of Farnworth and the house of Claude-Mathias, medal of 2000: as well as personal photos). If such souvenirs still exist, it would be interesting to get in touch with us, so we can photograph them and enter them on this site. As for the file on the two hundredth anniversary, it will be reconstituded from the data apprearing in the book of Brother Élie and in the Minutes of the Committee written by Brother Élie who has been appointed secretary. We count on you for your photos or other objects associated to this great event. You can communicate with us at the following address:

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The idea of raise a monument to the memory of our first ancestors, Catherine Charpentier and Claude-Mathias Fanef (both buried at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu), was initiated in the fall of 1998. At a gathering of Phaneufs held in Saint-Damase, Province of QuŽbec. Some 250 persons, all descendants of Olivier Phaneuf and GeneviŹve Benoit of Saint-Damase. The idea proposed had for target that as many Phaneufs as possible, take part in this great familial project.

In front of the great interest shown at that moment, a Committee was set up at the beginning of 1999, with the mandate to set the project going. Mr. Gilles Phaneuf was appointed treasurer, Mrs. RenŽe Brunelle, vice-president and Mr. Jean-Marc Phaneuf, president. With the use of directories as well as internet, about 1200 Phaneufs living in the Province of QuŽbec, elsewhere in Canada and the New England States were put on file. We were fully aware that the list was incomplete and we were relying on those contacted te received other addresses of Phaneufs. To-day, we can say that some 1300 Phaneufs families had been contacted by mail. The postal dispatch explained the project and invited all Phaneufs to contribute in financing, according to their means.

A few weeks later we began to receive donations. At the end of June 1999, taking into account the delay of delivery, we had to order the monument. The Committee was successful in having a price unexpected until then, with a new submission of "Monuments Richer" of Saint-Dominique. This submission, besides being the lowest, gave us the right to the version of a bigger monument, for the price of an average one. Even if we indicated in our envoice that the donations had to reach us as soon as possible in order to decide the size of the monument, after the month of June we still received donations.
The Committee had then a surplus!
This excess of money was enough to consider a "snack" for the donors susceptible to attend the unveiling of the monument. The answers went beyond our hopeÉand also our budget!

The Committee then decided to find some "sponsors" to cover part of the costs for the evening.

We found four of these:

  1. The Municipality of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu who rented the meeting hall at 1/3reduction.
  2. Mrs Suzanne Gemme-Lussier who supplied a $14 meal for $8.
  3. La Maison des Futailles who supplied 1/3 of the wine free (20 litres of Auberge quality).
  4. La Boutique Denise who supplied the costumes of Catherine and Mathias at half-price.

Without them and mainly all those who gave their time for the organization of this menorable day, the event would not has been the same.

Fifteen years later


As a result of the surplus of the Tercentenary of the Phaneuf Family - 2013 -, in 2014, after study of the proposed amounts/ available options, and bids received, the committee opted for the suggestion to complete our ancestors' Monument (located at the entrance of the cemetery of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu); this, in the style of a bust representing our ancestors, Catherine Charpentier and Claude-Mathias Fanef.


The best bid for this work came to us from Granby Granite. In addition to the bust, a thorough cleaning of the monument was included in the price. Note that some bidders asked double the amount proposed by this firm for the same work.


Our ancestors' sculpture is the work of sculptor Maurice Harvey, of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli (QC), through Granby Granite, with whom he did business.

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The book on:
<<Claude-Mathias Fanef, ancêtre de tous les Phaneuf >>
par Guy Letellier et Jean-Marc Phaneuf
Montréal, 1999.

This book of more than two hundred pages on our Ancestors. It contains inpublished data and documents on their origins. It is the outcome of an intensive research that led the authors throught hundred of deeds executed by a notary and religions or civil certificates of birth (or baptisms), marriage and death. More than sixty historical and genealogical works were consulted, including old manuscripts of the beginning of the eighteenth century.

This book is written in French. It was not translated in English.

However, here what it contains: Luxury and rigid cover, 222 pages, 37 drawings or old and new photographs, 28 family tables, 20 old or new maps, list and description of the 18 implying handwritten documents of Claude-Mathias (All official papers of Claude-Matthias). All details on the family of Matthias III (Claude-Mathias) in Groton, the capture of Matthias III, his baptism, his letter of naturalization from king of France, his marriage, his life at Rivière-des-Prairies, his children and grandchildren, etc... with all the references

You can consult it at:

    ASSOCIATION (Deerfield, MA.)

if you want this book:

We wish to thanks

Ms. Carol Rose Camelio (MA) for its  her beautiful painting that has become the symbol of the TRICENTENNIAL OF THE PHANEUF FAMILY. Ladies  Ms. Johanne Phaneuf (QC), Ray Phaneuf (MD), Cristina loglio (MD) and Susan Phaneuf (QC) for their valuable contribution to  assistance with the corrections, translation and revision of this historical overview, as well as gentlemen Messrs. Guy Letellier (QC) and Jean-Marc Phaneuf (QC), for the research.

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