The origins of the Labelle surname


The family name Labelle is believed to have originated in the region of Gascogne. This area of France is situated between Garonne and the Pyrénées. During the Roman occupation, between the 1st century B.C. and 3rd century A.D., it was ruled from neighbouring Aquitaine. In 418 the Visigoths invaded the region. The region was conquered by the Franks in the 5th century. It was then elevated to a Duchy and reunited with Aquitaine. The family Labelle was first found in Gascogne where they were anciently seated in the honour of the seigneurie of De Labels, a village in the Basses-Pyrénées in the arrondissement of De Mauléon.

Throughout the course of history most surnames have undergone change for many reasons. A son may not even choose to spell his name the same way that his father did. Many are simple spelling changes made by a person who gave his version, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest, or a recorder. Many names held prefixes or suffixes which almost became optional as they passed through the centuries, or were adopted by different branches to signify either a political or religious adherence. Hence , we have many variations in this name, Labelle some of which are Lebel, LeBel, LaBelle, Labelle, Label, LaBell, LaBel, LeBelle, LeBaile, LaBaile, Lebaile, Labaile, but are all included in the basic origin of the surname.

In 1154 Gascogne was included with the possessions of Eleanor of Aquitaine on her marriage to King Henry II, Plantagenet of England, and came under English domination. In 1259 it was confirmed to England by Louis IX but later was returned to France. Under the treaty of Brittany the region was returned to England again. The region was finally ceded to Charles VII of France after the victory of Castillon in 1453 in which he vanquished the English, and the fled Guyenne.

The family name of Labelle was found in Gascogne where they were anciently seated. By the 13th century the family had moved to the northern coast of France and the middle-age records show that they acquired estates in Normandy where the were seated at Hommet. In Brittany they were seated at Aulnays, Clartiere, Kersimon and at Belle-Isle. They also settled at Bossière in Picardy. Philippe LeBel was Seigneur de Montvinet in Bourgogne in 1650. Notable amongst the family at this time was The Dukes of Belle-Isle.

In the early 16th century French culture and society became the model for all Europe. In an expanding awereness of leadership, New World exploration became a challenge to all European countries. Along the eastern seaboard of Noth America there were from north to south, New France, New England, New Holland and New Spain. Jacques Cartier made the first of three voyages to New France in 1534. The Jesuits, Champlain in 1608, and the Church missionaries, followed. In 1615, Champlain brought the Recollets (reformed Franciscans) to Québec for religious reinforcement. However, plans for developing Québec fell far short of the objectives of the Company of New France, a company which would later be taken over by the Habitant's Company. Champlain made over twenty voyages to France in order to encourage immigration to New France. But the King, fearful of depopulating France was reluctant to encourage his subjects to migrate. In 1617, Champlain brought back the first true migrant, Louis Hébert, Parisian apothecary, and his family.

In 1643, 109 years after the first landings by Cartier, there were only about 300 people in Québec, in 1663 there were only 500. But at this time, France finally gave land incentives for 2000 migrants during the next decade. Early marriage was encouraged in New France, and youths of 18 took fourteen year old wives, a population proliferation practice which continued into more modern history. The fur trade was developed and attracted migrants, both noble and commoner from France. 15,000 explorers left Montréal in the late 17th and 18th centuries, commemorating their presence by leaving French place names scattered across the continent. The search for the North west passage continued.

Migration from France to New France or Québec as it was more popularly called, continued until it fell in 1759. By 1675, there were 7000 French in Québec. By the same year the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had reached 500. In the treaty of Utrecht, the Acadians were ceded by France to Britain in 1713. In 1755, 10,000 French Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to England and were deported. They found refuge in Louisiana. In 1793, the remaining French in these provinces came under British rule. Meanwhile, in Québec, the French race flourished, founding in Lower Canada, one of two great solitudes which became Canada.

Amongst the settlers in North America with the family name of Labelle were Nicolas Lebel who arrived in Québec from Normandy in 1657; Pierre Lebel arrived in Québec from Ile-de-France in 1724; Guillaume LaBelle arrived in Québec from Normandy in 1671 and William Labelle arrived in New York State in 1775, he was an Acadian refugee to New York.


234 -  "L'Histoire ancienne du nom de famille distingué Labelle", La Maison des Noms, Parchemin, Gestion Jean Fortier Ltée., Laval, 1 août 2001, Imprimé & fichiers, OrigineLabelle.pdf & OrigineLabelleAll.pdf,, (3 Aug 2001), Daniel Labelle (Lettre) , <2>.
329 -  "The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname Labelle", The Hall of Names Inc., 1994, Imprimé et fichier PDF, OrigineLabelleEN.pdf,, (4 Dec 2001), Daniel Labelle (Lettre) , <3>.

Last update: June 2, 2014

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