French Canadian surnames – Part 1

My great grandfather was born George Arthur Deschamps in Nashua, NH in 1885. He later Anglicized his name to Fields (because Deschamps means Of the Fields in French.) I know a lot of families with more ethnic sounding names change their names to a more Anglicized version, but for those that didn’t, I wanted to know what the surnames meant. So I started researching some of the French names on my maternal side.

Desmarais = of the marsh
Bougy/Bougie = (possibly) a candle
Royer = a meadow
Lapointe = nickname for a soldier and/or It was used of a worker with a kind of lace used to fasten  together the doublet and hose
Trahan = one who pulled the silk, a trahandier.Giroux means ‘the son of Geri’, a personal name introduced to Britain by the Normans during the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The name is composed of the element GERI (spear) + the second element meaning ‘hardy, brave and strong’.
Lachance = lucky
Drapeau = a flag
Doironsomeone from Oiron in Deux-Sèvres
Metayer = sharecropper
Toupinfrom toupin, which in medieval French meant ‘spinning-top’, possibly a nickname; in Occitan, however, it denotes a small earthenware pot and was probably a metonymic occupational name for a potter.
Dumont = of the mountain
Pepin = seed of a fruit
Fontaine = fountain or natural spring
Chabot = (possibly) person with a large head
Lille = a French town in northern Flanders France (on the Dutch border)
Poulet = chicken or Paulet = from latin paulus = small
Messier = harvester (someone involved in harvesting crops)
Petit = small person (or the smaller of two people with the same given name)
Roy = old French roi, meaning king
Meunier = miller (or someone from Meunet)
Mezeray = a town in northwestern France


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