Like their counterparts in French society, the nobles of New France, though few in number, occupied a position of privilege. Favoured by the Crown, which granted them seigneuries, fur-trading licences and positions in the civil administration, they were for the most part military officers who played an important role in the various wars and negotiations with the Aboriginal peoples. Being noble did not, as in France, preclude commercial activity, and offices conferring nobility could never be bought. Nobility was granted for personal merit and by order of the King. To the 170 nobles who immigrated—Claude de Ramezay, for example—were added 11 Canadians. One of these was Robert Giffard, who received letters of nobility from the King of France "in the hope we cherish that being honoured to this degree and with a noble title in the country of New France that he will emulate the actions of the nobility and that he and his family will render us the services that those in this position owe to us." After the Treaty of Paris of 1763, many nobles left the colony, and those who remained had difficulty holding onto their rank and fortune.

The Nobility
Letters of nobility of Robert Giffard de Moncel, seigneur of Beauport, March 1658
CA ANC MG18-H1