RANSONNET, SYLVESTRE-FRANÇOIS-MICHEL, priest of the Missions Étrangères; originally from the bishopric of Liège, Austrian Netherlands (Belgium); d. sometime after 1743, probably in his native land.
Sylvestre-François-Michel Ransonnet was a member of the seminary of the Missions Étrangères in Paris when he dwelt temporarily in Rome to assist Bishop Dosquet*, who had become procurator of the Missions Étrangères at the Holy See at the end of 1726. It was probably during this stay, and thanks to his “close relative” Bishop Dosquet that Ransonnet received the title of apostolic protonotary that he was later reputed to hold. He returned to Paris in 1728 and was appointed a director of the seminary of the Missions Étrangères on 27 May 1729, even though he was not yet ordained. As the act of reception mentions, the directors of the seminary had received beforehand assurance that Ransonnet intended “never to leave the ecclesiastic state,” but that if this were to happen, “he would immediately cease to be a director of the seminary.” Meanwhile, at Dosquet’s request he had had La vie de la sœur Bourgeois . . . printed in Avignon. This biography must have been drawn either from notes by Dosquet, who had been chaplain of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in Montreal from 1721 to 1723, or from another biography written by Abbé Charles de Glandelet*.
Ransonnet left for Canada at the end of May 1734 with Dosquet, who had become bishop of Quebec in 1733 after the resignation of Bishop Mornay. Scarcely had Ransonnet arrived than he was ordained a priest on 18 Sept. 1734. Shortly afterwards, in October, the bishop of Quebec asked the minister, Maurepas, to grant his relative letters of naturalization, free of charge, with the right to enjoy ecclesiastical benefices. Ransonnet did not receive these letters until April 1738.
Since he had held office as a director of the seminary of the Missions Étrangères in Paris, it was natural that Ransonnet should exercise some function at the seminary of Quebec, where he went to live. We have no indication as to his occupation at the beginning except the recommendation from the directors in Paris “that it was requisite to put him in charge of the office of bursar of temporalities” of the seminary of Quebec, because he had held this office at the seminary of Paris. Be that as it may, not only was Ransonnet admitted as a member of the community of priests, but as soon as he arrived he was one of the directors of the house, signing the deliberations of the council in this capacity. In addition he was ecclesiastical superior of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec for five years, beginning in 1735. There is no evidence, however, that he was titular bursar of the seminary. Rather, he deputized for the superior, François-Elzéar Vallier, who remained in France from the autumn of 1739 till the summer of 1741. Fearing that Vallier, who was suffering from a serious illness, might die, the directors of the seminary in Paris had on 10 May 1739 already recommended that he be replaced by Ransonnet. Their action probably explains the fact that Bishop Lauberivière [Pourroy*], successor to Bishop Dosquet, who had resigned, wrote Ransonnet that he was counting on living at the seminary upon his arrival and asked him to prepare a room for him. After the young bishop’s premature death Ransonnet was present with the bursar of the seminary, Balthazar André, at the inventory of his belongings.
In 1740 relations between the seminary and the chapter of Quebec were extremely strained over their respective rights and privileges in the cathedral. Ransonnet had received in rather cavalier fashion two canons who had interrupted him during vespers with a request that the pupils of the seminary be allowed to serve as choir boys when the body of Bishop Lauberivière was removed for the funeral. The chapter dealt severely with this offence, and Ransonnet submitted readily to the penitence that was imposed upon him. Was he himself a canon, or was he still replacing Abbé Vallier, who was the theologal of the chapter? The answer to this question has not been found. Nevertheless it was in this same year that, having discovered in the back of the bursar’s office of the seminary a bundle of documents concerning the chapter, he took it upon himself simply to hand them over to the canons. Later the canons were to use them to institute proceedings against the seminary and the bishop [see Charles-Antoine Godefroy de Tonnancour; Jean-Félix Récher].
Ransonnet, whose health was delicate, had to reduce his activities shortly before he left Canada in the autumn of 1743, partly at his father’s request; he returned to the Austrian Netherlands and subsequently disappears from the record.
ASQ, Chapitre, 129, 202; Évêques, 202; Grand livre de délibération, 1734–1736; Lettres, M, 85, 102; Paroisses de Québec, 6; Polygraphie, XXIII, 27; Séminaire, XIV, 4; LXXVIII, 18. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, III, 253. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, II. Albert Jamet, Marguerite Bourgeoys, 1620–1700 (2v., Montréal, 1942). Adrien Launay, Mémorial de la Société des Missions étrangères (2v., Paris, 1912–16), II, 543. J.-E. Roy, “Notes sur Mgr de Lauberivière,” BRH, I (1895), 6–7. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XV (1909), 205.