BISSOT, FRANÇOIS-JOSEPH, merchant and navigator, bourgeois of Quebec, co-seigneur of Mingan; b. 19 May 1673, son of François Byssot* de La Rivière and Marie Couillard; d. 11 Dec. 1737 at Quebec.
François-Joseph Bissot is known to us particularly through his efforts to develop the land grant of Mingan, which his father had received from the Compagnie des Cent-Associés in 1661 and which extended from “Île aux Œufs . . . as far as Sept-Îles and into Grande Anse, towards the Esquimaux country where the Spaniards usually fish.” On 9 Nov. 1695 he formed a company with Louis Jolliet* and his wife Claire-Françoise Bissot, Charles Jolliet, and Charles-François Bissot, to trade at Mingan for five years, but by the following year Jolliet was working alone there.
Bissot nonetheless spent several years at Mingan: at least two of his children were born there, in 1716 and 1718. He hunted seal and traded with the Indians, endeavouring, as he was later to emphasize to the minister, to make contact with them 100 miles inland and prevent them from having dealings with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Between these more or less lengthy stays he lived at Quebec, where he finally retired in 1733.
That year François-Joseph Bissot leased Mingan to his son-in-law, Jacques de Lafontaine* de Belcour, but the contract, which was signed on 29 April, was cancelled on 13 September of the next year. On 14 Sept. 1734 he rented this land grant to the Sieurs Fleury* de La Gorgendière and Trottier* Desaulniers for two years. Finally, by a contract signed on 15 March 1736, he let it out for nine years to Jean-Louis Volant d’Haudebourg, who was to pay him 1,200 livres each year.
From 1733 on he redoubled his efforts to have his ownership titles ratified. Having lost the documents in a fire, and fearing that his estates would revert to the king’s domain, he wrote to Maurepas, to explain the work that he had carried out at Mingan and the disbursements that he had made. As he received no answer, he wrote to him again in 1737. This time the minister asked Beauharnois* de La Boische and Hocquart* to make the necessary inquiries and recommendations, but it was too late, for Bissot had already died when the letter reached New France.
François-Joseph Bissot’s other activities are not well known. In 173 1, by agreement with the councillor Martin Chéron, he sought authorization to drag for anchors lost in the roadstead of Quebec; anticipating rather heavy expenses, he asked to be exempted from the dues to be paid. His request was supported by Beauharnois and Hocquart in their letter of 24 Oct. 1731 to the minister. We know of two lawsuits brought by Bissot: one in 1729, against the parish council of Quebec, concerning a pew in the cathedral, the other against Charles Pinguet, a navigator.
François-Joseph Bissot was married on 4 Feb. 1698 to Marie Lambert Dumont; he had 9 children, 6 daughters and 3 sons. He died on 11 Dec. 1737 at Quebec and was buried the next day.
AJQ, Greffe de Claude Barolet, 29 avril 1733, 14 sept. 1734, 15 mars 1736; Greffe de Guillaume Roger, 9 nov. 1695. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., XVIII, 201. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, III, 190. Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport, 1957–58, 385f. P.-G. Roy, Le sieur de Vincennes, fondateur de l’Indiana et sa famille (Québec, 1919).