BOISSEAU, NICOLAS, king’s scrivener, notary, and court clerk; b. 1700 in Paris, France, son of Pierre Boisseau and Marguerite Gérin (Guérin); d. 9 Feb. 1771 at Quebec.
On 20 May 1722, following the death of his father, who had been an attorney in the parlement of Paris, Nicolas Boisseau obtained passage to Canada from the minister of Marine. Upon his arrival Boisseau, who had frequented “the Palais [de justice in Paris] for three years,” was employed at Quebec as king’s scrivener in the office of the Marine. He held this post until 1726. During the ocean crossing he had struck up a friendship with François Daine*, who was returning to Canada with the appointment of chief clerk of the Conseil Supérieur of Quebec. This relationship led to his being called upon to replace Daine in his duties on various occasions between 1723 and 1726. Their friendship was not limited to professional matters. Boisseau made the acquaintance of Daine’s sister-in-law, Marie-Anne Pagé, dit Carcy, whom he married in Quebec on 9 Sept. 1725, in the presence of his friend, who acted as a witness.
Thanks to his experience in the legal field and the influence of his uncle, Abbé Gérin, dean of the parish priests of Paris, Boisseau was able to acquire on 23 April 1726 the office of chief clerk of the provost court of Quebec. In this capacity he kept a register of all deeds issued by the court and all documents brought to him for deposit in his office; in addition he was the depositary of the minutes of deceased notaries who had practised in the Government of Quebec. Since Intendant Hocquart considered it necessary that there be a notary present when minutes were deposited (to give out receipts and ratify certain deeds) he appointed Boisseau a notary on 15 April 1731. On 22 April 1732 the king granted him a new commission, similar in every respect to his previous one; he was one of only four notaries under the French régime who were commissioned by the king.
For 13 years Boisseau held the posts of clerk of court and royal notary. In the latter capacity he drew up 392 deeds. However, following his appointment on 25 March 1744 to the post of chief clerk of the Conseil Supérieur, he relinquished his notarial duties. A son of his first marriage, Nicolas-Gaspard*, took over as clerk of the provost court, and Jean-Claude Panet succeeded him as royal notary. Boisseau was following in the steps of his friend Daine, whom he was once again replacing.
Some years earlier, after his first wife’s death on 7 May 1739, Boisseau had made a second marriage, an advantageous one both financially and socially. On 4 June 1741, in the presence of the principal legal officers of the colony, he married Marie-Louise, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Bissot* de Vinsenne (Vincenne), an officer in the colonial regular troops. She brought him a dowry of 1,000 livres and a fief of ten arpents by six leagues in the seigneury of Lauson. The attendance at this marriage of the most prestigious legal figures in the colony, and the size of his wife’s dowry, indicate clearly the social standing that Boisseau enjoyed as early as 1741.
Nicolas Boisseau was installed in his duties as chief clerk of the Conseil Supérieur on 12 Oct. 1744 and fulfilled them without interruption until the council moved to Montreal in the autumn of 1759; Boisseau preferred to remain in Quebec. From then until his death in Quebec on 9 Feb. 1771 he undertook no official duties. The conquest seems to have placed him in an awkward financial position: not only did he lose his post as clerk of court, but during the siege of Quebec his house on Rue Saint-Pierre in Lower Town was burned and his possessions destroyed.
A prudent man and a good legal practitioner in the opinion of Beauharnois*, Hocquart, Vaudreuil [Rigaud], and Bigot, Nicolas Boisseau was always regarded as an efficient and competent official. Until the end of his life he was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens, who attended his funeral in large numbers on 11 Feb. 1771.
Nicolas Boisseau’s register covering the period 1731–44 is held by the ANQ-Q.
AN, Col., B, 45, f.89; 49, f.670; 57, ff.694, 728; 65, f.439; 85, f.208; 87, f.2; 97, f.15; 117, f.73; C11A, 120, ff.347, 350v; E, 37 (dossier Boisseau); F3, 9, f.186. ANQ-Q, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Québec, 9 sept. 1725, 8 mai 1739, 4 juin 1741, 11 févr. 1771; Greffe de Florent de La Cetière, 7 sept. 1725; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 2 juin 1741; NF 2, 19, ff.82, 83; NF 25, 55, no.2011. “Recensement de Québec, 1744,” 128. F.-J. Audet et Édouard Fabre Surveyer, Les députés au premier parlement du Bas-Canada (1792–1796) . . . (Montréal, 1946), 51–53. J.-B. Gareau, “La Prévôté de Québec, ses officiers, ses registres,” ANQ Rapport, 1943–44, 122–23. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, I, 199. P.-G. Roy, lnv. jug. et délib., 1717–60, I, 301; II, 48, 290; III, 199; IV, 210; VII, 26–27; “Les notaires au Canada sous le Régime français” ANQ Rapport, 1921–22, 42. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, II, 330. Vachon, “Inv. critique des notaires royaux,” RHAF, IX, 425, 546–47.
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Cite This Article
André Lachance, “BOISSEAU, NICOLAS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/boisseau_nicolas_4E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||André Lachance|
|Title of Article:||BOISSEAU, NICOLAS|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1979|
|Year of revision:||1979|
|Access Date:||April 2, 2023|