BOUCAULT DE GODEFUS, GILBERT, merchant, royal notary; b. c. 1709 in the region of Paris, France, son of Nicolas-Gaspard Boucault, court officer for bankruptcy cases at the Châtelet in Paris, and Françoise-Anne Devene; d. probably in France, date of death unknown.
Gilbert Boucault de Godefus’s career was far less lucrative than that of his brother, Nicolas-Gaspard Boucault, who began as secretary to Intendant Michel Bégon de La Picardière and became lieutenant general of the admiralty court of Quebec. We do not know when Gilbert Boucault arrived in New France. His brother, who had been in the colony since 1719, returned to France in 1726 and came back to Canada in 1728. It is quite possible that Gilbert, about 19 years old in the latter year, accompanied his brother to America, but nowhere does Nicolas-Gaspard mention that Gilbert travelled with him on the Éléphant, which arrived at Quebec in September 1728. Be that as it may, on 29 July 1729, before notary Jean-Étienne Dubreuil*, Gilbert Boucault signed his marriage contract, in which he declared that he was a writer in the Marine. On 7 Jan. 1730, at Sainte-Foy, he married Marie-Madeleine de Lajoüe, 12 years his senior and the widow of Pierre Frontigny.
At that period, in addition to holding his position in the office of the Marine in Quebec, Boucault was in business. The documents which mention this fact are not very informative, but Boucault’s commercial activity seems to have been of some importance. In 1731 Intendant Hocquart* ordered him to hand over more than 1,169 livres in merchandise and 537 livres in cash to Nicolas Lanoullier de Boisclerc. In 1734 he was living in a house on Rue Saint-Pierre; another house, on Rue Saint-Charles, belonged to him. He always seems to have had a certain interest in business, but subsequently he was more concerned with a legal career, in which, however, his success was limited.
On 27 Aug. 1736 Intendant Hocquart granted him a commission as royal notary, to replace Henry Hiché, who had been appointed attorney of the provost and admiralty courts of Quebec. On 17 Oct. 1739 he succeeded Jacques Barbel* as judge of the bailiff’s court of the seigneury of Beaupré, which at that time belonged to the seminary of Quebec. In addition to these two offices Boucault practised law, replacing or aiding litigants before the courts. On occasion he occupied the office of assessor of the provost court of Quebec; he never held a more important judicial office in the colony.
In 1745 Boucault’s family life was disturbed by the intrepidity of Catherine Frontigny, Mme Boucault’s daughter by her first marriage. Mme Frontigny, who was 27, applied to the lieutenant general of the provost court for permission “to issue a summons” to her stepfather and her mother in order to be able to marry. The latter were opposed to their daughter’s marriage, alleging that she had “an unmanageable character” and that “far from following the precepts and upbringing that her mother and the aforementioned Maître Boucault have endeavoured to give her, through a whim and unheard-of stubbornness she wishes to acquire a condition and settlement through marriage.” Despite her parents’ opposition and maledictions, Catherine Frontigny appeared at the Boucaults’ domicile and on 9, 10, and 11 September asked her parents in the form prescribed by law to consent to her marriage. Notwithstanding their refusal, Catherine Frontigny married Jacques Mourongeau in Quebec on 14 September.
Boucault also met with other reverses. The authorities considered that he was not sufficiently competent to hold important positions. In 1749 when Nicolas-Gaspard Boucault resigned as lieutenant general of the admiralty court in favour of his brother, Intendant Bigot* wrote to the minister of Marine, Maurepas, that the notary was not “suitable . . . for any situation in the judicature,” and Boucault remained royal notary and seigneurial judge.
In 1753 Gilbert Boucault lost his wife, and after that his financial situation deteriorated. At the beginning of 1756 his creditors seized one of his houses, and in the autumn of that year Boucault left New France. His career had had only mediocre success, and even if he had acquired some money in the beginning, he left for France penniless.
AN, Col., C11A, 68, f.34; 93, f.259. ANQ, Greffe de Gilbert Boucault de Godefus, 1736–56; Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 29 juill. 1729. “Recensement de Québec, 1744” (APQ Rapport). “Les ‘sommations respectueuses’ autrefois,” APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 67ff. Lucille Labrèque, “Inventaire de pièces détachées de cours de justice de la Nouvelle-France (1638–1760),” ANQ Rapport, 1971, 5. Létourneau et Labrèque, “Inventaire de pièces détachées de la Prévôté de Québec,” ANQ Rapport, 1971, 182, 203, 208, 269, 272, 300, 315, 331, 365, 367, 374, 393, 412. P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., I, 126, 186, 188; II, 334, 355; Inv. jug. et délib., 1777–1760, III, IV, V, VI, passim; Inv. ord. int., II, 98, 209. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat, I, 357.