COULON DE VILLIERS, NICOLAS-ANTOINE, captain; b. 20 March 1683 at Mantes, son of Raoul-Guillaume, Sieur de Villiers-en-Arthies, and of Louise, daughter of Antoine de La Fosse, seigneur of Valpendant; d. 1733.
His family formed part of the rich provincial nobility. We know nothing about his youth, but he seems to have arrived at Quebec in the summer of 1700. On 26 April of that year, he had received from the king the expectancy of an ensignship in Canada.
Callière named him an ensign in October. In 1703 Coulon de Villiers was garrisoned at Montreal, where his name appears in several notarial acts. He seems to have married in 1705, for on 7 December of that year, before the notary Abel Michon, he signed a marriage contract with Angélique Jarret de Verchères, Madeleine*’s sister. On 1 July 1715 he was promoted lieutenant on the active list.
He was appointed in 1725 commandant at the post on the St Joseph River (Michigan). There we find his name in the register of baptisms under the date 26 Aug. 1725. On 25 Nov. 1730, in the same register, he is called “seigneur of Verchères.” Although there is no mention of his name in the list of land grants, it may be that he inherited a part of the Verchères seigneury through his wife.
In 1730, along with Nicolas-Joseph de Noyelles* de Fleurimont and Robert Groston de Saint-Ange, he took part in an expedition against the Foxes. Some had taken refuge in a small fort on the St Joseph River. He recorded in his account of the expedition that “the siege of their fort lasted 23 days; they were reduced to eating leather, and we were little better off.” Taking advantage of a stormy night, the Indians tried to flee, but the French slaughtered several of them. Coulon de Villiers then sent one of his sons to Quebec to notify the governor of this success. On 18 June 1731 he personally took to Montreal the chief of the Foxes, who begged for mercy for those of his subjects who had survived.
It was probably on this occasion that Governor Beauharnois* de La Boische appointed him commandant of the post at Baie des Puants (Green Bay). He was also promoted captain on 1 April 1733. Coulon de Villiers did not enjoy his new position for long. On 16 September he once more had to fight against the Foxes, who had taken refuge among the Sauks at the bottom of Baie des Puants. He tried to force his way into their small fort, but the Indians began to fire; one of his sons, whose name we do not know, was killed. Coulon de Villiers himself met the same fate, as did his son-in-law François Regnard Duplessis (who had married Marie-Madeleine), Jean-Baptiste-René Legardeur de Repentigny, and some other Frenchmen.
Coulon de Villiers had been a brave officer, but the minister of Marine, in a letter addressed to Beauharnois on 12 April 1735, said that his “rash and foolhardy conduct” might have been the cause of his death.
He had seven boys and six girls; two of his sons, Joseph*, Sieur de Jumonville, and Louis*, became famous. On 13 April 1734 Madame de Villiers was granted a pension of 300 livres. She died the same year and was buried on 30 December.
ASQ, MSS, 132, 133. “The St-Joseph baptismal register,” ed. George Paré and M. M. Quaife, Mississippi Valley Hist. Review, XIII (1926), 201–39. P.-G. Roy, La famille Jarret de Verchères (Lévis, 1908). Amédée Gosselin, “Notes sur la famille Coulon de Villiers,” BRH, XII (1906), 161–79, 193–218, 225–46, 296. George Paré, “The St-Joseph mission,” Mississippi Valley Hist. Review, XVII (1930–31), 24–54.