DEGUIRE, dit Desrosiers, JOSEPH (he also signed J. Desrosiers or Joseph Derosiers), militia captain and seigneur; b. 1 Oct. 1704 at Lavaltrie (Que.) and baptized 1 Nov. 1704 at Contrecœur (Que.), son of Pierre Deguire, dit Desrosiers, and Jeanne Blet (Belet, Blette); m. 16 March 1731 Angélique Pepin at Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska (Yamaska, Que.) and they had at least 13 children; d. 12 Feb. 1789 in the same parish.
Nothing is known about the early years of Joseph Deguire, dit Desrosiers. In 1731 he purchased some land at Petit-Chenal-d’Yamaska, where his father had settled as early as 1707. He made his first fur-trading trip to the pays d’en haut in 1733, returning there in 1738. Around 1737 he was chosen militia captain by the parishioners of Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska and received his commission from Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, then governor of Trois-Rivières. He was to serve as captain for 25 or 26 years and thus became influential in the parish. “Empowered to receive official acts” such as marriage contracts, wills, and bills of sale, he had judicial as well as military duties. He seems to have been reasonably well off judging by the way in which he set up his children and the fact that he increased his land holdings at Yamaska in 1744 and 1745.
On 4 Sept. 1751 Governor La Jonquière [Taffanel*] and Intendant Bigot granted Joseph Deguire, dit Desrosiers, the seigneury of Rivière-David, which was also called Saint-Joseph or Deguire. At the time it was granted, most of the seigneury was wooded and rich in fur-bearing animals. This fact in addition to the Seven Years’ War would explain why settlement did not begin until January 1767. After that date the number of land grants was large enough for Deguire to build a banal mill. There is no proof, however, that he ever resided on the seigneury. On the contrary, he seems to have lived always at Petit-Chenal-d’Yamaska.
The new régime which began in 1760 was to bring numerous difficulties for seigneur Joseph Deguire, including the elimination of his post as militia captain. Although the census of 1765 shows that he was the second-largest landowner at Yamaska, with 451 acres of land and 28 animals, he was not secure from financial worries. In 1768 he had to borrow money from Joseph Depin, promising to repay it the following year. On 3 July 1769 Deguire sent a letter to Governor Guy Carleton* protesting against legal proceedings that were being instituted “for nothing at all” and that were causing a “multitude of expenses.” Although he was speaking on behalf of “poor people,” Deguire was also pleading his own cause, because the deal made with Depin had led to legal difficulties. The governor nevertheless considered his protest important enough to mention in a report on his travels across the country dated 28 March 1770 and sent to Lord Hillsborough, secretary of state for the American Colonies, from Quebec, and he endeavoured to rectify abuses of which the justices of the peace were guilty.
After owning the seigneury of Rivière-David for 21 years, Joseph Deguire sold it on 29 Dec. 1772 to Christophe L’Huissier of Varennes, for £8,000. His decision undoubtedly arose from the economic situation in the colony since the advent of the British régime and the decline in profitability of his seigneury. After the sale Joseph Deguire substantially reduced his activities; he continued to live at Petit-Chenal-d’Yamaska, in the home of his son-in-law, Pierre Leverrier. On 31 Oct. 1788 he made his will, and on 12 Feb. 1789 died. His widow, Angélique Pepin, asked the executor to request that the will be revoked, because Joseph Deguire had made his daughter Marie and Pierre Leverrier his sole heirs.
ANQ-M, Doc. jud., Cour des plaidoyers communs, Registres, 21 mars, 14, 18, 29 sept. 1789, 22, 23, 26 mars, 1er juill., 15 nov. 1790; État civil, Catholiques, Sainte-Trinité (Contrecœur), 1er nov. 1704; Greffe de F.-M. Lepallieur de Laferté, 1er juin 1733, 30 mai 1738; Greffe de J.-C. Raimbault, 28 juin 1731, 5 sept. 1734; Greffe de François Simonnet, 29 déc. 1772. ANQ-MBF, Greffe de Louis Pillard, 30 déc. 1751, 17 févr., 29 avril, 4 nov. 1753, 13 janv. 1761, 4 mai 1763, 23 juin 1766; Greffe de H.-O. Pressé, 19 févr. 1744, 14, 24 juin 1745; Greffe d’ É.-F. Rigaud, 26 janv. 1767, 14, 22 mars, 2 avril 1774; Procès-verbaux des arpenteurs, J.-B. Leclerc, 16 mars 1740; Antoine Lepellé, dit Desmarets, 12 déc. 1732. Archives civiles, Richelieu (Sorel, Qué.), Greffe de Barthélemy Faribault, 28 mars 1789; Greffe de Puyperoux de La Fosse, 15 mars 1731; Greffe d’Antoine Robin, 18 oct. 1768, 16 août 1769, 16 janv., 11 oct. 1771, 2 avril 1774, 14 mars, 8 août 1775, 17 oct. 1778. Archives paroissiales, Saint-Michel (Yamaska, Qué.), Registre des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 16 mars 1731, 13 févr. 1789. PAC, MG 11, [CO 42], Q, 7, pp.55–58; MG 17, A7–2–6, 20. PAC Rapport, 1890, xvii–xxi, 1–6. “Recensement des gouvernements de Montréal et de Trois-Rivières, 1765,” 104; “Recensement du gouvernement de Trois-Rivières, 1760,” 47–50, 52–53. Claude de Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire: état provisoire des officiers de milice de 1641 à 1760,” ANQ Rapport, 1949–51, 514. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, V, 78–79. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 165; III, 277–78. Azarie Couillard-Després, Histoire de Sorel de ses origines à nos jours (Montréal, 1926), 110. O.-M.-H. Lapalice, Histoire de la seigneurie Massue et de la paroisse de Saint-Aimé (s.1., 1930), 5–85. Sulte, Hist. des Canadiens français, VII, 45.