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DÉNÉCHAUD, JACQUES, surgeon, apothecary, and landowner; b. 11 July 1728 in Saint-Savin, France, son of Pierre Dénéchaud, a surgeon, and Antoinette Lubet; m. 17 Nov. 1756 Angélique Gastonguay at Quebec, and they had seven children; d. there 25 Sept. 1810.

Jacques Dénéchaud studied medicine in France with a doctor by the name of Cavelier who practised at Saint-Savin. On 5 May 1751 he obtained from the Bureau des Commissaires Royaux du Grand Amiral de France at Brouage a certificate authorizing him to serve as a surgeon on seagoing vessels. With this document in hand, Dénéchaud, having taken the customary oath of allegiance to the king of France, sailed for New France and reached Quebec in 1752. He immediately settled there and engaged in private practice in addition to his duties as a naval doctor. Enjoying, no doubt, a sizeable income, on 12 Dec. 1758 he bought a three-storey stone house on Rue Saint-Jean for 5,300 livres, a sum he paid off in three years. This house, which had belonged to his father-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Gastonguay, was to be his residence until 1791.

From 1769 to 1810 Dénéchaud practised medicine at the Hôtel-Dieu where in all probability he set up an apothecary’s shop. His professional competence cannot be doubted, for in 1788 he was one of the first doctors to obtain a licence to practise from the Quebec Medical Board. This body, which had been set up at the request of the Legislative Council to prevent quacks from practising, in 1788 also awarded certificates as surgeons and pharmacists for the District of Quebec to Pierre Chicou, dit Duvert, Ignace Friedel, the Laparre, Pierre-Henri Lebreton, dit Lalancette, and George Weis.

In addition to his medical practice Dénéchaud launched into a series of real-estate deals. From 1772 to 1796 he purchased at least seven lots and houses in Upper Town worth about £800 in all. Some of the properties were later sold for a gross profit of 150 per cent; others were rented to individuals for £25 to £50 a year. During the active period of Dr Dénéchaud’s career, he was consulted by many people who wanted him to act as their proxy in business dealings or as their executor. It is impossible, however, to determine whether he demanded a fee for his services. Nevertheless, the management of large sums of money certainly enabled him to become a big money-lender at Quebec. In the period from 1782 to 1809 he advanced more than £5,258 in the form of multiple loans with interest at the legal rate of six per cent; over the years he was owed sums ranging from £25 to £500 by a clientele principally composed of merchants, craftsmen, and office holders in Quebec.

Dénéchaud managed closely both his own business affairs and those entrusted to him. Consequently he was not above seeking repayment of outstanding debts through the courts. In 1788, as executor for Barthélemy Cotton*, he obtained the attachment of a house on Rue Mont-Carmel in Quebec belonging to Jacques Chevalier and Joseph Dussau and their wives. Dénéchaud displayed more flexibility in his dealings with his children. In 1791 he gave an advance share in his estate, amounting to £527, to two of his sons, Pierre and Claude*, who were in partnership as merchants. He also rented them a house on Rue de la Fabrique for £16 a year, which they were to pay to their brother Charles-Denis, “to help him attain the ecclesiastical state he has chosen.”

Jacques Dénéchaud died on 25 Sept. 1810 in his home on Rue Couillard, where he had been living since 1792. At the time of his death he was the last of the French doctors who had settled at Quebec before the conquest. He bequeathed to the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu all his surgical instruments and medicaments, as well as £100 to help defray the costs of restoring their chapel. Having lost his wife 28 years earlier, he left his children entire possession of his house and the usufruct of all his other property, in both real and personal estate.

Little is known of Dénéchaud’s social life other than that he was a churchwarden of the parish of Notre-Dame in the 1780s. Years later, in 1848, Joseph Morrin* observed: “He was a man of genius who charmed [others] with his pleasant conversation; he attended his patients with kindness and possessed qualities which will ever make his memory cherished.”

Édouard Desjardins

ANQ-Q, CN1-25, 2 févr. 1775; 26 nov. 1776; 23 mars 1782; 6, 22 mars 1786; CN1-26, 13 sept. 1802, 7 juin 1806; CN1-79, 29 janv. 1759; CN1-83, 31 mai 1782; 25 janv. 1783; 26 févr., 18 juin 1784; 9, 18 oct. 1786; 6 juill. 1787; 28 mars 1788; 20, 24 déc. 1792; 22 févr., 16 avril, 1er août 1794; CN1-148, 20 févr. 1766; CN1-178, 15 join 1795; 19 avril 1796; 4 févr., 19 juill. 1797; 13 avril 1798; 7, 18 sept., 3 nov. 1801; 22 août 1804; 19 mars 1805; 2 sept. 1807; 16 août 1808; 21 janv. 1810; CN1-193, 8 janv. 1805; CN1-200, 23 mai 1788; CN1-205, 30 avril 1777, 18 sept. 1782; CN1-207, 1er sept., 1er oct. 1770; CN1-224, 19 janv. 1780; 10 mars 1785; 13 avril 1786; 11 mai 1787; 12 janv., 3 oct. 1789; 7, 20 avril 1790;18, 24 mai, 17 juin, 6 sept., 10 déc. 1791; 27 août 1792; CN1-230, 2, 3 déc. 1789; 19 août 1794; 1er sept. 1802; 19 juin 1809; CN1-248, 18 juill. 1772; 23 août, 2 déc. 1773; CN1-250, 11 déc. 1756, 26 mars 1761, 23 mars 1769; CN1-262, 26 sept., 26 oct. 1795; 23 mai, 12 juin, 16 août 1796; 9 juin, 14 août, 9 oct. 1798; 24 janv., 20 sept. 1803; 16 oct. 1804; 19 sept. 1808; CN1-284, 23 avril 1792; 30 déc. 1794; 6, 14 juin, 2 nov. 1796; 10 mars 1797; 16 sept. 1798; 19 juill. 1799. “Les dénombrements de Québec” (Plessis), ANQ Rapport, 1948–49: 17, 64, 114, 163. Quebec Gazette, 3 Nov. 1785, 18 Sept. 1788, 4 Nov. 1790, 13 Jan. 1803, 27 Sept. 1810. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 3: 338. Abbott, Hist. of medicine, 33–34, 47. M.-J. et G. Ahern, Notes pour l’hist. de la médecine, 144–53, 348, 460.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Édouard Desjardins, “DÉNÉCHAUD, JACQUES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 26, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/denechaud_jacques_5E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/denechaud_jacques_5E.html
Author of Article: Édouard Desjardins
Title of Article: DÉNÉCHAUD, JACQUES
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1983
Year of revision: 1983
Access Date: October 26, 2014