FLOQUET, PIERRE-RENÉ, Jesuit; b. 12 Sept. 1716 in Paris; d. 18 Oct. 1782 in Quebec.
Pierre-René Floquet entered the noviciate in Paris on 6 Aug. 1734 after two years of philosophy. He taught the grammar and classics classes at Quimper (1736–40), studied theology at the Jesuit Collège de La Flèche (1740–44), and arrived in Canada on 17 Aug. 1744. After teaching for five years at the Jesuit college in Quebec, he tried missionary life at Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga) in 1749–50 and then returned to Quebec as bursar of the college (1750–56). In 1757 he replaced Father Nicolas Degonnor as superior of the Jesuits in Montreal, holding this office until his retirement in 1780. At the same time he was involved with the Congregation des Hommes de Ville-Marie and served as a priest at the Jesuit chapel.
Until 1775, when he had the bad luck to become involved in political matters, he never attracted public attention. But during the Americans’ occupation of Montreal in 1775–76 [see Richard Montgomery] his frequent relations with them compromised him in the eyes of the British authorities and of Bishop Briand, who had appealed to the clergy and the Canadian people to remain loyal.
On 15 Feb. 1776 the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia appointed Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll to go to Canada to win Canadians to its cause; Charles Carroll brought along his cousin John Carroll, a Jesuit and the future archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, who was to make contact with Canadian clergy. Arriving in Montreal on 29 March 1776, the delegation was received by Brigadier-General Benedict Arnold* and stayed in the home of Thomas Walker, a merchant sympathetic to the American cause. John Carroll visited Floquet, who was still living in the Jesuit residence. As he was bearing a letter of introduction from Father Ferdinand Farmer, his superior in Philadelphia, Carroll obtained permission from Étienne Montgolfier, the vicar general in Montreal, to say mass in Father Floquet’s church, but he dined only once in the Jesuit residence. Unfortunately Floquet compromised himself further.
In a letter of 15 June 1776 to Bishop Briand, who was threatening to place him under an interdict, Floquet gave an explanation for the actions thought rash: he did not like the Quebec Act and had said so too bluntly; by dealing tactfully with the Bostonnais he thought he could protect his confrères in Maryland and Pennsylvania from persecution; misled by the attitude of neutrality adopted by the representatives sent to meet with the invaders in Montreal, he had been tolerant in the confessional towards militiamen who had joined the American forces; he had thought fit to give communion secretly to three such men who had been refused it at the parish church; he had gone to dine with Colonel Moses Hazen*, along with Father John McKenna, a friend of the colonel who had been driven from New York by the anti-Catholic Whig party and had retired to live in the Jesuit residence in Montreal in the spring of 1776. Floquet did not consider that he had acted badly; nevertheless, he admitted that in the best interests of religion he ought to have followed his bishop’s directives in political matters.
The interdict opened his eyes. On Bishop Briand’s orders he went to Quebec. There, on 29 Nov. 1776, he wrote the bishop to ask that his punishment be lifted. The interdict was removed, and Floquet continued his ministry in Montreal. But on 27 April 1777 in a letter to Sébastien-Louis Meurin, a Jesuit missionary to the Illinois, Bishop Briand wrote: “Father Floquet has behaved very badly; for six months he has been under interdict because of his obstinacy . . . . He does not believe that he was wrong and says so when he is not afraid of his listeners.” Floquet, who died in Quebec on 18 Oct. 1782, stood out as an exception among his fellow Jesuits who “had behaved themselves, and were much distressed” by his conduct.
ASJCF, 583; 856.16. Bannissement des jésuites de la Louisiane, relation et lettres inédites, Auguste Carayon, édit. (Paris, 1865). Rochemonteix, Les jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, II, 217–18. T.-M. Charland, “La mission de John Carroll au Canada en 1776 et l’interdit du P. Floquet,” SCHÉC Rapport, 1 (1933–34), 45–56. Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale,” BRH, XVI, 37.