GAUDAIS-DUPONT, LOUIS, royal commissioner in New France (1663), whom several authors have confused with Nicolas Dupont*, Sieur de Neuville.
In 1661 and 1662 Louis XIV had made himself acquainted with several reports on New France; he had granted hearings to prominent people of the colony; he had even sent a royal investigator, the Sieur de Monts, to America. A distinct change of policy was quite obviously necessary. At the beginning of 1663 the monarch accepted the resignation of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés. New France again became the property of the king.
Louis XIV resolved to supervise personally the progress of Canada, and decided to send a commissioner there to take possession of the country in his name and to set up the new administrative and judicial institutions that had been granted to the colony. On 7 May 1663 he appointed the Sieur Gaudais, to whom he assigned the responsibility of going “to examine Canada,” and he gave him precise instructions: to describe the colony in detail, study its trade, analyze the financial and legal administration of the previous few years, take a census of the population, investigate the extent of land clearance, agriculture, and natural resources, suggest means whereby the revenues from the fur trade could be turned to the profit of the Crown and the seigneurial rights of the king established over Canada; in short, to transmit any piece of information which would help in the organization and development of New France. Gaudais’ commission and instructions were accompanied by a secret document ordering him to make discreet enquiries into the conduct and views of the previous governor and the newly appointed one, of Bishop Laval*, and of the Jesuits. The king wanted to discover the reason for the quarrels that had taken place between Pierre Dubois Davaugour and the clergy.
Gaudais had a heavy task to perform and little time at his disposal, since the king required him to return by the same ship that would take him to New France. He landed at Quebec on 15 September with Bishop Laval and Augustin de Saffray de Mézy, and on 18 September attended the first session of the Conseil Souverain, of which the king had made him a member. A few days later, perhaps on the twenty-second, he set out for Trois-Rivères and Montreal, a journey which took him ‘16 or 17 days.” Gaudais’ activities in New France are recounted in a letter of Marie de l’Incarnation [see Guyart]: “He has settled all the affairs of the country. He has appointed officers to dispense justice according to the prescription of the law. He has also established an administration to take care of trade and maintain civil society. All the inhabitants of the country have without exception rendered faith and homage to him, declaring themselves dependent on the king because of his castle at Quebec.”
As early as 20 September the conflict between the directors of the Communauté des Habitants and the talkative Jean Peronne Dumesnil, the intendant of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, had been referred to Gaudais. The Conseil Souverain had instructed the royal commissioner to examine Dumesnil’s claims. But Gaudais, for want of time, had to sail for France before being able to announce his conclusions. In a report to Colbert the following year Dumesnil did not spare Gaudais, whom he accused of partiality and of collusion with the Jesuits and the former directors of the Communauté des Habitants. Colbert, ever suspicious, appears at least momentarily to have held the Sieur Gaudais responsible for the affronts suffered by Dumesnil. In his turn Gaudais addressed a report to the minister, giving a different version of the facts and clearing himself of the accusations levelled by the intendant, whom he considered lacked judgement and moderation.
Gaudais had sailed for France on 26 Oct. 1663, four days after marrying his niece, Michèle-Thérèse Nau, to Joseph Giffard, the son of the seigneur of Beauport. In the colony he had left his own son, Nicolas Gaudais, Sieur Du Chartran, who is mentioned as being at Quebec on 2 Dec. 1663 and who sailed for France on 30 Aug. 1664.
No trace has been found of the report that Gaudais made to the king on his “examination” of New France.
AN, Col., C11A, 125, 217. APQ, Ins. cons. souv., I, 2v. Édits ord., III, 22–27. Marie Guyart de l’Incarnation, Lettres (Richaudeau), II, 266f., “Marie de l’Incarnation à son fils, 1663.” JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain), 321, 328. Jug. et délib., I, 1–2, 3–6, 33–34. “Mémoire du sieur Gaudais-Dupont à Mgr Colbert,” éd. P.-G. Roy, BRH, XXI (1915), 227–31. Caron, “Inventaire des documents,” APQ Rapport, 1939–40, 197–98. “Jean Peronne Dumesnil et ses mémoires,” BRH, XXI (1915), 169–71. Régis Roy, “Nicolas Gaudais, sieur de Chartran,” BRH, XL (1934), 320.