LE PICARD DU MESNIL DE NORREY, JACQUES (Dumesnil-Pâté; he signed as “dumesnj de noré” and “dumesnj noré”), garrison adjutant (major des troupes) of the troops in Canada (1706–13), knight of the order of Saint-Louis, co-seigneur of the Saint-Denis fief; b. c. 1659, son of Auguste-Philippe Le Picard de Norrey, a soldier, and of Madeleine de Gédouin (Gédout), both of Norrey (department of Calvados) in the bishopric of Bayeux; m. Marie-Renée Chorel de Saint-Romain, dit d’Orvilliers, on 17 Feb. 1692 at Champlain; they had four children; d. 27 Oct. 1713 at Montreal.
Jacques Le Picard’s title was derived from the Norman hamlet of Norrey although his right to use the noble prefix “de” has been questioned. He was, according to Louis-Hector de Callière, a native of Caen who was made a midshipman in 1677. He served at Brest and at Rochefort, where in 1684 he was a sub-lieutenant in the navy. In the same year he came to Canada and was promoted to the rank of captain in the colonial regular troops. His first command in the colony was at Trois-Rivières, and there he married a local merchant’s daughter. In 1692, the year of his marriage, he advanced to the rank of lieutenant-commander.
When he participated in Governor Louis de Buade* de Frontenac’s 1696 expedition against the Iroquois, Le Picard was described as one of the four “senior captains” who each commanded a battalion of regular troops. The notarial archives indicate that he became a resident of Montreal soon afterward. Another source describes him as commandant of Fort Lachine in 1690–91, 1694, and 1696–98.
In 1699, after 15 years of service in Canada without leave, Le Picard received permission to return to France because his father had died and he was anxious to look after his own interests. His wife went with him and did not come back to the colony until 1707. Le Picard was in New France in 1706 when he was appointed garrison adjutant to replace Daneau de Muy.
The ministry of Marine depended on the garrison adjutant for detailed information on the military personnel in Canada, and Le Picard was instructed to provide this. Every year Le Picard received a dispatch from the minister reminding him to send in his annual report and directing his attention to particular matters in the colony such as the distribution of reinforcements, work on fortifications, and the state of the militia. The promotion of junior officers was strongly influenced by Le Picard’s remarks and recommendations. Although, as was customary, he asked for an ensign’s commission for his son, he did not abuse his power. “I am quite convinced,” wrote the minister in 1708, “that what you have written about their [the officers’] good and bad qualities is free from favouritism.” Upon the recommendation of the governor and intendant, Le Picard was made a knight of the order of Saint-Louis on 10 June 1708. The cross of Saint-Louis was a small comfort to Le Picard in the face of his hardships. He was denied leave to visit France again because, in the minister’s opinion, “his presence in Canada is essential.” The post of garrison adjutant involved weighty responsibilities and regular travel between Quebec and Montreal. It was not, however, included in the traditional civil and military list of New France so that, because he occupied an “extraordinary” post, Le Picard had to subsist on a captain’s salary with irregular bonuses. In 1710 his wife asked the minister of Marine to pay her husband a regular and substantial honorarium in Canada. In the following year Le Picard suggested that he be given the command of Fort Chambly with its perquisites because, he wrote, “I have difficulty maintaining my family on my captain’s pay and my gratuity is always held back.”
It would be a mistake to picture Le Picard eking out a lean existence. He had been one of the shareholders in the Compagnie de la Colonie in 1700. He was able to provide a nun’s dowry for one of his daughters and he seems to have maintained homes in Quebec and Montreal. Five months before his death, he paid 500 livres for half of a fief in the seigneury of Contrecœur.
Le Picard’s relations with his superiors were generally good. They described him as a gentleman and a loyal subject of his majesty; the minister, for example, expressed his concern when Le Picard suffered a severe injury in 1710. This amicable relationship was strained when, in 1708, Le Picard assembled the company commanders without consulting the intendant in order to name a provisional surgeon-major for Montreal after the death of Pierre Baudeau. The minister was shocked by his presumption and blamed the governor for allowing Le Picard to create “a cabal of officers against this intendant [Jacques Raudot].”
After Le Picard’s death in 1713, the governor and Intendant Bégon* wrote that “he had served his majesty in this country with distinction for 30 years, having been a model officer. He leaves a widow burdened with four children and without resources; she now has recourse to the honour of your protection, as much for the promotion of her eldest son, a company ensign, as to obtain a pension from his majesty that might give her the means of raising her family. His [Le Picard’s] name is known to you, my lord, for he has three brothers who are officers in the Marine.” In a letter to Le Picard’s brother, the Chevalier de Norrey, the minister assured him that “when I confer with the King on the affairs of . . . [New France] I shall remember to give an account of his services to him and I shall gladly do everything within my power to obtain the favours of his majesty for his wife and children.” The minister was true to his word. Le Picard’s widow received a pension of 400 livres until her death in 1717 and his eldest son, Louis Le Picard de Letéland Du Mesnil was assured of a career in the Marine.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 1er oct. 1699; 21 juin 1713; 21 févr. 1714; Greffe de Pierre Raimbault, 25 juin, 9 juillet 1714. AJQ, Greffe de Jacques Barbel, 21 mai 1713; Greffe de Louis Chambalon 22 oct. 1697; 12 oct. 1700; Greffe de Pierre Rivet, 8 mai 1717. AJTR, Greffe de Daniel Normandin, 17 févr. 1692; Greffe de J.-B. Pottier, 27 févr. 1689. AN, Col., B, 27, f.279v; 29, ff.3–6, 107, 405v; 33, f.367; 36, ff.101, 101v, 391; C11A, 14, f.65; 31, f.237; 32, ff.118–19. ... “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 372; 1938–39, 111, 121, 122, 156, 170, 171; 1942–43, 406, 435; 1947–48, 170, 223, 260f., 271, 286, 288. Jug. et délib., VI, 909, 920, 923, 1100, 1127. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 650. PAC Report, 1899, Supp. P.-G. Roy, “Ce que Callières pensait de nos officiers,” BRH, XXVI (1920), 323; Inv. concessions, IV, 87ff. Taillemite, Inventaire analytique, série B, I.. ... Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 102. Gagnon, “Noms propres au Canada français,” 57. “La famille Le Picard Dumesny Noré,” BRH, XLI (1935), 65–73. Raymond Douville, “Deux officiers ‘indésirables’ des troupes de la Marine,” Cahiers des Dix, XIX (1954), 71. J.-E. Roy, “Le patronage dans l’armée “ BRH, II (1896), 114. P.-G. Roy, “La compagnie de sieur Dumesny,” BRH, X (1904), 128, 159; “Le sieur Dumesny-Noré,” BRH, XIV (1908), 126f..