LEGARDEUR DE TILLY, CHARLES, navigator, governor of Trois-Rivières, member of the Communauté des Habitants, business man, fur-trader, councillor of the Conseil Souverain of New France; b. probably 1614 at Thury-Harcourt (Normandie), son of René Legardeur de Tilly and Catherine de Cordé; buried 10 Nov. 1695 at Quebec.
Charles Legardeur was 22 when he landed at Quebec in 1636, with his brother Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny. He was said at that time to be “proficient in the art of navigation,” which is quite probable, since in 1645 we find him in command of a ship that was plying between Quebec and the mother country.
Like his brother Pierre, he played an active part in the organization and administration of the Communauté des Habitants. He held the office of governor of Trois-Rivières from 1648 to 1650. When he returned to Quebec, he concerned himself with business. He entered into a partnership with François Byssot and Jean-Paul Godefroy in order to hunt seal at Tadoussac and to trade in beaver. In the autumn of 1650 he went to France to obtain from the Compagnie des Cent-Associés the fishing monopoly at Tadoussac.
Charles Legardeur rapidly became a person of importance and influence. In 1652, with other associates, he received the Cap-des-Rosiers seigneury. In 1653 he represented the Côte Saint-Michel in the election of the syndic of Quebec. His name appears in the list of the first councillors of the Conseil Souverain. He was one of the clique grouped around Governor Saffray de Mézy which was promoting the sale of spirits. His commercial activities determined his opinion. At the time of Mézy’s coup d’état, in September 1664, he was not dismissed from office. The governor even bequeathed him 500 livres in his will. Legardeur continued his career as a councillor under the governorship of Buade de Frontenac, who at first took a liking to him; when Frontenac travelled to Lake Ontario in 1673, he entrusted Legardeur with the military command of Quebec. In April 1675 the latter was appointed a life member of the Conseil Souverain.
Shortly afterwards his relations with Frontenac were to deteriorate. Indeed, when the council was reorganized in 1675 the king had decided that the intendant should act as a chairman to call for expressions of opinion and count votes. Frontenac took offence at the conferring of these powers upon Jacques Duchesneau. During the winter of 1678–79, he proclaimed his right to preside over the council in the absence of the intendant. The latter in turn took exception, with the support of the majority of the council members. Tension increased. On 4 July 1679 Frontenac ordered Rouer de Villeray and Legardeur de Tilly to withdraw from Quebec. Tilly went into exile at Beauport, in the home of his brother-in-law Nicolas Juchereau de Saint-Denis. However, Frontenac and Tilly both climbed down a little: the first because he had received remonstrances from the king; the second because he needed employment in order to meet the needs of his family. Tilly broke with his associates, made his submission to Frontenac, and regained the latter’s friendship. He remained in office until 1688, when he made way for his son, Pierre-Noël Legardeur* de Tilly.
On 1 Oct. 1648, at Quebec, Charles Legardeur had married Geneviève, the daughter of Jean Juchereau de Maur; she was to give him 15 children. As a dowry she brought him what she had inherited from her uncle Noël Juchereau Des Châtelets, namely the land at Saint-Michel cove, which the Compagnie des Cent-Associés made into a fief on 7 April 1660, and which Tilly sold to the seminary of Quebec on 26 April 1678.
Tilly lived in great poverty, in a state of penury that sometimes bordered on destitution. Frontenac wrote that he was ruined by the Iroquois, who pillaged him during the wars. In 1688 he was recommended to Seignelay as “being very poor and very old.” He was buried on 10 Nov. 1695.
ASQ, Documents Faribault, 112, 113, 126a, 158; Polygraphie, IV, 55; I, 68; Registre A, pp.144, 599–602. JR (Thwaites). Jug. et délib., I, 278–80, passim. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 105, 272; II, 14, 65f., 68. Delalande, Le Conseil souverain, passim. Eccles, Frontenac. P.-G. Roy, “Charles Legardeur de Tilly, conseiller au Conseil souverain,” BRH, XXVIII (1922), 65–73; “La famille Le Gardeur de Tilly,” BRH, LIII (1947), 99–123, 133–46. E. Villaret, “Le premier congréganiste canadien-français (Charles Le Gardeur de Tilly),” BRH, XLV (1939), 33–42.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Québec, CE301-S1, 1er oct. 1648, 10 nov. 1695.