LEVASSEUR, LOUIS, scrivener, lieutenant general of the admiralty court of Île Royale; b. 27 Dec. 1671 at L’ Ange-Gardien (Que.), son of Louis Levasseur and Marguerite Bélanger; m. 6 Jan. 1736 at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), Marie-Anne, daughter of Jean-François Lorant and Marie-Suzanne de La Bazanière, by whom he had three daughters; d. 3 June 1748 at Saint-Malo, France.
Born into the bourgeoisie, Louis Levasseur early served as secretary to Intendant Jean Bochart* de Champigny at Quebec. He later moved to Marseilles, France, where in 1695 he was appointed scrivener. At the request of the financial commissary Pierre-Auguste de Soubras* he came to Île Royale as scrivener in 1716; he was made responsible for daily accounts and stores and was appointed clerk to the financial commissary. His advancement at Louisbourg was in large part a result of the protection of Soubras and of his successor, Jacques-Ange Le Normant de Mézy, with whom Levasseur lodged in the 1720s.
In 1718 Levasseur was appointed lieutenant general of the admiralty court at Louisbourg. As the chief official and judge of this court he was responsible for a wide variety of administrative and judicial matters pertaining to maritime commerce. His regulation of such actions as smuggling was lax, but one of his reports on this subject contributed to the replacement of the governor, Saint-Ovide [Monbeton], in 1739. Although he had no legal training, Levasseur appears to have been a competent and impartial judge.
A suggestion in 1719 that Levasseur be appointed clerk of the Conseil Supérieur was vetoed by the ministry of Marine, but in 1720 the function of controller was added to his regular duties. The ministry’s decision to appoint an inspector of finances was the result of the misuse of funds earmarked for the fortifications at Louisbourg [see Le Normant de Mézy]. Levasseur was made responsible for certifying treasury receipts, verifying expenditures authorized by the financial commissary, preparing quarterly accounts of both, and assisting at the calling of official tenders. Saint-Ovide, who had originally been jointly responsible with the financial commissary for signing accounts and whose duties were therefore restricted by the appointment, complained to the ministry about the number of positions Levasseur held. He claimed that “the public is strongly ill-disposed towards the Controller . . . and he suits neither the interests of the king nor those of the country.” As a result Levasseur was replaced by Antoine Sabatier in 1723, but he continued to act as scrivener until 1730. Mézy appointed him his judicial subdelegate during his absence in France in 1723.
From his position as lieutenant general Levasseur earned approximately 4,000 livres annually, augmented by the pension of 300 livres granted him in 1734. He supplemented his income by the sale of cod in partnership with his wife’s stepfather, Claude-Joseph Le Roy* Desmarest, and one Morel, a Louisbourg merchant. He also rented his house on the Rue d’Orléans to Desmarest and built an addition to it where he himself lived in the 1730s.
Levasseur remained lieutenant general of the Admiralty court until 1745 when Louisbourg was captured by Anglo-American troops under William Pepperrell. He returned to France, probably that year, but nothing is known of his activities there. He died at Saint-Malo on 3 June 1748.
[I should like to thank M. Adrien Levasseur of Longueuil, Que., for providing the date and place of Levasseur’s birth. t.a.c.]
AD, Charente-Maritime (La Rochelle), B, 6110, ff.8, 13, 32, 42. AN, Col., B, 38, f.196; 54, f.509; C11B, 1–25, especially 1, f.176; 4, f.133; 5, ff.224, 235, 407; 10, f.253; 14, f.368; 17, f.337; 18, f.343; 19, ff.276, 285; 20, ff.321, 330; C11C, 15, ff. 15, 23, 177; C11G, 12, f.116; E, 238 (dossier Jean Delaborde); F3, 50, f.245; Marine, C2, 55, f.28; C7, 184 (dossier Louis Levasseur); Section Outre-Mer, G1, 407/1–2; G2, 192/1, f.13v; 208, dossier 479; G3, 2041/2(5 janv. 1736). J.-M. Pardessus, Collection de lois maritimes antérieures au XVIIIe siècle (6v., Paris, 1828–45; repr. Torino, Italy, 1968). Tanguay, Dictionnaire, V, 390 [Tanguay’s identification of Levasseur’s wife as Marie-Anne Desmarest is inexact since she issued from her mother’s first marriage and not the second to Claude-Joseph Le Roy Desmarest. t.a.c.]. Jacques de Chastenet d’Esterre, Histoire de l’amirauté en France (Paris, 1906).