MARTIN, BARTHÉLEMY, merchant; b. c. 1713, son of Vincent Martin and Hélène Guilhermy of the parish of Saint-Ferréol de Marseille, France; d. sometime after 1765.
Barthélemy Martin set up one of the most important trading companies in Quebec towards the end of the French régime and seems to have been involved in the activities of the “Grand Société.” The name of the “Sieur Martin” appears for the first time in the accounts of the colony for 1749, when more than 14,000 livres of supplies were bought from him. The following year he received some 15,000 livres in bills of exchange for various supplies. In 1751 Rouillé, the minister of Marine, sent Governor La Jonquière [Taffanel] and Intendant Bigot* a letter of recommendation for “the Sieur Troppez Martin,” probably Barthélemy’s brother: “You will do me a favour,” he wrote, “if you render him service whenever the occasion may arise, if he does not cause any obstacle through his conduct.” On 4 October of that year the Conseil Supérieur in Quebec gave its decision in a lawsuit between “the Sieurs Tropez and Barthélemy Martin, merchants in this town,” and Joseph Pierre Cadet*, a merchant butcher, who was to become the purveyor-general of the colony. Cadet had not fulfilled the terms of a contract with the Martin brothers for the sale of cod and the latter were demanding compensation. The account of the council’s sitting leads us to believe that the Martins were intending to send this cod to the Martinique market; this incident would indicate that they traded with the West Indies, which implies that they conducted a substantial business. Only a systematic study of notarial deeds and lawsuits heard by the provost’s court and the admiralty court of Quebec would provide evidence for an appreciation of the scale of the Martins’ trade. Documents more easily available lead us to suspect, however, that Barthélemy Martin was a considerable merchant.
In 1752 Martin suggested to the president of the council of Marine that “magasins d’abondance” (“stockpiles”) be set up in the three towns of the colony for the storing of provisions and the prevention of scarcities. Too grandiose and above all too costly, the scheme was rejected, but at the same time Governor Duquesne* and Intendant Bigot were instructed to help Martin in his plan for exporting Canadian timber.
In the spring of 1760, when the French armies were making a last effort to recapture Quebec, Martin made a deal with Bigot to supply spirits to the troops; it was a big contract which was ultimately not very profitable to him. Martin had to get 250 casks of spirits out of Quebec without the British troops’ knowledge. He brought them near Montreal and sold them to the king at a price lower than the current Montreal price. Martin’s invoice amounted to more than 500,000 livres and was paid in bills of exchange on the treasury of France. In 1765 Martin, who had returned to France after the surrender of Canada, was still awaiting payment of his bills of exchange; it had been forgotten in the contentions arising from the affaire du Canada. We do not know whether he was ever paid.
On 31 Aug. 1752, in Quebec, Martin had married Marie-Françoise-Renée, daughter of René Nicolas Levasseur*; among those who signed his marriage contract as witnesses were Governor Duquesne, Intendant Bigot, and Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil] of Quebec.
AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 31 août 1752. AN, Col., B, 93, f.1v; 95, ff.27, 29f.; 97, ff.23–25v, 53v, 97v; 113, f.262v; C11A, 105, ff.116–32, 387f.; 108, ff.1–90; 116, ff.251v, 252, 254, 255, 290v, 291v, 296f., 298; 119, ff.341v, 342v, 343, 344v, 347. ANQ, Greffe de J.-C. Panet, 24 août 1752. PAC, MG 7, II, 12142, ff.76–77v, 164, 378; MG 8, A2, 38, ff.52v–54v; 39, ff.37v–38, 106v–7; 40, ff.107–9. ASQ, Polygraphie, XXIV, 32B, 37J, 37K, 37L; Séminaire, XI, 28. Documents relating to Canadian currency during the French period (Shortt), II, 984–86, 988. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, V, 200–1, 242, 280; VI, 85. Tanguay, Dictionnaire.