RENAUD DUBUISSON, LOUIS-JACQUES-CHARLES, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. 22 July 1709 at Quebec, son of Jacques-Charles Renaud* Dubuisson and Gabrielle Pinet (Desmarest); d. in France, probably in 1765.
Louis-Jacques-Charles Renaud Dubuisson followed in the footsteps of his father, town major of Trois-Rivières, and embarked upon a military career at an early age. After being a gentleman cadet for several years, he was about to be promoted second ensign when, on 12 Jan. 1736, he fought a duel at Trois-Rivières with another cadet in the colonial regular troops, Charles Hertel de Chambly. Hertel had challenged Dubuisson after an exchange of “sharp words” when they were drunk. Hertel received a sword wound in the lower part of the abdomen and died two days later.
As the affair had been between two soldiers, the court martial of the government of Trois-Rivières dealt with it first. On 17 Feb. 1736 it sentenced Dubuisson in his absence and the “remembrance” of his companion Hertel to be shot. This sentence was, however, only “read and posted before the troops” in the three governments of Canada, since Dubuisson had fled before he could be arrested. He first took refuge at Fort Orange (Albany, N.Y.), where the authorities kept him in prison for 11 months, believing him to be a spy. Then he went to the French West Indies, where he begged the authorities in the colony and in the mother country for a pardon. The king would not grant him anything before the final judgement.
The Conseil Supérieur, being authorized in certain circumstances to judge duelling cases in the first instance, and supporting its right by the small number of judicial officers in the jurisdiction of Trois-Rivières, had taken up this affair on 26 Jan. 1736, two weeks after the duel. The tribunal of Trois-Rivières had not then examined the case. On the one hand the lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs of Trois-Rivières, René Godefroy* de Tonnancour, had refrained from instituting legal proceedings in the matter, for fear of seeing his whole investigation annulled by challenge. There was, in fact, a family relationship between him and the duellists: he was Hertel de Chambly’s cousin, and a cousin by marriage of Dubuisson. On the other hand the provost of the marshalsea, Charles-Paul Denys de Saint-Simon, had not yet proceeded with an investigation, though it was his duty to do so “at the very moment” he learned that fights which might be duels had taken place.
Although the Conseil Supérieur published a monitory in certain parishes of the government of Trois-Rivières in the autumn of 1737, it could not obtain “revelation of the facts and circumstances of the duel.” Therefore on 28 March 1738 it ordered that “a further investigation be carried out for a year.” In the meantime Dubuisson, still in the West Indies, continued bombarding the authorities in the mother country with requests for a pardon. He finally was successful and hastened to return to Canada. On 3 Sept. 1740 the court martial of Trois-Rivières ratified the pardon. And the Conseil Supérieur of Quebec, finding “no matter for conviction of the crime of duelling in the investigation,” acquitted Dubuisson on 19 Sept. 1740.
Dubuisson then resumed his military career and in 1741 was promoted second ensign, the appointment the king had promised him in the spring of 1736. His subsequent career was the usual one in the colonial regular troops; he became ensign on the active list in 1745, lieutenant in 1750, and captain in 1759. It was as a captain that he distinguished himself during the siege of Quebec and particularly in the battle of Sainte-Foy on 28 April 1760, when he was seriously wounded in the shoulder. As a reward he was decorated with the cross of the order of Saint-Louis on 2 Feb. 1762. Having gone to the mother country in the autumn of 1761 on the Molineux, probably with one of his daughters and his two sons, Dubuisson died in France sometime before 5 Jan. 1766, the date on which the king granted a pension to his three children living in France.
On 3 Aug. 1741, in Montreal, he had married Thérèse Godefroy, who was buried in Montreal on 24 May 1778. All his life Dubuisson seems to have been in straitened circumstances. In 1740, according to Governor Charles de Beauharnois, he was reduced “to men’s charity,” and in 1760, according to the Chevalier de Lévis*, he was “poor.”
Duels between soldiers were frequent under the French régime. Not all duellists, however, were prosecuted, particularly during the last years of French rule when with the arrival of French regulars duels became a common occurrence. Dubuisson’s case was thus not unique in New France. Louis XIV’s edict of 14 Dec. 1679 against duelling was applied more or less strictly according to the “quality” of the person who had committed the offence. Military officers most often benefited from the leniency either of the court or of the Conseil Supérieur which invoked certain extenuating circumstances such as legitimate defence and drunkenness; ordinary soldiers were often sentenced to death, for their civil status and lack of financial means gave them no hope of obtaining a pardon from the king.
AN, Col., B, 64, f.435v; 65, f.404; 66, f.11v; 68, f.52; 71, f.29; 81, f.68; 91, f.55; 125, f.7; C11A, 71, ff.78v–79; 74, ff.36f.; 75, f.182; 76, ff.31f; 104, f.117; 115, f.16v; D2C, 222/1, f.108 (copies at PAC). ANQ, NF, Dossiers du Cons. sup., Mat. crim., IV, 317–44v, 390–99; NF, Registres du Cons. sup., 1730–1759, ff.37v–49, 59v–63. ANQ-M, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 3 août 1741. Bornier, Conférences des ord. de Louis XIV, II, 130, 393ff. Journal du chevalier de Lévis (Casgrain), 271, 457. PAC Report, 1886, clxxxiii. Relations et journaux (Casgrain), 239. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Ægidius Fauteux, Le duel au Canada (Montréal, 1934); “La famille Renaud Dubuisson,” BRH, XXXVII (1931), 673–76. P.-G. Roy, “Le duel sous le régime français,” BRH, XIII (1907), 136–38.