ROUER D’ARTIGNY, LOUIS, seigneur, merchant, special lieutenant of the provost court of Quebec, councillor of the Conseil Supérieur; b. 9 Feb. 1667 at Quebec, son of Louis Rouer* de Villeray and Catherine Sevestre; d. 5 July 1744, a bachelor, at Quebec.
Thanks to his father’s influence, Louis Rouer d’Artigny had on 27 Aug. 1684 obtained the seigneury of Île Verte, which he held jointly with his brother Augustin Rouer* de Villeray et de La Cardonnière until 1688, when it devolved upon him completely. He was even successful in having it enlarged in 1689. On May 1701 he sold this seigneury to Pierre de Niort de La Minotière.
The Sieur d’Artigny had some difficulty in obtaining office in the colony. He could not get himself appointed to the Conseil Supérieur in 1709, or in 1711 upon his brother’s death. In 1712, however, he managed to get an appointment to deputize as special lieutenant of the provost court of Quebec, a function he exercised until 1716, when Jean-Baptiste Couillard* de Lespinay was appointed permanently. In 1717, at 50 years of age, he became a councillor of the Conseil Supérieur, an office he held until the end of his life. “He is honest and diligent,” Intendant Bégon said of him, “well acquainted with judicial matters.” Probably because of his competence, he acted on occasion as attorney general.
His term on the council would have been uneventful, had he not compromised himself in the quarrel between Intendant Dupuy* and Governor Charles de Beauharnois in 1728. For having declared himself in favour of the intendant’s cause he was excluded from the council on the governor’s order and even exiled to Beaumont, near Quebec [see Guillaume Gaillard*]. He tried, but in vain, to defy this order of exclusion. Certainly the governor had exceeded his rights, but the recalcitrant councillor, though reinstated in his functions, received from the intendant, on the king’s order, a reprimand aimed at reminding him of the respect due the first personage in the colony.
Notarial minutes enable us to have some idea of the fortune and the economic activities of this member of the colonial aristocracy who bore the title of esquire and belonged to the Conseil Supérieur. His father, who had died in 1700, had left him properties in the town of Quebec and lands outside the walls between the Chemin de la Grande Allée and the river, on the way to Sillery. The Sieur d’Artigny’s most numerous transactions were in land and the agreement generally was to pay him in the form of “cens et rente.” For the lands he sold he was rarely paid in ready money: redeemable annuities were established in his favour. Thus in 1701 an annuity of 240 livres had been established for him in payment of the 4,800-livre sale price for his seigneury of Île Verte. He made other deals that were still larger, such as the sale to the Ursulines, completed on 30 April 1727, of several pieces of land for the sum of 8,000 livres; of this amount 2,250 livres went to pay off an old debt, contracted by the Sieur d’Artigny’s father. For the remaining 5,750 livres the nuns set up an annuity of 287 livres 10 sols. In 1734 he sold his windmill situated on his piece of land called “la Cardonnière,” “the said mill turning well and making good flour”; the sale price amounted to 2,410 livres, payable by “a redeemable annuity.” It has been possible to discover only one house rental, at 200 livres a year for a house on Rue Saint-Pierre in Lower Town.
Louis Rouer d’Artigny sometimes lent money, but not in large amounts: 233 livres to his brother, 100 livres and 50 livres to two individuals. He rarely dealt in annuities apart from land sales: in 1713 he sold the merchant Jean Fournel an annuity of 240 livres on a capital of 4,800 livres, and in 1733 he bought one for 37 livres 10 sols on a capital of 750 livres.
But d’Artigny’s activities did not stop there. In 1707 the seigneur of Île Verte, the Sieur de La Minotière, recognized a debt to the Sieur d’Artigny of 1,520 livres “for goods . . . furnished to equip him for trading in peltries and fishing.” Rouer d’Artigny delivered goods to even more distant points, since he traded with Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld.), where he had a factor. He also sold livestock: on 7 Aug. 1703 the butcher Michel Cadet bought 80 sheep from him at 15 livres each. He had an interest in fishing as well: for 300 livres a year he hired for nine years from François Gauvin the “porpoise, herring, and salmon fishing ground located at the cape and outlet of the aforementioned river [Rivière Ouelle].” And one last item, in 1699 he signed an agreement with Nicolas Pinaud*, a bourgeois of Quebec, to share with him the “tackle, utensils, and other effects that were discovered on the Aymable, shipwrecked at Cacouna.”
In the present state of research it is impossible to give exactly the total amount of this councillor’s fortune, but it was relatively large. His commercial activities were varied, but they did not include retail trade, and because of that Intendant Jacques Raudot* declared to the king in 1709 that the Sieur d’Artigny was not engaged “in any business.” His life enlightens us greatly on the economic activities of that Canadian “nobility” whose way of life was so different from that of the nobility in the mother country.
AN, Col., D2C, 222/2, p.232 (PAC transcript). ANQ, Greffe de Louis Chambalon, 17 avril 1701, 24 oct. 1702, 23 avril, 7 août 1703, 29 oct. 1704; Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 1er févr. 1734; Greffe de François Genaple de Bellefonds, 31 oct. 1708; Greffe de Florent de La Cetière, 27 oct. 1707, 17 janv. 1709, 2 janv. 1712, 2 sept. 1713; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 28 avril 1733; Greffe de François Rageot, 30 avril 1727; Greffe de Guillaume Roger, 20 sept. 1699. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, VII, 20. Frégault, Le XVIIIe siècle canadien, 187. P.-G. Roy, Diverses familles (3v., Lévis, Qué., 1920), I, 46ff.