SAINT-OURS DESCHAILLONS, JEAN-BAPTISTE DE, officer in the colonial regular troops, king’s lieutenant; b. 1669 in the Saint-Ours manor-house and baptized in Sorel (Que.) in October 1670, son of Pierre de Saint-Ours* and Marie Mullois; d. 8 June 1747 in Quebec.
Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Ours Deschaillons’s father was a prominent noble and military figure in the colony, but like many of the nobility in Canada was not prosperous. In the status oriented society of Canada, solvency was not as important as the maintaining of appearances, and in this respect, as in others, Deschaillons would be like his father.
Deschaillons began his military service in 1688, and two years later received a commission as ensign with an annual salary of 360 livres. Aided by a steady flow of requests and recommendations from his father, and from his father’s cousin, he was promoted half-pay lieutenant in 1693, full lieutenant in 1702, and captain on 9 June 1708. However, these promotions were not unmerited. In 1695, Governor Frontenac [Buade*] sent Deschaillons, then 25 years old, and 15 Indians in the direction of Albany to scout for Iroquois and white traders and to take prisoners if possible. Deschaillons’s mission was successful, for when he returned he brought four captives, three Mohawks and a Dutchman.
In June 1703 Deschaillons was commissioned midshipman, a title which carried social status but did not entail any naval responsibilities. Two years later, on 25 November, Deschaillons and his 19-year-old fiancée, Marguerite, daughter of Pierre Legardeur* de Repentigny and Agathe de Saint-Père, signed a marriage contract. The wedding, well attended by his fellow officers, took place later that day. Deschaillons was now linked to one of the oldest noble families in the colony.
In 1708, after a council of war with the Mission Indians in Montreal, another raiding expedition was sent against New England. Deschaillons and Jean-Baptiste Hertel* de Rouville, entrusted with the command of this expedition, left Montreal on 26 July with a party of 100 soldiers and habitants, and a number of Indians. The party sacked Haverhill on the Merrimack River and returned to Montreal with a loss of 10 dead and 19 wounded.
The following year Montrealers were alerted that their town would be attacked by Colonel Francis Nicholson* and his army, invading the colony via Lake Champlain. Deschaillons was put in command of one of the five companies of Canadians led by Montreal Governor Claude de Ramezay* to head off the invasion. The Canadians left Montreal on 28 July but returned shortly thereafter because Nicholson’s army had, among other mishaps, fallen prey to a contagious disease and turned back.
In the autumn of 1717, Deschaillons set out for the Ottawa country (the Michigan peninsula), leaving his wife in charge of his business affairs in the colony. From 1721 to 1723, Deschaillons commanded at Fort Kaministiquia (Thunder Bay, Ont.); Jacques Le Ber de Senneville, in Montreal, hired voyageurs on his behalf to take merchandise to the hinterland and to return with furs. Deschaillons’s fur-trading interests continued in the 1720s through his association with a merchant, perhaps Jean-Louis Volant d’Haudebourg. In 1728 he was appointed commandant of Detroit where he served for two years.
Deschaillons was awarded in 1730 the cross of the order of Saint-Louis, which carried a minimum pension of 800 livres. He applied for the vacant king’s lieutenancy of Trois-Rivières, but the position was awarded to Claude-Michel Bégon, whom Deschaillons replaced in February 1731 as town major of Quebec. His interest now turned from the fur trade to real estate. He already received 400 livres per year from his inheritance of half of the Saint-Ours seigneury. On 20 Aug. 1732 he bought a small house in Montreal on a piece of land 22 feet by 30 feet, which he subsequently leased. After two years as major of Quebec he replaced François Le Verrier* de Rousson as king’s lieutenant, with a salary of 1,800 livres. However, his sources of income were drastically reduced by the Montreal fire of 1734, in which two houses producing an annual revenue of 800 to 1,000 livres were burned. Deschaillons was obliged to call in an outstanding loan of 1,000 livres, owed to him by his relative, Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny. Both Governor Charles de Beauharnois and Intendant Gilles Hocquart* requested a pension for Deschaillons from the order of Saint-Louis or the Invalides funds in recognition of his services. Accordingly, in 1735, 1737, 1738, 1739, and 1743, Deschaillons received bonuses of 400 livres. In 1742, when Governor Pierre de Rigaud* de Vandreuil of Trois-Rivières was appointed governor of Louisiana, Deschaillons applied for the Trois-Rivières post. This promotion was refused him.
On 14 March 1741 an ordinance of Intendant Hocquart had obliged Deschaillons to inhabit and develop the arrière-fief of Saint-Ours Deschaillons on Île Jésus which had been granted to him in 1719 by the seminary of Quebec. He disregarded the ordinance, and on 2 August of the following year the land reverted to the seminary.
During his long service to the king, Deschaillons was promoted from cadet to king’s lieutenant of Quebec, held two post commands, and was awarded the cross of Saint-Louis. His investments in the fur trade and in real estate, combined with his military income and assistance from the state, enabled him to live in the style of a noble. He had nine children – five daughters and four sons; two of his sons, one being Pierre-Roch*, pursued careers in the colonial regular troops.
AN, Col., C11A, 11–14, 18–19, 22, 30, 79; D2C, 47; E, 120 (dossier Saint-Ours Deschaillons). ANQ-M, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 25 nov. 1705; Greffe de Jacques David, 15 mai 1722; Greffe de C.-R. Gaudron de Chevremont, 7 avril 1735; Greffe de J.-C. Raimbault, 20 août 1732. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 126. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 140–41; II, 172; Les officiers d’état-major, 231–35. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Kellogg, French régime, 298, 326. Nish, Les bourgeois-gentilshommes, 92, 150. C. J. Russ, “Les troupes de la marine, 1683–1713” (unpublished ma thesis, McGill University, Montreal, 1971).