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SAINT-OURS, FRANÇOIS-XAVIER DE, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. 12 Dec. 1717 at Montreal, fourth child of Pierre de Saint-Ours the younger and Hélène Céloron de Blainville; m. 1 May 1747 at Montreal to Thérèse Hertel de Cournoyer, by whom he had at least three surviving children; d. of wounds on the Plains of Abraham, 13 Sept. 1759.

François-Xavier de Saint-Ours came of a military family of some distinction; both his grandfather, Pierre de Saint-Ours*, and his father received the cross of the order of Saint-Louis as officers in the colonial regular troops. His father ended his career as king’s lieutenant at Trois-Rivières; his uncle, Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Ours Deschaillons, as king’s lieutenant at Quebec. His brothers and cousins appear to have chosen military careers as well.

His own career, outlined in a memoir to Rouillé, minister of Marine, in 1750, reads as follows: cadet in 1732, second ensign in 1742, and ensign in 1748. He served in the west in 1732, on the New York frontier under Paul Marin de La Malgue in 1745, in Acadia under Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay* in 1746, and in upper New York under François-Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil in 1747. He had therefore seen considerable active service by the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748. In 1749 and again in 1750 he was sent to the Ohio country and Detroit at the head of detachments of 50 to 100 men. In 1751 he received his lieutenancy and appears to have spent the following years in the west, returning to the colony during the winter months. His career, until 1757 at least, seems like that of many others: slow promotion and service in various outposts of France’s American empire.

According to his widow, Saint-Ours fought in 17 campaigns, distinguishing himself particularly at Lac Saint-Sacrement (Lake George, N.Y.) in the summer of 1757 while serving under Lévis*. In March 1757 Saint-Ours had commanded one of the columns of Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil’s raid on Fort William Henry (Fort George; now Lake George). The action which brought him to the attention of his superiors, however, took place below Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) in September 1757 when, with only ten to 12 men, he repulsed 120 British troops three times before retiring in good order. Both Governor Vaudreuil and Captain Jean-Daniel Dumas* praised this action highly, noting that Saint-Ours had been slightly wounded and recommending a pension and promotion to a captaincy. Both were granted 1 Jan. 1759.

It was traditionally held that Saint-Ours commanded the right wing of the French army on the Plains of Abraham. Vaudreuil, though, assigns that role to Dumas. More probably Saint-Ours had tactical command of the militia under Dumas. There is no question, however, but that he was killed on the battlefield.

His widow, with their children, departed for France in 1760, taking up residence at Blois, where she died in 1785. Two sons, recommended by Lévis, received commissions in the colonial troops in recognition of their father’s services to the crown.

The product of a military family, François-Xavier de Saint-Ours became, practically as a matter of course, an officer in the colonial regular troops. The responsibility given him in 1759, however, indicates more than normal competence as a soldier.

J. R. Turnbull

[The occasional reference to Saint-Ours can be found in AN, Col., C11A, and in the Journal du marquis de Montcalm (Casgrain). The most interesting and informative material is to be found, however, in his personal dossier in AN, Col., E, 363, where his own summary of his service up to 1750, his official record of service, and his widow’s letters requesting pensions, etc., give a clearer picture of the man. Saint-Ours’ birth and marriage certficates can be found in ANQ-M, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 12 déc. 1717, 1er mai 1747. Both Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, and Tanguay, Dictionnaire, mention him, the latter assigning him nine children. His widow, however, mentions only three; and the others listed in Tanguay, if in fact they were Saint-Ours’ children, would have been still young in 1760.  j.r.t.]

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J. R. Turnbull, “SAINT-OURS, FRANÇOIS-XAVIER DE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/saint_ours_francois_xavier_de_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/saint_ours_francois_xavier_de_3E.html
Author of Article:   J. R. Turnbull
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   October 1, 2023