SAUREL, PIERRE DE, captain of the Carignan-Salières regiment, seigneur; b. 1628 at Notre-Dame de Grenoble, son of Mathieu de Saurel and Jeanne de Giraud; d. 1682 at Montreal.
We know nothing of his career before he came to Canada. But he seems to have entered the army quite young, since in 1665 he was a captain in the Carignan-Salières regiment. On 14 May of that year, at La Rochelle, Talon, attending a review of the troops before they left for Canada, declared himself very satisfied with the bearing of the soldiers and particularly those of M. de Saurel; he advised the king to give the latter 15 or 20 pistoles, because his company “appeared the best in everyone’s opinion.” After a stormy crossing, on the Paix, Saurel reached Quebec with four companies about 18 August, the day after the arrival of the colonel of the regiment, M. de Salières [Chastelard], and four other companies on the Aigle d’Or.
On 25 August he was sent with his men by Prouville de Tracy to build a fort on the ruins of the one set up by Huault de Montmagny in 1642, at the mouth of the River of the Iroquois (Richelieu), the site of what is now the city of Sorel.
On 10 Nov. 1665, Father François Du Peron died at the nearby fort at Chambly; Saurel received the body “at the water’s edge with all his soldiers under arms,” and they guarded the corpse “all the night, with lighted tapers around him.”
Saurel spent the winter of 1665–66 in his fort. On 27 July 1666, at Quebec, he assumed command of an expedition of 200 Frenchmen and some 100 Indians against a village of Mohawks who had killed or taken prisoner 7 Frenchmen. When he was nearly there, he met Indian ambassadors, including the Flemish Bastard, who were bringing back two of the prisoners and coming “to offer all possible satisfaction the murder of those who had been slain, and fresh guarantees of peace.”
On 20 August, Saurel, together with the Indian chief, was back at Quebec. On 14 September he took part in Tracy’s expedition against the Mohawk villages, and led the rearguard with Capt. Berthier*.
He took advantage of the disbanding of the regiment in 1668 to marry Catherine, daughter of Charles Legardeur de Tilly and Geneviève Juchereau de Maur, on 10 October at Quebec. He then settled on the Sorel estate, which was officially granted to him as a seigneury in 1672. Talon had a high opinion of him, although in about 1673 he was disturbed by his ambition: he had “great designs and great plans, which make me fear in him, a Piedmontese, too great an establishment in a country so far removed from the primary authority.”
He was one of the settlers consulted by Buade de Frontenac in 1678 about the sale of spirits to the Indians. He approved of this traffic, for according to him the Indians would turn to the Dutch if the French defaulted. He was moreover actively engaged in fur-trading. In 1681, according to Frontenac, he had “5 canoes and 10 men in the woods carrying on the fur trade.” He was also accused the same year, before the Conseil Souverain, of having allowed “many things in [his] house [. . .] in mockery of the king’s orders and in defiance of the law.”
In the summer of 1682, he entered into partnership with Aubert* de La Chesnaye, Radisson*, Chouart Des Groseilliers, and several others for an expedition to Hudson Bay. He seems to have gone with them. On his return, he attended an assembly at Quebec, on 10 October, to discuss the Iroquois question. He died at Montreal, where his business had taken him, on 26 Nov. 1682; he left no descendants. His wife encountered difficulties over his estate, and had to sell the seigneury by auction in 1713. It was bought by Claude de Ramezay*.
AJQ, Greffe de Romain Becquet, 9 oct. 1668. APQ, Philippe Sainte-Marie, “Esquisse de l’histoire de Saurel sous la domination française et sous la domination anglaise” (manuscript). Correspondance de Frontenac (1672–82), APQ Rapport, 1926–27, 123. Correspondance de Talon, APQ Rapport, 1930–31, 24, 47, 132, 174. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), I, 405. Édits ord., II, 103. JR (Thwaites). JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain). Jug. et délib., I; II; IV; VI. Perrot, Memoir, in Indian tribes (Blair), I, 201. Recensement de 1681. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, II, 167–68. BRH, I (1895), 89; VI (1900), 219; XII (1906), 375; XV (1909), 58; XVII (1911), 194; XXVII (1921), 28–29; XXX (1924), 249–52; XLVI (1940), 115, 240. Charlevoix, Histoire. Azarie Couillard Després, Histoire de Sorel de ses origines à nos jours (Montréal, 1926); “Les origines de la seigneurie de Saurel: M. Pierre de Saurel, seigneur de Saurel, et ses premiers censitaires,” RSCT, 3d ser., XVII (1923), sect.i, 183–91. Faillon, Histoire de la colonie française, III, 222. Germain Lesage, “L’arrivée du régiment de Carignan,” Revue de l’Université d’Ottawa, XXXV (1965), 11–34. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Le tribunal seigneurial de Sorel et autres,” BRH, L (1944), 13–14. Olivier Maurault, “A propos d’une visite princière,” Cahiers des Dix, IV (1939), 119–20. Nute, Caesars of the wilderness, 186. Roy et Malchelosse, Le régiment de Carignan. Pierre Saint Olive, Les Dauphinois au Canada: Essai de catalogue des Dauphinois qui ont pris part à l’établissement du Régime français au Canada, suivi d’une étude sur un Dauphinois canadien: Antoine Pécody de Contrecœur (Paris, 1936). Sulte, Mélanges historiques (Malchelosse), VIII.