TESTARD LOUVIGNY DE MONTIGNY, JEAN-BAPTISTE-PIERRE, fur trader, office holder, Indian Department official, and militia officer; b. 1 Nov. 1750 in Montreal (Que.), son of Jean-Baptiste-Philippe Testard* de Montigny and Marie-Charlotte Trottier Desrivières; d. 24 Feb. 1813 and was buried three days later in Montreal.
Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Testard Louvigny de Montigny was a descendant of a family several members of which had had military careers in New France. His father, an officer in the colonial regular troops, had been taken prisoner in 1759 when the British besieged Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.). After being released he eventually went with his family to live at Blois, France, in 1764. Unlike most of his brothers and sisters, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Testard Louvigny de Montigny decided to return to the province of Quebec around 1770. On 12 Aug. 1771, after obtaining a dispensation granted because the degree of their consanguinity was that of second cousins, he married Charlotte Trottier Desrivières, a girl of 16, in Montreal. The contract, dated 10 August, gave her a dower of 6,000 livres and a preference legacy of 3,000 livres. The marriage unfortunately came to an end with her death on 17 Nov. 1779.
Early in the 1770s Louvigny de Montigny went into the fur trade, through which he was to realize substantial profits. During the American invasion in 1775-76 he joined François-Marie Picoté* de Belestre in going to defend Fort St Johns (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu); it had already been raided by Benedict Arnold’s troops on 18 May 1775 and was now once again threatened. Picoté de Belestre’s contingent was placed under the orders of the commander of the fort, Major Charles Preston of the 26th Foot, who entrusted Louvigny de Montigny with an important letter for Guy Carleton in Montreal. Carleton detained the messenger from 9 Sept. 1775 and hence Louvigny de Montigny was not taken prisoner on 2 Nov. 1775 when the garrison of Fort St Johns surrendered to Richard Montgomery*. On 30 October he had joined a raiding party under Carleton which attempted to cross the St Lawrence at Longueuil. They were repulsed by the Americans and had to withdraw.
Louvigny de Montigny took part in the battle at Les Cédres from 19 to 26 May 1776, although he had only a minor role. It was his brother Jean-Baptiste-Jérémie who particularly distinguished himself by formulating a strategy against the invaders and capturing Major Henry Sherburne. It seems that Louvigny de Montigny subsequently used the brilliant actions of his brother, who died in 1784, to obtain favours from the government. Thus on 1 Jan. 1793 he sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor Simcoe of Upper Canada requesting a grant of land “opposite Fort Detroit”; he laid emphasis on his military service and credited himself with having been “one of those who devised the plan for the affair at Les Cèdres” in the spring of 1776. He repeated the same theme in 1807, this time declaring that he himself had “put into execution the plan that he had drawn up against Les Cédres.”
Once the American troops had been neutralized, Louvigny de Montigny returned to his trading activities. He was one of the signatories to the address which the Montreal merchants presented to Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton* on 16 June 1785 to express their appreciation for his attention to the development of trade in the west. In November 1788 and January 1789 Louvigny de Montigny’s name was on two petitions drawn up by some Canadians to protest against the constitutional change then being contemplated [see Pierre-Amable De Bonne].
Towards the end of 1789 Lord Dorchester [Carleton] entrusted a position at Detroit to Louvigny de Montigny. It was here that on 1 March 1790 he took as his second wife Agathe Hay, daughter of Jehu Hay*, the former lieutenant governor of the town. Little is known about his administrative duties, except that he was a member of the land board of the District of Hesse in 1791 and 1792, and then of that of Essex and Kent counties from 1792 to 1794. In any event, he remained in the Detroit area until the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1794, on learning that the American major-general Anthony Wayne was marching against Fort Miamis (Maumee, Ohio), Louvigny de Montigny decided that the 24th Foot, the unit responsible for defending the fort, was in a bad situation, and he raised a corps of 200 Canadians to reinforce the garrison. For this action he received expressions of thanks from Simcoe and from Richard G. England, commandant of the post of Detroit, who made a report to Lord Dorchester praising him. The following year Dorchester granted him a captain’s commission in the Royal Canadian Volunteer Regiment, which had been created to replace the British troops whose services were required elsewhere. In this capacity Louvigny de Montigny raised a company to garrison Detroit. However, since Dorchester had neglected to give Lieutenant-Colonel England the necessary authority to issue supplies to the new recruits, Louvigny de Montigny had to travel to Montreal and Quebec to obtain approval for the enlistment of 45 men, to whom he had advanced pay at his own risk. After Detroit had been ceded to the Americans in 1796, it may be assumed that, like most of the British nationals, he settled at Amherstburg in Upper Canada; he remained in command of his company until he was discharged in 1802.
Some time between 1802 and 1805 Louvigny de Montigny returned to Lower Canada. As he was without employment, he applied to the Duke of York, offering him his services; despite an encouraging reply, in 1807 he was still not assigned to a specific post. On 6 April 1808 he received a commission as justice of the peace for the District of Montreal which was renewed on 10 July 1810. In the latter year he served as an agent for the Indian Department of Lower Canada. When war broke out with the United States in 1812, he was stationed at the Iroquois reserve of St Regis and was on the staff of the Lower Canadian militia.
Following an enemy raid at St Regis, Louvigny de Montigny was captured on 23 Oct. 1812 and taken the next day to Plattsburgh, N.Y. He returned to Lower Canada on 8 December, having been exchanged for an American colonel. On 24 Feb. 1813, at 62 years of age, he died of his wounds, leaving his wife and several children, one of whom, Pierre-Benjamin Testard de Montigny, would later be a lawyer in Montreal. Louvigny de Montigny’s widow received from then on a life pension of £30. This sum did not allow her to live decently, judging by the petition she submitted to the government of Lower Canada in 1815.
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 2 nov. 1750, 12 août 1771, 18 nov. 1779, 27 févr. 1813; CN1-308, 10 août 1771. PAC, MG 11 [CO 42] Q, 112: 306; RG 4, A1; RG 8, I(C ser.), 17: 139. Corr. of Lieut. Governor Simcoe (Cruikshank), 2: 400; 4: 106, 275. John Askin papers (Quaife), 1: 379–80; 2: 683. Quebec Gazette, 16 June 1785; 6, 14 April 1808; 12 July 1810; 1 Oct. 1812. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire. Quebec almanac, 1797–1805. Stanley, L’invasion du Canada (MacDonald), 181. F.-J. Audet, “Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Testard de Montigny,” BRH, 33 (1927): 295–300. Louvigny de Montigny, “Le Lorimier et le Montigny des Cèdres,” BRH, 47 (1941): 33–47. “Le ‘Royal Canadien’ ou ‘Royal Canadian Volunteers,’” BRH, 7 (1901): 372. Jacques Viger, “La prise de Saint-Régis,” J. M. LeMoine, édit., BRH, 5 (1899): 141–44.