VIENNE, FRANÇOIS-JOSEPH DE, writer in the office of the Marine, storekeeper, and probable author of a diary describing the 1759 siege of Quebec; b. c. 1711 in Paris, son of Jean de Vienne and Françoise Perdrigean; m. 20 Aug. 1748 Marie-Ursule-Antoinette Vaillant at Quebec; d. in France around 1775.
It is not known why François-Joseph de Vienne immigrated to New France. He arrived in Quebec around 1738, was enrolled in the colonial regular troops, and did not receive his discharge until 1744. By then he was already employed as a writer in the office of the Marine. In addition to his administrative work, de Vienne became involved in some commercial ventures. For example, from 1753 on he and Pierre Glemet ran a seal-hunting enterprise from land granted to François Martel* de Brouague at Baie de Phélypeaux (Brador Bay). They employed about 50 men from 20 June to 10 July each year and obtained 400 to 500 large barrels of seal oil and 4,000 to 5,000 sealskins.
De Vienne’s career would have gone unnoticed had his cousin Louis-Antoine de Bougainville* not come to New France in May 1756. During his visit to Quebec Bougainville stayed with de Vienne and out of friendship resolved to secure for him the preferment he believed de Vienne deserved. A few days after the death of Pierre Claverie* in August 1756, the intendant, Bigot, appointed de Vienne to the important and lucrative post of storekeeper at Quebec. Bougainville was pleased but wanted the appointment to emanate from the court so that the position would be a permanent one. Neither his recommendations to his brother Jean-Pierre and to his patroness Mme Héraut de Séchelles nor pressure on the intendant obtained the desired result. De Vienne held the post on a temporary basis until the conquest. The anonymous author of the “Mémoire du Canada” noted that “the Intendant has always made only interim appointments in order to have all citizens at [his] beck and call.” This statement matches the experience of François-Joseph de Vienne. De Vienne may have been involved in irregularities; nearly a third of those charged in the affaire du Canada were storekeepers. He apparently was not troubled by the authorities, however, and his name is mentioned only three times in Attorney General Moreau’s notes.
After the fall of Quebec de Vienne remained in Canada for five years to put his affairs in order. He probably sold at this time the two houses he owned on Rue des Pauvres (Côte du Palais). On 8 Sept. 1764 he sold to William Grant*, the future seigneur of Saint-Roch, an arriere fief in the seigneury of Notre-Dame-des-Anges called La Mistanguienne (also known as Grandpré and Montplaisir), a property he had bought from Guillaume Estèbe in 1757. A few days later, he transferred the house he owned on Rue de la Fabrique to a nephew. Before he left for France in the autumn of 1764, he gave a power of attorney to Colomban-Sébastien Pressart. Settling with his wife and children in Saint-Servan, a faubourg of Saint-Malo, de Vienne continued to correspond with the superior of the Séminaire de Québec. By 1775 his debtors had discharged their debts to him and Pressart sent him the final statement of accounts, which apparently went unacknowledged. No further trace of de Vienne has been uncovered.
Pierre-Georges Roy* and Amédée-Edmond Gosselin* attributed to de Vienne the anonymous manuscript entitled “Journal du siège de Québec du 10 mai au 18 septembre 1759.” Written in lively style, the diary gives a striking account of events during these months and provides valuable information about the life of the besieged. The historians identified the storekeeper as its author on the basis of allusions to his activities and family and also through comparison of de Vienne’s handwriting with the manuscript. Their hypothesis has not been universally accepted. Ægidius Fauteux* thought their proof insufficient and noted that the journal censures the storekeeper for his attitude when the city capitulated.
Bougainville, “Journal” (A.-E. Gosselin), ANQ Rapport, 1923–24, 245. Inv. de pièces du Labrador (P.-G. Roy), I, 246–50. “Journal du siège de Québec” (Æ. Fauteux), ANQ Rapport, 1920–21, 137–241. “Mémoire du Canada,” ANQ Rapport, 1924–25, 96–198. “Les ‘papiers’ La Pause,” ANQ Rapport, 1933–34, 218. “Recensement de Québec, 1744,” 30. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, III, 411; VII, 402. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 23–24; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–60, V, 245; Inv. ord. int., III, 187–88. Frégault, François Bigot. P.-G. Roy, Bigot et sa bande, 271–78, 330. “François-Joseph de Vienne,” BRH, LIV (1948), 259–63. A.[-E.] Gosselin, “François-Joseph de Vienne et le journal du siège de Québec en 1759,” ANQ Rapport, 1922–23, 407–16.