CLAVERIE (Clavery), PIERRE, naval officer, merchant, storekeeper, seigneur; b. 1719 at Susmiou (Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France), son of Jean Claverie, a merchant trader, and Jeanne La Barthe; buried 21 Aug. 1756 at Montreal.
Pierre Claverie arrived in Canada around 1745, probably as a naval officer. In 1746, while serving on board the Andromède, Claverie had to appear, along with the Sieur Fautoux, the ship’s captain, before the admiralty court of Quebec because some of the cargo on their ship had been mixed up with the Sultane’s during unloading. Everything seems to indicate that this error was intentional and that Claverie had a hand in it. When examined in this light, the incident seems to prove that Claverie tended to get involved in doubtful operations. His attitude, combined with the credit which his uncle Drouillet, a French merchant trader doing business with the colony, extended him, explains in large measure how Claverie succeeded in climbing the social ladder rapidly.
As astute as he was ambitious, Claverie quickly realized that he could benefit financially from the inextricable chaos into which François Bigot* was deliberately plunging the administration of the colony. He struck up friendships, therefore, with members of the famous clique: Jacques-Michel Bréard*, controller of the Marine, Guillaume Estèbe*, king’s storekeeper, and Jean-Victor Varin* de La Marre, financial commissary. As early as 1750 Claverie made an arrangement with Bigot to build a warehouse, part of which would encroach upon the king’s land and which the king would buy “at cost price” if ever the need arose. As the Sieur de Courville* wrote: “They had an immense store built near the intendant’s palace, with warehouses, and to avoid any appearance of mystery they sold by retail.” Claverie, who was the owner of the establishment, and Guillaume Estèbe worked together, according to the Sieur de Courville again, to try “to attract all the business and above all to supply all the king’s warehouses.”
For three years thereafter, Bigot always asked the court for inadequate quantities of certain supplies; he took good care to inform Claverie beforehand, and Claverie would lose no time in obtaining goods, not only to sell to the state at top price, but also to “supply the king with the same goods several times over, and make him pay more each time.” Exasperated at seeing their sales decline, the Quebec merchants nicknamed the establishment “La Friponne” (“the Rogue”). The ineffable Bigot was to pretend that “a servant-girl who had committed a theft there had first been responsible for the name.” He later had to admit, however, that the merchant traders had kept the name and attributed quite a different meaning to it.
In view of the dissatisfaction, Bigot found himself obliged to buy “La Friponne” in 1753, paying 23,668 livres for it, and to close down the establishment. It was high time, moreover, for the abuses being committed in the colony were no longer unknown at court. On 1 June 1754 the minister of Marine, Antoine-Louis Rouillé, wrote a letter to Bigot in which he indicated clearly that he was well aware of the real activities of “La Friponne.” He pointed out that “everything had been parcelled out,” mentioning specifically that Bréard kept for himself all chartering of ships for the king, Michel-Jean-Hugues Péan* had a monopoly for supplying flour and vegetables, Joseph-Michel Cadet* for meat supplies, and Claverie for all other supplies for the warehouse in Quebec. The former owner of “La Friponne,” however, had had all the time he needed to make his fortune, and on 28 Oct. 1754 he bought the seigneury of Rivière-du-Loup-en-haut, on Lac Saint-Pierre, and some days later that of Madawaska.
During the winter of 1754–55 Bigot had to go to justify himself before the court. Having succeeded only too well, he returned to the colony the following spring. Because Estèbe was leaving for Europe, Bigot gave the position of storekeeper to Claverie as “a reward for having managed ‘La Friponne’ well.” Claverie then lost no time in finding jobs for “his relatives.” However, he held the office for eight months only; he died in Montreal in August 1756, apparently of smallpox.
On 29 Jan. 1753, in Quebec, Pierre Claverie had married Marie-Anne, the 15-year-old daughter of Jean-Baptiste Dupéré, a Quebec merchant; of this marriage a daughter was born. After her husband’s death Mme Claverie married on 9 May 1758, at Sainte-Foy, Nicolas-Antoine Dandane Danseville de L’Étendard, a lieutenant in the royal corps of artillery and engineering. At that time, in addition to her father’s property and the two seigneuries, she owned 164,657 livres 12 sols “in bills of exchange on the treasury, promissory notes, money in coins and paper.”
Contrary to what Cyprien Tanguay* claims, Claverie did not replace Estèbe on the Conseil Supérieur in 1755 or 1756. In fact, Estèbe did not relinquish his seat until 1 Feb. 1758, when Claverie was already dead. The fact that Claverie was a king’s councillor, not a councillor of the Conseil Supérieur, likely explains this mistake.
ANQ, Greffe de R.-C. Barolet, 27 janv. 1753, 6 mai 1758; Greffe de J.-C. Panet, 18 déc. 1758. “Les malignités du sieur de Courville,” BRH, L (1944), 65–86, 97–117. PAC Report, 1905, I, pt.vi, 193. Dictionnaire national des Canadiens français (1608–1760) (2v., Montréal, 1958). P.-G. Roy, Inv. contrats de mariage, II, 51; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Frégault, François Bigot. P.-G. Roy, Bigot et sa bande, 258–61. Amédée Gosselin, “François-Joseph de Vienne et le journal du siège de Québec en 1759,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 408. “Pierre Claverie a-t-il été membre du Conseil souverain?” BRH, XXIII (1917), 256. J.-E. Roy, “Les conseillers du Conseil souverain de la Nouvelle-France,” BRH, I (1895), 177–88, P.-G. Roy, “Jean-Victor Varin de la Marre,” BRH, XXII (1916), 176–82.