GUITON DE MONREPOS, JACQUES-JOSEPH, lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs in the royal jurisdiction of Montreal; a native of the former province of Guyenne, France; fl. 1740–64.
On 16 Oct. 1740 Pierre Raimbault*, lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs in the royal jurisdiction, died in Montreal. There was no question of replacing him by the special lieutenant Jean-François Malhiot: in the summer of 1740, after numerous procedural irregularities committed by Malhiot, it had been necessary to appoint the councillor Jacques de Lafontaine de Belcour interim lieutenant general. In view of Malhiot’s incompetence in judicial matters and the impossibility of finding someone in the colony to discharge the office satisfactorily, the colonial authorities asked the minister of Marine, Maurepas, “to find in the provinces” a judge who would combine honesty with “experience in questions of judicature.” On l Feb. 1741 the minister accorded the office of lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs in the royal jurisdiction of Montreal to Jacques-Joseph Guiton de Monrepos, a lawyer in the parlements of Bordeaux and Paris. Guiton de Monrepos sailed in May 1741 on board the king’s vessel the Rubis, and arrived in the colony in the summer. He was received formally into his office on 18 Sept. 1741 and began officially to exercise his duties as a judge on 13 November.
Being a nobleman, and having just arrived from the mother country “full of his own importance,” he thought that by virtue of his office he took precedence over all the other officials in Montreal. He demanded of them a deference that made him ridiculous in the eyes of the people of Montreal. The financial commissary and subdelegate of the intendant in Montreal, Honoré Michel de Villebois, would not admit that Guiton de Monrepos took precedence in public ceremonies. A dispute resulted between the two men which Louis XV was obliged to settle by drawing up a regulation defining the powers and prerogatives of each of them. He quite naturally granted precedence in public ceremonies to the financial commissary, with the judge subordinate to him.
A Tartuffe with a haughty manner, Guiton de Monrepos made an enemy of almost everyone when in 1743 he haled Timothy Sullivan, known as Timothée Sylvain, king’s physician in Montreal, into court for having “overtaxed his patience by menacing him with his cane.” Jean-Baptiste Adhémar, acting judge in the court of Montreal, sentenced Sullivan to two years in prison, but when the case was appealed the Conseil Supérieur “dismissed the parties,” considering that there was not “sufficient ground” to constitute a case. Once more Guiton de Monrepos made himself ridiculous by his intransigent attitude during this lawsuit. The people of Montreal composed satirical poems and songs about him on this occasion.
Although he had an annual salary of 450 livres and fees varying between 700 and 800 livres a year, Guiton de Monrepos considered he was “unable to keep himself with some semblance of respect in his situation with the modest salary and fees that go with it.” He therefore frequently asked the authorities in the mother country for an increase in pay. Thanks to his backers at the court, he received a gratuity of 400 livres on a few occasions.
He returned to France after the surrender of Montreal, and on 12 July 1761 he expressed the desire to retire to live with his family in Guyenne. The king, however, needed him to testify at the trial of François Bigot* and “his band,” and kept him in Paris. He provided a special gratuity of 1,000 livres for him. Having been a diligent and honest judge, once the affaire du Canada was finished Guiton de Monrepos was awarded by the king on 28 Nov. 1764 a pension of 600 livres because of his services in Canada as lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs in the royal jurisdiction of Montreal. Afterwards he disappears from view.
AN, Col., B, 72, f.38v; 73, f.428v; 78, ff.22f.; 81, ff.293v, 304f.; 82, f.94; 85, ff.201f.; 91, f.259v; 109, f.341; 113, f.202; 115, ff.187v, 211v; 117, f.155v; 120, f.354; C11A, 73, ff.15v–16, 40–40 v; 75, ff.16v–17; 78, ff.56–56v; 79, ff.296v–98; 81, ff.329v–39v; 85, ff.270–79; 93, f.299v; 99, ff.409–9v; 100, f.127; 101, ff.131–31v; 115, f.53v; 120, f.351; F3, 11, ff.2–2v, 173–74v, 244–45v. ANQ, NF, Arrêts du Conseil d’État du Roi, V, 51v; NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 2098; NF, Ins. Cons. sup., VIII, 65v–66. ANQ-M, Documents judiciaires, 13 nov., 13 déc. 1741, 31 déc. 1742, 2, 3, 4 janv., 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 févr. 1743. Documents relating to Canadian currency during the French period (Shortt), II, 636, 638. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, IV, 44, 127–28, 131–32, 196.