HUGUET, JOSEPH (baptized Jacques-Joseph), Jesuit and missionary; b. 25 May 1725 at Saint-Omer, France, son of Jean Huguet and Scholastique-Geneviève Verhoune; d. 5 May 1783 at Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga, Que.).
Joseph Huguet joined the Society of Jesus at Tournai (Belgium) on 30 Sept. 1744. Between 1746 and 1752 he taught grammar classes at the Collège de Namur and classics and rhetoric at Cambrai; from 1752 to 1756 he studied theology at Douai. On 15 Oct. 1757 his name first appears in the register of the Sault-Saint-Louis mission to the Iroquois. A missionary at Saint-Régis from 1757 to 1759, he returned to Sault-Saint-Louis in 1759. On the death of Father Jean-Baptiste de Neuville in 1761 he became superior of the mission and served in that office for the rest of his life. From 1769 to 1777 Huguet also ministered to Châteauguay.
After the conquest Huguet was virtually the only priest among the Iroquois of Sault-Saint-Louis, and he had to deal with civil authorities who were generally unfriendly. By 1762 he found himself indirectly in conflict with his congregation over the boundaries between the seigneury of Prairie-de-la-Madeleine, which was owned by the Jesuits alone, and that of Sault-Saint-Louis, which belonged jointly to the Jesuits and the Iroquois. The governor of Montreal, Thomas Gage, first decided in favour of the Iroquois, despite the fact that the Jesuits’ claims to Prairie-de-la Madeleine were clear, established in 1647 and reaffirmed by the king of France in 1718. Six months later, however, Gage reversed his decision and ordered the boundary markers replaced in their original location. The matter came before the courts in 1766 and 1768; the Jesuits’ rights were upheld, but the strong resentment of the Iroquois caused Huguet deep pain and his prestige was lowered among them. In 1770, however, Huguet had the consolation of seeing how loyal the Iroquois still were to their faith and their missionary when a certain “Klingancourt” (probably Mathieu-Benjamin Damours de Clignancour) attempted to stir up trouble in the village; he insulted and slandered Father Huguet. The Iroquois defended their priest saying that he was a peaceful, upright man who did his utmost to settle disturbances. They appealed to Sir William Johnson, the superintendent of northern Indians, who promised to settle the matter. Klingancourt had to decamp.
The American revolution was a trying period for Father Huguet. It was uncertain which side the Iroquois of Sault-Saint-Louis would choose. The change of flag in 1760 does not seem to have moved them deeply; they had early made a distinction between political allegiance and the faith brought by the French missionaries. Although loyal to their faith, they had learned through the unbroken relations they had maintained, despite French protests, with the merchants in Albany, New York, that their material interests were better served by the British. At the beginning of the revolution the Iroquois of Sault-Saint-Louis were undecided; British and Americans alike were but invaders. Early American successes had impressed them, however, and they were perhaps more sympathetic to the rebels. Father Huguet might remind the Iroquois of their obligations towards Britain, but in general they did not listen. Nevertheless, from the beginning some Iroquois from the village fought on the British side. On 8 Oct. 1775 Father Huguet buried Ignace and Pierre, “killed by Bostonnais” at Saint-Jean, and on 16 October he buried André. But the authorities in Quebec attributed the Iroquois warriors’ lack of enthusiasm to Father Huguet; he was suspected, if not of preaching disloyalty, at least of encouraging a spirit of neutrality from which even Claude-Nicolas-Guillaume de Lorimier*, who had great influence in the village because of his long association with them, was unable to move them. Huguet was denounced and in 1776 was removed temporarily from the village.
In June 1777 Father Antoine Gordan, the missionary at Saint-Régis who was to serve as chaplain to the Iroquois warriors accompanying John Burgoyne’s army, asked Governor Sir Guy Carleton* to allow Father Huguet to return to Sault-Saint-Louis, so that the Iroquois would not be without spiritual succour. His request was granted. Father Huguet was the last of New France’s Jesuit missionaries. He died at Sault-Saint-Louis on 5 May 1783 and was buried under the church in which he had ministered devotedly for more than 22 years.
Archives municipales, Saint-Omer (dép. du Pas-de-Calais, France), État civil, Saint-Denis, 25 mai 1725. Archives paroissiales, Saint-François-Xavier (Caughnawaga, Qué.), Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 1735–1808. Invasion du Canada (Verreau). Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Briand,” ANQ Rapport, 1929–30, 71–78. Mélançon, Liste des missionnaires jésuites. E. J. Devine, Historic Caughnawaga (Montreal, 1922), 272–331. Lanctot, Le Canada et la Révolution américaine. Rochemonteix, Les jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, II, 218. J. Gras, “The return of the Jesuits to the Iroquois missions, Woodstock Letters (Woodstock, Md.), XXXV (1906), 91–100.