MARTINEAU, JÉRÔME, merchant, business agent, and politician; b. 6 March 1750 in Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans (Que.), son of Augustin Martineau, a farmer, and Françoise Mercier; m. 13 April 1779 Marie-Angélique Legris at Quebec; d. there 19 Dec. 1809.
Jérôme Martineau, who was the third in a family of seven, spent his childhood and adolescence on the Île d’Orléans. In 1771 he was living at Quebec, where he worked as paymaster and business agent for the Séminaire de Québec. In this capacity Martineau was responsible for supplying the seminary with foodstuffs, building materials, fabrics, and other goods. He purchased these from merchants in the town or its vicinity, paying for them himself and then obtaining reimbursement from his employer. He also looked after the hiring of tradesmen who did various repair or maintenance jobs on the seminary’s buildings and furnishings. In 1773 this employment brought him an annual salary of 216 livres; in addition he received the interest on a loan of 697 livres he had made to the seminary that year.
In 1777 Martineau began to speculate in land located in the seigneury of Île-Jésus, near Montreal, that belonged to the Séminaire de Québec. In the period from January 1777 to June 1781 he obtained the grant of six censives (seigneurial areas), with a total frontage of some 30 arpents, in different ranges on the island. Taking advantage of the great demand for land at that time, when almost all of the island had been taken up, Martineau sold the properties, which he had acquired free of charge, and thus made a substantial profit. In 1778, for example, the sale of a lot with a frontage of 3 arpents brought him 300 livres; a year later he made a similar deal. In October 1779, for 600 livres, he parted with another lot, this time of uncleared land, which he had acquired three months earlier. Such a practice was illegal by virtue of an edict of 1732 prohibiting seigneurs and owners of censives from selling any land with standing timber.
In 1783 the Séminaire de Québec gave Martineau authority to make grants in its name of the property situated between the Sainte-Rose and Saint-François concessions in the seigneury of Île-Jésus. In March Martineau granted three censives with a total frontage of 58 arpents to the surveyor Joseph Turgeon. In the course of the next two years Turgeon sold, in the form of secured annuities, more than 45 arpents of frontage, ensuring himself an annual income of 1,035 livres on a capital of 20,700 livres. These transactions, which were highly profitable, but illegal under the 1732 edict, were carried out without the knowledge of the seminary. In 1787, however, the bursar, Henri-François Gravé de La Rive, discovered the scheme. At the same time he learned that Martineau had been paid by certain individuals to grant them land, a practice prohibited by the edicts of Marly in 1720.
This underhand dealing cost Martineau his position as business agent. Furthermore, on 10 Jan. 1788 the seminary told him to get out of the house which he rented from it on Rue Sainte-Famille in Quebec. On 28 January Martineau paid 11,500 livres cash for a house on Rue des Pauvres (Côte du Palais). He apparently continued to engage in the trade in dry goods, wheat, and flour that he had been carrying on since at least 1784. He also made investments in landed property. In 1802, as one of the associates of the leader of Leeds Township, Isaac Todd, Martineau obtained 1,000 acres on the first and second concessions in that township. Two years later he obtained an additional 706 acres in Somerset Township from the government.
Martineau had begun to take part in public affairs in the 1790s. In 1794 he signed the petition in favour of maintaining English laws. Two years later, succeeding Nicolas-Gaspard Boisseau*, he was elected to the Lower Canadian assembly for Orléans, a riding then including the whole island. In the assembly Martineau at first supported the Canadian party, but in the third parliament (1801–4) and the fourth (1804–8) split his vote. On the one hand he voted in favour of the bill put forward by the Canadian majority to finance the prison at Quebec through import duties; on the other hand he supported the English party when a bill making judges ineligible to sit in the assembly was introduced. In the fifth parliament, in 1809, he was one of the ten Canadian members who sided with the English party.
Martineau died at the end of 1809. Two of his colleagues in the assembly, Pierre-Stanislas Bédard* and François Huot*, attended his funeral on 22 December, together with Joseph-Bernard Planté* and the merchant Joseph Drapeau.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 22 déc. 1809; CE1-11, 6 mars 1750; CN1-25, 8 avril 1777; 20 nov. 1778; 11 avril, 29 juill. 1779; 10 juill. 1780; 26 févr., 30 juin 1781; CN1-83, 29 mai 1784; 30 juin 1785; 10 janv., 13 avril 1787; 28 janv. 1788; 30 juill., 9 sept. 1789; 24 avril 1792; 5 févr., 9, 23 juill. 1794; CN1-178, 28 janv., 11, 21 févr., 6, 19 mars, 2, 8, 18, 23 mai, 10 juin, 3 juill. 1795; 24 mars, 11 mai, 22 juin, 29 sept., 11 déc. 1797; 17 févr. 1798. ASQ, C 11; C 35; C 36; Évêques, no.14; Polygraphie, XXVII: 26; S, S-11: 10, 32; Séminaire, 120; 121; 122. Quebec Gazette, 3, 10 July 1794; 10 July 1800; 27 Dec. 1804; 2 June 1808; 26 Oct., 30 Nov., 21 Dec. 1809. Desjardins, Guide parl., 136. Langelier, Liste des terrains concédés, 592, 1620–21. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 5: 552–54. Sylvie Depatie, “L’administration de la seigneurie de l’Île Jésus au xviiie siècle” (thèse de ma, univ. de Montréal, 1979). Hare, “L’Assemblée législative du Bas-Canada,” RHAF, 27: 361–95.