PANET, PIERRE (Pierre-Méru), notary, office holder, lawyer, judge, and politician; b. 1731 in the parish of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois in Paris, France, son of Jean-Nicolas Panet, a clerk in the office of the treasurers general of the Marine, and Marie-Madeleine-Françoise Foucher; m. 2 Oct. 1754 Marie-Anne Trefflé, dit Rottot, at Quebec, and they had 17 children, only 4 of whom survived them; d. 15 June 1804 in Montreal, Lower Canada.
Pierre Panet left France in 1746 to join his brother Jean-Claude*, who was a notary at Quebec. He immediately began to learn the notarial profession by becoming a clerk. On 15 Dec. 1754 Jean-Victor Varin* de La Marre, subdelegate of the intendant, accorded him a commission as notary for the jurisdiction of Montreal, replacing Henri Bouron. Two years later Intendant Bigot* confirmed this appointment.
With the capitulation of Montreal on 8 Sept. 1760 the court clerk, Louis-Claude Danré* de Blanzy, ceased to perform his duties and returned to France. On 19 September Panet succeeded him as clerk of the militia captains’ court in the District of Montreal, a position he retained until that tribunal was abolished in 1764. During his term in office he drew up a list of the invoices for payment orders and bills of exchange in the Government of Montreal. In January 1765, a year after civil government had been restored, he and Pierre-François Mézière obtained permission to plead in the Court of Common Pleas. He did not, however, become a lawyer officially until 15 July 1768. That year he also obtained a commission to practise as a notary anywhere in the province of Quebec.
From 1760 to 1778 Panet served as clerk of the churchwardens’ assembly in the Montreal parish of Notre-Dame. Despite many occupations he found time to manage the seigneury of Prairie-de-la-Madeleine, a Jesuit property, and in this capacity he made grants of some 60 farms between September 1772 and April 1778.
From the beginning of the British régime Panet had got along well with the authorities and through the years he displayed an unwavering loyalty. At the time of the negotiations preceding the adoption of the Quebec Act he recommended to the seigneur Michel Chartier* de Lotbinière, who was eager to represent his compatriots in London, that he leave this task to Governor Guy Carleton.
On the eve of the American invasion in 1775–76 [see Benedict Arnold; Richard Montgomery*] Panet was chosen by Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Templer as one of the eight citizens responsible for raising companies of volunteers. The measure proved unpopular, however, and Carleton had to re-establish the militia along the lines followed in the French régime. On 12 Nov. 1775 Panet was one of the 12 citizens who had to negotiate the capitulation of Montreal with Montgomery. Following Montgomery’s defeat before Quebec on 31 Dec. 1775, Brigadier-General David Wooster, who was in command of the Americans in Montreal, gave orders for the loyalists, including Panet, to be arrested and disarmed. On 25 June 1776, soon after the American troops had retreated, Panet, along with Georges-Hippolyte Le Comte* Dupré and Edward William Gray, was appointed commissioner with authority to regroup the militia of the parishes in the Montreal region, give commissions to trustworthy men, confiscate arms from disloyal citizens, and draw up a report to the governor on the situation in every parish. Three months later he was entrusted with the office of commissioner to identify strangers moving about the province.
Panes aspired to the judiciary. The industry and intelligence he had displayed in his professional life made him a serious candidate. Nevertheless in 1775 he was deprived of the judicial post in Montreal by René-Ovide Hertel* de Rouville. After a few years of waiting, in April 1778 he was appointed judge in the Court of Common Pleas in the District of Quebec, replacing his brother Jean-Claude, who had died on 28 February. He then terminated his notarial and legal practice in Montreal and went to live at Quebec. He also became justice of the peace for the entire province in 1779, and on 11 November that year was made a judge of the Prerogative Court in the District of Quebec. Finally, on 24 Dec. 1788 his commission as judge of the Court of Common Pleas was extended to the District of Montreal and on 1 July 1790 to that of Trois-Rivières.
On 25 May 1791, after 13 years of intensive work as a magistrate, Panet told his children in a letter that he had just handed his resignation to Lord Dorchester [Guy Carleton]. Taken by surprise, the governor tried to dissuade him, noting that 60 was not a very advanced age and that he would much prefer him to retain office. Panet pointed out his 45 years of labour, the services he had rendered at the time of the American invasion, his own and his wife’s infirmities, and his apprehensions about confronting the people who would soon be members of the House of Assembly, which he had opposed in January 1789. He also expressed the desire to spend his final years gardening and living quietly in the country.
Panet did retire to his haven at Lachenaie but he remained active. He became a commissioner for the building and repair of Catholic churches in the District of Quebec on 20 June 1791 and in that of Montreal five months later. In August of that year his commission as justice of the peace was renewed, and on 16 September he acceded to the prestigious office of member of the Executive Council of Lower Canada, which he held until his death. At the initial meeting of the assembly on 17 Dec. 1792 Panet was responsible for swearing in the members. Three members of his own family were in this first parliament: his sons Bonaventure* and Pierre-Louis and his nephew Jean-Antoine, the speaker of the house. In 1794 Panet also belonged to an association whose aim was to make the advice and recommendations of the governor known to the people.
After ten peaceful years in the country Marie-Anne Panet died suddenly on 4 June 1801 at the age of 68, and was buried in the parish of Saint-Charles at Lachenaie. She had been Panet’s companion in life for nearly 47 years. A small woman, who remained pretty despite an attack of smallpox when she was 22, she was shy and ill at ease in public. Although she was considered a faithful wife, she caused her husband some anguish because of her capriciousness and jealousy. On 22 June 1801 Panet, claiming he was unable to manage his affairs, made over to his children, as their inheritance, all his property, which was valued at 111,877 livres. He kept only his sword, bed, and clothes and asked in return for a life annuity of 200 a year.
Having arrived at Quebec as an adolescent, Pierre Panet had taken advantage of his brother Jean-Claude’s support and experience. The clarity and precision of his style are proof of a sharp and clear mind. Once he had settled down in Montreal, the city of trade, he rapidly became one of the notaries serving the bourgeoisie. His ability and good judgement were soon noticed by the authorities governing the province, and he was entrusted with various positions of responsibility. While he was engaged in a legal career he made some property deals that brought him substantial profits. His opulent homes bespeak his social status. In Montreal he lived in two-storey stone houses, one of which was on Rue Saint-François-Xavier. At Quebec he lived in a three-storey stone house on Rue Saint-Pierre that he had bought from Louis Dunière.
AC, Joliette, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Charles (Lachenaie), 6 juin 1801; Minutiers, J.-E. Faribault, 8 déc. 1797; 22, 23 juin 1801. ANQ-M, CE1-51, 17 juin 1804; CL, 1767–99, 27 août 1790; CN1-74, 21 juin 1804; CN1-121, 2 mai 1802; CN1-158, 5 juin 1795; CN1-217, 7 juill. 1801; CN 1-290, 13 juill. 1763; 31 août, 1er sept. 1764; 4 oct. 1777; 18 mars 1778; CN1-363, 1er déc. 1777; 11 août 1781; P1000-14-633. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 2 oct. 1754; CN1-11, 29 sept. 1754; CN1-25, 22 sept. 1784, 28 juin 1785; E1, 41: f.3; 42: f.20; P-240, L’Assomption, Doc. de la famille Faribault. AUM, P 58, U, Panet à Baby, 3 juill. 1767, 22 mars 1779; Parier à sa fille, 2 févr. 1783; Parier à son frère, 5 nov. 1787, 2 janv. 1788; Parier à Guy, 31 janv. 1780; Parier à P.-L. Parier, 25 mai 1791, 25 déc. 1794; Parier à sa sœur, ler juin 1791. Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française (Ottawa), fonds Jacques Gouin. PAC, MG 18, K3. “État général des billets d’ordonnances” (Parier), ANQ Rapport, 1924–25: 231–33. “Etat général des états et certificate . . . ,” Pierre Panet, compil., ANQ Rapport, 1924–25: 359. “État général des lettres de change . . . , Pierre Panet, compil., ANQ Rapport, 1924–25: 342–43. [Simon] Sanguinet, L’invasion du Canada par lee Bastonnois: journal de M. Sanguinet (suivi du siège de Québec), Richard Ouellet et J.-P. Therrien, édit. (Québec, 1975). Quebec Gazette, 21 April 1789; 28 Jan., 25 March, 4 Nov. 1790; 5 May 1791; 3, 10 July 1794. “Lee notaires au Canada sous le Régime français,” ANQ Rapport, 1921–22: 56–57. Michel Brunet, Les Canadiens après la Conquête, 1759–1775: de la Révolution canadienne à la Révolution américaine (Montréal, 1969), 240–41. Gonzalve Doutre et Edmond Lareau, Le droit civil canadien suivant l’ordre établi par les codes, précédé d’ une histoire générale du droit canadien (Montréal, 1872), 592–95. J.-E. Roy, Hist. du notariat, 1: 8, 97, 183, 366–67. P.-G. Roy, La famille Panet (Lévis, Qué., 1906). F.-J. Audet, “Les juges de Trois-Rivières,” BRH, 6 (1900): 244–47. “Lettres de noblesse de la famille Juchereau Duchesnay,” BRH, 28 (1922): 137–41. Maréchal Nantel, “Les avocats de Montréal,” Cahiers des Dix, 7 (1942): 185–213. “Les ordonnances et lettres de change du gouvernement de Montréal en 1759,” ANQ Rapport, 1924–25: 230. “Panet vs Panet,” BRH, 12 (1906): 120–23.