BOUILLET DE LA CHASSAIGNE (Chassagne), JEAN, esquire, career soldier, knight of the order of Saint-Louis; b. June 1654 at Paray (Paray-le-Monial, department of Saône-et-Loire), son of Gaudefroy Bouillet and Anne Bartaud; d. 31 Jan. 1733 at Montreal.
Jean Bouillet was of noble descent; his father was a lawyer in the parlement of Paray and seigneur of the fief of La Chassagne. Being of a noble family, he could allow himself to envisage a brilliant military career. He was posted to the Régiment de Navarre in 1672, and quickly became an ensign, then a lieutenant (1675). In 1677 he was promoted to the rank of captain in the Régiment de Condé, and ten years later obtained command of a company of the colonial regular troops serving in Canada.
In 1690 he was commandant at Fort Lachine, where during the following winter he took part in a sortie against the Iroquois. Midshipman in 1693, captain again in 1694 and a naval sub-lieutenant the following year, La Chassaigne then vegetated for some 15 years, probably in a post in the Montreal region. But like every nobleman he had ambition, and he secured the support of people capable of obtaining advancement for him. Le Roy de La Potherie, in 1701, described him as one of the rare persons who won the esteem of Callière “and who applauds his every action with affected admiration.” This judgement is probably exaggerated, but it is partly confirmed by the numerous requests which he made after 1703, with the support of the governor and the intendant, to have at one time a king’s lieutenancy at Trois-Rivières or in Acadia, at another a cross of the order of Saint-Louis, an honour which he finally obtained on 7 July 1711.
At the time of Ramezay’s unsuccessful expedition against the Iroquois in 1709, La Chassaigne was in command of the 100 soldiers of the king’s troops who were taking part in it. The following year he became town major of Montreal, then held in turn the posts of town major of Quebec (1716), king’s lieutenant at Montreal (1720), governor of Trois-Rivières (1726), and governor of Montreal (1730), a post that he was still holding at the time of his death. During his term as governor of Trois-Rivières he had been on a mission to Burnet, the governor of New York, to urge him to have Fort Oswego, which had been erected in violation of the treaty of Utrecht, pulled down; this mission earned him from Burnet’s pen the compliment of being called a person of “great merit.”
On 28 Oct. 1699, at Montreal, he had married Marie-Anne Le Moyne, daughter of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil. Even if La Chassaigne was considered a good officer by Callière and Rigaud de Vaudreuil, it is apparent to us that this fortunate alliance with one of the most celebrated families of Canada helped him in his career. Was it not the Baron de Longueuil whom he replaced as town major of Montreal in 1710, and from one of his brothers-in-law that 20 years later he took over the post of governor of Montreal?
At that time a military career did not enrich those who followed it, and La Chassaigne was no exception to the rule. In 1711 he was sentenced by the Conseil Supérieur to repay the sum of 797 livres which he had borrowed from Jean-Baptiste Céloron de Blainville. In a will that he made in 1727 he bequeathed the majority of his possessions in France to the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph of the town of Paray, but significantly enough there was no reference in this will to possessions that he might have had in Canada. In 1733 a generous pension of 3,000 livres was granted to him by the king, but he was not able to enjoy it, since he died before knowing of its existence.
Jean Bouillet left no descendants, and his wife ended her days in the Ursuline convent at Trois-Rivières. Another Bouillet, Claude, of whom he was the great-uncle, went to Canada around 1730; three daughters and one son survived him there.
AJQ, Greffe de Florent de La Cetière, 4 oct. 1727. Charlevoix, Histoire(1744), II, 59, 336. “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1938–39, 17, 156; 1939–40, 398, 441, 459; 1942-43, 433, 437; 1946–47, 393, 401, 426, 459. Jug. et délib., VI, 248–50. “Liste des officiers de guerre qui servent en Canada (octobre 1722) dressée par le gouverneur de Vaudreuil,” BRH, XXXVI (1930), 207. “Un mémoire de Le Roy de La Potherie sur la Nouvelle-France adressé à M. de Pontchartrain, 1701–1702,” BRH, XXII (1916), 214. P.-G. Roy, “Ce que Callières pensait de nos officiers,” 321. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis. “Rolle des officiers qui servent en Canada . . . (5 octobre 1692),” BRH, XXXIV (1928), 559.
J.-B.-A. Ferland, La France dans l’Amérique du Nord (3e éd., 2v., Montréal, 1929), II, 160, 278, 329. Alex. Jodoin et J.-L. Vincent, Histoire de Longueuîl et de la famille de Longueuil (Montréal, 1889), 156. E. Demaizière, “Un bourguignon, gouverneur de Montréal. Jean Bouillet de La Chassagne,” NF, I (1926), 132–34. J.-E. Roy, “Le patronage dans l’armée,” BRH, II (1896), 114. P.-G. Roy, “Jean Bouillet de La Chassaigne,” BRH, XI (1905), 144; “Les officiers d’état-major,” RC, 3e sér., XXII (1918), 290. Benjamin Sulte, “Les gouverneurs des Trois-Rivières,” BRH, II (1896), 72.