CHÈZE, FRANÇOIS, priest, Sulpician, procurator of the Sulpician seminary at Montreal; b. 7 May 1683 at Vallore in the diocese of Clermont (France); d. 24 May 1740 at Montreal.
François Chèze entered the Sulpician order in 1711, three years after his ordination, and arrived in Canada the following year. He was first attached to the parish of Ville-Marie, and in 1724 he was appointed parish priest of Longue-Pointe but only for a few months. He soon returned to the parish of Notre-Dame, probably to assist M. François Citoys de Chaumeaux, who since 1712 had held simultaneously the offices of “secretary, bursar, and procurator of the seigneurs of Montreal Island.” It is believed that M. Chèze had been entrusted with the office of procurator.
It is not easy to determine the duties of this office under the French régime. Until 1670, the procurator also served as the superior of the Sulpician order in Canada. It was to him that the superior general in Paris, in the name of the seigneurs of Montreal Island, gave his procuration, which conferred upon him the authority to make land grants, appoint and dismiss legal officers, levy seigneurial dues, and generally sign all documents necessary for the administration of the colony. In all the documents on which his name appeared, he had to indicate that he was the procurator of the seigneurs. This designation does not seem to have been used for other members of the seminary apart from the superiors of Montreal before 1707, at which time M. Cailhe, the bursar since 1697, had begun to style himself in certain documents “secretary, bursar, and procurator of the seigneurs.” In this latter case, the office of procurator does not seem to have been anything but that of a secretary whose responsibility it was to draft petitions, ordinances, deeds concerning land grants, sales, and rentals, and on occasion to act in the name of the seigneurs in matters of a secondary nature, in which he alone signed certain leases or petitions of little importance. M. Chèze is thought to have exercised this function for three or four years at the most, since in a deed dated 4 Sept. 1728 it was M. Louis Normant* Du Faradon who was named as procurator.
In 1728 Chèze became a curate once more, and was also entrusted with the direction of the Confrérie des Dames de la Sainte-Famille, which he reorganized; he wrote a short historical account of it, which is recorded at the beginning of the first registry of the association. He had the reputation of being a great preacher and a great confessor. He died on 24 May 1740 at the seminary.
ASSM, Section des biographies; Section des requêtes et ordonnances. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1940–41, 430. Étienne Marchand, “Les troubles de l’Église du Canada en 1728,” BRH, III (1897), 133. Allaire, Dictionnaire. Gauthier, Sulpitiana. Odoric-M. [Jouve], “Étude historique et critique sur les actes du Frère Didace Pelletier, Récollet,” BRH, XVII (1911), 92, 172.