CUILLERIER, RENÉ, indentured employee of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal, settler; b. c. 1639, probably at Véron, in the diocese of Angers, son of Julien Cuillerier and Julienne Faifeu; d. c. 1712 at Montreal.
René Cuillerier arrived in New France on 7 Sept. 1659. On 8 June 1659, at La Rochelle, he had signed before the notary A. Demontreau an undertaking with Sister Judith Moreau* de Brésoles, the superior of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal. By this contract he became a servant at the hospital in Ville-Marie for an annual salary of 75 livres. By the autumn he was at Montreal, and on 25 Oct. 1661, with some settlers assisted by members of the garrison and led by Abbé Guillaume Vignal*, Cuillerier went to Île de la Pierre, in the St Lawrence, to quarry materials with which to complete the building of the first seminary at Montreal. He had cause to rue it, for the Iroquois were roaming the neighbourhood. The latter attacked the workers, killed some of them, wounded others, and captured Vignal, Claude de Brigeac*, Cuillerier, and Jacques Dufresne.
Cuillerier and Brigeac were carried off into captivity among the Oneidas. They were subjected to a beating and Cuillerier had his nails torn out. The Indians then decided to burn the two Frenchmen. Death was first meted out to Brigeac, but Cuillerier was saved by an Indian woman who asked to adopt him “in order that he might take the place of her brother.”
During his captivity, which lasted 19 months, Cuillerier met other fellow-sufferers: Michel Messier, dit Saint-Michel, and Urbain Tessier, dit Lavigne. In the spring of 1663 Cuillerier took advantage of a hunting trip with the Oneidas, who had been joined by some Mohawks and captive Frenchmen, to flee in the direction of New Holland. He went to Fort Orange, whence he made his way to Boston, and finally reached Quebec.
Cuillerier was back in Montreal at the end of the summer, and resumed his service with the Religious Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu. On 20 May 1665 he settled on Montreal Island, having obtained from the Sulpicians a land grant of 45 acres. This land was to form part of the Verdun fief, which was granted to him in 1671. He took part in the founding of the parish of Lachine and in 1675 became its first churchwarden. The following year his fortified house received the name Fort Cuillerier. At the time of the 1681 census he had 32 acres under cultivation and owned 6 muskets, one pistol, and 6 head of cattle.
On 22 March 1712 Cuillerier, who had been ill for some time, made his will in the presence of Louis-Michel de Vilermaula*, parish priest of Lachine. His last will and testament was deposited in Jean-Baptiste Adhémar*’s registry on 26 Jan. 1716. Even if the date of his death is unknown to us, a notarial act of 27 Jan. 1718, signed before the notary Adhémar and deposited in Michel Lepallieur’s registry, indicates that Madame Lucault had “been the widow of her said husband for more than five years.”
On 13 April 1665, in the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal, René Cuillerier had married Marie Lucault, daughter of Léonard Barbeau, dit Lucault, and of Barbe Poisson. Sixteen children were born of this marriage; seven of them were baptized at Montreal and the others at Lachine.
AJM, Greffe de J.-B. Adhémar; Greffe de Michel Lepailleur de Laferté; Registre d’état civil de Lachine; Registres d’état civil de Notre-Dame de Montréal. Archives de Saint-Sulpice, Paris, François Citoys de Chaumaux, Estat des concessions faites par les seigneurs de Montréal. JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain). Recensements du Canada, 1667, 1681 (Sulte). Camille Bertrand, Monsieur de La Dauversière, fondateur de Montréal et des Religieuses hospitalières de Saint-Joseph 1597–1659 (Montréal, 1947), 230. [Faillon], Histoire de la colonie française. Archange Godbout, Les passagers du Saint-André; la recrue de 1659 (Société généalogique canadienne-française, V, Montréal, 1964). Mondoux, L’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, 239, 246, 247.