GODEFROY DE VIEUXPONT (Vieux-Pont), JOSEPH, interpreter, fur-trader, militia captain; b. 20 July 1645 at Trois-Rivières, sixth child of Jean Godefroy* de Lintot and Marie Leneuf, d. c. 1716. Governor Huault* de Montmagny had been his godfather.
In 1649 his uncle, the Sieur Michel Leneuf* Du Hérisson, had been granted the fief of Vieuxpont: “one league of land along the St Lawrence River, in the locality of Trois-Rivières and going up the said river, by five leagues in depth, extending into the said lands and places not already granted.” Leneuf made a donation of his land to his nephew by a private agreement dated 15 Nov. 1667. The new seigneur rendered fealty and homage at Quebec on 7 July 1668.
Louis de Buade* de Frontenac allowed Vieuxpont to enlarge his seigneury by granting him a new concession on 23 Aug. 1674. It consisted of 15 acres, comprising the territory stretching “from the third to the fourth river.” He rendered fealty and homage for this on 26 Aug. 1677.
On 14 Nov. 1674 Frontenac suggested to the minister of the Marine that interpreters for the Huron and Algonkian languages be appointed: “The 200 écus that I am told the directors of the company have allotted to the post of grand master of the waters and forests, which appears to me an office of little utility in Canada at present. would be better used for this purpose and would not increase their expenses. If you were to approve of my suggestion, the Sieurs Le Moyne and Vieux-Pont will be very suitable for such a position.”
Apparently Vieuxpont, backed up, by Frontenac’s friendship, was participating in the fur trade illegally; at least this was the accusation made by Intendant Duchesneau* before M. de Seignelay. On the occasion of the governor’s conference with the Ottawas at Montreal, in September 1682, Vieuxpont served as his interpreter. The purpose of the meeting was to establish peace with the Indians and to urge them to trade with the French. But Frontenac had already been recalled. Le Febvre* de La Barre replaced him, and on 10 October, at Quebec, he held an assembly of the notables at which Vieuxpont was present. They decided to show an energetic attitude towards the Iroquois, and this was the origin of the disastrous wars that marked La Barre’s régime.
On 12 Nov. 1682 the new governor took up again his predecessor’s idea: “One of the persons who is the most necessary for the king’s service in this country is an interpreter of the various Indian languages, and we can hardly do without such a person in the present state of affairs. We have here a nobleman called M. de Vieux-Pont, who understands them all and speaks them well. It would be proper for the king to grant him the maintenance that is given to company captains on half-pay, in order that the intendant and I may use his services more freely and divert him without misgivings from his own affairs.”
In 1687, at the time of Brisay de Denonville’s expedition against the Senecas, Vieuxpont was captain of the militia at Trois-Rivières. He commanded a company formed of settlers from that region. During the siege of Quebec in 1690, he was wounded by fire from the English ships. A contemporary account says: “The Sieur de Vieuxpont’s musket was carried away and his arm dislocated by one of the shots.”
On 21 Oct. 1675, at Trois-Rivières, Vieuxpont had married Catherine, daughter of Maurice Poulin* de La Fontaine and Jeanne Jallot. Ten children were born of this marriage. Vieuxpont is thought to have died around 1716.
Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., I, 524. “Correspondance de Frontenac (1672–82),” APQ Rapport, 1926–27, 76. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Inventaire des actes de foi et hommage conservés aux archives judiciaires de Montréal,” APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 102. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 286f. Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” 519. P.-G. Roy, La famille Godefroy de Tonnancour (Lévis, 1904). Sulte, Mélanges historiques (Malchelosse), XI.