AMEAU, dit Saint-Séverin, SÉVERIN, soldier, royal notary, clerk of court, court officer, and school teacher; b. 1620, son of Jean Ameau and Françoise Remogis of the parish of Saint-Sauveur in Paris; buried on 9 May 1715 at Trois-Rivières.
Ameau, a garrison soldier, signed a contract at Trois-Rivières on 19 June 1649, and therefore must have been in Canada since at least the preceding summer. Because of his education it was not long before he began to act as notary and clerk of court at Trois-Rivières (in 1651 or 1652); he also drew up acts as court officer there. Justice at Trois-Rivières was still only seigneurial, but it was soon to boast of the epithet “royal,” by virtue of a decision by the new Conseil Souverain. On 17 Nov. 1663 Pierre Boucher was appointed royal judge, Maurice Poulin* de La Fontaine king’s attorney, and Ameau clerk of court; Quentin Moral was appointed royal notary but does not seem to have taken up the office, which was entrusted on 28 June 1664 to Séverin Ameau. For the humble servant of the law of the small town this was a dazzling promotion; henceforth he was authorized to receive acts in the whole government of Trois-Rivières, and for a time in 1668 his services were even required at Quebec. Ameau was a conscientious civil servant, being reprimanded only once in 50 years. He had reached the age of 81 when in 1701 the intendant, Champigny [Bochart], appointed the notary Jean-Baptiste Pottier to succeed him.
Séverin Ameau lived an active, peaceful life. He was already 42 when, on 7 Feb. 1662 at Trois-Rivières, he married Madeleine Baudoin, who was 23. They had two sons and one daughter. Like all his colleagues in the rural areas, the notary Ameau also farmed. In 1667 he owned 4 head of cattle and 6 acres of land under cultivation; in 1681 he had 6 head of cattle, 12 acres under cultivation, and a musket. More than one colonist who had less to do than he could not show as much. It is true, however, that in 1666 and 1681 Ameau had in his employ a “domestic,” who was probably assigned to working the farm. Ameau lived at Trois-Rivières, in a house “consisting of a living-room, a cellar, and an attic,” which was situated on a lot with a frontage of 30 feet on Rue Saint-Jean, running back to a depth of 24 feet along Rue Saint-Pierre. He had bought this lot on 7 May 1662 from Guillaume Cotentin, dit Lavallée, for the sum of 425 livres.
On 1 May 1665 Jacques Leneuf* de La Poterie granted Ameau a lot measuring three-quarters of an acre in area on Île Ronde, where Ameau had already acquired from Jean Garnier, dit Nadeau, on 10 July 1662, a piece of land measuring one and a half arpents by five. On 3 Aug. 1665 Nicolas Marsolet* granted him a piece of land measuring 3 arpents by 60 at Arbre-à-la-Croix, on the shore of the St Lawrence. On 25 June 1668 Ameau also owned in the censive (seigneurial area) of Trois-Rivières two pieces of land, each measuring 5 arpents by 20; one, on the Saint-Maurice, had been granted by Pierre Boucher on 27 July 1656, the other, on the St Lawrence, by the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France on 5 May 1659.
Ameau’s long career was only slightly troubled by two or three minor judicial disputes and by a theft of which he was the victim in 1673. Four thieves, equipped with a skeleton key, broke into Ameau’s house one night and stole wine, spirits, and a quantity of eels. They received various sentences, including the repayment of 12 livres 5 sols on condition that Ameau agreed to pay half the court costs. He appealed the unusual sentence to the Conseil Souverain, which, happily for Ameau, then punished the guilty parties and awarded Ameau 50 livres in compensation. In 1686, as a result of having acted in a moment of spite, it was he who paid 50 livres to a woman whom he had summoned from Trois-Rivières to Quebec on legal matters just at the period when the council was on vacation. She was the wife of Pierre Le Boulanger, a merchant from Cap-de-la-Madeleine with whom he was quarrelling at the time.
Séverin Ameau endeavoured to be of help to the community. In a request to the intendant dated 28 May 1687 he wrote: “. . . for 35 years now [he] has continuously held the office of court clerk in the jurisdiction of Trois-Rivières. And in addition [he] has always exerted himself to render service to the population of the aforementioned place, either in teaching the children or in participating in the singing at divine service held in the church of the aforementioned place . . . .”
Such was the notable course of Séverin Ameau, who died in 1715 at the venerable age of 95 or 96, nine years after his wife, who had been buried on 13 Nov. 1706.
AJQ, Greffe de Romain Becquet, 16 oct. 1680; Greffe de Laurent Bermen, 19 juin 1649; Greffe de Pierre Duquet, 6 nov. 1684. AJTR, Greffe de Séverin Ameau. ASQ, Polygraphie, III, 133. Jug. et délib., I, 58f., 654f., 725–27, 752f.; II, 811f.; III, 91. Papier terrier de la Cie des I.O. (P.-G. Roy), 305–8. Recensement du Canada, 1666 (APQ Rapport). Recensements du Canada, 1667, 1681 (Sulte). A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., XI, 49–137. P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., II, 403. Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport, 1951–53, 486f ; 1953–55, 502f. “Les notaires au Canada,” 16f. J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat, I, 60–62, 191, 202, 313.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Trois-Rivières, CE401-S48, 7 févr. 1662, 9 mai 1715.