ANDRÉ DE LEIGNE, PIERRE, king’s counsellor; lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs of the provost court of Quebec; b. 1663 at Tonnerre (dept. of Yonne), France, son of François André, a lawyer in the parlement, and Marie Turin; m. in 1694 Claude, daughter of Gabriel Fredin, king’s counsellor, notary, and grènetier (judicial officer) of the salt warehouse in the town of Pontoise, France, and of Claude Robin; d. 7 March 1748 at Trois-Rivières.
Pierre André de Leigne descended from a family which, if not rich, was at least well-to-do. He himself had “properties and belongings” in his home town of Tonnerre. In 1683 he embarked upon a military career, and ten years later, on 15 April 1693, he obtained from Jacques-Henri de Durfort, Duc de Duras, a “final discharge” after “having done good service as a member of the King’s bodyguard.” The following year, on 15 Jan. 1694 when his marriage contract was signed, de Leigne had nothing more than the title of “bourgeois of Paris”; he was living there on Rue Saint-Jean-de-Beauvais. Some weeks later he sailed for Quebec to replace Jean Fredin, his wife’s brother, as secretary to the intendant, Jean Bochart* de Champigny; his wife joined him in 1696. In 1702 he returned to France with the intendant and two years later bought the office of “provost general of the admiralty court and of the galleys,” which he occupied at Le Havre until 1716. If his contemporaries are to be believed, however, he yearned after Canada, whose “tranquillity” delighted him. In April 1717 he obtained the office of lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs of the provost court of Quebec, succeeding Denis Riverin*, who had never exercised his functions. De Leigne returned to Canada in 1718 and held the office from 1719 till 1744, when he resigned and was replaced by François Daine. He also carried out for some time the duties of lieutenant general of the admiralty court in place of Jean-Baptiste Couillard* de Lespinay, and on occasion those of subdelegate of the intendant of Quebec.
Pierre André de Leigne ventured upon several undertakings in Canada which brought him, like many others, more worries than fine profits. He is mentioned in notarial contracts as “selling and delivering” wine and lending money. In 1721 he obtained a land grant in Labrador of four leagues by four, and signed an agreement in 1735 to develop it with his son-in-law, Nicolas Lanoullier de Boisclerc. But “this perfect establishment for seal-fishing” brought him in little. An inventory made in July 1735 shows that the de Leignes were seriously burdened by debt. Movables, silver plate, and ready money – 153 livres in card money – were evaluated at 4,307 livres, their house at 3,239 livres; but 1,956 livres remained to be paid on the latter, bought from Nicolas Lanoullier in 1725. The de Leignes had, moreover, liabilities amounting to 6,142 livres. The greatest part of this sum consisted of a dowry of 3,000 livres promised on 26 Dec. 1720 in their daughter Jeanne’s contract of marriage with Lanoullier. None of this had yet been paid in 1735, and with back interest the total was 4,082 livres 10 sols. To be convinced of the precariousness of their situation one has only to read through the letter of supplication which de Leigne sent the minister of Marine in 1745 with a view to obtaining a gratuity, however small it might be.
The de Leigne family had nevertheless good social connections and frequented the court. In France the elder daughter, Anne-Catherine, had pleased “Madame la Dauphine, who asked her parents for her, and as she was still too young to have a place in the service of this princess, Mme la Maréchale d’Estrée took her in and became attached to her as if she had been her own daughter.” But when she returned to New France in 1718, Anne-Catherine, through associating with fashionable society, had acquired priggish manners which greatly displeased the society of Quebec. In 1741 her sister Louise-Catherine was a subject of conversation for the colony when she married a young man of quality, René-Ovide Hertel* de Rouville, a minor several years her junior. The lieutenant general had to intervene before the tribunal to defend the newly married couple against the excessive pretensions of Mme Hertel de Rouville, who undertook to have the marriage annulled and did indeed succeed.
The Sieur de Leigne’s administration of justice seems to have been good and impartial. In 1731 Gilles Hocquart* wrote of him to the minister, Maurepas: “I have only good reports to give you of his application in dispensing justice and in making order respected in the town of Quebec, for which he is responsible.” De Leigne had, however, been guilty of one error for which the minister severely blamed him. Intendant Hocquart took up his defence: “one cannot be,” he wrote to the minister, “more keenly affected by the reprimand which you have given him on his conduct. . . . I ask you as a favour, Monseigneur, to overlook this officer’s error, which he has openly admitted.” The mistake Hocquart was talking about concerned the final episode in the long quarrel between Intendant Claude-Thomas Dupuy* and Governor Charles de Beauharnois. De Leigne got along well with Dupuy, and whenever there was a dispute between governor and intendant he invariably took the side of his immediate superior. Thus he had stood up to Beauharnois, in a way the latter considered flippant, over the question of lodgings for military personnel. In addition, when in March 1728 the governor suspended execution of all the ordinances issued by the intendant against Étienne Boullard* and the chapter of the cathedral of Quebec, de Leigne preferred, as did other officials, to follow the intendant, who defied the governor’s injunction. When he was sure of being within his rights, he was inflexible, like his friend Dupuy.
Pierre André de Leigne carried out well his duty as lieutenant general for civil and criminal affairs until 1744, when he resigned and retired to live at his daughter Louise-Catherine’s home in Trois-Rivières; he died there on 7 March 1748.
AN, Col., C11A, 50, pp.126ff., 345–46; 55, p.114; E, 174, pp.1, 2–3, 5ff., 32–33 (PAC transcripts); Minutier central, Étude XI, 15 janv. 1694 (contrat de mariage de Pierre André de Leigne), 30 mars 1694 (procuration de Pierre André de Leigne), 24 mars 1695. ANQ, Greffe de Jacques Barbel, 20 déc. 1720; Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 16 juill. 1724; Greffe d’Henry Hiché, 14 nov. 1733, 11, 12 nov. 1734, 13 janv., 28 juill. 1735. Inv. de pièces du Labrador (P.-G. Roy), I, 139. P.-G. Roy, La famille André de Leigne (Lévis, Qué., 1935).