BEAUHARNOIS DE BEAUMONT ET DE VILLECHAUVE, CLAUDE DE, French naval officer, midshipman (1 Jan. 1691), sub-lieutenant in the navy (1 Jan. 1696), lieutenant-commander (1 July 1703), commander (25 Nov. 1712), captain (17 March 1727), seigneur; b. 22 Sept. 1674 at Saint-Laurent near Orléans, son of François de Beauharnois de La Boische (Boeche) and Marguerite-François Pyvart (Pinard) de Chastullé; d. 17 Jan. 1738 at La Boische or La Chaussée, buried at Saint-Laurent. He married Renée Hardouineau at La Rochelle 11 May 1713. They had two sons: François, b. 8 Feb. 1714, and Claude (called the chevalier), b. in Rochefort 16 Jan. 1717.
Brother of Charles de Beauharnois* de La Boische, governor general of New France, and of François *, intendant, Claude was sixth son in a family of seven sons and seven daughters. He never resided in Canada, but on three occasions (1711, 1712, 1713) he commanded the vessels which annually brought munitions, troops, and the king’s orders to the colony. In July 1711 he was placed in command of the Héros with orders to take troops and supplies to Quebec in preparation for the imminent invasion of an English expedition led by Sir Hovenden Walker. His instructions, characteristic of French naval policy throughout most of the 18th century, required him to proceed with extreme caution and restraint. The destruction of part of Walker’s fleet forestalled the invasion, permitting Claude to arrive at Quebec on 7 November without incident. It may have been he who brought to Quebec a small English ship captured that fall. When he set sail for France the same month he took with him Jacques Raudot who had been recalled as intendant of New France. Claude again commanded the Héros on its voyage to Quebec in 1712, bringing his sister Jeanne-Élisabeth and her husband Michel Bégon*, the new intendant. He made similar trips to Saint-Domingue in 1726 and 1732. In May and June of 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, he commanded three ships in the Baltic campaign.
He was mentioned for distinctive service, along with his brothers, in the king’s proclamation of 1707 erecting François’s Acadian seigneury into the barony of Beauville. On 12 April 1729 he and his brother Charles received jointly the seigneury of Villechauve on the St Lawrence River. Neither Charles nor Claude appears to have made much effort to attract settlers to their seigneury. Presumably because Charles had no children the seigneury reverted to the king on his death in 1749.
In 1750 Claude’s eldest son, François, requested that the seigneury be regranted to him, which it was on 14 June of that year. On 7 June 1763 François sold his seigneury to Michel Chartier* de Lotbinière for 24,000 livres. It is quite possible that payment was made in some form of paper currency circulating in New France at the time, worth only a fraction of its face value. In this case it is uncertain how much – if any – of the 24,000 livres François was able to redeem in French livres. He may have been trying to take advantage of Louis XV’s declaration of February 1763 in which the king voiced his intention to redeem Canadian bills of exchange.
According to Alexandre Mazas (Histoire de l’ordre militaire de Saint-Louis), both Claude de Beauharnois and his brother Charles were decorated with the cross of the order of Saint-Louis on the same day, 28 June 1718. Another brother, Guillaume, and Claude’s son, Claude, received the cross of Saint-Louis on other occasions. This, along with the fact that all the Beauharnois were career officers in the navy, probably explains why they have frequently been confused. In February 1738 the delegates in France of the chapter of Quebec wrote to their superiors in Quebec that Claude de Beauharnois had died, and that he had been “highly regarded in the navy, especially by M. de Maurepas, as a good officer.”
AJQ, Contrat de mariage de Claude de Beauharnois Chevalier de Beaumont, capitaine de frégate, avec Mademoiselle Renée Hardouineau (before Masson and Soullard, notaries at La Rochelle, 11 May 1713). AN, Col., B, 33, ff.171–75, 176v; Marine, C1, 154, ff.171, 189; 157, f.273; 161; Marine, C7, 20, f.12. PAC, FM 6, B, 9, ff.23v, 114v–16v. Charlevoix, Histoire (1744), II, 356.
“Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1946–47, 460; 1947–48, 155f., 160f., 171. Documents relating to Canadian currency during the French period (Shortt), II, 963, 973. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), 364, 369, 379 [The last reference is to Guillaume, rather than, as Jamet thought, Claude. s.d.s.]. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions,IV, 191, 227f.; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, II, 73. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 109, 119f., 149f. Georges Lacour-Gayet, La Marine militaire de la France sous le règne de Louis XV (Paris, 1902), 118–20, 530, 534. Alexandre Mazas, Histoire de l’ordre militaire de Saint-Louis depuis son institution en 1693 jusqu’en 1830 (2e éd., 3v., Paris, 1860–61), II, 117f. Auguste Gosselin, “Charles de Beauharnais,” BRH, VII (1901), 293–301. Olivier, “Le gouverneur de Beauharnois,” BRH, II (1896), 189. J.-E. Roy, “Notes sur l’intendant Bégon,” BRH, IV (1898), 269. P.-G. Roy, “Le mariage manqué du chevalier de Beauharnois,” BRH, LI (1945), 139–42; “Les marquisats, comtés, baronnies et châtellenies dans la Nouvelle-France,” BRH, XXI (1915), 47f. Régis Roy, “Michel Bégon,” BRH, VIII (1902), 167; “François de Beauharnois,” BRH, VII (1901), 302–9. “La seigneurie de Villechauve ou Beauharnois,” BRH, XXXIV (1928), 276f. Benjamin Sulte, “Le, Beauharnois au Canada,” BRH, VIII (1902), 115f. [The author confuses Claude with his son of the same name, and his brother Guillaume. s.d.s.]. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France (1723–1773),” BRH, XVI (1910) 232, 238.