BRUYÈRES (Bruyere), JOHN (Jean, Joseph), officer, secretary to Governor Ralph Burton*, and seigneur; d. some time before 1787.
Little is known about John Bruyères’s origins. It has often been said that he was Swiss – as all French speaking Protestants were designated – but this is untrue. He came from a family of French Huguenots, the de Bruyères, who were probably of noble birth and who had emigrated to England at the time of the revocation of the edict of Nantes. Arriving in Canada in 1759 with Wolfe*’s army, as an ensign in the 35th Foot, he took part in the siege of Quebec and at the close of the battle of the Plains of Abraham was put in charge of guarding prisoners and captured belongings and papers. In 1760 he wrote an account of the battle of Sainte-Foy for Brigadier George Townshend*; he then followed the troops to Montreal. On 16 September, after the surrender, the commander-in-chief, Jeffery Amherst, appointed Burton governor of the District of Trois-Rivières, and Burton chose Bruyères as his secretary. This choice, which was probably due to Bruyères’s knowledge of French, may also be explained by the fact that his sister Marguerite was Burton’s mistress. Burton created a scandal in Trois-Rivières by taking her there to live with him; he was, however, to marry her around 1763.
The first important document bearing the signature of Bruyères is the proclamation of 22 Sept. 1760 ordering the people of Trois-Rivières to lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance to King George II. Subsequent edicts concerned in particular the census, corvées, and the supplying of food and animals to the troops. Some of the new government’s demands may have seemed severe, but Bruyères managed to use tact and diplomacy in drawing up the edicts, and thus made relations between the authorities and the citizens of Trois-Rivières easier. He pursued this line of conduct throughout his two years there as Burton’s secretary and during the short time he assisted Haldimand who temporarily took over during Burton’s absence from May 1762 to March 1763.
More readily than they had in Burton’s case the people of Trois-Rivières forgave Bruyères for his cohabitation with their compatriot Catherine-Élisabeth, daughter of the late Jean-Baptiste Pommereau* and Claire-Françoise Boucher de Boucherville (remarried since 1745 to Joseph-Michel Legardeur de Croisille et de Montesson). Bruyères married Catherine-Élisabeth in 1764, thus allying himself with a much esteemed family and becoming co-seigneur of Bécancour. This mixed marriage, which was solemnized before a Protestant minister, caused a great stir. The church had, however, decided to pardon Catholics who had married Protestants, on condition that they did penance. On 8 July 1764 Louis Jollivet, the parish priest of Notre-Dame in Montreal, wrote to Vicar General Briand that Catherine-Élisabeth had done her penance and would soon be able to receive communion.
When Burton became governor of Montreal on 29 Oct. 1763, Bruyères followed him there. The last proclamation he signed was dated 1 Aug. 1764, at the end of the military régime in Montreal. He remained in the city, where on 11 August he bought a house that was destroyed by fire in April 1768. Along with other officials, in September 1764 Bruyères protested in writing against an address sent to Murray by the English merchants of Montreal expressing the hope that arbitrary imprisonments and the exactions committed by government employees would cease. On 21 June 1771, at Trois-Rivières, Bruyères signed a deed of transfer of the income from his fief of Bécancour in favour of his mother-in-law “for as long as she lived.” The following month he asked Hector Theophilus Cramahé for the grant of a seigneury adjoining the rear of the seigneury of Bécancour; Cramahé does not seem to have assented to this request. In 1772 Bruyères was in Europe; he was also there in 1774. Jean-Baptiste Badeaux, notary at Trois-Rivières, acted as his attorney during his absences as he did again during Bruyères’s stay in England in 1784. Bruyères returned to Canada the following year.
Neither the place nor the exact date of Bruyères’s death is known, but a petition by his son Ralph Henry*, dated 18 Jan. 1787, proves he had died some time before then. Ralph Henry and his wife Janet Dunbar had at least four children. Their daughter Anne-Françoise married wealthy fur dealer Jean-Baptiste-Toussaint Pothier* in January 1820; Jeanne-Marie-Catherine married doctor David Thomas Kennelly, and subsequently lawyer Michael O’Sullivan*.
ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 17 mai 1831. ANQ-MBF, Greffe de J.-B. Badeaux, 21 juin 1771; Insinuations, 1760–64. Doc. relatifs à l’hist. constitutionnelle, 1759–91 (Shortt et Doughty; 1921), I, 75–77. Quebec Gazette, 20 Sept. 1764, 26 May 1785. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 255; V, 172. E.-H. Bovay, Le Canada et les Suisses, 1604–1974 (Fribourg, Suisse, 1976), 10. Jouve, Les franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières. M. Trudel, Le Régime militaire. F.-J. Audet, “John Bruyères,” BRH, XXXI (1925), 342–43. Pierre Daviault, “Traducteurs et traduction au Canada,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., XXXVIII (1944), sect.i, 67–87. Gérard Malchelosse, “La famille Pommereau et ses alliances,” Cahiers des Dix, 29 (1964), 193–222.