CHAUSSEGROS DE LÉRY, CHARLES-ÉTIENNE, office holder, jp, seigneur, militia officer, and politician; b. 30 Sept. 1774 at Quebec, son of Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros* de Léry and Louise Martel de Brouague; m. there 25 Nov. 1799 Josephte Fraser, daughter of the late John Fraser, a judge in the Court of King’s Bench, and they had six children, three of whom died young; d. 17 Feb. 1842 at Quebec and was buried on 24 February at Saint-François (Beauceville), Lower Canada.
Charles-Étienne Chaussegros de Léry came from a respectable family that was well off financially and had close ties with the colony’s government. Thus he was able at an early age to start his career on solid foundations. His father used his influence in government circles to get him the post of clerk assistant and assistant to the translator for the Legislative Council in 1793. Charles-Étienne was then only 19. In 1794 he faced a choice: to complete the articling as a student-at-law which he had begun on 1 August in the office of Michel-Amable Berthelot* Dartigny, or to continue in government service. He preferred to devote himself to his duties with the Legislative Council and at some point gave up articling. In 1797 he succeeded Jacques-François Cugnet as translator to the same body, retaining his position as clerk assistant. As the years passed, his salary went from £100 to £360. He also was made clerk of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1805.
Chaussegros de Léry’s reputation and privileged position with the authorities gained him appointments to serve as a commissioner on various occasions: in 1815 to examine claims to compensation under the Militia Men Indemnification Act for injuries suffered in the War of 1812, in 1817 to purchase seed grain for parishes in financial straits and to improve internal communications in the district of Quebec, in 1819 to receive the oath of allegiance from office holders, and in 1830 to build churches and presbyteries. In addition he had been serving as justice of the peace since at least 1815. His appointment to the Executive Council in 1826 and to the Special Council of Lower Canada in 1838 marked the high point of a career dedicated to government service.
At the same time as he was discharging his many public functions Chaussegros de Léry had a brilliant career in the militia. During the War of 1812 he excelled in his duties as deputy quartermaster general and deputy adjutant general. His competence was highly esteemed. In 1828 he was promoted quartermaster general of the militia of Lower Canada, and in 1830 he was made colonel commanding the five militia battalions of the town of Quebec; he retained these ranks for the rest of his life.
After the death of his father in 1797 Chaussegros de Léry had inherited part of his immense estate, which included the seigneuries of Rigaud De Vaudreuil, Gentilly, Le Gardeur Belle-Plaine, Beauvais, Perthuis, and Sainte-Barbe. Later he bought the shares of several other heirs to reconstitute finally the major part of his father’s patrimony in landed property. For instance, his father’s house on Rue Sainte-Famille at Quebec went to him in 1800 for £460. Certain deals, however, were not so simple and even gave rise to questionable procedures. In 1809 Charles-Étienne, acting as proxy for his brother Baron François-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry, who lived in France, sold the latter’s inherited rights in the seigneury of Le Gardeur Belle-Plaine to Jean-Baptiste Noël. He neglected, however, to inform his brother of the transaction. On 9 Feb. 1818, through Antoine-Louis Juchereau* Duchesnay, the baron sold Charles-Étienne the undivided half of the seigneuries of Rigaud De Vaudreuil, Perthuis, and Sainte-Barbe for £1,550. The deed was immediately followed by a counter-deed by which Charles-Étienne and Juchereau Duchesnay agreed to hide from François-Joseph the sale of Le Gardeur Belle-Plaine concluded nine years previously. These two examples show that rumours circulating in 1818 about Charles-Étienne were far from unfounded.
A descendant of a prominent family, Charles-Étienne Chaussegros de Léry followed in his father’s footsteps. He too owned large landed properties until his death. Despite some questionable transactions he was a social success, owing to his personal talents and especially to his close relations with the government. Entrusted with important positions both in public administration and in the militia, he was loyal to the authorities, and this unfailing loyalty earned him appointment not only to the Executive Council but to the Special Council.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, ler Oct. 1774, 25 nov. 1799; CN1-178, 18 sept. 1818; CN1-230, 1er août 1794, 25 nov. 1799, 9 oct. 1800, 5 avril 1809, 9 févr. 1818; P-40/10; P-386/2; T11-1/207, no.162; 2734, no.129; 3611, no.162; ZQ6-45-3, 24 févr. 1842. ASQ, Séminaire, 202, nos.125–26. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1795, 1798–1834. Le Canadien, 18 févr. 1842. Quebec Gazette, 8 June, 30 Nov. 1815; 13 March, 10 April, 1 May 1817. F.-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, 1: 379–80. Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving) . Quebec almanac, 1794. P.-G. Roy, Inventaire des papiers de Léry conservés aux Archives de la province de Québec (3v., Québec, 1939–40). Turcotte, Le Conseil législatif. [François Daniel], Le vicomte C. de Léry, lieutenant-général de l’ empire français, ingénieur en chef de la grande armée, et sa famille (Montréal, 1867). P.-G. Roy, “La famille Chaussegros de Léry,” BRH, 40 (1934): 577–614.