DE LISLE, JEAN-GUILLAUME, merchant, notary, and militia officer; b. c. 1757 in New York, son of Jean De Lisle, a notary, and Ann Denton; m. 26 July 1779 Radegonde Berthelet, daughter of Joachim Berthelet, a lawyer and justice of the peace, in Montreal (Que.), and they had four sons and three daughters; d. there 4 July 1819.
Jean-Guillaume De Lisle, who arrived in the province of Quebec around 1764, was one of the first 16 pupils enrolled in the secondary school founded in June 1767 by the Sulpician Jean-Baptiste Curatteau* at Longue-Pointe (Montreal). This institution later became the Collège Saint-Raphaël. He finished his studies in 1771, but left with an unfavourable impression of the school; his father, on the other hand, held the director in high esteem. Jean-Guillaume completed his education under the guidance of his father, to whom he was clerk and apprentice notary for five years.
In 1785 De Lisle formed a partnership with the Montreal merchant Maurice-Régis Blondeau to underwrite one of Jean-Baptiste Cadot’s fur-trade expeditions to Sault Ste Marie (Ont.). Also in 1785 he signed a petition addressed by merchants and traders to Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton*, asking him to facilitate their commerce. After this year there is no record of further commercial activity on his part. He received a commission as a notary for the District of Montreal on 15 Nov. 1787, and then took over the practice which his father was giving up. In December 1792 he obtained another commission entitling him to practise anywhere in the province.
On 27 Dec. 1788 De Lisle had replaced Simon Sanguinet* as clerk of the fabrique of Notre-Dame in Montreal, and he retained the office until 1798. In this capacity he drafted the proposals that the churchwarden in charge, Louis Cavilhe, put to a meeting held on 6 Sept. 1789 to choose a new director for the Collège Saint-Raphaël following Curatteau’s resignation. Since the fabrique owned the Château de Vaudreuil, the building in which the college was housed, the churchwardens took the liberty of intervening in its internal administration and suggested that Charles Chauveaux be appointed director. In addition they proposed that a broader and more liberal curriculum be adopted, because in their opinion the college gave good preparation for the priesthood to those seeking it but left the rest ill equipped to succeed in the world [see Gabriel-Jean Brassier*]. The churchwardens also wanted the college to offer the final part of the classical program, Philosophy; at that time it was taught only at the Séminaire de Québec, to which Montrealers sent their sons at considerable expense.
The Sulpicians did not give in to all the requests of the fabrique since Jean-Baptiste Marchand* was chosen as director of the college in preference to Chauveaux. The fabrique did, however, obtain a philosophy teacher, Ignace Leclerc, who took up his post in 1790. The following year the college diversified its teaching, offering courses in English and mathematics. In 1790 De Lisle and other prominent citizens of Montreal signed a petition in support of the Sulpicians’ request to Lord Dorchester [Guy Carleton] for a charter to create a university college in the city; the Sulpicians’ plan was developed as an alternative to the proposal to create a non-denominational university that had been put forward by a commission chaired by Chief Justice William Smith* [see Jean-François Hubert*].
De Lisle also participated in the social, cultural, and military life of the Montreal community. Thus, in November 1789, he joined with Louis Dulongpré*, Joseph Quesnel, Pierre-Amable De Bonne, Jacques-Clément Herse, Joseph-François Perrault*, and François Rolland in founding the Théâtre de Société in Montreal. In December this company, with De Lisle as a player, put on a comedy which the parish priest of Montreal, François-Xavier Latour-Dézery, condemned, with a warning that the church would refuse absolution to anyone attending the performances [see Joseph Quesnel]. On 10 Dec. 1790 De Lisle was made master of the Frères du Canada, of whose Montreal lodge he had been master two years earlier. This society, founded in 1766 and probably masonic, had six or seven members, among them Herse, Jean-Philippe Leprohon*, and Philippe-François Rastel de Rocheblave. In 1797 De Lisle was president of the Fire Society of Montreal. He lived in the faubourg Saint-Antoine and owned at Côte-des-Neiges (Outremont) an orchard and vegetable garden which Michel Bibaud*’s father agreed to take care of on 22 Feb. 1798. In 1799 he was a member, under the name Apôtre Jean, of the Club des Apôtres founded that year; interested in gastronomy, its 12 members organized a monthly supper, but the club lasted only a few months.
In 1805 De Lisle was a captain-lieutenant in Montreal’s 2nd Militia Battalion. Promoted captain in 1812, he served as such in the War of 1812, during which he reached the rank of major. By 1815 he had become a lieutenant-colonel. At that period he dedicated to his superior in the militia, Pierre Guy, a work on the administration of fabriques that he said he had begun writing when he was clerk; but the work remained in manuscript form.
On 21 July 1817 Jean-Guillaume De Lisle made a handwritten will, naming his wife as sole legatee of his property and executor of his last wishes; she had obtained a separation of property in 1803 by a decision of the Court of King’s Bench. De Lisle died two years later, on 4 July 1819, in Montreal.
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 26 juill. 1779, 6 juill. 1819. Quebec Gazette, 16 June 1785, 15 June 1815. Quebec almanac, 1805, 1810, 1815. [François Daniel], Nos gloires rationales; ou histoire des principales familles du Canada . . . (2v., Montréal, 1867), 2: 253–55. Maurault, Le collège de Montréal (Dansereau; 1967). Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts, 55–56. Ægidius Fauteux, “Jacques-Clément Herse,” BRH, 35 (1929): 219–21. J. E. Hare, “Le Théâtre de société à Montréal, 1789–1791,” Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française, Bull. (Ottawa), 16 (1977–78), no.2: 22–26. “Le livre de M. Delisle,” BRH, 12 (1906): 255. É.-Z. Massicotte, “La famille de Jean De Lisle de la Cailleterie,” BRH, 25 (1919): 175–86; “Les Frères du Canada,” BRH, 23 (1917): 219–21; “Jean De Lisle et Jean-Guillaume De Lisle,” BRH, 25 (1919): 150–52; “Notre-Dame-des-Neiges,” Cahiers des Dix, 4 (1939): 141–66; “Une page de l’histoire du collège de Montréal,” BRH, 23 (1917): 207–11. Victor Morin, “Clubs et sociétés notoires d’autrefois,” Cahiers des Dix, 13 (1948): 117–27.