DUDEVANT, ARNAULD-GERMAIN (baptized Arnaud), priest; b. 30 May 1751 in the parish of Sainte-Croix, Bordeaux, France, son of Jacques Dudevant, a merchant, and Jeanne Barbequière; d. c. 1798.
Arnauld-Germain Dudevant presumably received a classical education at Bordeaux, and he must have begun theological studies there, since he brought to Canada some handwritten notebooks on grace and the church dated 1774. He and his compatriot Jean-Baptiste Lahaille* arrived in Quebec in 1775, with Governor Guy Carleton*’s permission. Admitted a member of the Séminaire de Québec on 5 April 1777, Dudevant was ordained priest two weeks later. From 1775 to 1777 he is reported to have taught the third form in the Petit Séminaire; he was named director of the Grand Séminaire in August 1777, second assistant to the superior the following year, and first assistant in 1780. For reasons unknown Dudevant resigned in the winter of 1782 and began an inventory of the seminary’s library while waiting for a ship to take him back to France.
He returned to Bordeaux in 1783 and became a canon of the metropolitan church of Saint-André in succession to his uncle, Louis-Hyacinthe Barbequière, who had resigned the canonry in his favour. Again dissatisfied, Dudevant thought of joining the priests of the Missions Étrangères in Paris; the procurator of the Séminaire de Québec, Francois Sorbier de Villars, would have liked Dudevant as his successor there. But the authorities of the Séminaire de Québec were opposed, and Dudevant remained at Bordeaux. During the revolution he emigrated to Madrid and wrote to Bishop Hubert from there in 1794, asking him to accept him again in Quebec. The bishop replied that he would be happy to receive him but could not pay his passage, having already promised this help to 12 émigré priests. Poor Dudevant is believed to have sailed from Spain in 1798 on an American vessel bound for America, but nothing further was ever heard of him and it is assumed that he perished at sea.
Thanks to Dudevant, however, we know what the library of the Séminaire de Québec was like at the end of the 18th century. The catalogue he made shows that it was by far the most important library in Canada at that period; it contained 4,883 volumes comprising 2,121 titles. The plan of the library was, for the most part, that of 18th century French libraries: first, seven sections for books on theology and religion; then works on civil and canon law, history, and belles-lettres; and a final section for textbooks. The belles-lettres section included both sciences and arts. The functions of the Grand and Petit Séminaires accounted for the number of books in each category. Religious works were most numerous with 1,306 titles and 2,866 volumes, belles-lettres included 298 titles, history 147, and law 135. The textbooks comprised 701 volumes under 235 titles. Only a third of the works were in Latin, and these were mainly textbooks. In the library were found not only the great authors of the 17th and 18th centuries, but also historical works, scientific treatises, and dictionaries. Even Voltaire appears in the catalogue with the Dictionnaire philosophique portatif . . . and Le siècle de Louis XIV. It was a library perfectly adapted to the dual function of the institution: the provision of a classical and a religious education.
AD, Gironde (Bordeaux), État civil, Sainte-Croix, 30 mai 1751; G, 779, f.195. ASQ, Lettres, M, 165; P, 26a, 29, 32, 34, 82; S, 85; mss, 12, ff.45–48; 13, 4 avril 1777, 18 oct. 1779, 5 déc. 1794; 433; 437; mss-m, 199–202; Polygraphie, XVII 29, 30, 30a; Bibliothèque du séminaire de Québec, A.-G. Dudevant, “Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque du séminaire des Missions étrangères de Québec fait dans le mois de may 1782” (copy at ASQ). Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Hubert et de Mgr Bailly de Messein,” ANQ Rapport, 1930–31, 310. Antonio Drolet, Les bibliothèques canadiennes (1604–1960) (Ottawa, 1965). Monique Laurent, “Le catalogue de la bibliothèque du séminaire de Québec, 1782” (thèse de des, université Laval, Québec, 1973). “L’abbé Germain Dudevant,” BRH, XLVII (1941), 207. Antonio Drolet, “La bibliothèque du collège des jésuites,” RHAF, XIV (1960–61), 487–544; “La bibliothèque du séminaire de Québec et son catalogue de 1782,” Le Canada français (Québec), 2e sér., XXVIII (1940), 261–66.