DUROCHER, JOSEPH (baptized René-Joseph), merchant, tailor; b. 2 July 1706 in Angers, France, son of Joseph Durocher, a tailor, and Marguerite Le Roy; d. sometime before 15 Sept. 1756.
Joseph Durocher’s name appears for the first time in Canadian documents in 1730. On 6 May that year he married Marie-Louise-Catherine Juillet at Batiscan. In his marriage contract, signed on the preceding 19 February before the notary Nicolas-Auguste Guillet de Chaumont, it is stated that Durocher gave his wife the sum of “three thousand livres as stipulated jointure.” On 24 June 1743, shortly after the death of his wife, who had borne him nine children in 13 years, Durocher remarried in Montreal; his second wife was Marguerite Gaudé, the widow of Jean-Baptiste Jarry, a “merchant and voyageur” in Montreal. Having married with joint estate, Durocher brought his new wife “fifteen hundred livres as stipulated jointure.” One child was born of this marriage, but did not live.
Durocher was both a tailor and a merchant for a great part of his life. Only his commercial activities, however, are known to us. He had apparently an expansive business and multiplied his purchases of houses, land, and farms. He was also interested in the fur trade; it was in this connection that he hired five men in 1745 for the post at Michilimackinac. Two years later his business was, it seems, prosperous enough to allow him to hire for a year Jean-Baptiste Dumontet, dit Lagrandeur, and his wife “to serve him in all lawful and honest matters which will be ordered them.” In the 1750s Durocher had dealings with the Quebec merchants François Havy and Jean Lefebvre; on 15 Jan. 1753 we find him before the Conseil Supérieur in a lawsuit with the two men over three building sites.
The “merchant and tailor” had, however, over-reached himself; he was sued by his numerous creditors, who forced him to settle his accounts. The balance sheet of his personal fortune showed income in excess of expenditures by 35,408 livres 18 sols 3 deniers; but since he owed 60,398 livres 16 sols 7 deniers, he was judged to be bankrupt. Each of his creditors received 58 5/8 per cent of what was owing him.
Joseph Durocher probably died in Montreal in 1756: on 15 September that year his wife was called a widow in the contract for the auction of his belongings drawn up by the notary Louis-Claude Danré de Blanzy.
ANQ, Greffe de J.-A. Saillant, 29 sept. 1757 (acte de L.-C. Danré de Blanzy, 15 sept. 1756). ANQ-M, Greffe de N.-A. Guillet de Chaumont, 19 févr., 27 juill. 1730, 24 janv. 1732; Greffe de J.-C. Raimbault, 1er août 1733, 24 oct. 1734, 21 juill., 4 sept. 1735; Greffe de Simon Sanguinet, 24 juin, 18 juill., 1er août 1747; Greffe de François Simonnet, 20 juin 1743. Dictionnaire national des Canadiens français (1608–1760) (2v., Montréal, 1958). Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1929–30, 457, 459, 460, 462, 465. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, III, 110, 114; V, 5, 15, 259. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. J.-J. Lefebvre, “Les familles Durocher de Montréal et de Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu,” BRH, LXV (1959), 67–82.