GUILLIMIN (Guillimen), GUILLAUME, office-holder, merchant, judge, and lawyer; b. 13 July 1713 at Quebec, son of Charles Guillimin* and Françoise Lemaitre-Lamorille; d. 30 July 1771 at Quebec.
Guillaume Guillimin’s father Charles was a prominent merchant in New France, whose fluctuating business career ended in reduced circumstances and a stream of petitions to the court seeking financial relief for himself and his family. One petition, dated 1735, which requested that Guillaume be made a scrivener in the civil bureaucracy of New France, was rejected by Maurepas, the minister of the Marine. But when Charles Guillimin died in 1739, Maurepas relented somewhat. Recognizing, as did Intendant Hocquart, that the elder Guillimin’s sad fortunes were due in part to the government’s financial instability, he offered to do something for the family. Hocquart, who had yearned since his arrival in Canada to improve the legal capacities of those serving on the Conseil Supérieur, pointed out that Guillaume had been studying law under the attorney general, Louis-Guillaume Verrier*, since 1736 and, though still too young to be named a councillor, could be made an assistant councillor for a probationary period, with the expectation of one day filling a vacant seat on the council. After some hesitation on the part of Governor General Charles de Beauharnois*, who was wrangling with Hocquart at that time over a number of appointments in their respective spheres of patronage, Guillimin was named assistant councillor, without pay, on 20 Sept. 1741. He was the first person to serve in that capacity in New France and, on 25 March 1744, he became a councillor. Since Marie-Geneviève Foucault, whom he married in May 1744, was the daughter of another councillor, François Foucault*, Guillimin was obliged to obtain from the king letters of dispensation from this family connection before he could be sure of his position. These were accorded him on 28 April 1745.
Guillimin served capably on the council for the next eight years, and during that time he was employed by Beauharnois and Hocquart in other capacities. He was, for example, a member of Hocquart’s informal advisory council, which assisted the intendant in times of crisis. In 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession, he was chosen to serve as commissary for an expeditionary force of 700 men, under Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay, that campaigned in Acadia. He raised supplies for the expedition and sailed with it to Acadia in June. After returning to Quebec later that year, he continued to supply the military with agricultural produce as a private entrepreneur. This was the most profitable activity for Canadian merchants in wartime.
In 1752 Guillimin resigned his seat on the council in order to become judge of the admiralty court at Quebec, a more lucrative post. Five years later, on 24 April 1757, he succeeded Nicolas-Gaspard Boucault* as local lieutenant (judge) of the provost court of Quebec. It was not unusual for one man to hold both positions, and he continued to do so until the conquest. That epic event left him in a precarious position. As a Canadian official he had little hope of obtaining a suitable post in France and no other alternative than to try to make his way in the new, alien régime. He made the transition successfully and, on 14 March 1765, he received a licence from Governor Murray to serve as attorney and lawyer in the Court of Common Pleas. Thus, on 9 July 1766, the date when his commission was signed, he became French Canada’s first lawyer. He was also given a commission as notary, but he seems to have done little in that field, his registry consisting of only a few entries. By the time of his death in 1771 he had paved the way for the three of his ten children who had reached maturity to live comfortably in the British colony. His second daughter married James McGill*, a prominent Scottish resident of Montreal and founder of the university which took his name. Guillimin’s success in the professional ranks following the conquest was perhaps a harbinger of the ambitious French-Canadian’s role in the decades to come.
AN, Col., B, 70, f.78; 72, ff.2–2v, 275; 73, ff.33, 69–69v; 78, f.140; C11A, 73, f.8; 75, f.260; 81/1, f.14; F3, 14, f.38. DCB, III, 74–77, 646–48. P.-G. Roy, “La famille Guillimin,” BRH, XXIII (1917), 129–39.