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HERTEL DE ROUVILLE, JEAN-BAPTISTE-MELCHIOR, army and militia officer, office holder, seigneur, and politician; b. 21 Oct. 1748 in Trois-Rivières (Que.), son of René-Ovide Hertel* de Rouville and Louise-Catherine André* de Leigne; d. 30 Nov. 1817 in Chambly, Lower Canada.
Jean-Baptiste-Melchior Hertel de Rouville joined the Régiment du Languedoc as an ensign in 1760. Shortly after the conquest he went to France with his regiment. In December 1764 he sailed for Corsica, where he took part in the war against Pascal Paoli, the patriot. He returned to France in December 1770 and two years later came back to the province of Quebec. Like his father, Rouville was a supporter of the new régime and did not hesitate to defend the crown when American troops invaded [see Benedict Arnold; Richard Montgomery*]. In the autumn of 1775 he helped defend Fort St Johns, on the Richelieu. He was taken prisoner and spent 20 months in captivity in the American colonies. After his return he secured a captain’s commission; he retired on half pay in 1783.
That year Rouville obtained a commission as justice of the peace for the District of Montreal. On 8 May of the following year, in Chambly, he married Marie-Anne, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Hervieux, a Montreal merchant. The marriage contract recognized the community of property of husband and wife, while according the bride a jointure of 6,000 shillings and separate property of 31,000 shillings. Rouville, who already owned half a league of land in the seigneury of Chambly, obtained from his father as part of his future inheritance half a league of land at Chambly, including the flour mill; through an exchange he acquired a further half league at the same place.
In 1787 Rouville was appointed to the commission on the Jesuit estates [see Kenelm Chandler], and like his Canadian colleagues [see Gabriel-Elzéar Taschereau] he rejected the claims of the crown. Being a conservative, Rouville opposed the constitutional reform desired by the merchant bourgeoisie of the colony, who requested it in a petition to the king in 1788. The following year Rouville went to live at Chambly, where he obtained a commission as militia colonel in 1790.
On his father’s death in 1792 Rouville received by primogeniture half of the seigneury of Rouville and part of the seigneury of Chambly. That year he ran successfully in the first elections for the House of Assembly of Lower Canada; he represented the riding of Bedford from 10 July 1792 till 31 May 1796. In the house he supported the Canadian party, particularly in the choice of Jean-Antoine Panet as speaker. Rouville’s loyalty to the crown was probably responsible for his appointment to the Legislative Council in 1812. That year he also received command of the 2nd Battalion of the Chambly militia. In 1813 he was appointed justice of the peace for the districts of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers.
Jean-Baptiste-Melchior Hertel de Rouville died in Chambly on 30 Nov. 1817 and was buried on 3 December in the parish church. At that time he was described as “one of those men [who are] consistently honourable, fair, and upright.” He had bequeathed the seigneury of Rouville (the other half of which he had purchased in 1797) and his share in the seigneury of Chambly to his son Jean-Baptiste-René*. His daughter, Marie-Anne-Julie, wife of Charles-Michel d’Irumberry* de Salaberry, received 48,000 livres and a sub-fief of 4,704 acres in the seigneury of Chambly. The children took possession of their inheritance upon their mother’s death on 25 Jan. 1819.
ANQ-M, CE1-39, 3 déc. 1817; CN1-43, 24 sept. 1814; CN1-290, 8 mai 1784. ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 21 oct. 1748. AUM, P 58, U, Hertel de Rouville à Baby, 30 mars 1780; 7, 26 janv., 7 févr. 1798; 26 janv. 1802; Hertel de Rouville à Guay, 29 sept. 1817; Hertel de Rouville à Perrault l’aîné, 2 août 1771; 8 janv., 13 juin 1782; 7 juill., 11 août 1788; Hertel de Rouville à Sullivan, 8 sept. 1814. “Papiers d’État,” PAC Rapport, 1890: 305–6. La Gazette de Québec, 1er avril 1813, 11 déc. 1817. F.-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Desjardins, Guide parl., 124. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, 2: 199; 4: 64, 77–78. Wallace, Macmillan dict. Armand Cardinal, Histoire de Saint-Hilaire; les seigneurs de Rouville (Montréal, 1980). F.-J. Audet et Édouard Fabre Surveyer, “Jean-Baptiste-Melchior Hertel de Rouville,” La Presse (Montréal), 1er oct. 1927: 53. Hare, “L’Assemblée législative du Bas-Canada,” RHAF, 27: 361–95.