LEGARDEUR DE TILLY, JEAN-BAPTISTE (also known as Legardeur de Moncarville et de Tilly), officer in the French navy; b. 30 Oct. 1698 at Rochefort, France, son of Jean-Baptiste Legardeur de La Mothe-Tilly and Jeanne-Élisabeth Girard; d. 3 March 1757 at sea.
Jean-Baptiste Legardeur de Tilly entered the French navy as a midshipman in 1713. He made several voyages to Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), Louisiana, Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola), and Martinique before accompanying his father to New France in 1724 on a mission to survey its potential for ship masts and timber. Two years later on 8 June he married at Montreal Anne-Geneviève Rocbert de La Morandière, sister of Mme Bégon [Rocbert]. In 1727 he returned to France. Legardeur de Tilly continued to serve at sea and rose slowly in the officer ranks. He often sailed to Quebec. He did not receive his first independent command until 1742, the same year that he was received into the order of Saint-Louis.
In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession, Legardeur de Tilly was ordered to Quebec, with supplies and munitions, but the season was advanced when he left Rochefort in September and he turned back before the end of the month. At the conclusion of the war he returned to New France and took command of the newly constructed third-rate ship-of-the-line Saint-Laurent during her maiden voyage to France. Following the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, in 1757, he received command of another third-rate, the Inflexible, but he died a few days after departing from Brest.
Legardeur de Tilly’s 44 years of service were undistinguished. He was more than 40 years old when he received his first command, and the minister of Marine was unhappy with the lack of zeal he displayed in 1745. Indeed Legardeur de Tilly’s career illustrates the malaise affecting the French navy during the middle of the 18th century: over-aged junior officers, too long passed by for promotion and inhibited from vigorous action by their own cautious careers.
Legardeur de Tilly left five children. Each of three girls received royal pensions of 300 livres following their father’s death. The eldest, Marie-Anne, ill and crippled, was entrusted from birth to her aunt, Mme Bégon, who sheltered and cared for her for 23 years. In 1757 the two sons were already ensigns in the French navy. One, known only as the Chevalier Legardeur de Tilly, died on 21 Aug. 1778 on the Concorde in action off Saint-Domingue against the English frigate Minerva. The other, Armand, rose to the rank of vice-admiral under the old régime and spent some time in prison during the Terror.
[Claude de Bonnault, “Saintonge et Canada: les Tilly,” BRH, XLI (1935), 238–56, 296–313; Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, II, 719; and P.-G. Roy, “La famille Le Gardeur de Tilly,” BRH, LIII (1947), 99–123, 133–46 all confuse the careers of Jean-Baptiste Legardeur de Tilly, father and son. The clearest brief account, which contains information not found elsewhere, is in Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 137. None of the above appears to have used the full account of Legardeur de Tilly’s service record in AN, Marine, C7, which also includes one for his father. Other manuscript sources were found in AN, Marine, B4, 62, f.81; 4JJ, 12, 38. j.s.p.]