MONDELET (Mondelait, dit Bellefleur; Mondelé; Monthelet), DOMINIQUE, soldier, notary, surgeon, and landowner; b. c. 1734 in the parish of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, France, son of Didier Mondelet and Anne Méneveau; m. 23 April 1759 at Quebec, Marie-Françoise Hains, daughter of Joseph Hains, a carpenter of English origin, and they had 13 children; d. 6 Jan. 1802 in Saint-Marc, Lower Canada.
Dominique Mondelet arrived in New France in 1757 after serving for three years in the French navy. The following year he made a declaration that he was a sergeant in the Régiment de la Reine and a saddler by profession. He probably took part in the battle at Carillon (near Ticonderoga, N.Y.) on 8 July 1758, as well as the siege of Quebec in 1759. During the winter of 1759–60 he accompanied his regiment to the Chambly region where it established quarters. A man of initiative, he took advantage of the troubled times to assume the titles of notary and surgeon. In 1762 he signed his first deeds as a notary at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu and was treating the sick in the neighbourhood, having probably acquired his medical training in the army. In any case, he practised as a surgeon until he died.
With substantial means at his disposal, as is shown by the 1,287 livres in payment orders that he had in his possession in 1763 and the letter of credit for 100 livres that he held on Pierre Pelletier’s estate two years later, Mondelet did not hesitate to launch into property transactions. Between 1765 and 1769 he bought for 2,300 livres at least four adjoining pieces of land, with a large acreage suitable for farming, along the Rivière Richelieu in the seigneuries of Saint-François-le-Neuf and Cournoyer. Early in 1770 he encountered difficulties. Some of his assets were seized and sold at auction for outstanding debts; among them were two houses, one a wooden dwelling of considerable size, a store, a stable, and various other buildings. These troubles did not seem to disturb unduly Mondelet’s plans for enlarging his estate on both banks of the Richelieu. Through purchases, grants, or exchanges, particularly in the period 1772–75, he obtained a footing in the seigneuries of Rouville and Saint-Hyacinthe, and then acquired more properties in that of Cournoyer. On 30 March 1781 he made his biggest deal when Jean Jenison, the seigneur of Saint-François-le-Neuf, granted him 14 pieces of land situated between the Richelieu, the Rivière des Hurons, and the Rivière Salvail. Subsequently he took advantage of the Sunday auction sales on the steps of the parish church of Saint-Charles to buy lands adjoining his own.
As his time was taken up by his work as a notary and a surgeon, Mondelet was unable to develop all his properties on his own. Consequently he sometimes had recourse to farmers or métayers. Anxious to protect his interests, he made heavy demands, asking them to maintain ditches and fences, take out thistles and other weeds, and spread manure immediately after the harvest.
Although Mondelet’s affairs seemed prosperous, an unfortunate development occurred that caused concern in his family. In August 1781 judges John Fraser and René-Ovide Hertel* de Rouville, who had been named by Governor Halidmand to investigate the practice of the notarial profession, recommended that Mondelet be dismissed from its ranks; among other things they accused him of having practised without an official commission and of frequently contravening the rules of procedure for notaries. Shortly before this recommendation was made, Mondelet had urged the governor in vain to accord him a notary’s commission for the villages of Saint Charles-sur-Richelieu, Belœil, Saint-Hyacinthe, and Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu. The petition he addressed to Haldimand on 2 March 1782, in which he begged to be continued in his position, met with no greater success. He seems to have resigned himself to his fate, since after that date his minute-book contains only two deeds, one drawn up in 1784 and the other the next year.
Early in the 1790s Mondelet left his home at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu and went to live on the left bank, at Saint-Marc. In connection with this move he sold a number of properties in the region of Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, particularly in the period from 1794 to 1798. He was probably engaged in the wheat trade, since on several of these occasions he stipulated that he be paid in that grain, either directly or as a life annuity. He also received nearly 8,000 livres from the various transactions.
As a surgeon, notary, and landowner Mondelet had gained the trust of the people in the Richelieu region. This explains why the inhabitants of Saint-Marc chose him on 27 Nov. 1793 to defend their interests when a piece of land was seized. He was also chosen in 1796 to sit in the tenant farmers’ assembly which had to deliberate about the building of a church in the parish of Saint-Marc-de-Cournoyer (Saint-Marc). When he died, four parish priests conducted his funeral service before “a great crowd of people.”
Through his work and intelligence Mondelet had carved out an enviable place for himself within the modest society of the Richelieu valley. His son Jean-Marie* followed in his footsteps and became a notary; he also served as a member of the House of Assembly and coroner for the district of Montreal. His grandsons, Charles-Elzéar* and Dominique*, would be appointed judges and play important roles on the political stage in the 19th century.
ANQ-M, CE1-46, 8 janv. 1802; CN1-100, 17 juin 1764, 12 févr. 1765; CN1-150, 5 oct. 1765, 30 avril 1767, 30 mars 1781; CN1-189, 24 juin 1772; CN1-217, 19 févr. 1789, 19 juin 1790; CN1-254, 21 avril 1775; CN1-255, 27 nov. 1793; CN1-295, 29 sept., 22 oct. 1794; 7 févr., 8 juin, 13 nov. 1795; 10 janv., 1er juill., 3 oct. 1796; 15 mars, 25 juill., 23 sept. 1797; 23 févr., 9 mars 1798; 20 août, 1er nov. 1799; 11 févr. 1800; 22 févr., 6 juill. 1802; P1000-48-1020. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 23 avril 1759. BL, Add. mss 21734: 154; 21879: 59 (copies at PAC). “Cahier des témoignages de liberté au manage commancé le 15 avril 1757,” ANQ Rapport, 1951–53: 43–44, 53–54. “État général des billets d’ordonnances” (Panet), ANQ Rapport, 1924–25: 286. Quebec Gazette, 9 March 1769, 1 Feb. 1770, 2 July 1772. Abbott, Hist. of medicine, 35. M.-J. et G. Ahern, Notes pour l’hist. de la médecine, 418–19. Gérard Malchelosse, La famille Mondelet (Montréal, 1946). F.-J. Audet, “Les Mondelet,” Cahiers des Dix, 3 (1938): 191–216. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les médecins, chirurgiens et apothicaires de Montréal, de 1701 à 1760,” BRH, 27 (1921): 80.