MONIC, JOSEPH DE, military officer and administrator, acting governor of Placentia (Plaisance), 1697–1702; b. probably in the 1650s, the son of Jean de Monic and Marguerite de Cornet, of Oloron in Béarn; married 13 Dec. 1691 at Quebec, Jeanne Dufresnoy Carion; d. 17 Oct. 1707, at Bayonne.
Before coming to Canada in 1687 as a captain in the colonial regular troops, Monic had held a commission in the regular armies, having served in Flanders, Germany, and Lorraine as a subaltern in the Régiment de Champagne since 1675 and having been promoted captain in 1686. Three years after his arrival in the colony, he took part in the defence of Quebec against Phips*. In March 1691, because of his experience and conduct, he became garrison adjutant at Quebec; and in December of the same year married the widow of the illustrious Jacques Le Moyne* de Sainte-Hélène. Having gone to France in 1693, he was allowed to remain there to take the waters for his health and to attend to personal affairs, and eventually was posted to duty at the port of Rochefort. In 1697 he was attached to Placentia as interim commandant in the absence of the governor, Jacques-François de Brouillan [Monbeton]. This responsibility continued until 1702 (although Monic was permitted to spend some of his winters in France) and for all concerned these were five stormy years.
Arrogant and hot-tempered, Monic insisted a great deal on the recognition of his position, perhaps because his authority in the colony was temporary. Had he worked in greater harmony with his staff, he might have been accorded the title and prestige of the position as well as its responsibilities; Pontchartrain indicated on more than one occasion that he was high on the list to succeed Brouillan. But when the time came to appoint a successor, the choice fell on Auger de Subercase, who had replaced Monic at Quebec; and it did so largely because of the events of 1700 and 1701.
In spite of reports from other officers reflecting on his honesty, Monic had headed the list in 1699 of possible candidates for the governorship. By 1700, however, the hardships which were part of life at Placentia were aggravated by personal friction between the commandant and his senior lieutenants, and echoes of their quarrels reached Versailles. Pastour de Costebelle, wrote Monic, had no sense of service or any regular military background; and it was intolerable that such a low-born person as L’Hermitte had risen to a position of authority. For his part, Costebelle accused Monic of harsh treatment; so did Joseph de Saint-Ovide de Brouillan [Monbeton*], Durand de La Garenne, and L’Hermitte – all of whom the commandant had imprisoned for weeks at a time. Monic’s attempts to alleviate food shortages by buying emergency rations from the Huguenot, Faneuil of Boston (the father or uncle of Peter), were construed by his fellow officers as illicit trade for personal gain although Monic’s motives may have been a mixture of altruism, good management, and personal profit. Since few officers were innocent of seeking to augment their incomes through trade, Pontchartrain was inclined to be lenient on that score, but he had already warned Monic that unless he treated his subordinates fairly, Placentia would be his last command. Privately he blamed Monic more than the others for the quarrels, although officially he reprimanded the subordinates for their conduct. No doubt the minister felt that temperament and insubordination were interfering with effective handling of such problems as rapid construction and repair of fortifications, ensuring adequate defence of the colony during this construction, financing a hospital, increasing the number of missionaries, recruiting tradesmen for the garrison’s companies, rotating personnel between Canada and Newfoundland, equitably assigning to residents shore space for drying fish, preventing the English from hunting at Trinity and trading at Placentia, controlling the cabarets, and checking the profiteering which officers carried on at their men’s expense.
By March of 1702 Pontchartrain decided to recall Monic. Early in 1703 the latter returned to France where, after a visit to Bayonne, he went back to serve at Rochefort. He was made a knight of the order of Saint-Louis on 9 May 1707 and died at Bayonne on 17 October of the same year.
[Le Blant (p.88), citing BN, MS, NAF 9277 (Margry), f.88, states that Monic’s marriage took place on 13 Oct. 1691. This is impossible if the marriage contract was signed on 12 Dec. 1691 (AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar). The marriage probably took place on 13 Dec. 1691. f.j.t.]
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 12 déc. 1691, 31 mai 1692; Greffe de Bénigne Basset, 1er déc. 1692, 14 juillet 1695. AN, Col., B, 16, f.26; 17, f.64; 19, ff.158v, 162v; 20, ff.115v, 156, 172v, 176v, 190v; 22, ff.65, 133v, 187v, 198, 211v, 220, 221; 23, ff.31v, 129, 161, 163, 165, 172v, 178v, 184v, 293, 295v, 302v; 27, f.334v; C11C, 2, ff.156, 160; 3, ff.3, 16, 24, 39, 69, 152, 172, 216, 227, 264, 268, 291; D2C, 47 (1692, 1693, 1694, 1699); 222; F3, 4, f.343; Marine, C7, 213, ff.1, 2. P.-G. et A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., I. 301, 309; V, 150, 160, 174. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue. Le Blant, Philippe de Pastour de Costebelle.