NEVEU, JEAN-BAPTISTE (also written Nepveu; he is sometimes called Sieur de La Bretonnière), merchant and trader, seigneur; baptized Jean on 20 Dec. 1676 in Quebec, son of Philippe Neveu, a tailor, and Marie-Denise Sevestre; d. 24 June 1754 in Montreal.
Jean-Baptiste Neveu left his birthplace to settle in Montreal, where in January 1701 he appeared as a merchant. His business enterprise, located on Rue Saint-Paul, brought him large profits which enabled him to finance numerous fur-trading trips throughout the pays d’en haut and to organize for himself several of these lucrative expeditions. In 1709 he acquired from his brother Jacques for 200 livres a slave named Marie, who was 11 years old and of the Pawnee tribe.
His financial situation soon enabled him to diversify his investments, and on 28 Nov. 1710 he bought the seigneury of Dautré, situated on the St Lawrence. Five years later, on 21 Sept. 1715, he purchased from the Sulpicians a piece of land situated on Rue Saint-Paul where he had a two-storey stone house built for himself. Then from 1717 on he increased his investments in land; he bought from different owners the seigneury of Lanoraie, which belonged to him in its entirety in 1721. In that year his house on Rue Saint-Paul was destroyed by fire; the recognition of sovereignty and census of Montreal Island in 1731 tells us that at that date it had been rebuilt on the same site and to almost identical dimensions. On 4 July 1739 Governor Charles de Beauharnois and Intendant Hocquart* granted him the land at the back of his two seigneuries, extending to the Rivière L’Assomption. This piece of land and his two seigneuries were incorporated into a single seigneury which was called Lanoraie.
Neveu developed his vast domain wisely and encouraged settlement. He had a tar kiln, sawmill, and flour mill built on his lands. He also had built, at his own expense, the first chapel and the presbytery of Lanoraie. In 1744 he gave the site for the building of the first stone church, then in 1752 he made over to the council of the parish, free of charge, a piece of land of 120 acres.
Like many other merchants, Jean-Baptiste Neveu was a churchwarden of the parish of Notre-Dame de Montréal; he exercised this responsibility from 1706 to 1709. He was also a member of the militia of the government of Montreal. In 1720 he was a captain, and in 1737 and 1741 he held the rank of colonel, which he seems to have retained until his death in 1754.
On 24 Jan. 1702, in Montreal, he had married Marie-Jeanne Passard; of this marriage a daughter was born. Having lost his wife on 3 Feb. 1703, he married Françoise-Élisabeth Legras in Montreal on 27 July 1704; of his second marriage 14 children were born. His wife survived him, dying in 1771.
ANQ-M, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 21 janv. 1702, 11 juill. 1704, 14 oct. 1708, 19 oct. 1709, 5 mars 1713; Greffe de L.-C. Danré de Blanzy, 15 déc. 1745; Greffe de J.-C. Porlier, 25 sept. 1740; Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 24 janv. 1702, 27 juill. 1704. “Aveu et dénombrement pour l’île de Montréal,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42, 118. Édits ord., I, 456; II, 515; III, 178–82. Jug. et délib., IV, 917. “Procès-verbaux du procureur général Collet” (Caron), APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 302, 307, 308, 368. “Recensement de Montréal, 1741” (Massicotte). Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” APQ Rapport, 1949–51, 423, 425, 439. “Marguilliers de la paroisse Notre-Dame de Ville-Marie de 1657 à 1913,” BRH, XIX (1913), 277. Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1929–30, 219, 225, 232, 240, 257, 260. Tanguay, Dictionnaire.