PERTHUIS (sometimes Perthuis de La Salle), JOSEPH, merchant-trader, member of the Conseil Supérieur of Quebec, commissary of royal prisons, and seigneur; b. 29 Aug. 1714 at Quebec, son of Charles Perthuis* and Marie-Madeleine Roberge; d. 19 March 1782 in Poitiers, France.
Son of a prosperous Quebec merchant, Joseph Perthuis followed in his father’s steps and embarked on a career in trade. Early in the 1740s, however, business apparently left him enough time to attend Attorney General Louis-Guillaume Verrier*’s classes in law and jurisprudence on a regular basis. Thanks to assiduous attendance, he was appointed assessor to the Conseil Supérieur of Quebec on 26 Jan. 1743. He did his work so well that the following year the colonial authorities proposed his name to the minister of Marine, Maurepas, for the position left vacant by the death of councillor Louis Rouer* d’Artigny. Maurepas thought he should remain assessor for a time; he finally granted him the office of councillor on 1 Jan. 1747.
Perthuis, who was described by Intendant Bigot as “a very good judge, the best-versed in his profession,” was called upon to carry out the attorney general’s duties during Verrier’s stay in France in 1744–45 and 1749. Subsequently he was asked to resume these duties temporarily, following the death of the attorney general on 13 Sept. 1758; he was to hold this office until the conquest. On 18 Nov. 1754 Perthuis had been appointed by the Conseil Supérieur commissary of the king’s prisons, and he held this post until 26 Jan. 1756, when he handed it over to Joseph-Étienne Nouchet*. He is also believed to have received on several occasions a commission as subdelegate of the intendant. On 25 Feb. 1747 Intendant Hocquart had instructed him to go to start a salt-works in Kamouraska, in order to ensure the colony’s supply in the event that the regular cargoes from France were captured at sea. His report was not encouraging, and no further attempt to set up salt-works there was made. He also helped to establish an observation post at Cap-des-Rosiers, and he translated some military documents that had been seized.
Perthuis never neglected his business for his judicial work, despite the potential conflict of interest, and during the 1740s and 1750s he carried on these two parallel careers. In 1755 he was one of the major suppliers in Quebec of the king’s storehouses.
On 16 Sept. 1745 Perthuis had married Marie-Anne Chasle, the widow of Guillaume Gouze, a Quebec merchant. His wife brought a dowry of 6,000 livres, including a house in Lower Town. At the time Perthuis was well off: he owned a house in Quebec on Rue Notre-Dame and employed a servant. He was also highly regarded in colonial society: in 1747 the Quebec merchants chose him as their representative to the colonial authorities. On several occasions his colleagues on the Conseil Supérieur appointed him to its delegation charged with welcoming governors or intendants when they arrived in the colony or when they went on a trip, or introducing them to the council. His prestige was enhanced when the king granted him a seigneury behind that of Portneuf on 1 May 1754.
After the conquest Perthuis sold to Jean Mounier for only 300 livres his real estate in the colony, including the still undeveloped seigneury; he then sailed for France with his family. He was in Paris in November 1767, as was his brother, Jean-Baptiste-Ignace*, who had been a merchant and king’s attorney in Canada. In 1774 Joseph Perthuis became king’s councillor and secretary in the chancellery in Poitiers and obtained a pension of 600 livres which in September 1775 was converted to an annual one of 200 livres for each of his sons. He died in Poitiers on 19 March 1782. Of his seven children, a daughter and two sons (Joseph, who followed a military career, and Charles-Régis) survived him.
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