PICHOT (Pichon) DE QUERDISIEN (Kerdisien de) TRÉMAIS, CHARLES-FRANÇOIS, commissary of the Marine charged with conducting the inquiry in the affaire du Canada; b. c. 1724 near Brest, France; d. 9 Aug. 1784 at L’Acul (Dominican Republic).
Charles-François Pichot de Querdisien Trémais entered the Marine in 1743 and served as commissary at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) during the 1758 siege. The following year he was principal writer at Brest. It was probably at the beginning of 1759 that it was proposed he go to Canada to investigate the financial administration, since early in February he sent the minister, Berryer, a report setting out his idea of what he would have to do in the colony. He suggested that he work in the “money office” (the office of the Marine), where Intendant Bigot was requesting help. As a result of this report, which the minister called “well done,” Querdisien Trémais received the title of commissary of the Marine and precise instructions for his mission. While aiding “M. Bigot efficiently in his duties,” he was to work to uncover “all the abuses which have crept into any parts whatsoever of the service in the colony.” He was therefore to inspect the supplies sent to the colony by the king, examine the profits of merchants favoured by the intendant, and above all pay close attention to purveyor general Joseph-Michel Cadet’s activities. He was to ensure that the hospitals’ expenditures and the rent paid for warehouses and buildings were examined, that any abuse in the payment of officers and soldiers at the various posts was reported, and that the costs of the merchandise at these posts were investigated. The need for written proof of any abuses was emphasized. To facilitate his task he received a code to use for correspondence.
Bigot quickly detected Querdisien Trémais’s real mission and, to prove his honesty, he obliged his partners in the Grande Société to make partial restitution. The minister’s representative had to work under particularly unfavourable conditions – he had barely arrived in Quebec when the British appeared in the St Lawrence, and the intendant felt it necessary to transfer the documents of the “money office” to Trois-Rivières. Consequently Querdisien Trémais was not able to examine them and had to confine himself to collecting statements and comparing them with his own observations. Nevertheless his assessment of Bigot and the general staff of the armed forces was to result in prosecution at the Châtelet in Paris. As a reward for his services he received a pension of 1,200 livres. In 1761 the minister proposed that he be the person in France to settle Canadian accounts. He had to complete this task without the help of the financial commissary, Pierre-Michel Martel, who refused to leave the colony.
In July 1762, with the assistance of the intendant of Bordeaux, Charles-Robert Boutin, he investigated Bigot’s commercial operations with the Jewish merchant Abraham Gradis; he seized documents from Gradis’s offices which revealed various aspects of the Grande Société [see Michel-Jean-Hugues Péan]. Then he held an inquiry at La Rochelle into the activities of Denis Goguet, Bigot’s agent, who was responsible for the sale in Europe of furs Bigot acquired at his or the king’s trading posts.
At the end of December 1762 Querdisien Trémais received 6,000 livres, drawn on colonial funds, and was sent to Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola) on a mission similar to the one he had carried out capably in Canada. He was appointed subdelegate general of the intendant, financial commissary of Cap-Français (Cap-Haïtian or Le Cap), and first councillor of the Conseils Supérieurs of Cap-Français and Port-au-Prince. From 23 Jan. 1769 on he served as commissary general of Saint-Domingue, and he received the appointment of commissary general of the Marine in 1771. In 1780 he was honorary councillor of the Conseil Supérieur of Cap-Français; he died four years later.
AN, Col., B, 109, ff.34, 63; 110, ff.40v, 46; 113, f.299v; 113, 2e partie, ff.11, 12, 80v; 115, f.147; C11A, 104, f.344. ANQ-M, Greffe de Pierre Panet, 10 sept. 1760. “Dossier Charles-François Pichot de Querdisien Trémais,” Antoine Roy, édit., ANQ Rapport, 1959–60, 3–22. “Les malignités du sieur de Courville,” BRH, L (1944), 113. Gustave Lanctot, “L’Affaire du Canada; bibliographie du procès Bigot,” BRH, XXXVIII (1932), 8–17. [M.-L.-É.] Moreau de Saint-Méry, Description topographique, physique, civile, politique et historique de la partie française de lisle de Saint-Domingue, Blanche Maurel et Étienne Taillemite, édit. (3v., Paris, 1958), 272, 1502. Frégault, François Bigot. P.-G. Roy, La famille Martel de Magesse (Lévis, Qué., 1934), 23. Pierre de Vaissière, Saint-Domingue; la société et la vie créoles sous l’Ancien Régime (1629–1789) (Paris, 1909), 149–50. “M. Querdisien Trémais,” BRH, LII (1946), 349.