PRESSÉ, HYACINTHE-OLIVIER, clerk of court, court officer, and royal notary; fl. 1735–46.
Nothing is known about Hyacinthe-Olivier Pressé’s birth or death. His stay in New France lasted about 12 years, during which he held various judicial offices. On 1 Oct. 1735 Pressé obtained from Intendant Hocquart* a commission as clerk of court, court officer, and royal notary, for the royal jurisdiction of Trois-Rivières. He succeeded Pierre Petit*, who was giving up these three offices because of age and infirmities. The inquiry into the new notary’s character took place on 7 Nov. 1735.
Pressé exercised the three functions for eight years, and on 31 Oct. 1743 he gave up his office as clerk of court. The following year, on 30 June 1744, he lost the right to exercise his other two functions; the Conseil Supérieur had suspended him for three months, alleging that certain irregularities had been committed in a trial presided over by Jean-Baptiste Fafard de La Framboise, the deputy king’s attorney.
Some years later Pressé was himself the victim of dubious legal procedures. On 1 March 1746 Joseph Heu, dit Millet, received a mortal sword wound during a trip from Sorel to the Chenal du Moine with Pressé, Pierre-François Rigault, and Louis Lavallée. The deputy king’s attorney, Fafard de La Frambroise, began his investigation on 3 March and rapidly became convinced that the sword thrust had been delivered by Pressé. Pressé was arrested during the night of 4/5 March, and shortly afterwards Rigault was imprisoned as an accomplice. Fafard ordered a trial, which began on 17 March in Trois-Rivières. Lavallée’s vague evidence incriminated neither Pressé nor Rigault. And the other witnesses could only relate what happened after the murder: before he died the victim had not been able to identify his aggressor, and Pressé and Rigault had each accused the other of being responsible for his death. On the basis of this unconvincing evidence the king’s attorney demanded on 12 April the death sentence for Pressé and banishment from the jurisdiction for Rigault. The next day the court sentenced Pressé to the galleys. Rigault was found innocent and was released.
The notary immediately appealed his case to the Conseil Supérieur. In the second trial a new version of the affair was admitted as evidence. After a trifling quarrel between Pressé and Rigault, both of whom were drunk, Pressé was said to have drawn his sword to frighten his companion, but slipped on the snow; in trying to avoid the sword, Rigault was supposed to have deflected the blade, which struck Joseph Heu in the side, wounding him mortally. The council accepted this version, and on 26 April it suspended judgement on Pressé while awaiting a reprieve from the king. At the same time Rigault was found innocent.
On 9 November of that year Intendant Hocquart pleaded Pressé’s cause when he sent the trial documents to the minister of Marine, Maurepas. We do not know whether the king granted him a reprieve, and after this date no trace of him in New France is found.
AJTR, Greffe de H.-O. Pressé, 1735–1746. AN, Col., C11A, 86, ff.91–154 (copy of the documents of the trial of Pressé and Rigault). P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., I, 186; II, 358; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, II, 164; IV, 191, 194; Inv. ord. int., II, 190; III, 50, 80. J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat, I, 194–97. [Raymond Douville in “La tragédie du chenal du Moine,” Cahiers des Dix, XXXV (1970), 55–67, gives a résumé of the testimony heard during the trial at Trois-Rivières. m.p.]