ROLLAND, JEAN-ROCH, lawyer, judge, member of the Executive Council, and seigneur; b. 11 May 1785 at Montreal, son of François-Roch Rolland and Angélique Boisseau; d. 5 Aug. 1862 at Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir (Marieville, Que.).
Jean-Roch Rolland was called to the bar on 22 May 1806. After a brilliant and lucrative career of 24 years at Montreal, he was appointed judge of the Court of King’s Bench at Montreal on 7 Jan. 1830. On 13 Feb. 1836 he was named acting resident judge for the district of Trois-Rivières, replacing the ailing Judge Joseph-Rémi Vallières* de Saint-Réal.
During the 1837–38 disturbances Judge Rolland played a somewhat special role in Lower Canada. Writs of habeas corpus served on Colonel George Augustus Wetherall on 21 April 1838 ordered him to bring before judges Jean-Roch Rolland or James Reid the political prisoners Louis-Michel Viger* and Toussaint Pelletier. However, on 23 April Sir John Colborne had the law of habeas corpus suspended by an ordinance of the Special Council. This law, adopted in England in 1679, had been introduced in the Province of Quebec in 1784. Judges Philippe Panet*, Elzéar Bédard*, and Vallières de Saint-Réal refused to comply with the Special Council’s ordinance and maintained that it was illegal. Judge Jean-Roch Rolland disagreed, arguing that the law of 1679 had never come into force in Canada. The sentences delivered by judges Panet, Bédard, and Vallières de Saint-Réal were quashed on appeal, their writs annulled by the Special Council, and all three were relieved of their offices by Colborne.
On 28 Dec. 1838 Jean-Roch Rolland was again appointed acting resident judge at Trois-Rivières to replace Judge Vallières de Saint-Réal. Meanwhile, on 28 June 1838, Rolland had been appointed to the Executive Council by Lord Durham [Lambton*], at the same time as Vallières de Saint-Réal. This puppet council, set up as a matter of form by Durham, disappeared on 2 Nov. 1838, the day before he left Lower Canada. On 17 April 1839 a commission called upon Rolland to preside over the provincial Court of Appeal in certain cases.
Eight years later, on 23 April 1847, Rolland was appointed chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, replacing Justice Vallières de Saint-Réal. In 1849 the Superior Court replaced the Court of Queen’s Bench, and the provincial Court of Appeal was renamed the Court of Queen’s Bench. Rolland was promoted to the latter court on 1 Jan. 1850, and retired from the bench on 26 Jan. 1855.
The Honourable Judge Rolland then went to live in his manor-house at Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir, a seigneury he had acquired from Sir John Johnson* in 1826. He died there on 5 Aug. 1862, at age 77. On 1 March 1821, at Quebec, he had married Marguerite, the younger daughter of Jean-Baptiste-Philippe-Charles d’Estimauville*. Rolland and his wife had eight children; one of them, Charles-Octave, became a lieutenant-colonel in the militia and another, Henri-Auguste, a medical doctor.
PAC, MG 30, D62, 26, pp.553–57. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, II, 539. P.-G. Roy, Les juges de la prov. de Québec, 475. Garneau, Hist. du Canada (1882–83), III, 359–67. P.-G. Roy, La famine d’Estimauville de Beaumouchel (Lévis, Qué., 1909). F.-J. Audet, “Les juges de Trois-Rivières,” BRH, VI (1900), 246. “L’honorable Jean-Roch Rolland,” BRH, X (1904), 58. Antonio Perrault, “Le Conseil spécial, 1838–1841; son œuvre législative,” La Revue du Barreau de la province de Québec (Montréal), 3 (1943), 213–15.