SILLY, JEAN-BAPTISTE DE, commissary of the Marine, financial commissary, and acting intendant; b. c. 1683 in France. He had already proved himself in the French navy when King Louis XV asked him to assume the office of commissary of the Marine in New, France on 24 May 1728.
He arrived in Canada in the summer of that year, but his stay was to last only two years, for his health and the climate did not permit him to remain any longer. During those two years, however, by force of circumstances, Silly temporarily held three very important posts at the same time: commissary of the Marine at Quebec and at Montreal, and also acting intendant. Intendant Claude-Thomas Dupuy having been recalled to France, Clairambault d’Aigremont, the commissary at Montreal, came to Quebec to discharge the duties of intendant until the arrival of Dupuy’s successor. When Aigremont died on 1 Dec. 1728, it was Silly who was instructed to replace him.
It was not long before Hocquart*, the new intendant, perceived Silly’s great qualities, and on 28 Oct. 1729 he delegated to him power to “deal With all civil matters involving up to 500 livres” at Montreal. In addition he was to carry out or have carried out edicts, declarations, and ordinances concerning fraudulent trading, and to collaborate with the governor of Montreal with regard to the maintenance of good order in the colony.
Jean-Baptiste de Silly left some traces of his short stay in Canada: in particular he promoted the slate-quarry of Anse-des-Monts Notre-Dame, known as the slate-quarry of Grand Étang, and had occasion to help the unfortunate survivors of the Éléphant, which was wrecked near Cap Brûle on 2 Sept. 1729.
He resigned on 10 Oct. 1730 for reasons of health and shortly afterwards went back to France, where he was put on half pay; his subsequent activities are not known to us, any more than is the date of his death.
In a letter of 18 Oct. 1730 to the minister, Hocquart paid tribute to Silly as follows: “He has handled all matters related to warehouses and trading posts with great efficiency, and has discharged in the same way the duties of subdelegate which I had entrusted to him. He leaves loved by all and missed by the whole body of officers and settlers; in his conduct he has shown much wisdom and unselfishness.”
JR (Thwaites), LXVIII, 206, 329f. “La perte du vaisseau du roi l’Éléphant en 1729,” BRH, XIII (1907), 285. P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., II, 364; Inv. ord. int., II, 40. Sulte, Hist. des Can. fr., VI, 141. “L’ardoisière du Grand Étang,” BRH, XVI (1910), 185–88. P.-G. Roy, “Les commissaires ordinaires de la marine en la Nouvelle-France,” BRH, XXIV (1918), 51–54; “Jean-Baptiste de Silly,” BRH, XXII (1916), 313; “Les trois frères Lanoullier,” BRH, XII (1906), 18.