TROTTIER DUFY DESAUNIERS, THOMAS-IGNACE (he also signed Dufy Desauniers), merchant and militia captain; baptized 21 Dec. 1712 in Montreal, son of Pierre Trottier Desauniers, a merchant-trader, and Catherine Charest; m. in 1747, in Quebec, Marie-Thomas, daughter of Joseph de Fleury* de La Gorgendière, a merchant; d. 21 March 1777 in Montreal.
Thomas-Ignace Trottier Desauniers, who was related to several important families in Canada including the Charests, adopted from the Charests the name Dufy and subsequently was known as Dufy Desauniers. His brother, Pierre Trottier* Desauniers, and his cousin, Étienne Charest, seigneur of Lauson, owned thriving businesses in Quebec. It was not surprising, then, that Dufy Desauniers became a merchant. As such he was active in the deliberations of the assembly of merchant-outfitters of Montreal. In addition, in 1753 he was elected a church warden of Notre-Dame in Montreal and in 1775 the head church warden.
It is, however, Dufy Desauniers’s military career that is better known. Having entered the king’s service in either 1729 or 1737 (he gave both dates), he became captain of one of the companies of Montreal militia in 1745. In that capacity he took part in nearly all the campaigns of the Seven Years’ War. Serving in turn under Vaudreuil [Rigaud], Montcalm*, and Lévis, he earned praise as “one of those [officers] who most distinguished themselves in the Canadian militia.”
In a letter of 1764 pointing out his services to the minister of the Marine, the Duc de Choiseul, Dufy Desauniers noted that he had “sacrificed his own interests for the king’s service, for which, during all the time that he served, he received no allowances, emoluments, or gratuities whatever.” He asked for the cross of the order of Saint-Louis, insisting he was only awaiting this favour to leave Canada for France with his family and fortune, which Vaudreuil valued at 12,000 livres in annual income. The decoration was denied because “His Majesty is firmly decided not to grant any to anyone for some time.”
In 1772 Dufy Desauniers was somewhat surprised to receive a letter from France assuring him that the king was ready to confer the said cross when he settled in France. Now used to the new régime, and not disposed to leave his country for the pleasure of wearing a decoration, Dufy Desauniers confided his embarrassment to the lieutenant governor of Quebec, Hector-Théophilus Cramahé. Cramahé referred the problem to Lord Hillsborough, the British secretary of state for the Colonies, who informed the Duc d’Aiguillon, the French minister of foreign affairs, of the British court’s surprise and hope that this offer was only an error, because Dufy Desauniers, having become a British subject, was no longer eligible for the honour. When the Duc d’Aiguillon went to the council of Marine for further information, the president explained that the Sieur Dufy was to have been decorated only if he went to live in France. Dufy Desauniers having refused to move, the incident was closed.
After the conquest Dufy Desauniers had got along well with the British authorities in Montreal. In 1775, at the time of the American invasion and the re-establishment of the Canadian militia by Governor Guy Carleton*, he was appointed colonel of the Montreal militia units. In 1777 the governor decided to call him to the Legislative Council, but Dufy Desauniers died in March.
AN, Col., E, 148 (dossier Desauniers). ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 21 déc. 1712, 23 mars 1777. ANQ-Q, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Québec, 25 mai 1747. Claude de Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire: état provisoire des officiers de milice de 1641 à 1760,” ANQ Rapport, 1949–51, 439–41. Æ. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 81–83. P.-G. Roy, “Thomas-Ignace Trottier Dufy Desauniers,” BRH, XXIV (1918), 379–80. “Une chambre de commerce à Montréal sous le Régime français,” BRH, XXXII (1926), 121–22.