VERON DE GRANDMESNIL, ÉTIENNE (he usually signed Grandmesnil and sometimes Grandmesnil fils), clerk in the king’s warehouse at Trois-Rivières, clerk and secretary to the founder of Detroit, merchant, and receiver of the admiral of France; b. 19 Dec. 1679 at Trois-Rivières, son of Étienne Veron* de Grandmesnil and Marie-Thérèse Moral de Saint-Quentin; d. 22 April 1743 at Quebec.
Étienne Veron de Grandmesnil spent his childhood and youth at Trois-Rivières. During the mid 1690s, he appears to have been working there as a clerk in the king’s warehouse. On 28 Sept. 1705 he and Étienne de Véniard* de Bourgmond were commissioned by the Compagnie de la Colonie to take an inventory of the holdings at Fort Pontchartrain (Detroit) to establish the basis on which Lamothe Cadillac [Laumet*], who was scheduled to assume full control of the fort the following year, would repay the company for its initial investment. The next day the notary Florent de La Cetière* drew up a hiring contract between Grandmesnil and Cadillac. Grandmesnil added the word “fils” (son) to his signature, perhaps to distinguish himself from his father, who had the same name. The father and son would nevertheless be mistaken for one another in several sources. Grandmesnil and Bourgmond went to Fort Pontchartrain late in the fall of 1705. As Cadillac’s clerk and secretary, Grandmesnil wrote the concession documents by which Cadillac granted property both in and outside the fort to its inhabitants from 1707 to 1709. He also wrote a few documents regarding property sales that would be consulted during Cadillac’s appeal after his return to France to regain property he had been forced to leave behind when he was appointed governor of Louisiana in 1710. On 26 July 1709 Cadillac had signed a document at the fort granting Grandmesnil power of attorney and naming him his agent for all business matters.
One day earlier Grandmesnil had been recorded on a baptismal record as the father of a girl named Thérèse, baptized Marie-Thérèse, born on 24 July at Fort Pontchartrain to Marie Lepage, the only woman granted property by Cadillac inside the fort. Grandmesnil did not sign the baptismal record or marry Lepage, but Thérèse nevertheless appears to have been accepted by his family, since two of his sisters would be witnesses to her wedding in Trois-Rivières on 22 April 1748. Thérèse’s husband, Pierre Baby, was in fact the son of Jacques Baby and Madeleine Veron de Grandmesnil, sister of Grandmesnil fils. Pierre was thus the first cousin of Thérèse. Her parents are not mentioned on the marriage record, however, and a dispensation for consanguinity was never sought or granted.
Grandmesnil had left Fort Pontchartrain sometime after Thérèse’s birth in 1709, arriving on 6 September in Montreal, where he would live until 1715. There, on 28 May 1713, he married Marie-Catherine Lepicard. Only one of their children would survive to adulthood: daughter Catherine, who would marry Joseph Fleury* Deschambault in 1738.
In 1715 Grandmesnil went to Quebec and set himself up as a merchant in Rue Notre-Dame in Lower Town. Because few documents survive concerning his activities as a merchant, it is difficult to state exactly what his business was. He is better known to us as a litigant, and a litigant who did not give up easily. Through his marriage, Grandmesnil had become brother-in-law to the notary Jacques Barbel*, husband of Marie-Anne Lepicard; she and Marie-Catherine were daughters of the merchant Jean Lepicard. At his death in 1714 Jean left a property that was rented to the merchant Gabriel Greysac. As he was thinking of moving to Quebec, Grandmesnil obtained from the Conseil Supérieur an order for Greysac to move out. This was the prelude to a long dispute that was not settled until 1721. That same year a new quarrel broke out between Grandmesnil and his young brother-in-law, Joseph Lepicard. Both men claimed the part of the house that the other occupied. In 1725 an ordinance allowed Grandmesnil to have first choice, on the condition that he pay the other the sum of 117 livres. There was also a disagreement over a neighbouring piece of land belonging to Joseph, on which he was building. Grandmesnil disputed the boundaries of this piece of land, had arbitrators appointed, and attended to having it all surveyed and measured.
In 1730 Grandmesnil had an ordinance issued by Gilles Hocquart* concerning the collection of the former governor of Louisiana’s assets. This was one of the last times that Grandmesnil intervened on Cadillac’s behalf, since the latter died that same year.
During his last years Grandmesnil held the office of receiver of the admiral of France. A document dated 1740 describes him in this capacity when he collected the fees owed to the admiral of France for the oil and bone from a whale cast up on the sandbanks at Manicouaguen. After his death he was replaced in this office by Denis Goguet*.
Jug. et délib., VI, 856. Recensement de Québec, 1716 (Beaudet), 39. P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., I, 76, 122; II, 313, 315, 324, 328, 330; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, I, 84–85, 97, 110–17, 126, 132, 257–62, 284, 297; Inv. ord. int., II, 60, 255, 291; III, 39. J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat, I, 194, 370. Tanguay, Dictionnaire.
Revisions based on:
A folder of documents from Fort Pontchartrain (Detroit), held at the Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Québec (CN301-S286), has been mistakenly attributed to Étienne Veron de Grandmesnil, père (father) (1649–1721), rather than Étienne Veron de Grandmesnil, fils (son) (1679–1743). Suzanne Boivin Sommerville’s comparison of their distinct signatures in various acts and documents from New France allowed her to correctly link the folder of documents to the son, as well as to trace both his and his father’s movements. The sources and methodology she used for the revision of this biography are outlined in her series of articles titled “Marie Lepage and Étienne Véron Grandmesnil: rush to judgment? An example of misinterpreted evidence,” Michigan’s Habitant Heritage (Detroit), 22 (2001), nos.1–3: 25–33, 72–80, 114–22. In 2020 a revision of these articles with digital images added was posted on the website of the French-Canadian Heritage Soc. of Mich.: https://habitantheritage.org/cpage.php?pt=15 (consulted 5 Feb. 2020).
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec (Trois-Rivières, Québec), C401-S48, 19 déc. 1679, 22 avril 1748; Centre d’arch. de Montréal, CE601-S51, 28 mai 1713; Centre d’arch. de Québec, CE301-S1, 22 avril 1743.