VILLEDONNÉ, ÉTIENNE DE, esquire, captain in the colonial regular troops, commandant at Fort Saint-Joseph, 1722–26; b. in Paris, c. 1666; d. in Quebec, 12 May 1726.
The son of Étienne de Villedonné, an attorney of the parlement of Paris, and Marie Vezins, he came to Canada in 1685 as either a cadet or a second lieutenant in the colonial regular tropps. Four years later he was taken prisoner by the Iroquois who, in the course of his captivity, chewed off one of his fingers and burnt his arm. In 1692, Villedonné managed to escape. Undaunted by the treatment he had suffered at the hands of the Five Nations, he participated in several expeditions against them in the years that followed. During the War of the Spanish Succession he campaigned in Newfoundland with a detachment commanded by Jacques Testard de Montigny which attacked the English settlements of Trinity and Bonavista in 1705.
Villedonné was named assistant town major of Quebec in 1712 and promoted to the rank of captain the following year. He was highly regarded by Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil who appointed him commandant of Fort Saint-Joseph, off the southeastern tip of Lake Michigan, in 1722. By that time the Fox Indians had begun to attack the settlements of the Illinois country, and Villedonné became involved in the controversy between the post commandants of Canada and Louisiana who accused each other of not taking appropriate measures to end this war.
In Quebec in 1697 Villedonné had married Marie Damours, daughter of Mathieu Damours* de Chauffours and Marie Marsolet. She bore him three children and died in 1703. In 1715 he married his second wife, Françoise Roussel, daughter of the surgeon Timothée Roussel*; they had seven children.
AJQ, Greffe de Louis Chambalon, 28 sept. 1697. AN, Col., C11A, 12, 22, 24, 25, 28, 30, 56; D2C, 222. “L’expédition de M. de Montigny à Terreneuve en 1705,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 290–98. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., V, 321; XII, XVIII, XIX. P.-G. Roy, “Ce que Callières pensait de nos officiers,” 328. Wis. State Hist. Soc. Coll., XVI, 444–51 (some of Villedonné’s correspondence during his command at Fort Saint-Joseph). Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 154, 194, 530; III, 412. [Tanguay gives Villedonné’s dates as 1663-1726. In 1701, however, Callière stated that Villedonné was 35 years old, which would place his birth in 1666. y.z.f.]