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Charles SEVESTRE - Biography

SEVESTRE, CHARLES, clerk in the Quebec warehouse, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants, special lieutenant of the seneschal’s court of Quebec; son of Charles Sevestre and Marguerite Petitpas; d. 1657 at Quebec.

The Sevestre family came from Paris, where, some time around 1627, Charles had married Marie Pichon, the widow of Philippe Gauthier de La Chenaye. We know of four of Charles’s brothers: Louis, who was a bookseller; Étienne, Ignace, and Thomas, who probably arrived at Quebec with Charles not later than 1636. They brought with them their widowed mother. The Compagnie des Cent-Associés granted them lands at Quebec in the spring of 1639.

Charles Sevestre’s first occupation is unknown to us; he is referred to in 1641 only as a “settler living at the aforesaid Quebec.” But in 1645, when the Communauté des Habitants was founded, Sevestre makes his appearance as clerk of the warehouse. On 23 Aug. 1648, at a meeting of all the notables of the Quebec region, he was elected procurator-syndic of the Communauté. It was in this capacity that he was required, in 1649, to initiate the construction of the first church at Trois-Rivières. On 8 May 1651 he is mentioned as being provost judge of the Lauson seigneury, an office that he was the first to hold. During the years 1651 and 1652 he was one of the churchwardens of the parish of Quebec. Finally, from 1651 until his death, he was the first appointee to the important office of special civil and criminal lieutenant in the seneschal’s court of Quebec, created by Governor Jean de Lauson.

Charles Sevestre died at Quebec and was buried on 9 Dec. 1657 under his pew in the church; his wife was to follow him on 4 May 1661.

It seems evident, however, that Sevestre’s book-keeping, while he was a clerk in the warehouse, was not all it should have been towards the end of his term, for his son-in-law, Louis Rouer de Villeray (who succeeded him in the position through the favour of the interim governor, Louis d’Ailleboust) was held responsible for Sevestre’s errors or poor administration. Indeed, Villeray was forced to go to France to exonerate his father-in-law. This did not prevent the advocate, Jean Peronne Dumesnil, who arrived in 1660 as an inspector on behalf of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, then in its death throes, from heaping abuse on Rouer and his father-in-law, along with other highly respectable citizens of Canada, Bishop Laval* included.

Charles Sevestre was the only member of his family to leave descendants in Canada and he left only girls, as his male descendants died without issue.

Honorius Provost

Dictionary of Canadian Biography (

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