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Jean-Baptiste DE PEIRAS - Biography

PEIRAS, JEAN-BAPTISTE DE, councillor in the Conseil Souverain of New France; b. c. 1641 in Paris, son of Jean de Peiras, king’s counsellor, and of Denise Marion; d. September 1701 at Quebec.

After his father’s death, Jean-Baptiste de Peiras went to New France around 1670 with his mother (who was to be buried at Quebec in 1677) and his sisters Marie-Madeleine and Denise; the former was to marry Paul Denys de Saint-Simon and the latter Joseph Giffard, son of Robert Giffard*, first seigneur of Beauport. The young man had inherited his father’s capabilities in legal matters, and lost no time in winning official recognition of them. Protected by Buade* de Frontenac, he was appointed to the Conseil Souverain in January 1673 in place of Nicolas de Mouchy*, and two years later the king appointed him a councillor for life. In 1674 two famous cases were heard by the council: those of Abbé de Fénelon [Salignac*] and of the Sieur Perrot*. These two took exception to Peiras and two of his other colleagues because they were “tools of M. de Frontenac, their only enemy.” In 1675 Peiras was involved in a quarrel over precedence between the parish priest of Pointe-Lévy, the notary François Genaple, the churchwardens, and the settlers.

On 6 May 1675, wishing to give recognition to his protégé’s talents or to reward him for his loyal services, Frontenac granted the Sieur de Peiras a fief with a frontage of two leagues on the St Lawrence River, “beginning in the middle of the river called Mitis . . . and going down the said river . . .” and having a depth of two leagues, taking in the three Îles Saint-Barnabé. The whole was a land grant in the form of a fief, with rights of seigneury and justice. The king confirmed this grant on 12 May 1677. Once he had become a seigneur, Peiras concerned himself with fur trading, and bought a number of properties at Quebec and Sillery. After some years he was in a position to lend money, lease out his farms, and obtain from the governor several fur-trading licences for the pays d’en haut. In 1696 Frontenac, as syndic of the Recollets of Quebec, arranged for him, on very advantageous terms, the exchange of a house situated in Rue Saint-Louis at Quebec. Five years later, on 6 Sept. 1701, Peiras was buried in the paupers’ cemetery of the Hôtel-Dieu. On 8 May 1702 he was replaced on the Conseil Souverain by Mathieu-François Martin de Lino.

On 18 Aug. 1671, at Quebec, Jean-Baptiste de Peiras had married Anne Thirement, daughter of Jacques Thirement and Marie Hubert of the parish of Saint-Sulpice in Paris; by her he had a daughter, Élisabeth, who inherited the Peiras seigneury, and two sons, of whom the elder, Louis, had Frontenac as a godfather. It seems that the two sons spent their life in France after their father’s death. Anne Thirement died prematurely in 1679, leaving in Paris an annuity of 10 livres of which Catherine de Peiras, Jean-Baptiste’s aunt and attorney, received the arrears in 1689.

Roland-J. Auger Dictionary of Canadian Biography, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003

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