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Chartier de Lotbinière and Harwood Families Fonds (P292)

Excerpt of the order from Guy Carleton to Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière (1748-1822) (detail), 1775. Gift of Mrs. Carol de Lotbinière Harwood, Chartier de Lotbinière and Harwood Families Fonds P292, M2008.98.2 © McCord Museum

Chartier de Lotbinière, a French Canadian working for the British cause

"Mr. De Lotbiniere bearer of the present document is charged with visiting the Parishes named in the Margin, to Review the Militias, Receive the Officers, who have Commissions, recommend candidates for the vacant Positions, and prepare an Inventory, all of which will be provided to us in his Report.

Companies of the said Parishes are ordered to have ten men per Company ready to march immediately upon our Order, to the Defense of St. Jean, or any other such place within the Boundaries, that they are directed to, and the Captains, who have been notified of this Order, will sign their names on the other Side of this page."

In late June of 1775, the American War of Independence was still in its infancy, but the Province of Quebec was already preparing for a potential invasion from American insurgents. As illustrated in this order dated June 29, the British governor, Guy Carleton, could count on the support of Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière, a career military man and French-Canadian seigneur. Unlike numerous dignitaries of French descent and his very own father, Chartier de Lotbinière was loyal to the new regime. He therefore quickly joined the effort to repel the American rebels by raising a militia in the parishes of Vaudreuil and Quinchien (now part of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges regional county municipality).

Chartier de Lotbinière went on to help defend Fort Saint-Jean during the American offensive led by General Montgomery that culminated with the capture of Montreal in late 1775. Taken prisoner by the rebels in November of that year, he did not return to the province of Quebec until the spring of 1777, when he began a distinguished career as a justice of the peace.

P292 Chartier de Lotbinière and Harwood Families Fonds. - [1740-1875, 1933]. - 5 cm of textual records.

Biographical Sketch

This fonds focusses on two families that marked the political and military history of New France, the Province of Quebec and Lower Canada, in addition to playing a significant role in the development of the Lotbinière and Vaudreuil-Soulanges areas.

Originally from France, the Chartier family settled in New France in 1651 when Louis-Théandre Chartier (ca 1612-after 1680), his wife Élisabeth Damours (1622-1690) and their son René-Louis (1641-1709) arrived in Quebec City. René-Louis was the first to fully adopt the name of Chartier de Lotbinière; the surname of Lotbinière had been associated with the family since the 15th century. He was granted the seigneury of Lotbinière in 1672. In the decades that followed, the descendants of this noble French family held prominent positions in the colonial administration, the army, the militia, and the clergy.

Following the British Conquest, naval officer and military engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière (1723-1798), who was the son of politician and cleric Eustache Chartier de Lotbinière (1688-1749) and the grandson of René-Louis, purchased several properties, including the seigneuries of Vaudreuil, Rigaud, Rigaud-De Vaudreuil (Beauce) and Saint-François-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce. He eventually had to transfer these properties to his son when he experienced financial difficulties. In 1747, he married Louise-Madeleine Chaussegros de Léry (1726-1809), the daughter of Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry (1682-1756), a celebrated army officer and the King's Chief Engineer of New France. The couple had eight children, two of whom reached adulthood.

Sympathetic to the post-Conquest regime, their son Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière (1748-1822) administered the family's land and led a successful career, first as an officer in the army and militia, then as a justice of the peace for the district of Montreal beginning in 1777. Entering politics, he was elected to represent the riding of York in the Assembly of Lower Canada in 1792, named Speaker of this body in 1794, and then named to the Legislative Council in 1796. He married Marie-Josephte Tonnancour in 1770. Following her death, he married Mary Charlotte Munro in 1802, with whom he had six children, three of whom reached adulthood.

In 1823, Marie-Louise-Josephte Chartier de Lotbinière (1803-1869), daughter of Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière and Mary Charlotte Munro, married Robert Unwin Harwood (1798-1863), a merchant and politician. This marriage sealed the alliance of the two families. The couple had ten children, including Antoine, Robert William and William Bingham.

While her sister Marie-Charlotte de Lotbinière Bingham (1805-1865) inherited the seigneury of Rigaud, Marie-Louise-Josephte received the seigneury of Vaudreuil in 1828. She entrusted its administration to her husband, who enacted a number of progressive reforms to increase productivity and benefit the tenants. Even though the seigneurial regime was abolished in 1854, the Chartier de Lotbinière-Harwoods nonetheless maintained their status in the region as Robert Unwin Harwood was elected to represent Vaudreuil in the Legislative Assembly in 1858, before winning a seat on the Legislative Council for the Rigaud division in 1860.

In addition to its alliances with the Chaussegros de Léry and Harwood families, the Chartier de Lotbinière family was associated with several other prestigious families throughout the 18th and 19th centuries: the de Beaujeu, the des Méloizes and the MacDonalds.

Scope and Content

The Chartier de Lotbinière and Harwood families fonds focusses primarily on the administration of family finances and property, from the mid-18th to the late 19th century. A large portion of the fonds is devoted to the management and transfer of the Chartier de Lotbinière family's land. There are various land grants, sales contracts, quittances and bills of exchange involving Eustache, Michel and Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière. These documents provide information about land grants in the seigneury of Lotbinière and the sale of Château Vaudreuil in Montreal by Michel Chartier de Lotbinière. An order issued in 1776 documents the efforts of Michel Chartier de Lotbinière to have the seigneuries of Alainville and Hocquart returned to him, after they ended up in the area of New York following the Royal Proclamation of 1763. There is also a survey report produced at the request of Charlotte de Lotbinière Bingham, heir to the seigneury of Rigaud.

A certificate of ordination, confirming the promotion of Eustache Chartier de Lotbinière from cleric to the rank of acolyte, documents his career in the church. Some records chronicle the role that Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière played in the military and politics of the Province of Quebec and Lower Canada: an order signed by Governor Guy Carleton directing Chartier de Lotbinière to inspect and take inventory of militiamen (1775), and two orders inviting him to join the Legislative Council (1796 and 1800).

In addition, the fonds contains several receipts for expenses incurred by Robert Unwin Harwood at various Montreal merchants like Gibb, Lymans & Savage and Molson. There are also insurance receipts, receipts for membership in various organizations and institutions, including the Montreal Library and the St. George Society, receipts for subscriptions to publications such as the Montreal Herald, the Daily Pilot, Le Progrès, La Minerve, the New York Albion, and some banknotes. These documents date primarily from the 19th century.

A scrapbook (1838-1866) put together by Robert Unwin Harwood features press clippings on topics such as politics, geography, public health and literature.

Finally, the fonds contains a journal entitled Infantry Field Exercise (1867), whose owner is not identified. This book provides guidance on training militiamen and includes notes that appear to refer to an inventory of assets, dated January 1875.

Variations in title: Formerly known as the De Lotbinière-Harwood Families Fonds.

Source of title proper: Based on the creators of the fonds.

Physical condition: Several documents are fragile and some are damaged.

Immediate source of acquisition: The documents that make up this fonds include some from the original collection of David Ross McCord as well as others acquired in 2002 and 2008.

Arrangement: The former Fonds P117 was integrated into Fonds P292 in 2003.

Language: The documents are in French, English and Latin.

Associated material:

Centre d'archives de Vaudreuil-Soulanges: Fonds Famille Lotbinière-Harwood (P31)

BAnQ (Quebec City): Fonds Michel Chartier de Lotbinière (P163) and Fonds Famille Joly de Lotbinière (P351)

Documents related to the Chartier de Lotbinière and Harwood families are also preserved in several fonds and archival collections of individuals, families and institutions found in various BAnQ archives centres.

LAC: Fonds de la famille Chartier de Lotbinière (R11500-0-7-F)

Related groups of records: Other documents associated with the de Lotbinière family are preserved in the McCord's Thematic Resources collection (C069/B,456).

General note: An engraving illustrating Michel Chartier de Lotbinière's coat of arms (M2008.98.6) is preserved in the Paintings, Prints and Drawings collection. Other objects associated with the de Lotbinière family, including pieces of furniture, are preserved in the Dress, Fashion and Textiles and Decorative Arts collections of the McCord Museum.

The fonds is divided into the following series, sub-series, and files:


Last update: March 11, 2018