Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


François Bigot


Bigot, François (fl. 1703-1760), intendant of New France (1748-59), was the son of Louis-Amable Bigot, and was born on January 30, 1703, at Bordeaux, France. He became a lawyer and entered the civil service. On September 9, 1739, he arrived at Louisbourg, where he had been appointed commissary; and it is probable that his malversation of the funds intended for its fortification caused the downfall of Louisbourg in 1744. He returned to France in 1745, and his influence at court obtained for him the appointment of intendant of New France. He arrived in Quebec on August 26, 1748. His official position made him here almost superior to the governor in power, and he was able to carry on the most astounding frauds. Under the name of Claverie, he established huge stores at Quebec and Montreal, where he sold goods at retail to the public at enormous profits. Rich furs belonging to the Crown were disposed of at low prices to his friends; and, in league with Cadet, the commissary general, he sold provisions to the government at profits exceeding one hundred per cent. At the same time supplies intended for the various military posts were retained, and false receipts given; and a great part of the supplies granted for the use of the Indians never reached them, being stolen on the way. In 1755 Bigot made a journey to France, and having assured himself that he would remain unmolested in that quarter, proceeded to plunder the people by buying up large quantities of flour, which he sold back at an immense advance. He issued an ordinance to compel farmers to sell their grain at a low price, and not only took it by force, but threatened them with imprisonment if they complained. This corrupt administration brought the colony to financial ruin, and paved the way for the conquest. In 1759 Bigot returned to France, where he was arrested and thrown into the Bastille for eleven months. On his release, he was compelled to make restitution, and was banished from the kingdom. The date of his death is not known.

See R. Roy, Intendants de la Nouvelle-France (Trans. Roy. Soc. Can., 1903) ; R. Bellemare, Les malversations de l'intendant Bigot (Bull. rech. hist., vol. iv) ; E. Z. Massicotte, L'intendant Bigot (Bull. rech. hist. vol. ii) ; and Mémoire pour Messire François Bigot (Paris, 1763). Some documents relating to Bigot are printed in the Can. Arch. report, 1904, and in A. Shortt (ed.), Documents relating to Canadian currency, exchange, and finance during the French period (2 vols., Ottawa, 1925).

[Consult the biography of Bigot at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography]

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Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. I, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., pp. 228-229.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College