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Seigneurie de Beauharnois

Deeds of Concession
executed before
Louis Sarault, notary
1822 - 1832

Sarault signature
[Typical Louis Sarault Signature]

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Introduction

In Quebec, civil law followed the old french tradition and in this system, notaries were an important member of the legal community. In Quebec, notaries are contract lawyers and as such, drew up and executed property transactions, wills and other similar documents. Therefore notary records are an extremely important resource to the genealogist searching their roots.

The early history of the Châteauguay County is the history of the two seigniories that made up that county, namely the Seigniories of Beauharnois and Châteauguay. The Seigniory of Beauharnois was responsible for the extensive settlement of the area in the early 1800s. Although there were some people who had established farms and other operations in the area starting around 1800, there were few clear titles issued on the land by the Seignior until the early 1820s. At that time, the Seignior, Edward Ellice, a wealthy London merchant with interests throughout the region, instructed his agent Lawrence George Brown and his business partner, John Richardson of Montreal, to arrange a survey of the lands in the Seigniory. This was done mostly in 1821-2 and starting in 1822 "Deeds of Concession" were offered to the present settlers and to those who wished to settle. Thus the services of a notary were needed.

(Note: Bear in mind that land in a seigniory was not sold but rather was leased under rather severe restrictions and subject to annual payments of rent in cash and/or produce. Restrictions included the requirement that the settler have his grain milled at a seigniory mill (no other mills were permitted within the seigniory) and the seignior reserved the right to minerals, timber and water power on the property. The tenant also had to settle the land within a year or it reverted to the seignior. The seigniorial system was abolished in 1854 and lease holders given the chance to buy out their contracts.)1 You can read the full text of a typical Deed of Concession here.

Louis Sarault began his career as a notary in 1806 in Montreal, later working in Soulanges (west of Montreal) before moving to the South Shore. In 1822, he became the first notary in the Seigniory of Beauharnois, setting up office in what became the village of Beauharnois. The seigniory agents, Brown and Richardson, appointed him as notary for the Seigniory of Beauharnois. During the following 10 years up to the middle of 1832, he drew up and executed hundreds of deeds of concession in all regions of the seigniory. In 1832 his services were essentially terminated following a legal dispute and the notary Ovide Leblanc was appointed in his place.2

The index of deeds of concession executed by Louis Sarault on the following pages has been compiled by Gina Smith, a $professional$ genealogy researcher with considerable experience in researching notarial records. She has kindly given permission to post this index on this web page for your personal use3. Please give Gina a hand of thanks for this great document.

To give you an idea of what these Deeds of Concession contain, a typical document has been transcribed for you to examine. Be prepared for a lot of legalese boilerplate.

In reviewing the names on this index and comparing them to other information, it would appear or suggest that a number of the lots were acquired on speculation with no intention of settling them but rather selling the rights for profit. The names on owner lists in subsequent decades bears little resemblance to this initial owners list. Possibly many of the original deed holders failed to meet the requirements of the seignior and walked away or sold what improvements they had made to others that were of hardier stock. Nevertheless it is a starting point and a source of valuable information on the lease holder, for example his occupation and place of residence. Bear in mind that the spelling is the way that the old handwriting was interpreted and be skeptical of all the information - it was created and recorded by humans.

Note: These lists show only the original Deed of Concession issued by the Seigniory and drawn up by Sarault. It does not include any deeds that may have resulted from the resale of the lots in later years, handled by Sarault. To research the existance of these later deeds, a search of Sarault's regular files and those of other notaries would be necessary.

If you want to explore any of these records or obtain copies, Gina suggests that you contact the Archives Nationales du Quebec in Montreal directly, providing the name of the notary, date, name of the deed holder and lot number of the land to which the document pertains. Please also add that it is in the "Deeds of Concession" in Sarault's documents, as this section is located separately at the end of his document files. Their address is:

Archives Nationales du Quebec,
535 Ave Viger Est,
Montreal, QC   H2L 2P3
Canada
Tel: (514) 873-3065
Fax: (514) 873-2980
email: anq.montreal@banq.qc.ca
web page: http://www.banq.qc.ca/portal/dt/a_propos_banq/renseignements_generaux/centres_archives/centres_archives.jsp/

Note:The archive web-pages are part of the new Bibliotheque et Archive Nationales du Quebec portal website. The staff of the ANQ are quite experienced at answering questions in english and will communicate by e-mail. Their charges for copies have been quite modest (0.25/page - minimum $2) but may be changed without notice in the future due to the merging of National Library and Archives organization. Their webpage explaining charges is still in a state of flux so it is best to get a confirmation of charges when ordering.

Alternatively you can visit one of the Quebec National Archives offices yourself. The films are in Montreal and other offices will have to order them in for you. The film reel numbers in the Montreal office is as follows:

Louis Sarault
Deeds of Concession
Date Range Montreal ANQ
Film Numbers
11 Oct 1822 - 4 Oct 1824 8274
18 Oct 1824 - 8 Mar 1828 8242
8 Mar 1828 - 15 Aug 1829 8243
15 Aug 1829 - 21 May 1832 8244

Sources:

1/ The History of the County of Huntingdon and of the Seigniories of Châteauguay & Beauharnois, Robert Sellar, Huntingdon Gleaner Inc, 1888, reprinted by Châteauguay Valley Historical Society in 1995.

2/ Les Notaires des Seigneurs de Beauharnois, André LaRose, Châteauguay Valley Historical Society Annual Journal volume 28, 1995 pg 55.

3/ The information on the following pages is for personal use only. It may not be copied or distributed in any form, printed or electronic, without the express permission of the author Gina Smith. Disclaimer: Gina Smith and the professional services she provides are NOT related in any way with the GenWeb system or Rootsweb.com


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