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Fonds de la Seigneurie de Sorel (P109)

1706-1897. - 15 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

On 29 October 1672, the king of France granted a seigneury to Pierre de Saurel, an officer of the Carignan-Salières Regiment who died without an heir on 26 November 1682. Madame de Saurel acquired and managed this seigneury until 14 February 1713, when Governor Claude de Ramezay was named the new seigneur. After his death on 31 July 1724, his widow Marie-Charlotte Denys de la Ronde inherited the property. She however appointed her unmarried daughter Louise de Ramezay to manage it.

On 9 March 1764, the seigneury of Sorel was purchased by Sir John Bondfield, who sold it one year later to Sir John Bestwreck, but Bestwreck died shortly thereafter. The London-based merchants Greenwood and Higginson purchased it in 1765 and held on to it until November 1780, when they finally sold it to Governor Frederick Haldimand on behalf of the King. After the Conquest of 1760 the development of the seigneury slowed almost to a halt. The Declaration of Independence in the United States in 1776 started a migration to Canada of families loyal to the British Crown. After Governor Haldimand proposed to turn the Sorel seigneury into a headquarters for British officers and troops, he acquired the land and built the Governor's Cottage, getting it ready for Christmas 1781.

Following a visit by Prince William Henry in September 1787, the name of the seigneury was changed to the Town of William Henry, and this was the name until 1862 and the departure of the British troops. Sorel grew rapidly in the early 19th century, largely because the land agent Robert Jones had recommended the establishment there of a shipyard. And in the 1830s the St. Lawrence Steamboat Co. opened, attracting related businesses such as foundries and navigation services. This industrial expansion spurred additional demographic, economic and commercial development and by the end of the 19th century Sorel was flourishing. Its several cotton and footwear manufacturers, tanneries, lumberyards and blacksmiths, as well as its brewery, made it a prosperous urban centre.

Scope and Content:

The documents in this fonds shed light on the administration of the lands in the seigneury of Sorel from the early 18th century until the abolition of the seigneurial system on 18 December 1854. The fonds is made up mainly of copies of letters written by the military secretary, Lord Dalhousie, seigneurial agents and the notary John George Crebassa; notarial deeds; location tickets for land granted to Loyalists; excerpts from procedures; excerpts from records; etc.

Also in the fonds are printed materials (excerpts from newspapers and the minutes of the Senate and the Assembly), various reports on the administrative history of the seigneury of Sorel as well as information on lots, landholders and eligible voters. Among the correspondents are: John Kent Welles, Peter Russell, Robert Jones, James Sewens, Robert Prescott, James Green, Edward Bowen, John Daniel Dorge, John George Crebassa and Jean-Baptiste Guèvremont.

There is only one series in the fonds:

  • P109/A: Documents on the seigneury and parish of Sorel