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Ordinance by Michel Begon concerning the thefts that occurred during the fire in Montréal in the month of June, 4 July 1721.


Michel Begon Knight seigneur of La Picardiere, Murbelin and other Locations, King's Counsellor in His Majesty's Council and at the Parlement de Metz, Intendant of Justice, Police and finances in Nouvelle france.

Having been informed that during the Fire that occurred in this city on the nineteenth of June last, some individuals profited from the confusion that reigned while people were removing furnishings and other Effects from the burning houses to secretly take some and transport them or have them transported to their own houses or other Locations, where they kept them hidden for their own use, which is in itself public thievery and an assault, for which the punishment must be exemplary; and seeing that the Effects salvaged in such a deplorable incident remain under the Safeguard of the king; and seeing that individuals are obliged to go to the Fires and provide succour, preserve salvaged Effects


and return them to their owners; and it being necessary for those who have thus taken Effects and not returned them to be severely punished, in order to stop, by these examples, the course of this thievery that goes against public faith.

We ordain all persons of whatever status or standing, who have taken into their houses or to other Locations furnishings and other Effects salvaged from houses consumed by fire in this city, whether they themselves removed them, or had them removed or brought to them; to return them within eight days following the publication of the present ordinance, to their owners or to deliver them to the parish curates of the place of their residence under threat of being tried as public thieves and enduring corporal punishment as Stipulated for each case. We enjoin those who Provided transport for the said Effects or have knowledge of their Location,


to declare as much to the king’s prosecutor of the Jurisdiction of this city, also within eight days under threat of being tried and punished as accomplices in the said incidents of theft. We enjoin the parish Curates, to whom will be remanded the Effects salvaged from the said fire, to return them momentarily to their owners if they know of them and if the owners are not known to them, to remand them into the hands of the Superior of the Seminary of this city, who will return them to their owners if he knows them, and if not they will be placed under Guard at the King's stores, for which a receipt will be issued; and following the time limit of eight days and the said time having passed, we permit the king’s prosecutor of the said Jurisdiction to bring charges at his request before the lieutenant general of the said Jurisdiction against those who will not have returned the said Effects salvaged


from the said Fire, and to have them appear for and undergo a trial as stated in the present ordinance and Be sentenced under the charges stated before Us. We enjoin the said lieutenant general following the said expired period of time, to make his way together with the said king’s prosecutor and accompanied at his request by his clerk, to the houses or Locations where the said king’s prosecutor will have been advised that some of the said Effects are held and hidden, and in the event that there are some, to remove them following a report made of them, and to have arrested in the Moment and declared prisoners those found to possess the said Effects, to have their trial set and concluded by the said lieutenant general according to the present ordinance and based on evidence of the charges and the Information provided. We enjoin as well the Capitaines des Costes of the government of Montreal, following the said time limit of eight days, to inform the king’s prosecutor of the Jurisdiction of the said city


of what will have been brought to their Attention regarding the removal of the said Effects, which may have been brought to and hidden in Locations under their Command. We request of the said officers of the Jurisdiction of this city to take charge of Executing the present ordinance, which will be registered in their registry, Read, published and posted wherever necessary, in order that it be executed in form and to the letter. We also request that the Captains or other militia officers of the said Government, each for their Part, read and post the present ordinance at the doors of churches where high mass is held and forward their certificate to the said king’s prosecutor. Dated and presented at Montreal on The four of July 1721.

Source: Archives nationales du Québec, Centre de Montréal, Ordonnances, 1684-1760, TL4 S35, Bégon, Michel, Ordinance concerning the thefts that occurred during the fire in Montréal in the month of June, July 4, 1721.

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