Jean Talon

Jean-Baptiste Talon (1626 - 1694)

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Jean-Baptiste (Jean) Talon
Born in Châlons, Champagne, Francemap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Died in Paris, Île-de-France, Francemap
Profile last modified | Created 31 Mar 2014
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Note: Louis Robert de Fortel was appointed the first intendant of New France (1663–1665) but never held the office.[1]

Preceded by
Creation of the Sovereign Council
1st Intendant of New France
Jean Talon 1665 - 1668
Succeeded by
Claude de Boutroue d'Aubigny
Preceded by
Claude de Boutroue d'Aubigny
3rd Intendant of New France
Jean Talon 1669–1672
Succeeded by
Jacques Duchesneau de la Doussinière et d'Ambault



Drapeau identifiant les profils du Canada, Nouvelle-France
Jean Talon lived
in Canada, Nouvelle-France.

Jean Talon, baptised at Châlons in Champagne on 8 January 1826, was the son of Philippe Talon and Anne de Bury (Burry or Brurry)[2]. He died in Paris on 23 November 1694[2].

French diplomat Jean Talon, who was, in 1685, created Comte d'Orsainville,[3] was appointed by King Louis XIV in 1665 to be the first resident Intendant of New France. That same year Talon arrived in New France to began his service as Intendant of Justice, Police and Finances. Jean-Baptist Colbert served as Talon's homeland intermediary concerning administration and jurisdiction; and accountant of the Crown's investments and balance sheets regarding the territories of colonial New France. The positions were created to serve the goals set fourth upon the creation of the Sovereign Council in 1663.

[4] Talon arrived in Quebec on September 12, 1665, and is soon going door to door personally[5] to count the people as he begins organizing the young colony. He finishes the first census of New France the following spring, documenting the colony's 3,215 inhabitants, and recorded their age, sex, marital status and occupation. The following year, he submitted another document, the Recensement de la Nouvelle-France en 1667 to the King.

During his second term as intendant, Talon a third census, in 1671[6], prior to returning to France a year later,. He never return to the colony.

Prior to Talon's appointment, the affairs of New France had been overseen by the Company of One Hundred Associates that showed no disposition to become resident seigneurs of New France during the first half-century of its history... (resulting in less than) a half-dozen seigneurs in actual occupancy of their lands on the St Lawrence when the king took the colony out of the company's hands in 1663.

Talon's Commission and Instructions

[7]When an intendant was needed to infuse new blood into the veins of the feeble colony on the St Lawrence, minister Colbert thought immediately of Jean Talon and recommended him for the position to the king, which Louis XIV did on March 23 1665. The minister drafted for the intendant's guidance a long letter of instructions. It dealt with:

  • the mutual relations of Church and State, and set forth the Gallican principles of the day;
  • the question of assistance to the recently created West India Company;
  • the contemplated war against the Iroquois and how it might successfully be carried on;
  • the Sovereign Council and the administration of justice;
  • the settlement of the colony and the advisability of concentrating the population;
  • the importance of fostering trade and industry;
  • the question of tithes for the maintenance of the Church;
  • the establishment of shipbuilding yards;
  • and the encouragement of agriculture.

This document was signed by Louis XIV at Paris on March 27, 1665.

[7]On receiving his commission and his instructions, Talon took leave of the king and the minister, and proceeded to make preparations for his arduous mission and for the long journey which it involved. By April 22 he was at La Rochelle, to arrange for the embarkation of settlers, working men, and supplies. He attended the review of the troops of the assembling Carignan-Salières Regiment that were bound for New France, and reported to Colbert that the companies were at their full strength, well equipped and in the best of spirits. During this time he spared no pains to acquire information about the new country where he was to work and live. Finally, by May 24, everything was in readiness, and he wrote to Colbert:

“Since apparently I shall not have the honour of writing you another letter from this place, for our ship awaits only a favourable wind to sail, allow me to assure you that I am leaving full of gratitude for all the kindness and favours bestowed on me by the king and yourself. Knowing that the best way to show my gratitude is to do good service to His Majesty, and that the best title to future benevolence lies in strenuous effort for the successful execution of his wishes, I shall do my utmost to attain that end in the charge I am going to fill. I pray for your protection and help, which will surely be needed, and if my endeavors should not be crowned with success, at least it will not be for want of zeal and fidelity.”

A few hours after having written these farewell lines, Talon, in company with M. de Courcelle, set sail on the Saint Sebastien. In 1665 Canada had only three settled districts: Quebec, Three Rivers, and Ville-Marie (Montreal). Quebec, the chief town, bore the proud title of the capital of New France, and it was here that Talon landed after a voyage of one hundred and seventeen days.

Talon takes charge

[8][9](W)hen Talon came to the colony as intendant in 1665... uncleared seigneuries were declared forfeited. Actual occupancy was made a condition of all future grants. The colony must be built up, if at all, by its own people. The king was urged to send out settlers, and he responded handsomely. They came by hundreds. The colony's entire population, including officials, priests, traders, seigneurs, and habitants, together with women and children, was about three thousand, according to a census taken a year after Talon arrived. Two years later, owing largely to the intendant's unceasing efforts, it had practically doubled. Nothing was left undone to coax emigrants from France. Money grants and free transportation were given with unwonted generosity, although even in the early years of his reign the coffers of Louis Quatorze were leaking with extravagance at every point. At least a million livres in these five years is a sober estimate of what the royal treasury must have spent in the work of colonizing Canada.

No campaign for immigrants in modern days has been more assiduously carried on. Officials from Paris searched the provinces, gathering together all who could be induced to go. The intendant particularly asked that women be sent to the colony, strong and vigorous peasant girls who would make suitable wives for the habitants. The king gratified him by sending whole shiploads of them in charge of nuns. As to who they were, and where they came from, one cannot be altogether sure. The English agent at Paris wrote that they were 'lewd strumpets gathered up by the officers of the city,' and even the saintly Marie de l'Incarnation confessed that there was _beaucoup de canaille_ among them. La Hontan has left us a racy picture of their arrival and their distribution among the rustic swains of the colony, who scrimmaged for points of vantage when boatloads of women came ashore from the ships.

The male settlers, on the other hand, came from all classes and from all parts of France. But Normandy, Brittany, Picardy, and Perche afforded the best recruiting grounds; from all of them came artisans and sturdy peasants. Normandy furnished more than all the others put together, so much so that Canada in the seventeenth century was more properly a Norman than a French colony. The colonial church registers, which have been kept with scrupulous care, show that more than half the settlers who came to Canada during the decade after 1664 were of Norman origin; while in 1680 it was estimated that at least four-fifths of the entire population of New France had some Norman blood in their veins. Officials and merchants came chiefly from Paris, and they coloured the life of the little settlement at Quebec with a Parisian gaiety; but the Norman dominated the fields--his race formed the backbone of the rural population.

The Censuses of 1666 and 1667

Jean Talon arrived in Quebec in 1665 to begin what would become his first tenure as King Louis XIV's Intendant of New France. During the winter of 1665/66 he conducted the first systematic census in the new world[10], reportedly doing much of the work himself,[11][12] visiting each home in order to personally witness the conditions and needs of these new world settlers, and how the dominion could attain prosperity for itself and the mother country. His census records the occupants of each habitation of the Saint Lawrence River by name and age, occupation, marital status, and their relationship to the head of the family. In total, the de jure census[13][14][15] documented New France's population at 3,215 European settlers[16] living within 528 homes within the three territories of the Saint Lawrence River. Quebec, the most populated territory, had 2,100 residents. Further upstream, 455 people lived in the settlements of Trois-Rivières. Montréal, the furthest upstream region of French occupation, numbered 635.

Prior to leaving France, Talon and fellow members of the Sovereign Counsel, had initiated military and colonization strategies to remedy the failures of the Campagnie des Cents-Associés and previous campaigns. Upon completion of the 1666 census, the King and His Sovereign Counsel had documentation affirming the basic thrust of the initiatives, and provided Talon with insight leading to revisions in implementation. His first response was to retake the census, to include data on habitant's weapons and land under cultivation, information necessary to calculate the extent the colonizers were able to protect themselves, and how many soldiers and immigrants the farmland could sustain. By the time the Intendant submitted the 1667 census he had instituted policies to:

  • reward families for having more children;
  • making marriage a requirement for employment in a trade or service; and
  • encouraging soldiers to remain in the colony following their tour of duty.

In 1667, Talon was living in his Côte de Notre-Dame-des-Angest home with three contracted workers.[17]

Talon Retires

[18]On November 2nd 1671, shortly before the end of his second tenure, the royal agent Talon had written to his master: ”This part of the French monarchy is destined to a grand future. All that I see around me points to it; and the colonies of foreign nations, so long settled on the seaboard, are trembling with fright in view of what his Majesty has accomplished here within the last seven years...”

Content to be referenced within this profile

1665/03/23 - The French King divided the responsibilities of New France between the Intendant and the Governor. The new Governor is Daniel de Remy, Sieur de Courcelle (1665-1672/98). The Royal Governors term is September 12, 1665 to September 12, 1672. They say he arrived 'breathing nothing but war', determined to destroy the Iroquois. He quarreled frequently with Jean Talon. The Intendant handles civil matters and the Governor handles military affairs.

1665/03/23 - Jean Talon (1625-1694) is appointed Intendant to New France (September 23, 1665-October 22, 1668) and the new Viceroy de Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy, d-1670, arrives in Fort Quebec. Intendant (I)-Jean Talon (1625-1694) issued a decree that forbade all bachelors to leave the colony for hunting, fishing or furs until all the 'filles du Roi' from France were married. It is noteworthy that Talon never married himself, yet orders others to marry. About 150 'filles du Roi' arrive each year. The French Minister of Marine, Jean Baptiste Colbert, established the King's dowry to encourage migration to New France.

1665/09/23 - Jean Talon (1625-1694) was Intendant of New France from September 12, 1665 to 1668. His official title said he was Intendant of justice, police, and finance "in Canada, Acadia, and Newfoundland." He is to assist at the Councils of War and, in the absence of the Governor General and the Governor, will preside over the Sovereign Council. The Jesuits have interfered with temporal authority in the past, and Talon is commanded to ensure the Jesuit stay to Episcopal functions and to maintain a just balance between the two authorities without disclosing his motives. Intendant (I)-Jean Talon (1625-1694), Viceroy de Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy, d-1670, and Governor Sieur de Courcelle (1665-1672) came to agreement with the Jesuit Bishop, Father (I)- Francois Xavier de Laval Montmorency, (1623-1708) that church tithe shall be 1/26 on grains only and payable to the parish priest. This formally established all parish priests as tax collectors.

1672 - The French Minister wrote to Intendant Talon of New France "as after the increase of the colony, there is nothing more important for the colony than the discovery of a passage to the south sea, his majesty wishes you to give it your attention." Talon chose Jollet and Marguette to discover the South Sea by the Maskoutens Country. It was believed the Mississippi River emptied into the California Sea. They were unaware the Spanish last century had already explored this route to Chicago. They eventually realized the Mississippi River emptied into the Gulf of Mexico that was controlled by the Spanish and aborted their mission so as not to fall into Spanish hands. They failed to reach the mouth of the river.

1672 - September: Louis de Baude, Comte de Palluau (1620-1698), Governor (1672-82 & 1689-98), in September, arrived in Fort Quebec as the new Governor and Lieutenant General with Intendant Duchesneau. The former Governor, Daniel de Remy, Sieur de Courcelle (1665-1672), and Intendant Jean Talon (1625-1694) are to shortly leave for France. Intendant Jean Talon (1625-1694) referred to the Coureurs des Bois as those woodsmen engaged in trading without permits and therefore are outlaws. He also wrote those traders are men without Christianity, without sacrament, without religion, without priests, without magistrates and are sole masters of their own actions and of the application of their wills. The number of permits issued each year is limited to twenty-five. Once a Coureurs des Bois, they could not return to New France. Anyone going into the woods without a permit is whipped and branded for the first offense. The directive from France set life in the galleys of the Mediterranean for second offenses.

The de jure (by right) method, counts people at their usual place of residence and not where they happen to be on Census Day.[19]


  2. 2.0 2.1 Fichier Originie Jean Talon, #243870
  3. Wikipedia: Canadian peers and baronets
  4. Statistics Canada: Censuses before Confederation
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Great Intendant: A Chronicle of Jean Talon in Canada 1665-1672, Vol. 6 of "The Chronicles of Canada" by Thomas Chapais (1858-1946), 1914
  8. Chapter II (Gentlemen of the Wilderness) from The Seigneurs of Old Canada, by William Bennett Munro (1875-1957) ; Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Company, 1922. Public domain at
  9. For further reading: The Seigneuries of New France c1665
  10. The first British colonial census in the America's was virtually a hundred years later, in 1765. Reference: RH Coats, “Beginnings in Canadian Statistics”, The Canadian Historical Review. June 1946, Volume XXVII, No. 2. Pages 113-114.
  11. "...doing much of the data collection personally by visiting settlers throughout the colony..." Statistics Canada
  12. “...lui-même va de porte en porte recueillir l’information... (...himself going from door to door collecting information...)'" Cahiers québécois de démographie, Volume 37, Number 1, Spring 2008, p. 131-161:La ville de Québec et sa population, Association des démographes du Québec, ISSN: 0380-1721 (print) 1705-1495 (digital)
  13. The de jure (by right) method, counts people at their usual place of residence and not where they happen to be on Census Day.
  14. Statistics Canada
  15. Paul Poirier, Jean Dumais and Brad Hawkes, at Joint Statistical Meeting of Statistics Canada, 2006,[ page 3317
  16. Not all settlers in New France were of French Descent
  17. Recensement de la Nouvelle-France en 1667 (see evidence below)
  18. Count Frontenac and New France under Lewis XIV, by Francis Parkman, 1877
  19. Statistics Canada
  20. Paul Poirier, Jean Dumais and Brad Hawkes, at Joint Statistical Meeting of Statistics Canada, 2006,[ page 3317
  21. Not all settlers in New France were of French Descent
  22. Count Frontenac and New France under Lewis XIV, by Francis Parkman, 1877

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Images: 2
Jean Talon
Jean Talon

Jean Talon, Bishop François de Laval and several settlers welcome the King's Daughters upon their arrival. Painting by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale
Jean Talon, Bishop François de Laval and several settlers welcome the King's Daughters upon their arrival. Painting by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale


On 14 Dec 2015 at 20:10 GMT Danielle Liard wrote:

Hi George,

I found evidence of his suggesting another man as his replacement in 1668, Octave Zapaglia-1, although the crown refused. Have tagged Zapaglia with the chronicles of New France category, not sure if you want us to do that or not. Not sure if we have a project officially to tie this to, I've tagged it with Québécois project tag for now, but since the man did not stay and leave any children to follow him in the colony, don't really feel it fits. What do you think?


On 29 Sep 2014 at 18:34 GMT George Blanchard wrote:

Intendant Jean Talon did not marry.

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