I was at BAnQ-Vieux-Montréal Archives recently, devotedly busy in the microfilms section, when I decided it was time to take a break. What better way to relax than to look at an early Prison Register of Saint-Hyacinthe? Note that it started in 1863 since prisoners were previously held in Montréal.
I stumbled upon the name of François Courville. Accused of assault and battery, he was detained from August 18, 1865, and was released ten days later, on the 28th. As there was no court case—he was jailed by the justice of the peace and none of prior-to-1870 records have survived—I ended up with very scarce information to work with, which no matter what proved quite revealing in the end.
First of all, you may remember that François Hubou Tourville and Louise Corriveau’s elder son also went by the name of François Courville (both in parish records as well as in Massachusetts where he moved with his wife Éléonore Dupré and their children in the late 1860s).
Second, the convict was a resident of Saint-Hughes, where François was listed in the 1861 Canadian census and where his children were baptized from 1855 to 1866. I checked the parish records of Saint-Hughes and no other François “Courville” was referred to therein.
Third, the man under arrest was married and 38 years old. François was in fact 36 and also married, but as he could not read nor write, we can presume we have the right guy.
And last, the information provided stated that his usual moral habits were being temperate. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, we have no way of identifying the victim—I, of course, perused newspapers as well, alas, nothing was found. Was it his wife, one of his children, or maybe an argument with a neighbour that escalated?
I have no answer to that, so I guess this story will remain an open-ended one. However, I think we may ascertain that François Courville was in jail during the summer of 1865, barely a couple of years before he would leave for Massachusetts.