Famous French philanthropist; b. at Paris, 23 December, 1733; d. there 29 December, 1820. He was the son of a wealthy official of the Exchequer. As soon as he had completed his education, young Montyon was made king's advocate at the court of Le Châtelet (Paris) where his inflexible integrity won for him the surname of "Grenadier of the Bar." In 1758 he entered the Great Council and in 1760 was appointed master of the petitions. In 1767 he became intendant of Auvergne, where his liberality to the poor endeared him to the people. It is said that he yearly spent as much as twenty thousand francs of his private income to give work and help to needy families. On his refusal to install the new magistrates appointed by Maupeou after the suppression of the Parliaments, he was transferred to the intendance of Provence and then to La Rochelle. In 1775, through the influence of the duc de Penthievre, he was recalled to Paris and appointed councillor of State. Amidst the cares of public life, he had found time for the study of economics and belles-lettres. The French Academy awarded a distinction to his "Eloge de Michel de l'Hôpital" (Paris, 1777). The following year he published "Recherches et considerations sur la population de la France." Montyon's great concern, however, was philanthropy, which he delighted to practice in an anonymous way. In order to foster emulation for the good among his countrymen, he founded a number of prizes to be awarded by the French Academy, the Academy of Science, or the Academy of Medicine.
At the beginning of the French Revolution , he thought it was his duty to share the fortunes of the princes of the House of Bourbon, and he left the country. He travelled in Switzerland and Germany, but spent the greater part of his exile in London ; during his stay in that city, he gave each year ten thousand francs to relieve the French refugees, and the French soldiers who were prisoners in England ; the same amount was sent to the poor of Auvergne. Montyon returned to France in 1815 at the time of the second restoration and henceforth devoted all his time to the work that had made his name famous. He re-established the prizes which he had founded before the Revolution and which had been abolished by the National Convention. The best known of these prizes are "le prix du vertu", to reward a virtuous act done by a poor Frenchman, and the prize to be bestowed on the author of the work most useful to morals. These prizes are to be awarded by the French Academy. Montyon also distributed large sums of money among the bureaus of charities in Paris. His will, in which are expressed sentiments of the deepest piety, bequeathed the bulk of his property to the hospitals and homes of his native city.
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