During the War of the League of Augsburg (1689-1697),
New France’s Gov. Frontenac made 3 mid-winter attacks on New England ...
at Schenectady, NY, Salmon Falls, MA, and Fort Loyal, ME. Massachusetts
wanted to strike back, and the nearest available French target was Acadia. [Daigle,
Perrot’s successor, Meneval, only had 100
soldiers with him. In 1690, William
Phipps brought 7 ships and 700 men, captured Port Royal, plundered
anything of value, and returned to Boston. In a reference to a memoir
of Feb. 4, 1691, Beamish Murdock’s A History of Nova Scotia, or Acadie
(1865-67), 1, p. 195, says 28 homes were burned, along with the
church. They didn’t touch the mills and farms up the river. He left
a council of Acadians to conduct business. The Port Royal Acadians
swore an oath of allegiance to England ... hoping to calm things down and
avoid further English persecution. Phipps took Meneval and the French
soldiers back to Boston as prisoners, but left no troops in Port Royal.
He was busy with plans to attack Quebec and basically left Acadia alone.
Later that same year, 2 English pirates came and burned houses and killed
people and livestock. [Richard, 1, p. 38]
Meneval was replaced in 1691 by Joseph Robinau
de Villebon, who governed until 1700. His headquarters were along
the St. John River.
Documents from his tenure are featured in the book Acadia at the End of the 17th Century by John Clarence Webster and give a more detailed look at Acadia of that day.
One of the personalities mentioned in Villebon's writings was the French privateer Baptiste. To the English, he was essentially a pirate. Supported by the French, he captured many English ships over a span of years. Since he recruited a crew from Acadia, some Acadians may have been part of his adventures.
The river was the major avenue of communication,
even in winter. Canoes were usually used, though they walked with
snowshoes when it was frozen over. Men, women, and children were
able canoe handlers. Cadillac, who wrote of the area in 1692, said
“The creolles ... travel most of the time by bark canoes. Their wives
do the same, and are very bold on the water.” ["The Cadillac
Memoire", p. 81] Meneval wrote of how the Acadians used
“canots d’escorce comme les sauvages, ou d’autres petits canots qu’ils
font eux mesme d’une troue d’arbre creuse” [AC, C11D-2(1),
206: 1688] He may have meant dugouts or canoes made of one
large piece of bark. They also used larger boats (ie. fishing skiff),
especially when carrying large loads. [Clark, p. 135]
Another census was taken of Acadia.
The 1693 census included the names and
ages of all family members. Another record, let's call it the 1695
census, was made of those in the St. Jean River area in 1695.
On June 3, 1693, Abraham Boudrot (son of Michel Boudrot and Michelle Aucoin) returned from Boston (according to Villebon's journal). This shows that Acadians would sometimes travel to New England on business.
Beginning in 1695, an agent of the Acadia
Trading Company, named Tierberge, started sending in reports on Acadia
from Fort Nashwaak. In a memo dated Sept. 30, 1695, he notes that
the Pentagoet River was important because of the potential fur trade in
that area. There were 3 settlers on the River at that time: St. Castin,
Ranault (works for St. Castin), and Des Lauriers. Both St. Castin
and Des Lauriers had a wife and a child. St. Castin's wife was an
Indian woman. All 3 settlers use to have several homesteads,
but had been burned out by the English. They now hid their goods
in the forest to avoid pillage. The settlers had no cattle.
The Port Royal Acadians don't trade with that
area much, for fear of the English finding out and attacking. English
ships were often in the area, looking to capture goods. The fort
(Nashwaak Fort) was 25 leagues up the St. John River ... too far away to
be much help.
Tierberge (Webster, p. 141-4)
Acadia was the weakest colony in North America
at the time. It’s small population made it an easy target.
The wars in Europe gave the New Englanders a reason to attack Acadia.
As a result of the war of the League of Augsburg, d’Iberville attacked
the English Fort Pemaquid in Maine and took it in spring 1696.
To retaliate, Massachusetts sent Col. Benjamin
Church in the fall to attack the Acadian settlements. [Richard,
1, p. 39] They arrived at Beaubassin on Sept. 20. The
following day, 400 men disembarked (including 150 Indians) and were among
the settlers before they realized it. They found that the Acadians
had left, taking with them their most valuable possessions. Soon,
Germain Bourgeois arrived as a representative of the Acadians. He
asked them what they wanted and brought a document showing that they had
sworn loyalty to the British King. The British leaders told them
not to worry, they weren't there to harm them. He even told
his many not to take anything or kill the livestock (except for food).
Germain took the officers back to his home for a drink. But meanwhile,
the soldiers set about killing as many animals as they could find.
Only a few Acadians believed his statements and returned to the area.
To those who returned, the English emptied the Acadian homes and barns
and took everything of value. For the majority of Acadians who stayed
away, their buildings were burned to the ground. The dykes were messed
up, which meant 3 years till the land could be planted again. The
Church, which had been spared the first few days, was also burned down.
It may be interesting to note that one of the English ships was led by
John Alden, grandson of the Pilgrim founder of the same name. He
opposed the English attack. After 9 days, they departed and went
to the St. John River ... taking with them some Acadian prisoners.
At least 2 of them were released. Bourgeois, who had been on Alden's
ship, and Arsenault were put on a vessel and told to return to Beaubassin
... no to go to Fort Naashwaak. But they went to the fort anyway,
and gave Villebon this report of events. (Villebon
letter, Oct. 29, 1696, Webster, p. 94-96)
Accounts were also given by Church in his The
History of the Great Indian War (1845 edition), though the accuracy
is questionable. He says, of the 1696 attack, that the people at
Beaubassin “were troubled to see their cattle, sheep, hogs, and dogs lying
dead about their houses, chopped and hacked with hatchets.” [Clark, p. 113]
The dispute was settled by the Treaty of Ryswick
in 1697, which ended the war in Europe. But the peace would only
last 5 years. The War of Spanish Succession (1702-1713) in Europe
meant another opportunity for the English to attack Acadia.
On June 30, 1697, Tierberge wrote some notes
on Acadia while at Fort Nashwaak.
He had been serving there for the past 2 years. He notes that
they survived the British attack of the previous year, and Villebon had
added a second line of palisades (of 15" posts) around the fort for better
protection. Their condition wasn't the best. He notes that
not even 6 men would be able to go out on expeditions. Tieberge mentions
that there were only 8 families along the St. John River, including 3 brothers
D'Amours, des Chauffours, de Clignancourt, Martel, Baptiste, Bellefontaine,
Desrochers, la Jarne, and la Treille. Though they are producing goods,
they had no mill to grind grain. And the other Acadian settlements
didn't trade with them much because of the traveling distance and the fear
of the nearby British. Things were so bad, even the Indians were
starving. They had to eat the skins of the moose they had killed.
He goes on to describe the activities at Port Royal, Minas, and Beaubassin. Despite the constant French-English
conflict, the English brought brandy, sugar cane (from Barbados), molasses,
utensils, and trade-goods. In return, the French gave them furs and
grain. Boston had been in famine, and the grain was needed in New
England. Occasionally, shipments of grain were brought to New England
by the Acadians.
The Acadians at Port Royal and Minas were
afraid that their settlements might be attacked and burned, as was Beaubassin
the previous year.
He also notes that a Quebec ship had been
at Baie Verte, trading merchandise with the settlers. (Webster,
Much like the Beaubassin area (but 25 years
later), Pierre Thibodeau let settlers to settle at Shepody (Chipoudy) in
1698. He had been a miller at Pre Ronde at Port Royal. He and
his sons went to the Shepody area and encouraged friends (Blanchards) to
settle the Petitcodiac. Three of Thibodeau’s sons first wintered
the area in 1699/1700. They did very well at trading furs with Indians.
Sebastien de Villieu objected, saying they were on his father-in-law’s
seigneurie without permission. Pierre wanted to compromise, but de
Villieu didn’t. When de Villieu was ready to deal in 1702, Pierre’s
group refused because they had sent a petition to France and thought they’d
get their own seigneurie. In 1705, the decision was made that is
was only a concession to La Villiere’s seigneurie.
There were 7 families (33 people) at Shepody in
1702, and 5 families (13 people) at Petitcodiac. By 1707, there were
about 55 people (14 families and 7 engages), 12 horses, 70 cattle, and
50 sheep. The outbreak of war and de Villieu’s actions put a damper
on further settlement of the area. It wasn’t raided, but English
ships blocked any goods from coming from Port Royal. Rameau estimated
75 people there in 1715 (but 80% of European blood). One of Thibodeau’s
group, his son-in-law Mathieu Des Goutins, was the 2nd and last chief civil
officer, or king’s clerk, in Acadia. He became procureur general
in 1693, similar (but on a lower level) to Canada’s intendants. He
served after Gargas from 1688 to 1710. [Clark, p. 145]
A census was taken in 1698 of Port Royal, Beaubassin,
and the St. Jean River areas. The 1698
census includes the names and ages of all family members, as well
as a count of livestock, land, and munitions.
In 1699, the governor at Port Royal (Villebon) urged that they build a fort with 300-400 men for protection
from the English and pirates. Corn and cattle were being raised in
the Grand Pre area. Governor Villebon sent 4 men to a cliff to search
for copper to work (for 10-12 days), but they didn’t find much. A
few specimens were sent to France.
Villebon heard that the Grand Pre Acadians
said they’d join the English if they showed up.
So he sent a garrison there. The Acadians then sent a group to
help build a fort. Melanson, the chief man, transmitted orders from the
authorities. [Herbin, 30]
If you read French, be sure to check out Sieur
de Diereville's account of his journey around Acadia in 1699-1700.
Gradually, the Acadians began to develop their
own culture, and no longer considered themselves pure French. By the turn
of the century, their numbers had reached 2,000. But they weren't growing
like New France and New England.
Acadia* New France American Colonies
1608 10 28 100
1640 200 220 28000
1680 800 9700 155000
1710 1700 16000 357000
1750 8000 55000 1200000
* Peninsular Acadia only [Herbin, p. 31]
A census was done about 1700. The 1700
census, which contains data on Port Royal and Beaubassin, includes
the names and ages of all family members, as well as a count of livestock,
land, and munitions.
Another census was done about 1701.
The 1701 census covered the Port Royal,
Beaubassin, and Minas areas and included the names and ages of all family
members, as well as a count of livestock, land, and munitions.
The first governor of the 18th century was
Sebastien de Villieu, who served as administrator from 1700 to 1701.
He moved the capital of Acadia back to Port Royal in 1700. He was
replaced by Jacques Francois de Brouillan (1701-1704).
The War of Spanish Succession in 1702 in Europe
meant more trouble for Acadia. The Massachusetts colonist saw a new
opportunity to turn Acadia into an English colony. [Daigle, p. 33]
The third census in 4 years was conducted about
1703. The 1703 census covered Port
Royal, Minas, Beaubassin, and Cobequid; but it only have the names of the
head of the household, if a spouse was present, and the number of girls
De Brouillan was replaced as governor by Simon
Pierre Denys de Bonaventure (1704-1706). Port Royal was
attacked again, albeit unsuccessfully. Col. Benjamin Church,
who had pillaged and burned French settlements and killed their cattle
in 1696, led an expedition at the end of May 1704 to attack the French
and Indians at Chignecto & Mines [Clark, p. 113] In writing about the 1704 attack at Mines, Church notes that he “gave orders
to his men, to dig down the dams, and let the tide in, to destroy all their
corn. Of the 1704 attack at Chignecto, he “did them what spoil he
The emotional and blood ties in this rural
community held them together. [Daigle, p. 31]
The looting of the settlements, however, made this a very troubling time
for the Acadians. Due to the English presence in nearby waters, it
was difficult for supplies from France to be delivered. Many of their
"imported" goods came from privateers working in the area. In 1709,
for example, at least 35 ships were taken. [Daigle,
In 1705, Church led 550 men to Acadia in 2
gunboats, 14 transports, 36 whaleboats, and a shallop. The killed and captured
prisoners all along the Bay of Fundy. Church himself led the smaller
vessels to Minas, where he cut the dykes (flooding the pastures and destroying
the crops) and pillaged the settlements. When he met some resistance,
he destroyed 3 villages, pillaged, and killed their cattle. Governor
Dudley had told him to take what he could and to burn houses. Only
a few houses at the heads of the rivers survived. The reason given
for the attack was revenge for Indian attacks in New England ... and they
said the French had instigated the Indians. Church was an impetuous,
stubborn, 65 year old former Indian fighter known as "squaw-killer".
They say he was so fat that he kept a strong soldier with him to help him
over fallen trees. Though the Massachusetts government thanked him,
the people saw him as a coward ... attacking defenseless people. [Herbin, 36]
In 1705, Governor Bonaventure sent 4 soldiers
to Minas to bring back the king’s
bark, La Gaillarde, loaded with wheat. He gave
the church a chalice, a pyx, an ostensorium, and complete set of Eucharist
ornaments. Evidently these things had been stolen by Col. Church.
This also indicates that probably only 1 church (there were 2 at Minas)
was pillaged. [Herbin, 37]
The final French governor of Acadia was Daniel
d’Auger de Subercase (1706-1710). Governor Subercase only had 160
soldiers, 3/4 of them young men from the “quays of Paris.” He asked
for help, but France ignored him. They lived off of “the booty of
corsairs” for the next 3 years. In 1710, the harvest failed and an
epidemic drove away the corsairs. [Richard, 1, p. 41]
The 1707 census covered the same areas as the 1703 census and included the same information,
except that the children are listed by 2 age ranges.
. Col. March led the next attack on Acadia.
Men from Rhode Island and New Hampshire joined Massachusetts in an 11 day
siege of Port Royal, but it failed. Embarrassed, March went to Casco instead
of Boston. He wrote to the Governor Dudley and blamed the failure
on his officers and soldiers. Boston was upset; plans had already
been made to celebrate a victory at Port Royal. March was ordered
to try again. He declined and put second-in-command Wainwright in
charge. The second siege, in August 1707, also failed. [Richard,
1, p. 39-40]
As for religious leadership in French Acadia, it
had been served by 40-50 priests up to 1710. Regular parish priests
had been there since 1676 (Port Royal), 1687 (Grand Pre), and 1686 (Beaubassin).
They assisted with the “governing.” The main function of the priest
in the life of an Acadian was to perform the sacred rites of baptism, marriage