Thursday, August 23, 2007

PART III - To Acadie

Chapter 8: Barthélémy in the Navy

The international politics concerning Maine were a tinderbox throughout these years. The French claimed Maine down to the Kennebec River (i.e., almost all of it), while the English claimed it up to the St. Croix River (i.e., all of it). Placing the border at the Penobscot River (which flows through present-day Bangor) might have been a good compromise. However, the French wanted a bigger buffer for Acadia and the English wanted the French gone, period. The French already had a military post at Pentaguët, near present-day Bucksport, on the shore directly south of Bangor. Its commander, the Baron St. Castin was a very real thorn in the side of the Bostonian effort to expand Massachusetts to include all of Maine.

Meanwhile, the Canadians spent 1691 preparing ships and a supply of munitions for another attack on English outposts in Hudson Bay. On February 27, 1692, the minister (of France) gave orders that three of the king’s ships, the Poli (Polite), the Envieux (Envious) and a transport vessel (the Tranquille, the Tranquil) should join the force.[1] But by the time the Envieux arrived from France, it was too late in the season to begin a campaign in the arctic.[2]

However, during the summer of 1692 the Bostonians, under special instructions from the English government, had begun to build a fort they named William Henry at Pemaquid, north of the Kennebec River. [This was on the coast of Maine, just across the bay from present-day Portland, to the east of the mouth of the Kennebec.] It was a large and strong fort of stone and mortar, armed with 14-18 cannons and about 60 men.[3]

It was decided, instead, to try to take Fort William Henry. D’Iberville was given command of the Poli and Simon-Pierre Denys, Sieur de Bonaventure was given command of the Envieux. Barthélémy Bergeron d’Amboise may have met Bonaventure during the Hudson Bay years, but this meeting in Acadia probably marks the beginning of their close friendship.[4] Bonaventure had come to Canada, like Barthélémy Bergeron d’Amboise, as one of the Troops of the Marine.[5] He served in the Hudson Bay, working for the Compagnie du Nord.[6] Bonaventure obviously impressed D’Iberville, and was named as a first lieutenant of frigate, then became captain in 1689. From that time Bonaventure was mainly an officer of the King in Acadia. He became known to the English as a famous corsair. Eventually he became the temporary governor of Acadia.[7]

The first documented reference to Baptiste was made by Villebon, Governor of Acadia, (located at Fort Nachouac across the Saint John River from the small settlement at Pointe Sainte Anne) in his journal entry for January 5, 1692, but he supposedly had been operating along the coast for quite a few years. Pierre Maisonnat, better kown as “Baptiste,” was a privateer operating out of Port Royal, as were a number of others. Bostonian accusations had some degree of truth to them; for some period of time Port Royal was indeed a nest of privateers (pirates or corsairs to the New Englanders). These sea dogs got their crews from Acadian youths in the seaports, young men attracted by the free way of life and the dream of plunder.[8]

We do not know why, or for what qualifications, but Barthélémy had evidently been assigned to sail with Bonaventure, but after that he joined the crew of Baptiste. In fact, he may not have been “assigned” this duty as such, but may have joined of his own free will as so many young Acadians did. Enlistment in the Compagnie Franche de la Marine was for a period of six years. This means that Barthélémy completed his tour of duty some time in 1690, and was then free to work for whomever he wished.

We do know that Barthélémy sailed for a number of years with these privateers. Father Bergeron writes: “our Barthélémy was definitively settled in Port Royal from 1693, continuing to go to war with ex-officers, soldiers or friends of D’Iberville: the most famous being Bonaventure and the corsair Baptiste Maisonnat.”[9] He became familiar enough with the Bay of Fundy to later be classified as a navigator. This was a job of tremendous responsibility due to the 50 foot Fundy tides, reversing waterfalls, gigantic whirlpools, and other wonders of the area.

On June 28, 1684, one Jean Serreau de St-Aubin had received a true seigneurial land grant from the king. In such a grant, the king granted the seigneur not only land, but also the complete administration of justice, all rights to have tenants over whom he had all the rights and duties of an old-style feudal lord.[10] The land grant encompassed 5 leagues square where the St. Croix River flowed into the Atlantic, and as lord of this seigneurie was called the Sieur de Pesmoncady (the word later evolved into Passamaquoddy). The St. Croix is the present-day border between Maine and Canada’s province of New Brunswick. Jean Serreau de St-Aubin and his wife, Marguerite Boyleau [Boisleau] de la Goupillière, were French aristocracy in every sense of the word. Jean was a landed seigneur from Poitou in France. His wife and her sister Marie were among the very few aristocratic “Filles du Roi.” The Serreau family had settled in the northern part of the Acadian Seigneurie of Saint-Croix, on the French Bay (i.e., the Bay of Fundy). Their home may have been very close to the present day town of St. Andrews, N.B.

As part of the constant wars between the English and the French colonies, Major Benjamin Church, a famous Indian fighter from Massachusetts, spent much of 1692 ranging up and down the coast attacking all the Acadians and French he could find. Here was a dangerous man who earlier that spring had thought nothing of slaying captive Indian women and children, saving only the families of some leaders and a few old women.[11]

On November 9, 1692, Church's men succeed in taking captive one of the Serreau de Saint- Aubins.[12] Many have thought this was Jean, the seigneur, but newer evidence seems to point to his son Charles. Church also captured St. Aubin’s wife and children as well as his (Charles’) brother-in-law Jacques Petitpas, who was married to Geneviève (one of Charles Serreau’s sisters; he had another sister named Marguerite). Jean Serreau, the father, had received a land grant from the king that encompassed 5 leagues square where the St. Croix River flowed into the Atlantic, and as lord of this seigneurie[13] was called the Sieur de Pesmoncady (the word later evolved into Passamaquoddy). The St. Croix is the present-day border between Maine and Canada’s province of New Brunswick. During Church’s raid all of the buildings of Jean Serreau’s seigneurie were looted and burned.

Meanwhile, two French deserters named Du Vignon and Albert[14] had been bribed by the English to seize the Baron St. Castin of Pentaguët. The Governor of Massachusetts “persuaded” Serreau and Petitpas to enter into the plot, holding their families hostage to guarantee their good behavior. The stories vary as to where it happened, but Serreau and Petitpas immediately revealed the plan. The two traitors were executed;[15] the two loyal Acadians received a reward of 554 livres which they used to purchase the freedom of their families,[16] or, as it turned out, most of their families. Petitpas’ wife Geneviève was not freed for years.

Governor Villebon ordered the Poli and the Envieux to meet with a ship commanded by Baptiste, at Pentaguët. Baptiste was to act as pilot for D’Iberville and Bonaventure, who were to attack Ft. William Henry at Pemaquid from the sea. Villebon would take a few French and many Indian allies to attack from the land side. Baptist failed to show up because English activity around Port Royal kept him from refitting.[17] When the naval group arrived, a British ship was waiting for them and the fort was prepared for the attack. D’Iberville pulled back, but would return in 1694.

1693 Census of Pointe Sainte-Anne

Gabriel (Godin) Chantillon, 38 years

Marie (Angélique) Jasne, 26 years

Child: Madeleine, 3 years

Gabriel had one “horned animal” and three and a half arpents of developed land.

[from F. Thériault, p.31]

Then, some bad luck fell to Barthélémy and his captain. The following are from Villebon’s journals and shed some light on naval warfare in 1690s:

December 9th [1694]—I was notified that an English ship was at the mouth of the river [St. Jean]. The Commander sent word that he had come to pay the ran­som money and to return a sailor of Baptiste’s crew in exchange for an English ship-master whom I held prisoner.[18] [This member of Baptiste’s crew would turn out to be Barthélémy.]

- - - - -

On the last day of May [1695] I heard that M. Baptiste had been attacked and his corvette taken in Musquash Harbor by an English Frigate of 36 guns and another armed vessel, as he was on the point of setting sail for Spanish Har­bour. I shall say nothing about the manner in which he fought, since his verbal examination relates the affair as it took place. One thing is certain, that this frigate would not have gone into that harbour if Baptiste had not been betrayed.[19]

June 4th [1695].—M. François Guyon, Canadian privateer, returned from a raiding expedition having come upon the same English frigate with its three prizes twenty-four hours after its fight with M. Baptiste. It was fast on the rock, three leagues from land, south west of Grand Manan. The frigate hoisted a white flag to have speech with him and he promised, on the surrender of the prizes, to let them have two boats in which to go ashore, with supplies for fif­teen days. This was done. Their capture was valuable because of the quantity of provisions on board.[20] [Guyon was another of the famous corsairs in these waters during this period, and he remained active for a long time.]

Of these kinds of events, Fr. Bergeron writes of days in the 1730s: “Church... went to sea again, where he was not entirely safe because of the privateers who, although few in number, cut the route of the vessels whose destinations were the English colonies. Mentioned were Robineau, de Nantes [this may have been Barthélémy’s son Michel Bergeron I], François Guyon, and Baptiste whose true name was Pierre Maisonnat. The Adventures of the Chevalier de Beauchêne, written by Le Sage, tells in detail the life of these buccaneers, fighting in their way under the flag of their country as long as the war between the crowns (of France and England) lasted.[21]

Villebon’s journal continues:

June 20th [1695]—I had news that an English frigate and a sloop had anchored off Manawoganish and that she brought ransom money. ... Having had definite information that they had come to restore the man Amboise, one of Baptiste’s crew, and to pay ransom for the vessel, I sent a Frenchman to the shore oppo­site the frigate with a white flag, on the 23rd. The Captain sent in his longboat, and a message was delivered on my behalf that they might safely come to confer with me and bring Amboise and the ransom.[22]

24th—The frigate’s longboat appeared and landed on an island in the harbour. I sent word to the Lieutenant in charge to come to me, which he did after having asked for a safe-conduct. He put the Frenchman ashore and made over the money. The English ship-master was then given over to him.[23]

Barthélémy may have stayed at Ft. Nachouac for some time. Then he may have gone back out to sea—or he may have gone directly to Québec (see the next chapter). He may have been there before; Baptiste had a homestead near Fort Nachouac in partnership with one Jean Martel,[24] so he been in the area a number of times. He must have been familiar with the settlers at Saine-Anne- du-Pays-Bas on a point of land still called St. Anne’s Point. This place is now a public park on the river front of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Barthélémy may very well have been with him in those early years. It is known for sure that Barthélémy did make very good friends with one of the Godin family, settlers at St. Anne’s Point. The Godins had originally settled in Port Royal, Acadia, across the Bay of Fundy in present-day Nova Scotia. Gabriel Godin, the Sieur de Bellefontaine was granted a seigneurie along the St. John River, perhaps for his services as the Captain of Acadian Militia. He was just three years older than Barthélémy, who would one day return to settle nearby. According to Fr. Bergeron’s genealogy, three of Bellefontaine’s sons would marry three of the Bergeron d’Amboise daughters,[25] though one of these turns out to be a granddaughter who married a Godin grandson.

1695 Census of Pointe Sainte-Anne taken by Champigny

Inhabitants settled on the said land of Naxouat

A man (Gabriel Godin)

a woman (Angélique Jeanne)

2 children

2 servants

one house, one shed, one stable

3 horned animals

7 pigs

30 poultry/fowl

12 arpents of developed land

3 arpents of meadow

Collected in 1694: 80 pecks of Indian corn and 6 pecks of peas.

[from F. Thériault, pp.31-32]

Chapter 9: Marriage and Family

We do not know for sure how Barthélémy first met Geneviève, the younger daughter of Jean Serreau de St-Aubin and Marguerite Boyleau, but we can weave together some intriguing strands of information. Fr. Bergeron wondered if Barthélémy and Geneviève might have met at the time of delivering Jean Serreau’s family from their captivity in Boston. We have no idea when they first met or what transpired on those meeting(s), for Geneviève was probably married at the time to Jacques Petitpas. She had given birth to two sons, Jean (born 1691) and Nicolas. But Petitpas died in 1694.

Fr. Adrien Bergeron wrote: “the wife of Barthélémy was certainly Geneviève Serreau de Saint-Aubin, but, contrary to what Bona Arsenault erroneously tells, not the widow of Jacques Petitpas; the latter, in fact, had married the older sister of Geneviève, Marguerite.”[26] On the other hand, Stephen White, acclaimed genealogist at the Centre d’Etudes Acadienne at the Université de Moncton, who reputedly double- and triple-checked every fact before publishing his two- volume Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes, insists that Geneviève was indeed the widow of Jacques Petitpas.[27] So, who are we to believe? We stared at a crucial piece of information for years until Joe Damboise of Grafton, NH, pointed out that in the diaries of his expedition in 1704, Colonel Church mentions finding “De Boisses’ wife,[28] who had formerly been Colonel Church’s prisoner, and carried to Boston, but returned; who seemed very glad to see him. She had with her, two sons, that were near grown men.”[29] Joe pointed out what should have been obvious to us: these “two sons, that were near grown men” had to be her sons Jean and Nicolas Petitpas, now in their early teens, nearly grown men in those days.

About 1695 D’Iberville was set to lead another expedition against Newfoundland, but royal bureaucracy balked at his military expenditures. He had to go to France to argue his cause, and even then funding was not quick to come. As Fr. Bergeron wrote, he could no longer keep around him his 18 to 20 favorites.[30] But as far as Barthélémy was concerned, he was no longer associated with D’Iberville. Besides, at this time he was being held in a prison in Boston.

Fr. Bergeron wrote that in 1695, “without doubt, his betrothed Geneviève Serreau de Saint- Aubin had taken the opportunity of the ‘difficulties of d’Iberville’ to finally convince Barthélémy that the hour had come!”[31] We do not know if Barthélémy continued to sail with Baptiste after his marriage.

Joe Damboise brought another very interesting point to my attention. In analyzing the governor’s letters, we see that Villebon was notified on December 9, 1694 that the English wanted to exchange a sailor of Baptiste’s crew for an English ship-master that Villebon was holding. The exchange actually occurred on June 24, 1695. Thus it is firmly established for us that Barthélémy Bergeron D’Amboise was in prison in Boston, at the very minimum, for almost seven months. We also know that Benjamin Church captured members of the Serreau de St.-Aubin family in 1692. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: “in a letter that Saint-Aubin sent to Boston in 1695 mention is made of a ransom of 30 livres for his daughter.”[32] The most logical daughter would be Geneviève, captured in 1692 with her husband at the time, Jacques Petitpas. Thus we have Barthélémy and Geneviève, the widow of Petitpas, in prison in Boston prison at the same time.

How do we know they were together? Their first child was Barthélémy II, baptized at Île d’Orléans (Québec) on 1 January 1696. (The baby’s godparents were Michel Chartier and his grandmother, Marguerite Boisleau.)[33] We have no idea why the family was in Québec at this time (perhaps to visit the new grandmother?). We do know the following indisputable facts: 1.) Petitpas had died in 1694, 2.) Barthélémy Bergeron D’Amboise was not freed from Boston until late June of 1695, and 3.) Barthelemy II was baptized on 1 January 1696. Calculations easily made show that Barthélémy and Geneviève HAD to have been together for Barthélémy II to be conceived and born before the following New Year’s Day. And both Barthélémy and Geneviève were in Boston prisons when son Barthélémy had to have been conceived. Logically they must have been together in the same prison.

Fr. Bergeron believes that Barthélémy and Geneviève were almost certainly married at Port Royal. There were no chapels or missions yet at any of the places where they would later live. Their marriage date was probably some time in 1695. Fr. Bergeron believed that no marriage certificate survived the later wars and deportations: “For, if my ‘historical notes’ are exact, the first parish Régistre of Port-Royal, ... covers only the years going from 1702 to 1715....”[34] But the fact that they were in Québec for the baptism (and quite likely the somewhat earlier birth) of their son, indicates the possibility that they went to Québec after being freed and were married there, then waited for the birth before returning to Acadia. Personally, the author suspects that Barthélémy waited at Fort Nashwak (Nachouac) with Villebon or at St-Anne’s Point with Gabriel Godin, until Geneviève was finally freed, and then they went to Québec, but we need to learn the date of St- Aubin’s letter to see how late in the year of 1695 his daughter was still a prisoner to shed more light on this theory.

And there is always the possibility that the two lovers found or were provided with a Catholic priest while in the Boston prison....

We may be able to judge what this wedding was like by comparing it with a similar one, six years later. This was the marriage of Geneviève’s second cousin, the "Sieur Louis-Simon de Saint-Aubin, Le Poupet, chevalier de la Boularderie, ensign of vessel of the King and captain of a company kept by His Majesty." Fr. Bergeron wrote that “Barthélémy had to be of great enough class, then usually ‘the great of the times’ held similar ceremonies, an occasion for all to rejoice socially in a time moreover that was tranquil and stable.”[35]

It is possible that Barthélémy had one final adventure with D’Iberville, Bonaventure, and Baptiste. In 1696, D’Iberville led essentially the same kind of expedition as he had tried in 1692 against Pemaquid. He and Bonaventure were in charge of the naval forces and again Villebon would lead the land forces. Remember, Barthélémy Bergeron d’Amboise was “one of Baptiste’s crew,” but given the fact that he was already married and had a child, we do not know if he was with this expedition. Beamish Murdoch, a Canadian historian, reports:

On the 4 July [1696] they set sail, the Indians embarking with them. The French ships were the Profond and the Envieux, and had two companies of sol­diers on board. They met fogs on the voyage, and when near cape Sable they heard the report of cannon, which they supposed were fired by the enemy’s ships as signals to prevent separation. On the 14 July the French ships cast anchor in the fog, at the distance of five leagues from the river St. John. The weather clearing up at 2, P.M., they perceived the three English vessels to wind­ward, bearing directly for the river St. John. When they were one league off, they observed the French vessels, and bore down on them. The Profond masked her warlike character, keeping her ports closed until within musket shot. Two of the English vessels came pretty near, and the small one fired at the Profond, and the other at the Envieux. The enemy, seeing the Profond open her ports, kept to windward, (tiennent le vent), and not being able to resist the musketry, endeavored to escape. The Profond tried to gain the wind on them, and the Envieux followed, contending with stormy weather. M. d’Iberville, in the Envieux, dismasted the smaller English vessel, which proved to be the Newport, of 24 guns. The prize falling astern, came almost aboard the bows of the Envieux, and lowered her flag. M. d’Iberville left her to be manned by M. de Bonaventure, who gave her to Baptiste to take her to the river St. John, at which place he was near losing her upon the rocks where she run aground. The Envieux chased the other ship, which was the largest, mounting 34 guns. The shot of the French ship passed beyond the chase, but night and fog closed their combat, which had lasted three hours, and the English ship escaped.[36]

The ships arrived at the River St. John on July 15, 1696. On August 2, the expedition set off for Pentaguët, where they met up with St. Castin. They recruited more Indians, and twelve days later they arrived at Ft. William Henry at Pemaquid. The Profond and the Envieux arrived at the same time. Troops began to surround the fort on August 14 and mortars and cannons were brought ashore during the night. St. Castin had also arrived with 300 Indians. On August 15, the French cannon succeeded in landing some shells inside the fort, which greatly alarmed the English.[37]

St. Castin promised that if the English surrendered now, they would be held safe from the Indians. Evidently seven Indians had visited this fort with a flag of truce in February. Four had been shot down and the other three were taken to prison in Boston.[38] As a result, fearing bloody retribution, the English soldiers felt St. Castin’s offer was a good one to accept and they forced their commander to surrender. The garrison marched out unarmed; D’Iberville placed them on a nearby island until transportation could be arranged for them to return to Boston. In this manner they were kept safe from the revenge of the Indians.[39]

In October 1696 the English returned the favor by going upriver and attacking Fort Nashwak. Governor Villebon coordinated his own soldiers, Baptiste and various bands of Indians to repel the soldiers.[40] Iberville arrived at the mouth of the St. John River, downstream from Nashwak, and broke the blockade there.[41] When the English departed the St. John, they left behind two piroques, which Baptiste outfitted as raiders. He recruited crews for these vessels and went off to harass the New England coast.[42]

It seems that by this time Barthélémy was no longer sailing with Baptiste, who was captured in May 1697 and taken to Boston where he was imprisoned.[43] The Treaty of Ryswick was signed in September of that year,[44] but the Bostonians still did not release Baptiste. Canadian Governor Frontenac wrote a letter in June of 1698 successfully demanding his freedom.[45] There are no indications that neither Barthélémy nor his family were in any danger of captivity at this time.

1698 Census of Pointe Sainte-Anne

Gabriel Godin 37 years

Angélique Jeanne 24 years


Louise 7 years

Louis 5 years

Joseph 3 years

Jacques Philippe 7 months

He had 5 horned animals, 4 pigs, 14 arpents of land and 2 guns.

[from F. Thériault, p.32]

We know that Barthélémy was able to obtain his own vessel in which he sailed the Bay of Fundy as a merchant. His craft was a “chaloupe,” which seems to be a good-sized ship, about 50 feet long, two masted, and carrying a crew of five or so. And so he sailed “for himself in the service of his country.”[46]

Barthélémy and Geneviève had their second child, Marie, perhaps as early as Fr. Bergeron’s date for her birth, in 1696. She may have been born somewhat later, because the third child, Michel, was not born until 1702.

Governor Villebon died in the year 1700. Brouillan succeeded to the position of governor of Acadia. Bonaventure, who had been transporting provisions to Acadia for five years, was appointed second in command. On 2 February 1702 he was named the king’s lieutenant.[47]

Fr. Bergeron writes that the newlyweds set up residence in Port Royal, but this seems to have been based on the data from the 1714 Census of Acadia, eighteen years later. They may have stayed there for a while; we saw earlier that Fr. Bergeron has Barthélémy living in Port Royal from 1693, so he certainly may still have had a house there at this time. But it also seems that the couple was given land by the bride’s father, for there are indications that they were in the area of Jean Serreau’s seigneurie in 1704 (see the next chapter of this paper), and are absolutely proven to be there in 1722. We cannot know for sure, but the family may have had two homes, one in the city and one on Campobello Island, which could conceivably help with Barthélémy’s mercantile business, something that both the French and the British authorities may not have regarded with great favor.

Geneviève’s father, Jean Serreau de St. Aubin, who had distinguished himself for many years in the service of his country, planned a trip to France to propose new projects for Acadia.[48] He may also have been trying to recover some property lost in a general decree of 1703. On 20 November of that year, Governor Brouillan presented St-Aubin with a certificate of high praise which testified to his services, loyalty and bravery. He not only won his case in France,[49] but by being absent from Passamaquoddy, he saved himself the hardship of being taken by the English and being held in prison in Boston. He returned to Acadia to receive the news that his seigneurie was in ruins and his daughter and son-in-law were prisoners. He lived with an inhabitant in Port Royal who “received him through charity.”[50]

Chapter 10: Captive in Boston

Now we see a cycle that occurred all too often, which is heart wrenching in its injustice. The War of the Spanish Succession, which is known in the Americas as Queen Anne’s War, was raging. On 19 February 1704, a war party of French and Indians from Québec attacked a small western Massachusetts town by the name of Deerfield. As seems to be common in all of these battles, no matter who attacked whom, they surprised the town, killed many, and took a number of prisoners, some of whom were killed along the way. Actually, those killed en route to Quebec seem to have been too young or infirm, or too wounded, to survive such a strenuous trek in the middle of a New England winter; the killing may have been more mercy than barbarism.[51]

The Bostonians decided to wreak their vengeance on the people of Acadia, who had absolutely nothing to do with the attack. Col. Benjamin Church was named to lead the expedition. His forces left Boston in the end of May, 1704. By the time they returned home in August they had attacked numerous Acadian locations: first the Maine coast including Passamaquoddy (i.e., the St. Croix River area where Serreau de St. Aubin had his seigneurie), then to the Minas Basin which is the region at the northeastern end of Fundy where Grand Pré was, then a half-hearted attack on Port Royal, then back up the Bay of Fundy to the northwest corner (Chignecto), and back to Passamaquoddy.[52]

During this expedition of 1704, the whole Bergeron d’Amboise family was captured and taken as prisoners to Boston. Fr. Bergeron quotes Rameau de St. Père, an Acadian historian and genealogist (Rameau de St Père:l/327 etc.): “The 2nd July 1704, the enemy (people of Boston... the despicable colonel Church... fleet of 22 vessels...) entered... in the basin of Port Royal... the first detachments looted four houses and carried off all of one family of inhabitants... Three days later... he took thirty-two prisoners, among whom were represented two notable families of the country; they had already begun to remove the cattle, and several houses had even been burned down, when M. de Brouillan [the governor of Acadia]... stopped this invasion and pressed the English (Bostonians) so much that, the same evening of 5 July [the French counter-attack], they began to re-embark, to direct themselves toward the Minas Basin... The English took, in 1704, fifty or sixty prisoners; but a much greater number of English were held at Port Royal....”[53] No mention is made of the names of the three captured families.

Beamish Murdoch mentions that at Port Royal “On the 2 July, at sunrise, it was observed that there were English ships in the basin [3 Charlevoix, 439], that they had even landed troops, carried off the guard at the entrance, which consisted of only three men, and taken as prisoners two of the inhabitants, and two boys who were fishing at the entrance.

The English made a descent at the distance of about a league from the fort, with about fifty men—carried off one family, pillaged three others, and having heard musket fire, re-embarked in haste.”[54]

Fr. Bergeron wrote: “the despicable colonel Church, 2 July, in the Basin of Port-Royal, loots four houses and removes a whole family of residents (that of Barthélémy B. as one is going to see)... Three days after,... he made thirty-two (others) prisoners...”. Nowhere are any names mentioned concerning who was actually taken prisoner or where. We believe the Acadian historians and genealogists put the capture of the Bergeron d’Amboise family at Port Royal because the 1714 census has them living in a house right where the Bostonians attacked: “in the vicinity of the Cape, in the Low-City and Close to The Fort.”[55]

Col. Church kept a detailed journal of this expedition, which a descendant of his published in 1834. In it we see that Church totally mangled all French names: a man named Latreille is called Lotriel (close, anyway), St. Aubin seems to be called Gourdan though there may have been a Gourdan living in the area, a Chartier (Barthélémy II’s godfather?) becomes Sharkee, etc. (The connections between the name variations have been analyzed by a number of people and found to have the above correlations.)[56]

Now, we can examine some entries from Col. Church’s journal:

On the seventh of June last, 1704, in the evening, we entered in at the westward harbour at said Passamequado. Coming up said harbour to an island, where landing, we came to a French house, and took a French woman and children. The woman upon her examination, said her husband was abroad a fishing.[57]

So we learn that Church took prisoners in other places that are relevant to our family. Indian Island is next to the island now called Campobello, which was called Port aux Coquilles by the French.[58] The islands were part of the seigneurie granted to Jean Serreau de St. Aubin, Geneviève’s father. And as we shall see later, we can definitely place the Bergeron d’Amboises on Campobello in 1722. But there are other clues. Back to Church’s account, this time during his second visit to the Passamaquoddy area (for some unexplained reason Church here writes in the third person):

Then Colonel Church with some of his forces embarked in their whaleboats, and went amongst the islands, with an intent to go to Sharkee’s where they had destroyed the fish. But observing a springy place in a cove, went on shore to get some water to drink. It being a sandy beach, they espied tracks; the Colonel presently ordered his men to scatter and make search. [They] soon found De Boisses’ wife, who had formerly been Colonel Church’s prisoner, and carried to Boston, but returned; who seemed very glad to see him. She had with her, two sons, that were near men grown.[59]

To me, this is too close to be coincidence. Much of the St. Aubin family had been captured by Church in 1692, including Geneviève, who was then 25 years old. According to Church’s earlier entries, this island was in the region of St. Aubin’s (Gourdan’s?) home. Church cannot present French names with more than passing accuracy and calls this woman De Boisses’ wife—close enough to “d’Amboise’s wife” to be tantalizing.[60] Prisoners were taken in this area. And we know that the Bergeron d’Amboise family (at least later) lived on Campobello Island, where there are ruins of French hearths.[61] Finally, Geneviève’s Bergeron children at this time were eight-year-old Barthélémy II, a somewhat younger Marie, and two-year-old Michel (the author’s ancestor). The two sons that Church met here were most likely, as mentioned earlier, her sons by Jacques Petitpas, Jean and Nicolas. Jean would have been about 13 years old, an age considered at that time to be “near men grown.”

The British had built a fort in Boston harbor in the early 1600s. This fortification was named Fort William. It was the home of the Commonwealth’s first prison. We believe this is where our ancestors were held prisoner for so long. As soon as we get the opportunity we plan to investigate this theory, and to examine the archives for pertinant personal and family information. Today the old fort is named Castle Island; it is part of the metropolitan park system and is on the national register of historic places.[62]

The two years during which the Bergeron d’Amboises were held prisoners produced two terrible winters. In 1704, the snow began in late November and was followed by bitter cold. December also had a great storm and later another period of bitter cold. In January 1705 the winds were so bad that the tides were two feet higher than normal. They did great damage to warehouses and cellars, swept away a number of houses and numerous haystacks, and actually moved “great quantities of marsh and removed it far off to other places.”[63] There was a hard freeze in Boston as late as 23 April.[64]

The folowing year was just as severe, producing very cold, windy and stormy periods in December through February. Samuel Sewall wrote in his diaries for 9 February 1706: “Extraordinary storm; yet at noon I rode to John Russell’s with very great difficulty by reason of the snow and hail beating on my forehead and eyes hindering my sight, and the extravagant banks of snow the streets were filled with.” The deep snows were not melted off until March, which was followed by another snowstorm late that same month. Then spring brought extremely cold rains.[65]

The fourth Bergeron d’Amboise child, Marie-Anne, was born in Boston on 24 June 1706. She was baptized in Port Royal on 20 September of the same year, after returning to Acadia.[66]

A few important things happened back in Acadia while they were gone. Governor Brouillan died in September 1705 and Bonaventure, being second in command was de facto governor for a while. He petitioned to be permanently named to the post. His service had been exemplary. He was popular with the people. But he was denied the position on the basis of reports about his liaison with a widowed woman, Louise Damours de Freneuse. In May of 1706 Auger de Subercase was transferred from his position of governor of Placentia (Newfoundland) to become the new governor of Acadia.[67]

Relatively early in 1705 one of Bonaventure’s letters stated that eight French people who had been prisoners in Boston had stolen a vessel and escaped to Port Royal. These ex-prisoners reported that a number of important prisoners, one of whom was Baptiste, were well-watched prisoners in the fort on the island.[68] The description very closely matches Fort William (Castle Island). Now consider what Fr. Bergeron wrote about this Bergeron d’Amboise captivity: “... the Bostonians had kept good or bad memory of Barthélémy as companion of D’Iberville and, without doubt, as the corsair he had become since at the sides of Baptiste, of Bonaventure and other Acadians of the type.”[69] This reinforces the conjecture that our ancestors were also imprisoned at Fort William.

On 29 March 1705, the 85-year-old Jean Serreau de St-Aubin passed away. He was buried the following day, his funeral being conducted by Father Justinien Durand of St-Jean-Baptiste paarish of Port Royal.[70]

Again Fr. Bergeron quoting Rameau de St. Père: “We looked to negotiate an exchange at Boston... Bourgeois and Allain who had some commercial connections in this city, were charged with this affair....”[71] Beamish Murdoch reports: “On 18 September [1706], 51 prisoners were received from Boston at Port-Royal, among whom were d’Amboise and his family.... They were in a condition of absolute destitution...”[72] They had been imprisoned for over two years. Fr. Bergeron uses this Murdoch reference, which also mentions the return of a Goudault. Since there is documentation that Goudault was taken at Passamaquoddy, it could be that Murdoch specifically identified these people because they were the exception, meaning they had not previously been at Port Royal when Church had taken other prisoners there. And so we have another piece of circumstantial evidence that the Bergeron d’Amboise family had been living at Passamaquoddy.

[1] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.216.

[2] Murdoch, Vol. I, p. 209.

[3] Murdoch, Vol. I, p. 208.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.212.

[6] [6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] DCB, Vol. II, p. 449.

[9] Bergeron, LGA, p. 257.

[10] Murchie, “Glimpses XXIX”.

[11] Hannay, p. 238.

[12] Murdoch, Vol. I, p.214.

[13] Seigneurie: a grant of land given to a person by a superior lord, at this time, generally the king himself. Equivalent to a barony on England. The holder of this estate was a “sieur” or lord. The seigneurie of a sieur is directly analogous to the county of a count, the duchy of a duke, etc.; it is the territory over which he is lord.

[14] Hannay, p. 239.

[15] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.213.

[16] Murdoch, Vol. I, p.214.

[17] DCB, Vol. II, p. 449.

[18] Webster, p.75.

[19] Ibid., p.77.

[20] Ibid., pp.77-78.

[21] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 163.

[22] Webster, pp.79-80.

[23] Ibid., p.80.

[24] DCB, Vol. II, p. 450.

[25] Bergeron, LGA, p. 264.

[26] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p.217.

[27] White, Vol. I, p. 122; Vol. II, p. 1299.

[28] Church, as we shall see, mangled French names. On analysis, “de Boiss” is “d’Amboise.” Church had first met Geneviève when he took her and Petitpas to Boston as prisoners in 1692. Also, Church often wrote of himself in the third person.

[29] Church, p. 282.

[30] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 169-170.

[31] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 217.

[32] DCB, Vol. II, p.605.

[33] White, Vol. I, p. 122.

[34] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 217.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Murdoch, Vol. 1, p.218.

[37] Hannay, p. 252.

[38] Murdoch, Vol. I, p. 220.

[39] Hannay, p. 253; Murdoch, Vol. I, p. 221.

[40] DCB, Vol. II, p. 450.

[41] Ibid., p. 394.

[42] Ibid., p. 450.

[43] DCB, Vol. II, p. 450.

[44] Ibid., p. 396.

[45] Ibid., p.450.

[46] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 158.

[47] DCB., Vol. II, p. 177.

[48] Bergeron, LGA, Vol. VII, p. 317-318.

[49] DCB, Vol. II, p. 605.

[50] Murdoch, Vol. II, p. 281.

[51] For the story of this raid and its families, see Demos.

[52] Church himself described the whole campaign in grea detail in his book, reprinted by his son Thomas.

[53] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 161.

[54] Murdoch, p.I-273.

[55] Bergeron, SGCF69d, p. 218.

[56] See Murchie, “Glimpses.”

[57] Church, p. 262.

[58] Hooper.

[59] Church, p.282.

[60] Remember: “d’Amboise” is pronounced “dawn-bwahz” - the “m” merely nasalizes the “a” and is not actually pronounced. The anglophone ear can easily hear something like “dawbwahz” and interpret it “de bwaz” or “de bwass.” The latter is remarkably close to the way Church wrote the name.

[61] Murchie, “Glimpses,” section XXXIII.

[62] Boston Web Site.

[63] Ludlum, Winters, p. 41.

[64] Ludlum, Factor, p. 17.

[65] Ludlum, Winters, p. 42.

[66] Public Archives of N.S., RG 1 Vol. 26 p.52. The officiating priest for the baptismal registration was Father Justinien Durand. The godparents were Pierre Pelerin and Françoise Moyse.

[67] DCB, Vol. II., p. 177.

[68] Murdoch, Vol. I, p. 279.

[69] Bergeron, SGCF69c, p. 171.

[70] Public Archives of Nova Scotia website.

[71] Bergeron, LGA, p.258.

[72] Murdoch, Vol. II, p. 284.

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