This page is not intended to tell the history of the Acadian people...but rather to highlight some of the events which eventually lead to the capture and exile of the Acadian people and my family...the d'Entremonts of the Cap de Sable region and the destuction of the "Barronie" at Pombcoup.
A simple people...living a simple life...
A simple dream gained through blood...sweat...and tears...
Taken away through simple selfish greed...
Le Grand Dérangement
I am not a historian..not by any stretch of the imagination...just a simple Acadian boy who is searching for the "truth" regarding the events which lead to our ancestors losing their homes...however...more importantly...losing their loved ones..their spouses..their children...their lovers...and the people who played roles in this tragic drama... regardless who they were...
From the time I can recall I have been reading both in our school history books and from historians...and self proclaimed historians...that the Acadians were "deported" for the main reason they would not sign the oath of allegiance to England.
The indisputable fact is...the Acadians "did" sign the oath of allegiance on several occasions prior to "le grand dérangement"...however...with conditions. The main obstacle which hindered the Acadians from signing such an oath was the fact that they would not agree to have themselves put in a situation where they may have to bear arms against their fellow Frenchmen or their friends..the Indians.
After the fall of Port Royal in 1710 to 1730...the Acadians lived under the English regime in an atmosphere of uncertainty. Rumours were circulating regarding their future in l'Acadie...however...in 1730...Governor Philipps who was presiding at a meeting at Grand-Pre set their minds at ease.
On that April 25th day at Grand-Pre in 1730 the following document was authored in the presence of the Governor of Nova Scotia, Richard Philipps...approved by him and accepted by the Acadians...
"We, Charles de la Goudalie, priest, missionary of the parish of Mines (Grand Pre and Riviere aux Canards) and Noel Noiville, priest, Bachelor of the Faculty of Theologians of the Sorbonne, missionary and priest of the Assumption and of the Holy Family, of Pisiquid, certify to whom this may concern that His Excellency Richard Philipps Esq., Captain-in-Chief and Governor-General of the Province of His Majesty, Nova Scotia or Acadia, has promised to the inhabitants of Mines and other rivers dependant thereon, that he exempts them from bearing arms and fighting in war against the French and the Indians, and that the said inhabitants have only accepted allegiance on the promise never to take up arms in the event of war against the Kingdom of England and its government.
"The present certificate made, given and signed by us here named, this April 25, 1730, to be put in the hands of the inhabitants, to be available and useful to them wherever there shall be need or reason for it. Signed: de la Goudalie, parish priest; Noel Noiville, priest and missionary. Collated by Alexandre Bourg Belle-Humeur, notary, this 25th April, 1730."
This was twenty-five years before "le grand dérangement "...and there is no need for a Supreme Court of Canada ruling and "expert" testimony from historians to understand the above document...the Acadians had signed the oath as requested and in the presence of the Governor of the province...which he accepted.
The Acadian inhabitants felt secure...however...this would turn out to be a false sense of security and from 1730 until the arrival of the newly appointed Governor Cornwallis who succeeded Philipps in 1749...the oath of allegiance issue was never raised by the English administration in Nova Scotia.
On October 18, 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle put an end to the war, and returned Louisbourg to France. With Louisbourg back in french possession...this created a powerful military base in Ile Royale and with this a continuing paranoia regarding the possibility that the Acadians would revolt and turn against the English regime reinitiated an Anglo-American dialogue.
Governor Shirley of Massachusetts exercised a strong influence on all decisions of importance taken by the Nova Scotian authorities. Shirley was a hero in the eyes of many..as he had been the key figure in the military campaign in the attack and taking of Louisbourg...and his apparent wisdom and advise was solicited by both the Nova Scotia administration and London...and it is clear that any decisions taken with respect to the Acadians were either initiated by him or reviewed by him for his approval.
The Acadians knew Shirley quite well. At the time...there was a persistent rumour among the Acadians that the English in Massachusetts secretly plotted their deportation...and the inhabitants strongly suspected that many of the hostilities towards them were either as per his direction or due to his influence.
Two years prior to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 Shirley wrote on June 18, 1746 the following.. "The enemy will soon find a way to wrest Acadia from us if we do not remove the most dangerous French inhabitants and replace them with English families".
Then the following month, July 28, 1746 he wrote..."The Province of Nova Scotia will never be out of danger so long as the French inhabitants are tolerated under the present mode of submission".
Two months later...now realizing that the Acadians were on to him...he backed tracked and wrote in a letter to Mascarene in Annapolis Royal on September 16, 1746 and states in part...""Having been informed that the inhabitants of Nova Scotia lend the English government the intention of chasing them from their land, to deport them to France or elsewhere, I beg you to inform them that if this was the intention of His Majesty, I would have been informed of it. However, nothing of this sort has been communicated to me and I remain convinced that their apprehension are unfounded". It's now beginning to appear that Nixon may have been a decedent of this guy..."I am not a liar..."
Here is where we see that Shirley was good. He knew the game of tactical illusion...and he knew who to use...he went straight to the top. In a letter to the Duke of Newcastle...the Prime Minister of England and even attempted to drag the King into it...he demonstrated his skill at illusionary diversion from himself.
On November 21, 1746, Shirley wrote to the Duke of Newcastle, who was the Prime Minister of England at the time...in part: "They (meaning the Acadians) are still alarmed at the rumor of the design to remove them. New assurances should be given by His Majesty at once; if this is done, it would have a great tendency to remove their present apprehensions of being sent off...(Now read this next part very carefully...a basic tact of slow infiltration) These measures, together with the introducing of Protestant ministers and English schools, and some small encouragement by privileges to such as should conform to the Protestant religion, the disallowance of the public exercise of the Romish religion, at least after a short term of years, and forbidding Romish priest under severe penalties to come into this country.
"Just as I had finished the last paragraph, a letter from Admiral Knowls was delivered to me in which he informs me that he has given opinion to Your Grace, that it will be necessary to drive all the Acadians out of Acadia...I am of a contrary opnion...It seems very difficult to drive all the Acadians out of Acadia. This would strengthen the French considerably and would make the reclaiming of the Indians impracticable...Among others (meaning probably objections) it may be doubted whether under the circumstances of these people it would clearly appear to be a just usage of them...The exemption of not bearing arms upon any account given to them by Governor Philipps, on their consentment to take an oath of allegiance, whether it was done by him with or without authority, it may perhaps be deemed too rigorous a punishment that would involve the innocent with the guilty in the loss of their estates and the expulsion out of the country; it is not improbable but that there may be many among them who would even prefer His Majesty's Government to a French one, and have done nothing to deserve such fate.
"Some allowance may likewise be made for their bad situation between Canadians, Indians and English, the ravages of all which they have felt by turns in the course of the war, during which they seem to have been continually placed between two fires, the force and menaces of the Canadians and Indians plundering them of whatever they wanted and deterring them in the strongest manner from having any communication with His Majesty's garrison on the one hand, and resentment of the garrison for their withholding their intelligence and supplies on the other, though at the same time it was not in a condition to protect them from the enemy..."
Shirley had just said it all for prosperity. He stated what was actually happening to the inhabitants in an attempt to cover his illusionary butt. First he admitted "in writing" the fact that the Acadians had indeed signed the oath of allegiance with exception...and it had been accepted. Furthermore...he tells us that the Acadian were caught between several evils...the Canadians who continually tried new methods to force them to abandon their homes and relocate to the french Canadas...the English establishment...and the Acadian's ‘feathered" friends...the Indians...who plundered the Acadians of whatever they wanted and deterred the Acadians in the strongest manner from having any communication with His Majesty's garrison.
The Duke of Newcastle replied Governor Shirley on May 30, 1747 and in his letter instructed and states in part: "an opinion had prevailed amongst the Acadians that it was intended to remove them from settlements and habitations in the Province...His Majesty thinks it necessary that proper measures should be taken to remove any such ill grounded suggestions; and, for that purpose, it is the King's pleasure that you should declare in some public and authentic manner to His Majesty's subjects, the Acadians of that Province, that there is not the least foundation for any apprehension of that nature; on the contrary, it is His Majesty's resolution to protect and maintain all such of them as shall continue in their duty and allegiance to His Majesty, in the quiet and peaceable possession of their respective habitations, and that they shall continue to enjoy the free exercise of their religion".
Shirley issued a proclamation through Mascarene on October 21, 1747 as per his instructions...that the King regarded the Acadians of Nova Scotia His subjects...and that they shall be protected and maintain all such of them as shall continue in their duty and allegiance to His Majesty, in the quiet and peaceable possession of their respective habitations, and that they shall continue to enjoy the free exercise of their religion.
The Acadians had their guarantee of freedom...or so they thought. In walks Edward Cornwallis in 1749 with his proclamation which he says he demands "an end to the episcopal authority of the Bishop of Quebec in our Province...". so much for the guarantee of freedom of religion as had been promised by the King himself. Furthermore...he orders the Acadians to take an unconditional oath of allegiance within a three month period and formally forbid them to ship grain, livestock or other products to any foreign colony without special authorization. That took care of the King's word of freedom of existence...Cornwallis 3...His Majesty 0.
The inhabitants were thrown back. We all feel at times that some days we are the dog...and some days we are the hydrant...but the Acadians now felt that they were surrounded by a world of dogs...and it was going to get worst.
We now had what was possibly be an operative for the French Government in the person of Abbe Jean-Louis Leloutre, who was the missionary priest to the Indians of the Chibenaccadie River (Shubenacadie) area where he made his headquarters and build a chapel for "his" Indians. The chapel itself was located a few miles above where the Shubenacadie and the Stewiake rivers meet. On the old maps it's identified as the "Indian Mass House".
Laloutre had no use for the English and went out of his way to make it known. Within months of the capital being transferred form Annapolis Royal to Halifax...Lalourte's Indians from the Shubenacadie conducted a campaign of terror and death against the new English colonists.
On September 24, 1749 a declaration of war was forwarded to Cornwallis...however...not by the French government...but by the Indians from the Shubenacadie band...undouthlessly at the direction of missionary Lalourte. Less than a week later four Hanovian settlers were murdered by Lalourte's Indians.
Then on November 27th, a Captain Hamilton was out with his detachment consisting of 18 soldiers...when in the area of Grand-Pre they were ambushed and taken prisoner by Leloutre's Indians.
Cornwallis was beginning to behave as though someone had peed in his cereal and was determined to put an end to Laloutre and bring this Indian harassment of colonists and military to a closure...once and for all. Therefore on January 13, 1750 he authorized a bounty of 100 pounds for the capture of missionary Leloutre.
As the Indian raids continued..the level of anger also rose amongst both the Nova Scotia administration and the English colonists. The colonists wanted vengeance against the french...especially towards the Acadians.
Everyone at this point in time had their own mandate. The English wanted all of Canada...while the French and the Canadians were doing their best to make conditions for all in Nova Scotia as unbearable as possible by conducting raids against the English settlers both here and in New England...the Acadians simply wanted to be left alone to live their lives in peace as had been promised by the King..however...were caught in the middle...the Indians were playing both sides of the fence in an attempt to get whatever they could out of it...and the fish wanted this catholic thing about not eating meat of Friday dropped...and every time there was a raid on anything remotely English by either the French...the Canadians or the Indians...the Acadians were blamed.
Leloutre continued to do all he could to persuade the Acadians who had not yet taken the oath of allegiance to as demanded by Cornwallis to resist in doing so. He continued to apply pressure to encourage the Acadians to leave their farms...their homes and relocate to french held territory...be it Ile Saint-Jean (what is now Prince Edward Island) or to Nouvelle Acadie Francaise (what is now southeastern New Brunswick).
Laloutre travelled...and known for his fire and brimstone sermons regarding the English was unable to convince as many Acadians as he thought he should have...therefore he altered his tact...and his character...along with the character of his supporters came to light with a vengeance...
The Micmacs attacked Beaubassin with a vengeance forcing several thousands unarmed inhabitants to flee for their lives. There is no doubt that this was plan and instigated by Laloutre...however...as indicated by the ease of initiating earlier raids...it most likely required little effort on the part of Laloutre to persuade the Indians from the Shubenacadie area...to carry out his wishes of the destruction of this Acadian settlement. They torched the entire village...burning the church...the Acadians house of worship...their sacred place...and burned all the dwellings leaving several thousands homeless. Now without shelter or means to survive...these homeless souls headed to places such as Fort Beausejour, la Nouvelle Acadie or Ile Saint- Jean.
So much for respect of "sacred places" and friendship...
Historian Guy Fregault wrote in part in the Revue d'Histoire de l'Amerique Francaise, December 1954:
"The Acadians told British functionaries on more than one occasion that they would stay peacefully on their farms, submissive to the wish of the English, provided that they would not be afraid, as a result of their submissiveness, of being molested by the savages allied to the French. One can even see, that during the summer of 1754, inhabitants who moved into (New) French Acadia began negotiations to return to their old farms but did not dare follow them up because of the daily risk of having their throats cut and livestock killed, obviously by Leloutre's Indians."
The trees began to show their fall colours...and the birds began to sing their winter songs...oblivious of what was happening in l'Acadie. Beaubassin had been destroyed and the English were anxious to form a peace treaty and formulate a mean of release for prisoners being held captive by the Indians.
This was one occasion that the English establishment used excellent judgement in the selection of a negotiator...in the person of Captain Edward Howe. Captain Howe spoke fluent french and was well known to the Acadians...who it would appeared also trusted him. He was furthermore judge of the Court of Admiralty and commissary of the troops in Nova Scotia.
Both parties met at the appointed time and location for the parley. The parties began to approach each other...the Micmacs carrying a white flag of peace as was the custom.
There was a bellow of smoke from the line as the musket hammer struck the flit...the lead ball found it's mark and Captain Howe fell to the ground. There had been much discussion as to who fired this fatal shot. It's known that it came from the french line...and there has been suggestions...or insinuations that it may have well been an Acadian. The "shooter" who murdered Howe was one of two individuals...depending on how many shots were actually fired. Indicators point to one Etienne Batard...one of Laloure's Indians. He may well have fired a shoot in an attempt to gain prestige and honour as a ‘warrior' since it would appear that this indian was a loser. The name given to him...'Batard' means "bastard" in french and I seriously doubt that he was baptised and given that name by the french. In the "old" french..it was also used to refer to ‘cross breeds or half-breed".
However...it's unlikely he was the primary shooter...my money is on one Jean-Baptiste Cope who was the Chief of the Micmac band of the Shubenacadie area. There is no question that Cope was there and his reputation and character makes him a prime suspect. Being the chief of the Shubenacadie band...he had obviously close ties with Laloutre and his ‘warriors' would not have followed any of Laloutre's direction without first receiving Cope's blessing...
Jean-Baptiste Cope was to surface again...and at the most unlikely location...
This was nothing short of cold blooded murder...perpetrated during an understand of "friendship and goodwill"...and under a white flag of peace...and once more increased the misery and hardship of the Acadians.
On August 3, 1752 governor Edward Cornwallis was replaced by Captain Peregine Hopson, who was considered by many to be a "just and moderate man". During his short term in Nova Scotia...he demonstrated his good character and for the first time in many years...the Acadians began to believe that perhaps their prayer for a peaceful existence had been answered. However...as faith would have it...Governor Hopson fell ill and resigned his position after only having served 15 months.
Nevertheless...Hopson left his mark. On November 22, 1752...three year "before" the "le grand dérangement"...the Acadian's good friends...signed the following with the English establishment..while the Acadians were still refusing to sign the oath without exception which would have them perhaps having to bear arms against their "friends" ...
Treaty of 1752
"Treaty or Article of Peace and Friendship Renewed
"Between His Excellency Peregrine Thomas Hopson Esquire Captain General and Governor in Chief and over His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia or Accadie vice Admiral of the same Colonel of His Majesty's Regiments of Foot, and His Majesty's Council on behalf of His Majesty.
"Major Jean Baptiste Cope Chief Sachem of the tribe of Mick mack Indians, Inhabiting the Eastern Coast of the said province, and Andrew Hadley Martin, Gabriel Martin and Francis Jeremiah members and Delegates of the said Tribe, for themselves and their said Tribe their heirs and the heirs of their heirs forever. Begun made and concluded in the manner form & tenor following, viz.
"1. It is agreed that the article of submission & Agreement made at Boston in New England by the Delegates of the Penobscot Norridgwolk & St. John's Indians in the year 1725 Ratified and Confirmed by all the Nova Scotia Tribes at Annapolis Royal in the month of June 1726 and lately Renewed with Governor Cornwallis at Halifax and Ratified at St. John's River, now read over explained & Interpreted shall be and are hereby from this time forward renewed, reiterated and forever Confirmed by them and their Tribe, and the said Indians for themselves and their Tribes and their Heirs aforesaid do make and renew the same Solemn Submissions and promises for the strict Observance of all the Articles therein Contained as at any time heretofore hath been done.
"2. That all Transactions during the Late War shall on both sides be buried in Oblivion with the Hatchet, and that the said Indians shall have all favour, Friendship & protection shewn them from this His Majesty's Government.
"3. That the said Tribe shall use their utmost Endeavours to bring in the other Indians to Renew and Ratify this Peace, and shall discover and make known any attempt or design of any other Indian or any Enemy whatever against his Majesty's subject Within this province so soon as they shall know thereof and shall also hinder and Obstruct the same to the utmost of their power, and on the other hand if any of the Indians refusing to ratify this peace shall make War upon the Tribe who have now Confirmed the same; they shall upon Application have such aid and Assistance from the Government for their defence as the Case may require.
"4. It is agreed that the said Tribe of Indians shall not be hindered from, but have free Liberty of hunting and fishing as usual and that if they shall think a Truck house Needful at the River Chibenaccadie, or any other place of their resort they shall have the same built and proper Merchandize, lodged therein to be exchanged for what the Indians shall have to dispose of and that in the mean time the Indians shall have liberty to bring for sale to Halifax or any other Settlement within this province, Skins, feathers, fowl, fish or any other thing they shall have to sell, where they shall have liberty to dispose thereof to the best advantage.
"5. That a Quality of bread, flour and such other Provisions, can be procured, necessary For the Families and proportionable to the Numbers of the said Indians, shall be given them half Yearly for the time to come; and the same regard shall be had to the other Tribes that shall hereafter Agree to Renew and Ratify the peace upon the Terms and Conditions now Stipulated.
"6. That the Cherish of a good Harmony and mutual Correspondence between the said Indians and this Government His Excellent Peregrine Thomas Hopson Esq. Capt General & Governor in Chief in & over His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia Or Accadie Vice Admiral of the same & Colonel of One of His Majesty's Regiment of Foot hereby promise on the part of His Majesty that the said Indians shall upon the first day of October Yearly, so long as they shall Continue in Friendship, Receive Present of Blankets, Tabacco, some Powder & Shott, and the said Indians promise once every year, upon the said first of October, to come by themselves Or their Delegates and Receive the said Presents and Renew their Friendship And Submissions.
"7. That the said Indians shall use their best Endeavours to save the Lives & Goods of any People Shipwrecked on this coast where they resort and shall Conduct the People saved to Halifax with their Goods, and a Renewed adequate to Salvage Shall be given them.
"8. That all disputes whatsoever that may happen to arise between the Indians now at peace and others His Majesty's subjects in this province shall be tried in His Majesty's Court of Civil Judicature, where the Indians shall have the same benefits, Advantages & Privileges as any others of His Majesty's subject.
"In Faith & Testimony whereof the Great Seal of the Province is hereunto appended And the Parities to these Presents have hereunto interchangeably Set their Hands in The Council of Chamber at Halifax this 22nd day of Nov. 1752 in the 26th Year Of His Majesty's Reign.
"P.T. Hopson X Chas Lawrence Jean Baptiste Cope Benj. Green Mark Martin x Jno Salusbury Andrew Hadley x Wilm. Steele Francois Jeremiah x Jno. Colier Gabriel Martin X
It is interesting to note with who the individuals were that the English establishment negotiated with and the signatures on this document. For the English...Charles Lawrence and for the Micmacs...no other then Major Jean- Baptiste Cope. Anyone who know their Acadian Metis history should recognize this name...and bear in mind what happened to Captian Edward Howe only two years earlier.
It appears from the 1708 census that Jean-Baptiste Cope was born in Port Royal...being ten years old at the time of the census...the son of Paul Cope and his wife Cecile . (Cope is possibly derived from kopit from the archaic word mkopit meaning beaver)
On May 19, 1753...just six months after the micmacs signed the above treaty in which they agreed in writing and in "good faith" to "... use their best Endeavours to save the Lives & Goods of any People Shipwrecked on this coast where they resort and shall Conduct the People saved to Halifax..." that the Micmacs lead by Joseph Cope...Jean-Baptiste Cope's son...and it appears under the guidance of Cope himself...attacked and murdered a Captain Bannerman and his crew. The only crew member to survive and tell of what happened that day was Anthony Casteel.
We are constantly bombarded by the words "our rights"..."the treaty states"..."the intent"..."goodwill"...if this be the case...then it is clear that many who had and have the responsibility of making judicial decisions either do not know their history...or they simply ignore the facts...or may have taken in to much second hand ‘sweet grass' smoke.
The treaty if to be looked upon as a binding contract was breached. The terms and conditions were not abided by...and the breach can be linked directly to one of the primary signatures...
Many look at Major Jean-Baptiste Cope as a "warrior"...he was in fact nothing more then a "a drunkard and a bad lot ... a bad Micmac whose conduct has always been uncertain and suspect to both nations..." as generously stated by french governor Raymond.
I've read in several places where it states that Cope died in Miramichi around 1760...however...it's possible that there is confusion where it appears that Cope once killed a man in Memramcook and this could be creating the confusion. In fact it would appear that Cope was actually shot by Francis Paul also know as Peminuit Paul at Point Pleasant (Point Pleasant Park)...and buried there.
Governor Peregine Hopson returned to England in November 1753 and the control of Nova Scotia was delegated to Colonel Charles Lawrence. Lawrence had been in the colonies for over ten years and had created some what of a reputation for himself...which wasn't complimentary...to say the least. Nevertheless...on December 24, 1755 Colonel Charles Lawrence was officially named new governor of Nova Scotia.
Lawrence was well know for his violent character as he demonstrated with the German settlers who had migrated to Nova Scotia from Hanover. He had them removed from Dartmouth and relocated to Lunenburg which caused desertions...violence and riots. Colonel Monkton...Lawrence's subordinate...requested amnesty for the individuals involved...however...Lawrence simply "demanded unmerciful punishment for the unfortunate ones."
Two years into "le grand dérangement"...in 1757.. his own peers in Halifax criticized him for his "arrogant and scornful attitude"...for "oppression and tyranny" and defined him as a "low, crafty tyrant and accomplished flatterer". Not exactly want I would personally like to see on my resume...nevertheless...present history shows him as a great person with a vision for the future of Nova Scotia, his name being immortalized as namesakes of "towns" within our province.
Edwin Crowell wrote regarding Charles Lawrence and his death in his "History of Barrington Township" the following:
"Regretfullty we pass the place in our history where the hand of Lawrence falls from the helm of government. He died in October 1760. An ardent Britisher, piloting his province at a time when prompt and vigorous action was demanded, and the shifting deckload must be either secured or jettisoned for the safety of the Ship, he decided on the latter course after vainly attempting the former. He saved the ship! Respecting his constructive work we must confess that his energetic measures for replacing the French ( meaning the Acadians) population were of the first order, for he founded the new province on the hearty consent of the people. As we review his official life we sympathize with him in his difficulties and count him as a master builder whose work had stood so far the test of time. Like David, however his role had been to clear the ground and gather materials for others builders."
A person has to wonder about the personal integrity and values of a historian who openly applauds the murder of innocent women and children for real estate. However...we see in his words were he states.."Like David, however his role had been to clear the ground and gather materials for others builders." Yes...that is certainly an ancestry to be proud of...individuals...human vultures who came and took the farmlands which the Acadians had toiled for generations...the homes of innocent women and children who died at the hands of butchers so others could inherited their place of birth...farmlands cleared through the sweat of their brow...and maintain in order to simply feed their families. Perhaps it was laziness..or perhaps the lack intellectual ability that prevented these new comers of actually succeeding in their original locations...whatever the reason...they came and knowingly build their future with the blood of innocent people on their hands...
The Acadians had a strong dislike and distrust for Lawrence based on his passed history...which as I stated earlier..was certainly not restricted to the Acadians only. On October 1st, 1754, parish priest Daudin of Port Royal conveyed to Captain Murray..."...they (the Acadians) detest his government so much that they never feel safe under his administration so long as he shows his brutality while he is among them...".
The Acadians remembered that one of the first items on Lawrence's agenda as he was handed control of Nova Scotia was to issue a proclamation which stated that all Acadians who took the oath of allegiance and who were found bearing arms would be treated as criminals.
Then at the beginning of June 1755, solders from Fort Edwards at Pisiquid (present day Windsor), and Halifax went to Grand-Pre under the pretext of being on a fishing trip. This was not an unusual scene to the inhabitants of the Grand-Pre area. When the soldiers were in the area on one of their fishing expeditions...the practice was for them to sleep in the barns of the inhabitants...however...this time they broke tradition and went in pairs into the houses and as per their orders...at midnight seized all the arms and ammunition they could find in each house. The Acadians inhabitants were completely taken by surprise and by the following morning...all had been disarmed and the catch was then transported to Fort Edward.
Within a few days the Acadians living in the other parts of Nova Scotia were ordered to surrender their arms and ammunition and if they refused...they would be treated by the English establishment as "rebels". It was also at this time that their canoes were also confiscated leaving them without a method of self defense or a mode of transportation.
The black clouds of hell began to fill the Acadian skies. Unarmed and abandoned by all...the Acadians inhabitants were now on their own.
The following was send to Lawrence on June 10,1755 by the Acadians...shortly after and in response to having had their arms and canoes confiscated. It reads in part:
"...Under pretext that we are transporting our corn or other provisions to Beausejour and the river St. John, we are no longer permitted to carry the least quantity of corn by water from one place to another. We beg Your Excellency to be assured that we have never transported provisions to Beausejour, or to river St. John. If some refugee inhabitants from Beausejour have been seized with cattle we are not, on that account, by any means guilty, inasmuch as the cattle belonged to them as private individuals, and they were driving them to their respective habitations..."
"We hope that Your Excellency will be pleased to restore to us the same liberty we enjoyed, in giving us the use of our canoes, either to transport our provisions from one river to another, or for the purpose of fishing; thereby providing our livelihood..."
"Moreover, our guns which we regard as our own personal property, have been taken from us, notwithstanding the fact that they are absolutely necessary to us, either to defend our cattle which are attacked by the wild beasts, or for the protection of or children and of ourselves..."
"Beside, the arms which have been taken away from us are but a feeble guarantee of our fidelity. It is not the gun which an inhabitant possesses that will induce him to revolt, nor the privation of the same gun that will make him more faithful; but his conscience alone must induce him to maintain his oath..."
The Council's reaction and comment in regards to the above was..."the Memorial of the 10th of June is highly arrogant and insidious, and deserves the highest resentment".
Those that had signed the above petition were notified and they appeared before Lawrence. He asked them to take the oath of allegiance on that day which was around July 3, 1755...however..their reply was they..."could not agree to the oath under the formula required without consulting the people". Lawrence gave them no quarter and would not permit them to consult the others...and at their refusal to sign the oath on that day...he had them imprisoned the following day on George's Island in Halifax Harbour.
Colonel Monkton took Fort Beausejour on Chignecto Bay on June 16, 1755 and shortly afterwards on June 28, 1755, Lawrence wrote to the English authorities in London in which he stated in part:
"...the deserted Acadians (at Beausejour) are delivering their arms. I have given him (meaning Colonel Monckton) orders to drive them out of the country; at all events though, if he wants their assistance in putting the troops under cover, he may first make them do all the service in their power...".
At Beausejour on this June day the beginning of events which would be recorded as the darkness mark against any act ever undertaken by the English regime in the colonies was consummated. No family would be spared...no family would be untouched...every Acadian child and adult would lose a loved one...whether it would be though death or distance..."le grand dérangement" had begun...
As Lawrence continued to lower the net of death on the Acadian population of Nova Scotia...he still faced a logistical problem of some magnitude...how do you transport so many people in such a short period of time without depleting your own military resources ...and for his answer he turned to his butt buddy...Governor Shirley of Massachusetts. Shirley assured Lawrence he could provide the required amount of ships to transport 7,000 people. There were approximately 12,000 Acadian inhabitants in Nova Scotia at this time...approximately 6,000 had left between 1749 and 1752 or 1753.
The law at the time of the Acadians in 1755 was strict and extremely harsh...however...there was no clause in it...either specified or implied that would cause a criminal act committed by a father would result in the punishment of his wife or children...or the confiscation of the family property. Even acts of treason by individuals did not carry the punishment of "exile or banishment" to be served by either the families of the perpetrator or others who were not involved..less an entire culture.
However, a brief was written by Chief Justice Belcher on July 28, 1755 in an attempt to justify why the Acadians could not be permitted to take the oath of allegiance...nor be tolerated in Nova Scotia.
He stated that after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 the Acadians acted "like rebels" and to tolerate them any longer in Nova Scotia would:
"1. Be contary to the letter and spirit of the instructions of His Majesty to Governor Cornwallis (in 1749);
"2. Render void and sterile the result of the expedition of Fort Beausejour;
"3. Hamper the progress of the establishment of the English settlers and prevent realization of projects taht Great Britian envisaged when it spend considerable sums in the Province."
His conclusion in part:"...After the departure of the fleet and the troops (he is referring to the capture of Beausejour and it's inhabitants), it will be impossible to drive the Acadians away from their possessions while they certainly will us with more hate than in the past."
EXPAND ? Simply based on the date of Belcher brief...it is most probable that this was written at Lawrence's request...a feeble attempt at justifying an illegal act..even at that time...and as we can see in the statement written by John Winslow at Beausejour that in reality the reason was quite simple...real estate...at all cost.
The Acadians had worked many years to develop the farm lands and reclaim the salt marshes...and the English establishment wanted their land. Whether Lawrence...Belcher..and Shirley did not think in their hearts that their own people were too lazy accomplish just a task or were simply not intelligent enough in the field of water control to effectively construct dyking systems as being used by the Acadians is not clear.
Winslow wrote at the time of the taking of Beausejour..."We are now hatching the noble and great project of banishing the French Neutral (meaning the Acadians) from this province; they have ever been our secret enemies, and have encouraged our Indians to cut our throats. If we can accomplish this expulsion, it will have been one of the greatest deeds the English in America have ever achieved; for, among other considerations, the part of the country which they occupy is one of the best soils in the world, and, in that event, we might place some good farmers on their homesteads...."
Then on July 31, 1755, Lawrence instructed Colonel Monckton who was the Commanding Officer at Beausejour as follows in part:
"The Deputies of the Acadians of the Districts of Annapolis (Annapolis Royal), Mines (Grand-Pre area), and Pisiquid (Windsor), have been called before the Council and have refused to take the oath of allegiance, whereupon, the Council advised and it is accordingly determined that they shall be removed out of the Country as soon as possible, and as to those about Beausejour, who were in arms and entitled to no favour, it is determined to begin with them first.
"For this purpose, orders are given for a sufficient number of transports to be sent up the Bay (meaning Chignecto Bay) with all possible dispatch for taking them on board, by whom you will receive particular instructions as to the manner of their being disposed of, the places of their destination, and every other thing necessary for that purpose.
"In the meantime, it will be necessary to keep this measure as secret as possible to prevent their attempting to escape...
"The officers commanding the Fort at Pisiquid (Windsor)and the garrison of Annapolis Royal have nearly the same orders in relation to the inhabitants of the Peninsula".
Lawrence dispatched orders to Winslow at Grand-Pre...Murray at Pisiguid and to Handfield at Annapolis Royal. In his orders he states the number of people to be embarked and their destinations. The inhabitants were to be transported to locations from Massachusetts to the Carolinas.
He further added to Winslow who was in the Grand-Pre area:
"You must proceed by the most rigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support by burning their houses and destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country".
He then instructed Murray at Pisiquid:
"If these people behave amiss, they should be punished at your discretion; and if any attempt to molest the troops, you should take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and, in short, life for a life, from the nearest neighbour where the mischief should be performed".
Lawrence was now on a roll. Within about twenty-four hours after dispatching his orders to his various commanding officers...he then ordered the arrest of the priests in the areas. These were apparently the only priests remaining. At Saint-Charles-des-Mines...Pere Chauvreulx was arrested on August 4...Pere Le Maire evaded arrest for a while and in an attempt to reach some of the churches...however...realizing that he was endangering the safety of the inhabitants..turned himself in at Fort Pisiquid on August 10. Pere Daudin of Annapolis Royal was captured while he was celebrating mass...however...it appears by all accounts that he was permitted to finish.
These priests were the Acadian's religious lifeline...and as the priests were being hunted down they spoke to the inhabitants who were now seeing even their missionaries being taken away. These priests simply told the Acadians to "strip the alters, to spread a mortuary sheet on the pulpit and place a crucifix atop it to show that Jesus Christ alone was their missionary". The Acadian's churches..their place of holy worship were then turned into barracks...the English flag flying from their staple.
On August 8, 1755 Lawrence wrote to Monkton..Commanding Officer at Beausejour and stated in part:
"The transports for taking off the Acadians will be with you soon, as they are almost ready to sail from hence and by them you shall hear further and have particular instructions as to the manner of shipping them, and the places of their destination.
"I am hopeful that you will, in the meantime, have accomplished the directions you had in my last with regard to the Acadians. As there may be a deal of difficulty in securing them, you will, to prevent this as much as possible, destroy all the villages on the north and northwest sides of the Isthmus (meaning Chignecto) that lay any distance from Fort Beausejour, and use every other method to distress as much as can be, those who attempt to conceal themselves in the woods. But I would have all care taken to save the cattle and prevent as much as possible the Acadians from carrying off or destroying the cattle..."
The British authorities responded to Lawrence's letter of June 28, 1755 on August 13th and it's clear that they were...at the very least...uneasy with the action taken by Lawrence. Some passages in the letter were underlined and it was signed by Thomas Robinson and reads in part:
"...Whatever construction may be put upon the word Pardonne in the fourth article of the capitulation of Beausejour, it is observed by your letter of the 28th of June, that you have given orders to Colonel Monckton to drive the deserted French inhabitants (the Acadians) at all events out of the country.
"It does not clearly appear whether you mean to drive away all the Acadians of the Penninsula, which amount to many thousand, or such of them, as you say, as were living in the neighbourhood of Beausejour, or lastly, whether you mean only such as you found at Beausejour when evacuated by the garrison; the latter seems rather to have been your intention, as you added, that if Monckton wants the assistance of the deserted Acadians in putting the troops under cover, he might first make them do all the service in their power.
"Let your intention have been what it will, it is not doubted but that you have considered the pernicious consequences that may arise from an alarm which may have been given to the whole body of the French Neutrals and how suddenly an insurrection may follow from despair, or what an additional number of useful subjects may be given by their flight to the French King.
"It cannot, therefore, be too much recommenced to you, to use the greatest caution and prudence in your conduct towards these Neutrals (the Acadians), and to assure such of them, as may be trusted, specially upon their taking the oath, that they may remain in the quiet possession of their settlements under proper regulations..."
It is important to note that this letter from London in response to Lawrence's letter of June 28, 1755, only reached Halifax November 9, 1755, at which time "le grand dérangement" was well under way and a large percentage of the Acadian inhabitants had already been captured and were on vessels and on their way into exile...yet London was still speaking of them taking the oath...the same oath which Lawrence and Belcher had been refusing them to take...
TO BE CONTINUED...