MILITARY COMMISSION BY THE FRENCH IN COMMAND AT HUDSON’S BAY
(PROBABLY THE EARLIEST AND ONLY ONE EVER)
LE MOYNE DE SERIGNY ET DE LOIRE, Joseph. A.D.s., Fort Bourbon dans le Nord du Canada (i.e. Fort York), 14 September 1698. 1 p. oblong 8vo (235 x 130mm), preserved in a leatherbacked cloth folder with binder’s title “Lemoyne de Sérigny. [rule] 1698, some age-toning to paper, otherwise very good.
While the French were in command in Hudson’s Bay, Lemoyne de Sérigny, brother of Lemoyne d’Iberville, upon his departure from Hudson’s Bay, appointed his cousin, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne de Martigny et de la Trinité to command the fort in his absence. This is probably the earliest and possibly the only military commission given by the French in Hudson’s Bay. The document was kept in the family till 27 February 1751, when Martigny’s daughter-in-law deposited it with notary Danré de Blanzy in Montreal, most likely with the intention of having notarial copies made and sent to the French court for obtaining a pension for her husband, who was 59 years of age at the time.
Provenance: Archibald de Léry Macdonald-Lawrence Lande.
Transcript, translation of the document and biographies of the persons involved below.
LE MOYNE DE SERIGNY ET DE LOIRE, Joseph. A.D.s., Fort Bourbon dans le Nord du Canada (i.e. Fort York), 14 September 1698. 1 p. folio (235 x 362mm), some age-toning, some acid-free tape repairs to splits on old folds on verso, missing the protective folder I had made for it around 1980.
Promise by Sérigny the men remaining behind at Fort Bourbon will be paid the sum of 30 ‘livres of France’ per month for as long as they stay in Hudson’s Bay and what they will be paid upon their return, whether directly to Canada or by way of France. It is the equivalent of contemporary voyageur’s contracts. The document was also remitted by Martigny’s daughter-in-law with notary Danré de Blanzy at Montreal. It is also signed by both notaries Danré de Blanzy and Adhémar, as well as by Angélique Guillet Martigny.
Provenance: same as above.
Transcript, translation and biographies of the persons involved below.
Ayant ordre De La Cour dechoisir quelque personne fidelle, et capable de Commander Le fort bourbon aunord De Canada auons choisy et Commis Le Sieur De Martigny pour y Commander En nostre absence ainsy qu’il nous aesté Encore Depuis ordonné par monsieur D’hiberville Capitaine De fregatte Du Roy, et L’avons fait recongnoistre pour Commandant En tout Ce qui Concernera Le service De Sa majesté En foy Dequoy Luj ay Laissé La presente Commission pour Luj Servir et valoir aceque De Raison fait au fort bourbon Dans lenord De Canada Ce 14e 7bre 1698.
Depose pour minute a Danre de Blanzy Lun des no.res Soussignez par Dame angelique Guillet Epouse de jacques lemoine Ecuyer Sr. de martigny Demeurante auCapdevarenne Etant cejour En cette ville quil a Certiffie veritable par Luy En Etre delivré toutes Expeditions Et aqui il appartiendra dont acte Qui fut fait. [flourish]
Having been ordered by the court to chose a faithful person, able to command Fort Bourbon in the North of Canada, we have chosen and ordered sieur de Martigny to command there in our absence as it has been ordered to us since by Mr d’Iberville, captain of the Kings frigate, and we have had him recognized as commander for all that will concern the service of His Majesty. Witness whereof I have left him the present Commission to serve him as proof. Drawn up at Fort Bourbon in the North of Canada this 14th 7ber [September] 1698.
Deposited in the minutes of Danré de Blanzy one of the undersigned notaries by Lady Angélique Guillet wife of Jacques Lemoine esquire sieur de Martigny residing at Cap de Varennes being today in this city, which he has certified true and for him to deliver all copies required and to whom it will concern, of which an act was made for her. [flourish]
Le quatorziesme Septembre mil six cents quatrevingtDixhuit au fort bourbon dans le nord de Canada, nous soussignés Declarons, et Confessons nousestre Engagés auecmessieurs Dhiberville Capitaine de fregatte Du Roy et de Serigny Lieutenant De vaisseau, L’un faisant pour l’autre de rester au nord Dans leDit fort a leurs Services et de y travailler et faire tout cequi nous seroit ordonné par Monsieur de martigny Gouverneur de Laplace, aux Conditions suivantes, Scavoir quenos Dits sieurs D’hiberville et De Serigny s’engagent de nous nourir et payer nos gages a raison Detrente livres De france a chacun par mois depuis leD. Jour de nostretraité jusques aujour que nous remetront ou feront remettre En canada, Sinon de nous payér seulement jusques au jour de nostre arrivée en france si mieux aiment y aller que en Canada, s’engageants seulement de nos donner pendant nostre séjour en france dixsols Dupays pour nostre nouriture aprés quoy s’obligent de nous Défrayér de nostre passage, et nous nourir pendant la traversée si ils ne trouvent plus a propos de nous Continuer Les Dix sols a chacun jusques En Canada, de quoy nous nous tenons Contents prometants D’exécuter depoint Enpoint Les Conditions dupresent traité afaute Dequoy nous serons tenus detous depends, domages etjnterets en foy Dequoy avons Signé Lepresent acte et ratifié fait au fort bourbon Le meme jour et an Cydessus
[below, in margin:] Depose pour minute a Danré De Blanzy l’un desd. notaires par Dame Angelique Guillet Espouse de jacques lemoine Ecuyer Sr demartigny demeurant au Cap de Varennes Etant cejour En Cette ville a la presente quil a Certiffie veritable dont acte qui fut fait Et passe aud. Montreal Etude de Danre Lun desd. No.res Le vingt Sept fevrier mil sept Cens Cinquante un après midy Et a signe + par luy Enetre delivre toutes Exped.ons necess.res Et aqui jl appar.dra.
[signed:] angelique gillet martigni
Adhemar [with flourish] ; Danre De Blanzy [with flourish].
[verso:] no. 4426. 27 fevrier 1751.
Dépot d’une Commission.
The fourteenth September sixteen hundred ninety-eight at Fort Bourbon in the North of Canada, we undersigned declare, and confess to have gone in the service with messrs d’Iberville, captain of the King’s frigate and de Sérigny, lieutenant of a vessel, one representing the other to stay in the North in the said fort at their service and to work there and do all that will be ordered to us by Mr de Martigny governor of the site, under the following conditions, to wit that our said sieurs d’Iberville and de Sérigny bind themselves to feed us and to pay us our wages on the basis of thirty ‘livres’ of France per month from the said day of our agreement until the day that we will return or be returned to Canada; if not to pay us only until the day of our arrival in France if they rather prefer to go there instead of Canada, binding themselves only to give us during our stay in France ten ‘sols’ of the country for our food, after which they bind themselves to pay the cost of our passage, and to feed us during the crossing unless they find it more proper to continue paying us each ten ‘sols’ until our arrival in Canada, to which we agree, promising to execute point by point the conditions of the present agreement, failing which we will be held liable of all expenses, damages and interests. Witness whereof we have signed the present act and ratified. Drawn up at Fort Bourbon the same day and year as above
[below, in margin:] Deposited in the minutes of Danré De Blanzy one of the said notaries by Lady Angelique Guillet wife of Jacques Lemoine Esquire Sieur de Martigny residing at Cap de Varennes being today in this city for this present document which he has certified true and for which an act was drawn up and passed at the said Montreal in the study of Danré one of the said notaries the twenty-seventh February seventeen hundred and fifty-one in the afternoon. And he has signed that he will deliver all necessary copies to whomever it will concern.
[signed:] Angélique Guillet Martigny
Adhemar [with flourish] ; Danré De Blanzy [with flourish].
[verso:] no. 4426. 27 February 1751.
Deposit of a Commission.
LE MOYNE DE MARTIGNY ET DE LA TRINITÉ, JEAN-BAPTISTE, military officer, seigneur, commander at Fort Bourbon; baptized 2 April 1662 at Montreal; d. July 1709 at Fort Albany. Martigny was one of at least seven children of Jacques Le Moyne de Sainte-Marie and Mathurine Godé, and a nephew of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay. He married Marie-Élisabeth Guyon Durouvray on 1 July 1691 at Quebec, by whom he had one son, Jacques, born 20 March 1692.
Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Martigny was associated for the major part of his career with the campaigns of the French in Hudson Bay, from 1686 to 1709. In 1686, he took part in the expedition of 70 Canadians and 30 regular troops which Pierre de Troyes led against the English fur-trading installations on James Bay. Leaving Montreal on 30 March, the party journeyed by the Ottawa route and through a chain of lakes and streams and difficult portages to James Bay, arriving on 18 June. The party captured the four Hudson’s Bay Company posts of Moose Fort Charles Fort, Albany Fort, and the depot on Charlton Island.
When Troyes departed in August, he left behind 40 Canadians, including Martigny, under the command of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, Martigny’s cousin. Martigny remained at James Bay throughout 1687 and most of 1688. On 10 October of that year, he was dispatched with a companion and two Indian guides to bring news of the north both to the authorities in Quebec and to the directors of the Compagnie du Nord, whose interests in the fur trade of the region had provided the principal impetus for the 1686 expedition.
The journey was one of incredible hardship. Their food ran out, their muskets misfired, they were continually forced off the trail to seek subsistence from the wilderness. Then, fearing an attack by Iroquois reported to be in the area, their guides refused to continue along the most direct route but headed instead for Sault Ste Marie, where they arrived in May 1689. It was only in mid-June that Martigny and his companion finally trudged into Montreal.
We lose sight of Martigny until February 1694, when he and other officers were accused before the Conseil Supérieur “of having roamed through the streets of the Lower Town [of Quebec] after an orgy, breaking in and smashing window-panes and sashes in the homes of various citizens.” Before this incident, however, he was probably included in Iberville’s abortive preparations in 1690, 1692, and 1693 to capture the one remaining English post in the north, York Fort. Martigny finally returned to Hudson Bay in 1694 as part of the successful expedition which captured the English station in that year. When Iberville, after wintering in the north, sailed away in September 1695, he left 70 men at Fort Bourbon (York Fort) under Gabriel Testard de La Forest, with Martigny as the latter’s lieutenant. The following year, however, the English recaptured their station. Martigny, along with the garrison, was sent as a prisoner to England.
In 1697, the French, undismayed, began preparing once more to try to regain York Fort. Joseph Le Moyne de Serigny, Iberville’s brother, was appointed to take a squadron from France to Placentia (Plaisance), where the latter was concluding his destruction of the English fishery in Newfoundland. Martigny was released from captivity in England in time to return to France and join the campaign, for he sailed with Serigny that summer. After taking on Iberville and his Canadian soldiers at Placentia in July, the squadron of five vessels continued to Hudson Bay. After the brilliant victory of Iberville’s lead ship, the Pélican, over three English warships, the French laid siege to York Fort in September 1697. On the 11th of that month, Iberville picked Martigny to go into the fort under a flag of truce, and an English-imposed blindfold, to demand the release of French prisoners. Governor Baley refused, and the French resumed their fire; after two days the English commander surrendered the fort to the French.
Iberville immediately prepared to leave Hudson Bay for the last time. He appointed Martigny commander of Fort Bourbon, effective on the departure of the higher-ranking Serigny; however, the latter was detained until the autumn of 1698 while awaiting a replacement for his ship’s rudder. This was Martigny’s first command; he had under him 20 Canadians and a trading establishment of 10 men under Nicolas Jérémie.
It is not known when Martigny left Fort Bourbon; he was in Quebec on 22 April 1702 when he purchased from his three sisters and two of his three brothers their portions of the family seigneury of Cap-de-la-Trinité, thus becoming the sole proprietor and seigneur of La Trinité. In 1706, he was reported living in Montreal.
We lose sight of Martigny from 1706 to 1709. In the latter year he joined a party of 100 Canadians under Nicolas d’Ailleboust de Manthet on a journey to James Bay in an effort to recapture Albany Fort (Fort Sainte-Anne), which had first been captured by the French during Martigny’s first campaign in 1686, and had been recaptured by James Knight in 1693. Unlike his earlier campaigns, the 1709 venture was a disaster: nearly all of the party died either in battle or from hunger or exposure, and both Martigny and Ailleboust de Manthet were struck down in the very first skirmish. In his observations to the minister, Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil pointed out the Canadians’ perennial reckless disregard for danger, and their inadequate knowledge of the area. The intendant, Jacques Raudot, confirmed this opinion, mentioned Manthet’s “excessive bravery,” and deplored the party’s failure to equip themselves properly, particularly with a battering ram and fascines for setting fire to the English fort.
After his father’s untimely and tragic death, Jacques Le Moyne assumed his name, and became seigneur of La Trinité.
Bernard Pothier (DCB)
Le Moyne de Martigny et de la Trinité, Jacques, b. 1692, son of the former, married, in 1716, Angélique Guillet, b. 1693, at Ste-Anne du bout-de l’Île. (Tanguay)
LE MOYNE DE SERIGNY ET DE LOIRE, JOSEPH, naval officer, knight of the order of Saint-Louis, joint commander of Louisiana, governor of Rochefort; baptized 22 July 1668 at Montreal; d. 12 Sept. 1734 at Rochefort. He was the sixth son of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay and Catherine Thierry, and a younger brother of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. Serigny married Marie-Élisabeth Héron at Rochefort, and by her had at least two sons and one daughter.
Joseph Le Moyne de Serigny began his service in 1686; on 28 May he was appointed a midshipman at Rochefort. In November 1687, he acted as interpreter for the Iroquois captives taken during Governor Brisay de Denonville’s campaign that year and sent to Marseilles to serve in the galleys. Denonville’s tactlessness in shipping these Indians to France was corrected the following year, and in 1689 Serigny was again dispatched to escort the Iroquois from Marseilles to La Rochelle, where they embarked for New France.
It is difficult to ascertain how long Serigny continued to serve at Rochefort; he may well have taken part in the preparations for Iberville’s abortive campaigns against the English at York Fort in Hudson Bay in 1690 and 1692. He became a sub-lieutenant in the navy on 1 Jan. 1692, and in 1693 he saw service aboard his brother’s vessel, the Poli. When the expedition to York Fort finally materialized in 1694, with Iberville again in command of the Poli, Serigny was appointed to command the Salamandre. Leaving Rochefort in May 1694, the two frigates came first to Quebec, where Serigny shared with his brother the task of recruiting the 110 Canadians who took part in the campaign and of drawing up contracts with them. The party left Quebec on 10 August, and by 13 October Iberville, after reconnoitering the English installations, was in a position to demand the surrender of the fort. The following day, the commander, Thomas Walsh, “basely surrendered.” Louis, Sieur de Châteauguay, Serigny’s brother and his ensign on the Salamandre, was lost in the action. After wintering at Fort Bourbon (York Fort), both Iberville and Serigny sailed for France in September 1695; the latter arrived at La Rochelle on 11 October, with a prize of 80 tons in tow.
The following season, Serigny, who had been promoted lieutenant-commander on 1 Jan. 1696, was ordered to sail to Hudson Bay to bring supplies to Fort Bourbon and to attempt the capture of the one remaining English post in the north, Albany Fort (Sainte-Anne), which had been recaptured by James Knight in 1693. He sailed from La Rochelle on 9 May 1696 and, after leaving Iberville at Placentia (Plaisance) on 21 June, departed for Hudson Bay on 8 July with two vessels, the Hardi and the Dragon. After being delayed by heavy ice, he finally arrived before Fort Bourbon on 2 September, only to find that an English squadron had preceded him by just two hours. After cruising for several days in sight of Bourbon and the enemy squadron, Serigny finally resigned himself to the futility of any counter action. Leaving Fort Bourbon to defend itself, he sailed away to France, arriving at Île d’Aix in October 1696.
Undismayed by their rapid ouster from Fort Bourbon, the French authorities immediately decided to restore their fortunes by seizing Hudson Bay’s most lucrative fur-trading station. During the following winter, Serigny prepared to take a squadron of five vessels to Iberville, who joined the expedition at Placentia and took over the command from his brother. After an arduous voyage north, Serigny in the Palmier lost his rudder on a sand-bar, and barely arrived before York Fort in time for the siege. He was twice dispatched on 12 September to demand that the English surrender. After being refused the first time, Serigny returned the same afternoon, this time telling the commander, Henry Baley, “that it would be the last time that he [would come].” The following day, the French flag flew once more at Bourbon.
Though Serigny was to have sailed immediately with Iberville, he was detained until the following autumn awaiting a replacement from France for his damaged rudder. In the meantime, as the highest ranking officer, he assumed command of Hudson Bay. Despite his inexperience in commercial matters, he was associated closely enough with his brother’s interests to trade in furs on his behalf for a year. When his rudder and 50 additional crew members arrived the following summer, Serigny sailed first to Quebec, and then to La Rochelle where he arrived in November 1698.
In the spring of 1699, Serigny was ordered to sail a frigate to Hudson Bay to evacuate Fort Bourbon which was being exchanged for the James Bay posts, in conformity with the terms of the treaty of Ryswick. Before leaving, however, he received orders to sail instead with reinforcements for Iberville, who had embarked upon his Louisiana adventure. Nevertheless Serigny apparently did not go to Louisiana until 1701, when he accompanied his brother on the latter’s third voyage. He left France in September of that year commanding the Palmier once again. After erecting a storehouse and other buildings on Île Dauphine, and probably engaging in trade, Serigny left Louisiana for France in April 1702.
Like Iberville, he did not return again to the New World until 1706. There is no record of his being in the royal service in France during this period, but there are several suggestions that his Louisiana voyage had been a profitable one. He made a number of important investments, particularly the purchase of the seigneury of Loire in Aunis and, with Iberville, of a number of “captaincies in the coast guards” from the royal treasury. As might be expected, the Le Moynes, a close-knit family pursuing successful careers and accumulating in the process substantial wealth in new and distant colonies, were beginning to be a source of much jealousy. There is as well ample evidence to suggest that they had in fact enjoyed the benefit of illicit gains.
When Iberville led an armament to harass the British in the West Indies in 1706, Serigny was placed in command of the Coventry, one of 12 vessels in the powerful squadron. After part of the force ravaged St Christopher (St Kitts), Iberville attacked and mercilessly pillaged the small island of Nevis from 1 April 1706. Of more importance to Serigny’s career than the sacking of Nevis was his involvement in various fraudulent enterprises during the campaign. After a thorough investigation by the crown into the alleged malpractices, Serigny’s and Iberville’s guilt emerged, as did that of their agents and outfitters in France and nearly every officer of the entire squadron. In close association with Iberville, Serigny had made illicit profits from the sale of merchandise and supplies, which the crown had furnished for the expedition, and from the disposal of Nevis booty. The supplies which he was to take to Louisiana following the capture of Nevis provide a good example of his activities. Instead of sailing directly to the Mississippi colony, Serigny called at Vera Cruz, where he unloaded not only his share of the Nevis booty but a substantial portion of the supplies so direly needed in Louisiana, at a net profit later estimated at 60,000 piastres. Despite such unequivocal evidence of guilt, Serigny employed every stratagem to evade costly restitution. The widespread resentment and distrust to which these irregularities gave rise in Louisiana, New France, and especially in the ministry of Marine, compromised for many years the normal advancement in the service of Serigny and his brothers Jean-Baptiste, Sieur de Bienville and Antoine, Sieur de Châteauguay. Indeed, it was Serigny himself, after the death of Iberville in July 1706, who most personified to the minister the atmosphere of fraudulence that surrounded the whole campaign.
Serigny’s activities are virtually unknown for the next ten years; it was not until 1716 or 1717 that the first indication of renewed ministerial favour appeared. In July 1718 he was ordered to sail a vessel of the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales to Louisiana and to remain there for two years serving with Bienville as joint commander of the colony. He was accompanied in this campaign by his son, the Chevalier de Loire, a midshipman at Rochefort. In May 1719, soon after his arrival and with France at war with Spain, he attacked the Spanish base at Pensacola with 3 vessels and 150 men. The Spaniards surrendered easily and although Serigny’s brother, Châteauguay, was compelled to return the base to a superior force the following August, a French squadron arrived in September, and promptly regained the town. Following this campaign Serigny was promoted, on 1 Feb. 1720, naval captain and was awarded the coveted cross of Saint-Louis at about the same time.
Serigny was to have returned to France in 1720, but the council of commerce of Louisiana requested in April that he delay his departure pending the return of the more competent officers of the colony from captivity in Havana. Though it is not certain when he did sail, this was the last time he was to see the New World.
In France, Serigny took up residence in the Rochefort area. He was appointed governor of that important port in 1723 and because of its role in shipping to America, he no doubt retained his interest in both Canada and Louisiana. Though the record of his remaining years is spotty, it would seem that at the time of his death at Rochefort on 12 Sept. 1734 he was still governor. He was buried at Loire.
Bernard Pothier (DCB)