A Blupete Biography Page


Charles La Tour
(1595-c.1665)

Charles La Tour was the son of Claude De Saint-Etienne de La Tour. Both father and son played prominent roles in the early developments of Acadia: the son more so than the father. Claude La Tour was of the French nobility, the House of Bouillon. Claude was a Huguenot and had lost the greater part of his estates in a civil war.1

Both Claude and Charles came to Acadia about the year 1609. Another of these early French adventurers was a young man by the name of Charles Biencourt. After De Monts was forced to give up his interests, a few of the original adventurers were to hang on in the wilds of Acadia, including, Charles Biencourt and Charles La Tour, young boys, really, living with the local natives and in the process learned their ways. Biencourt, it seems, was to establish himself at Port Royal; and, La Tour, eventually, "erected a fort and trading house at the mouth of the Penobscot River (located in the current day state of Maine). In 1626, after La Tour was dispossessed of his establishment at Penobscot by the English, he, presumably, came to Port Royal and allied himself with the Biencourt interests, and, with Biencourt having died, circa 1623, Charles La Tour was able to easily take over the Biencourt's seigneurship.

M. A. MacDonald in her work, Fortune & LaTour, reports that Charles La Tour took a Micmac princess for a wife, and, beginning in 1626 had by her at least three daughters and I believe a son.2

By 1630, Claude La Tour (the father) somehow and for some reason found his way to London (I do not think, in these early years, Claude was hanging out with his son in the wilds, but he might have been), at any rate, Claude La Tour, was soon mingling with his protestant brothers at London who had fled from France to avoid persecution (the Huguenots). In the process, Claude was soon associated with certain well connected people; indeed, he married one of the maids of honour to Queen Henrietta Maria. One of the English courtiers who took a shine to the senior La Tour was the powerful Sir William Alexander (c.1577-1640), the putative father of New Scotland, who, had received a grant of all of Nova Scotia in 1621. Claude was soon knighted and, as a baronet of Nova Scotia, received English title to 4,500 miles of Nova Scotia: (as we may measure today) from Lunenburg to Yarmouth.3 While they were at it, Claude arranged to his son's name (Charles) included in the same grant.

In the meantime the son continued to advance himself in the wilds of Acadia. Apparently he connected himself very well with the native Indians, on whom, being in the animal pelt trade, he largely depended.

Meanwhile, Claude La Tour (the father) was making quite a hit in London society. It would appear that the senior La Tour was quite happy to go over to the English side. When Claude in 1630 arrived in his two English ships off of Fort St. Louis, his son Charles was not much impressed with his father and his new English bride: Why, his father had become, - well, a, - a traitor. Charles, who had an independent turn of mind, would not even let his father disembark.

While we saw that he had a native wife and children by her, by 1639, Charles La Tour sought to have a new wife, one with the right connections back in France: he would negotiate for one in Paris. La Tour sent his agents to France to line up a prospective wife and it was understood he would come along when the finishing details were to be worked out.

Francois Jacquelin was a Huguenot lady.4 She and Charles La Tour met and become heady over the "Parisian mixture of court, theatre, demimonde and mercantile society." But, a simple love relationship would not due: a hard bargain was driven by all, one which is reflected in a formal marriage contract.5 Francoise Jacquelin was to be both LaTour's marriage partner and his business partner; and in return she and her family would commit their lives and their fortunes to the La Tour cause in Acadia.

The story of the struggle of La Tour and his Lady against the forces of d'Aulnay, "The Battling Barons of Acadia" is but part of my larger story, sufficient to say at this place that during the years between 1638 and 1645 the first Battles over Acadia unfolded and these were between La Tour and d'Aulnay: they ended with the defeat of La Tour.

In about the latter part of June, while presumably still at Boston, La Tour finds out about the death of his wife and of his utter defeat in Acadia. During August of 1646, La Tour made his way from Boston to Quebec. He was to be absent from Acadia for the next four years. This because d'Aulnay had become the strongman in Acadia. However, d'Aulnay died suddenly, in 1650. Charles La Tour then saw his opportunity to regain Acadia, and after getting his credentials re-brushed in France, he come back to Port Royal.

There then occurred what had to be a most interesting courtship, a courtship based on - Love? Necessity? Political Expediency? Who knows, likely for all these reasons. On February 24th, 1653, Charles La Tour, for the "peace and tranquillity of the country, and concord and union between the two families," married the widow of his former enemy, Madame d'Aulnay, the charming Jeanne Motin. And by this marriage there was to be a union of Acadia; and, the couple were to make their own personal contribution to the Acadian population: three girls and two boys. They set up their home at the mouth of the St. John.6

The following year, in 1654, General Robert Sedgwick, for the English, captured Acadia including La Tour's fort at the St. John (it is not likely he would have put up much resistance to Sedgwick's superior forces.) La Tour was, almost immediately, off to London to see what he could do to renew his old English connections: he was successful in this regard.7

During 1656, Cromwell granted Acadia to Thomas Temple, William Alexander and Charles La Tour. This vast area is encompassed by the shore from Merliguesche (Lunenburg) around the southern tip of peninsula Nova Scotia and up to the head of the Bay of Fundy, south, along the shores to a point located by the mouth of the River St. George in the present day state of Maine; and includes a strip three hundred miles inland from the encompassing shoreline ("one hundred leagues").8

La Tour, however, by 1656 was 63 years of age, no one could blame him if he was to have said he was tired of all these Acadian intrigues; maybe he wanted to settle down to the simple life with his bride, Jeanne Motin (she was to give him five children of their own during the years 1653-1666). In the year 1656, La Tour sold his interests in Acadia to his partners, Temple and Alexander; and, Charles La Tour went into retirement.9

Charles La Tour, at age 72, one of the fathers of Acadia, died in his beloved Acadia. He was a man of native instinct who while he lived out most of his entire life in the wild, "exposed to all the hardships incident to a savage life"; he was, however, equally as comfortable in the presence of the most powerful people in both France and England. A man with an independent bent of mind but ever conscious of the opportunities that come to a man of quiet patience, determined perseverance, and of an awareness of the practicalities of life: traits that run deep with most all of the Acadians which were to come after him.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Hannay, p. 114.

[2] See Canadian (federal) Archives, Report (CAR), vol. II (Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, 1906) at p. 56; and, further, Hannay, op. cit., p. 206: "La Tour had five children by his second wife, Madame Charnisay, viz., Marie, born in 1654, and married to Alexander Le Borge de Belleisle; Jacques, born in 1661, married to Anne Melancon; Charles, born in 1664: Anne, also born in 1664, married to Jacques Muis, sieur de Poubomcou; Marguerite, born in 1665, married to Abraham Muis. The D'Entrements, who are still numerous in the western part of Nova Scotia, and many of them the descendents of Anne and Marguerite La Tour. There are several other families, both in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, that have some of the blood of La tour in their veins, such as the Girourds, Portiers and Landrys." From the DCB: "Charles La Tour was married three times. The first marriage, to an unnamed Micmac girl, was blessed in 1626. By this union he had three daughters, two of whom entered religious orders and the third, Jeanne, who later married Martin d'Aprendestiguy de Martignon. La Tour's second marriage, to the valiant Francoise-Marie Jacquelin, took place at Port-Royal in 1640. They had one son who apparently died during childhood. La Tour's third wife was d'Aulnay's widow, Jeanne Motin, whom he married at Port-Royal in 1653; they had five children." (Your compiler's emphasis.) For more, see Justice Pottier's "The Fortunes of Charles LaTour," NSHS#31, p.17.

[3] Hannay, op. cit., p. 118.

[4] Ibid, p. 143.

[5] The marriage contract between La Tour and Jacquelinhas been translated into English and can be found in Appendix A, in MacDonald's Fortune & LaTour.

[6] Ibid, p. 179.

[7] Hannay, op. cit., p. 196.

[8] Ibid, p. 200.

[9] Ibid, p. 201.

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Peter Landry
(2012) (2014)