A Blupete Biography Page

Duc d'Anville

He was a French aristocrat, an only son, with a most impressive name, Jean-Baptiste-Louis Frederic de La Rochefoucauld de Roye, Duc d'Anville. In 1746, d'Anville led the disastrous and aborted invasion of Acadia.

The Rochefoucauld family came from a noble line, however, because of their Protestant faith (Huguenots) became impoverished. D'Anville's father, in order to gain favour with the French court, in 1688: renounced his Protestant faith; embraced Catholicism; and, received a royal commission in the French navy. His son, the subject of this sketch, thus was to follow his father's well blazed trail and established himself among the highest of circles; especially, when, in 1732, he married a wealthy and titled young lady, the seventeen year old, Marie-Louise-Nicole Elizabeth de la Rochefoucauld (1716-97).

As we see from our larger story, d'Anville led a fleet of over 70 sailing vessels and 13,000 men over the wide Atlantic; leaving France on the 22nd June, 1746, and arriving at Chebucto (Halifax Harbour of today) on the 10th September.1 The men had been upwards to three months at sea; out of food; sick and dying; and bashed by two tremendous storms at sea. Thousands of them died, many just after having arrived at Chebucto. D'Anville himself died within six days of having come into Chebucto: the French said of apoplexy, the English said of poison.2

While it is likely that d'Anville had polished manners which served him well at court, it appears that he was never "to have received proper naval training."3 It is one of those questions of history -- might the French have fared better if the 1746 expedition had been headed up by more experienced leaders? I think so. Though, who can predict the outcome of a fleet of sailing vessels hit by severe storms at sea and being set back weeks, months, without out adequate food or water; especially when the entire expedition was short changed by corrupt administrators and contractors back home. And -- back in those days -- what could be done and who could help when typhus, dysentery and scurvy is running through the fleet.


[1] The dates are taken from the DCB.

[2] Hannay, p. 346.

[3] DCB.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)