A Blupete Biography Page


Louise Guyon
(1668-?).

Louise Guyon was born on Ile Orléans. Parentless at a young age, Louise married at the age of 16 to a Charles Thibault, by whom she had a son, Joseph. By 17 Louise was a widow and by 18 she married again, on 1st October, 1686, to Mathieu Damours de Freneuse (1657-1696) who was from a very influential family in Quebec.1 Her older sister, Marguerite, married Mathieu's brother, Louis, in a joint marriage ceremony.2 The Damours family owned seigneuries in Acadia, one of which was located along the St John River between Jemseg and Nashwaak.3 Mathieu and Louise moved in 1686 (Louis and Marguerite likely came down from Quebec at the same time) and it is here it is reported that "he developed the best cultivated seigneury on the river [about 30 acres under cultivation] and with the help of his brother Louis built a lumber mill." For ten years Mathieu and Louise worked together and five children were born to them. In 1696, New England raiders appeared along the shores of the St John, intent to avenge for the atrocities that had been committed along the New England and New French borders. In a concerted effort, the French homesteaders beat off the New Englanders; however, buildings were burnt, livestock killed, and crops destroyed. Mathieu and Louise were not spared; they lost all that they had built up, and worse for Louise and the children, Mathieu Damours "fell ill from exposure suffered during the attack and died soon afterwards." Louise struggled along for another few years, apparently with Marguerite and Louis by her side. In 1701, the governor of Acadia, Brouillan, decided to tear down the fort at St John with a view to concentrating the fortification efforts at Port Royal; this, together with a spring flood, drove Louise, her sister and her sister's husband to move down the river and across the bay to come to the newly rebuilt centre of Acadia, Port Royal.4

The governor at Port Royal, Brouillan "and the officers welcomed warmly this young widow of 34 years of age, mother of five children, and took into the garrison her three youngest sons." One of her sons joined the military, and, for a period of time during the war, was held as a captive at Boston.

There is evidence that Louise was soon to be on "intimate terms" with both the governor and his second in command, Bonaventure. Eventually, Bonaventure, a 43 year old naval officer (no matter that he had a wife presumably back at Trois-Rivières) "extended the courtesy ... of sheltering her in his home until she acquired a house not far from the fort. ... a child was born the following year, who was baptized and entered into the church records as Antoine on November 6th, 1703. This turned out to be such a scandal that Bonaventure missed out on an appointment which might have otherwise been his, but as it was Subercase who was appointed the new governor at Port Royal in 1706. Though Louise had temporally left Port Royal for France (presumably Bonaventure had arranged for this to increase his odds), she returned to be with Bonaventure after Subercase was appointed -- nothing to be lost, it was presumed. She was sent away from the fort up the river Dauphin (Annapolis River) to occupy a little farm there. Bonaventure's wife, Jeanne Jannière, in 1707, after having put the matter off long enough, finally came to Port Royal to be with her husband. But the presence of a wife did not deter Simon-Pierre; he continued to meet his lover, Louise Guyon. This on going affair was apparently an open secret and the governor, to stop the tongues from wagging at the thinly populated garrison and town -- a place where "gossip and scandal ran riot and social jealousies abounded" -- gave Bonaventure an ultimatum: he was to either send Mme. Guyon away, or be cashier and deprived of his post. Bonaventure gave in; the lovers said their goodbyes; Louise left for Quebec in the summer of 1708; and this was the last they were to see of one another. Of course, as events unfolded, Port Royal, was captured by the British in 1710 and Bonaventure was transported to France in 1711 and died there that same year.

After a stay in Quebec of a couple of years, during which time she was "received in high social circles," Louise Guyon returned to Port Royal, a place which was now under a British flag. The story has it that she traveled overland -- so to visit her friends on the St John River -- and "came from the other side of the Bay of Fundy in a Birch Canoo, with only an Indian and a young Lad, her son -- in the Coldest part of the winter."5 Well, presumably, the British officers were just as pleased to see Louise Guyon as the French officers were when she landed at that place ten years earlier. Mascarene wrote, "received Very Kindly by Sir Chas. Hobby ..." This healthy and vibrate 43 year old was as likely just as charming to the men as she ever was. Mascarene, the second in command of the British garrison, did not trust her and was convinced she was a spy, as likely she was. It was during this time, June, 1711 that "The Battle of Bloody Creek" took place. Her son or sons, it is said, were part of this French assault and on the "same evening Mme. Damours was taken to safety by a French force."

(Castin, the French Indian fighter -- who himself married the daughter of Louis Damours (b.1655), "seigneur of Jemseg" -- had a sister, Ursule, who married Louis Damours (b.1690). The likelihood is that this was one of the five children had by Louise who were fathered by Mathieu Damours between the years 1685 and 1696. Mascarene says6 that two of Louise Guyon's sons were among the French who led the ambush against the English.)

Unfortunately, the historical trace on Louise Guyon's life disappears at this point.7 The DCB says that it is likely that she went to France, for the records show that certain of her children in 1727 were residents of La Rochelle.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] See DCB, vol. I, p. 245; and Arsenault, pp.1627-8.

[2] The girls must have been close; each had a son in 1688 and each named him Pierre, each had a second son and each were named Louis, and each a Françoise: strange, but there it is! The later children, beginning in 1694 had different names. I think the boys had hyphenated names such as Pierre-Mathieu and Pierre-Louis.

[3] Governor Villebon, who was of the view that the brothers Damour were given over to "libertinism and independent action" set fourth a list of the extensive real estate holdings of the Damour brothers both along the St. John River and on the northern coast of present day New Brunswick, at Richibucto. (See Webster, pp. 87,154.

[4] See DCB, vol. II, p. 167.

[5] So said an on site witness: Mascarene, NSHS, vol. 4, p. 78.

[6] NSHS, vol. 4, p. 82.

[7] I see from Arsenault (p. 1630) that Louise's son, Françoise-Mathieu D'Amours was married at Quebec on the 17th of October, 1726.

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Peter Landry
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