A Blupete Biography Page


Morpain was born at Blaye, France. At seventeen years of age, Morpain went to sea and soon found himself engaged as a privateer in the Caribbean. These French privateers preyed on English shipping, and, as for Morpain, he was to find that the best pickings were to be had up along the New England seaboard.

In August of 1707, being well up on the northeastern coast and having just caught two English ships, Morpain sought the safety of the nearby French haven of Port Royal; it was the first time that this young (21 year old) French privateer was to see Port Royal; and, Port Royal was glad to see him, as it had just been mauled in the spring of that year by the New England commander, Colonel John March. Actually, as we can see from our larger narrative, March and his New England forces took two runs at Port Royal in 1707. He besieged Port Royal in May and then again at some point in August, presumably, he returned to finish off the job. It was in between these two times that Morpain arrived, and Subercase, in one of his reports gave full credit to "Morpain and his freebooters" for the successful defence of Port Royal for the second time that year. The New Englanders sailed away, denied; to the great joy of the residents of Port Royal. Morpain was their hero; he was sent from God. The hero of Port Royal, however, could not stay, he had to return to his home port in the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue. There were tears in the eyes of the people of Port Royal and particularly in the eyes of a young French lady, Marie-Joseph Damours. And while Morpain sailed from Port Royal, promises were made; he left his heart with Mademoiselle Damours, and to the community, 700 barrels of flour.

Morpain was to seize the first opportunity he could to return to Port Royal, where he knew, a very warm welcome awaited. In 1709, he sailed into the basin of Port Royal in command of the Marquis de Choiseul, a ship which belonged to the French Governor Chosieul. The idea was that he would sail north, capture English ships and bring the booty back to Saint-Domingue so that the governor might get his share. Morpain, however, was distracted from his duties; and, on August 13th, 1709, at Port Royal, he married his love, Marie-Joseph Damours.1 The people at Port Royal, and in particular Governor Subercase, encouraged all of this, for Morpain was a major addition to the struggling colony. For one thing, he captured ships and brought their cargoes to Port Royal; for another, he and his crew were proven fighters and would pay their keep should the English came calling again.

Basking in his good fortunes at Port Royal, as I am sure he was, it was thus unlikely he was anxious to leave; he knew, however, he had no choice but to return to Saint-Domingue: this, apparently, he did. I have no knowledge of what transpired between Morpain and his Caribbean boss, Governor Chosieul; but, this I know -- Morpain, shortly after his arrival at Saint-Domingue, was to leave the Caribbean, for good. He was, in 1711, to be found at the French stronghold at Placentia, Newfoundland. It does not appear that he was at Port Royal when Nicholson took the place in 1710, his wife; however, was part of the captured garrison and she was delivered to Placentia, there to join her husband.

In 1712, Morpain went back to France and stayed at his home town at Blaye for about a year. He then sought and received a naval appointment. In June of 1715, Morpain was named port captain at Ile Royale. In 1716, he arrived at that place to take up his duties, where, it would appear, he remained in that capacity2 until 1745. We see from the records, that, in 1725, Morpain was involved in the salvage operations of the French ship Chameau which had been lost on the hard and wind-blown coast of eastern Cape Breton.

During his time at Louisbourg, Morpain had several ships at different times under his command: in 1721, a naval storeship; in 1744, the Caribou; and in 1755, just before the beginning of the first siege, the Castor. Right along, it may be safely presumed, Morpain, helping himself and the community at Louisbourg, continued with his privateering activities, taking many a New England ship back home to Louisbourg. He was known and feared in the shipping circles of New England; the dreaded "Morepang."

In 1745, we find Morpain playing a key role during the first siege of Louisbourg. The 59 year old, was, it would appear, only one of two leaders that showed any real spunk (Boularderie was the other). Morpain personally repeated the same performance in 1745 as he did 36 years earlier, when, at Port Royal, he fought off fathers of these raiders from New England. But, Alas! Louisbourg fell to the New Englanders, and, with it, Morpain's career came to an end. He was, presumably, aboard one of the eleven transports which sailed out of Louisbourg Harbour on July 4th, 1745, whose mission was to return the defeated residents of Louisbourg back to France. With the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and the return of Louisbourg, in 1748, it was intended that Morpain should be sent back to take up his old duties. This hard-bitten French warrior, however, didn't make it: he died at Rochefort during August of 1749.


[1] Madame Morpain, incidentally, was one of the daughters of Louis Damours. Castin married one of the other Damours girls; thus, these two privateers, Castin and Morpain, married into the same family. Marie-Joseph was the daughter of Louis Damour, the niece of Louise Guyon.

[2] McLennan, in his Louisbourg, sets out a very short note on Morpain's military advancement, beginning with his appointment as Capitaine de Flute in 1720. (Appendix I, p. 334).


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)