ARRIGRAND (Darrigrand), GRATIEN D’, Sieur de La Majour, investor, concessionaire; b. 20 Jan. 1684 at Orthez, Béarn (dept. of Basses-Pyrénées), France, son of Jean-Jacques d’Arrigrand and Marguerite d’ Auger de Subercase; d. after January 1754.
In 1703 Gratien d’Arrigrand accompanied his uncle, Daniel d’Auger* de Subercase, to Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld.), where he served until 1706 under Saint-Ovide [Monbeton]. While there he became a midshipman (1704) and took part in the raids on English posts at Bay Bulls (Baie des Taureaux), Petty Harbour (Pent Havre), and St John’s. After further training at Rochefort, France, he joined the army (Régiment de Charolais) in Spain. Following his father’s death in 1709, he left the army and spent nine years at his father’s estate in Béarn, then lived in Paris until 1725. Having lost much of his large inheritance in the speculation attending John Law’s “system,” he was persuaded to try to recover some of it by investing in a colonial enterprise.
On 10 March 1725 d’Arrigrand became a private partner of François Ganet, whom he had helped, through family connections, to obtain the fortification contract for Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), and a partner, secretly, of Jacques d’Espiet* de Pensens. He went to Louisbourg in 1725, worked there with Ganet for two years, then returned to France, where his main task was to purchase materials and supplies for Ganet. Ganet became dissatisfied when in 1728 d’Arrigrand failed to send him what he needed; d’Arrigrand claimed that Ganet was concealing from him their profits and losses. In 1731 d’Arrigrand obtained a court order obliging Ganet to produce a financial statement, but no judgement could be carried out as long as Ganet was under a military construction contract with the crown outside metropolitan France. Despite d’Arrigrand’s efforts to prevent it, Ganet obtained a new contract, running from 1731 to 1737. He refused to divide with d’Arrigrand the value of the equipment and materials which they jointly owned.
D’Arrigrand was anxious to recover moneys from the fortifications contract in order to reinvest them in Louisbourg. In April 1734 he was granted property at Plédien Creek; he proposed to transport timber from the nearby hills via the creek into Louisbourg harbour and to use waterpower to operate sawmills and forge-hammers. On 8 Sept. 1735 he concluded an agreement with David-Bernard Muiron, who was to undertake development of the site on d’Arrigrand’s behalf. Unofficially, Muiron was also to try to win the fortifications contract from Ganet, forcing Ganet to return to France and the jurisdiction of the courts. Muiron, preoccupied with his tannery, did not even succeed in having d’Arrigrand’s concession registered by the Conseil Supérieur of Île Royale. Though he did win the construction contract for the period 1737 to 1743, Muiron made a private deal with Ganet for the purchase of equipment and supplies instead of representing the interests of d’Arrigrand.
In 1739 Ganet, back in France, contested d’Arrigrand’s suit against him. The conflict in the courts was long and confused; the case dragged on until 1745. That year d’Arrigrand was awarded two-fifths of the sums the crown owed Ganet, as well as 60,000 livres with which to pay his own debts. He also collected an additional 52,000 livres in a suit initiated by the estate of Pensens, and sued Muiron for further amounts. In 1753, his litigation finished, d’Arrigrand went to Louisbourg and finally had the Plédien Creek concession registered. He had mobilized financial and labour resources in France, and though the site had been neglected and misused he was ready to begin construction of facilities. There is no evidence, however, that he ever did so. A letter he wrote from Louisbourg in January 1754, when he was almost 70, is the last record of him that survives.
AN, Col., B, 57, f.755; 71, ff.193–98v; C11B, 18, ff.85–87; 22, ff.283–84; 23, ff.213–17v; 27, f.201; 33, f.10; C11D, 5, ff.45–46; E, 9 (dossier d’Arrigrand); F1A, 35, f.20; Marine, C1, 161, f.21; Section Outre-Mer, Dépôt des fortifications des colonies, Am. sept., no.241; G2, 183, f.430; 212, no.575. Robert Le Blant, Histoire de la Nouvelle-France : les sources narratives du début du XVIIIe siècle et le Recueil de Gédéon de Catalogne (1v. paru, Dax, France, ), 254; “Un entrepreneur à l’île Royale, Gratien d’Arrigrand, 1684–1754,” La revue des questions historiques (Paris), LXIV (1936) (offprint at PAC).