DACCARRETTE (Dacaret, d’Acaret), MICHEL or Miguel (he signed Daccarrette le jeune (the younger)), ship captain, privateer, fishing entrepreneur, merchant; b. probably before 1690 at Hendaye, France, son of Jacques Daccarrette and probably Marie Gastaignol; d. in 1745 at the siege of Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island).
Michel Daccarrette apparently immigrated to the fishing station at Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld.) before 1704, when the census contains a reference to an elder brother Joannis and “two brothers,” probably Michel and Jacques. Joannis ran a fishing enterprise, invested in privateers, and engaged in other mercantile activities. Michel’s first recorded business venture is in 1709 as a shareholder in a privateer, the Marie. In 1712 he sailed as captain of a charroi, the Trompeur, a 15-ton privateer guaranteed for 15,000 livres by François Boschet de Saint-Martin, a prominent shipowner at Plaisance. In 1713 Daccarrette commanded the Marianne, a small ship bound for Cayenne, Guiana, and France. At Plaisance, Joannis and Michel Daccarrette were important members of what was apparently a close-knit group of influential merchants and fishing entrepreneurs, often bound by family ties, and with overseas connections, principally in the Bayonne region of France. After 1714 when the Plaisance colony moved to Île Royale this group was to occupy a considerable position at Louisbourg. Daccarrette married his first wife, Jeanne Gonillon, at Plaisance in 1713; she appears to have accompanied him to Louisbourg with one child, probably their daughter Catherine.
On Île Royale the Daccarrettes set up a fishing enterprise: Joannis established himself at Louisbourg; Jacques and Michel, at La Baleine (Baleine Cove), where Michel began with four shallops. By 1718 he had moved to Louisbourg where he bought a fishery; he had acquired additional fisheries at Niganiche (Ingonish), Saint-Esprit, and Fourché (Fouchu) by 1726, and was operating with a total of 34 shallops. Daccarrette pursued fishing with pertinacity; in 1721–22 he and Boschet de Saint-Martin, now established at Petit Degrat (Petit-de-Grat Island), succeeded in breaking the Comte de Saint-Pierre’s fishing monopoly on Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) and neighbouring islands, and a long series of court battles on both sides of the Atlantic ensued [see Gotteville* de Belile]. Daccarrette also began trading fish on his own account; he had sent two ships to France by 1726 and by the late 1720s he had shipped fish to the West Indies as well. He was one of Île Royale’s largest fishing entrepreneurs and this trade provided the basis for numerous other ventures.
Michel Daccarrette began some of these commercial operations with Joannis, but rapidly assumed the directing role. Paying 40 per cent above the French price, the brothers in 1718 imported salt, foodstuffs, clothing, hardware, and marine supplies from Saint-Malo; these goods were sold locally or exported to Quebec. In 1719 Michel and Blaise Cassaignolles imported foodstuffs from Joseph Cadet, a Quebec merchant. Apparently this trade continued through the 1720s and 1730s. Daccarrette was at one time suspected of being involved in illicit trade. In 1727 he was denounced by the minister of Marine for serving as a cover for the governor of Louisbourg, Saint-Ovide [Monbeton], who was accused of shipping New England products to the West Indies in French ships. This accusation was never proved, but it is known that in the same year Daccarrette rented a vessel to a Louisbourg merchant trading to Martinique. Between 1720 and 1740 Daccarrette was also involved in the sale of at least 17 vessels between 30 and 50 tons, valued at about 3,500 livres apiece, to owners on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of these ships seem to have been built at Île Royale.
Daccarrette made at least one voyage to Hendaye in the late 1720s and may have travelled to the West Indies and France on other occasions. In 1722 his widowed sister-in-law, Catherine Gonillon, entrusted him with the management of her affairs on Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola) and in La Rochelle. Perhaps it was on one of these trips that he gained his knowledge of the commercial techniques of his day, including the use of double-entry bookkeeping. In 1726, presumably after his wife’s death, Daccarrette had a child by Catherine, out of wedlock. The following year they were married, having received a papal dispensation from the impediment of Daccarrette’s first marriage. They had nine more children, of whom five died young.
Daccarrette’s business relations with France appear to have been mostly with Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Bayonne. In the former port, his principal contacts were Bernard Damestoye, Joannis Darguinarat, and Joannis (Jean) de Saint-Martin for whom he acted as agent in 1725. Darguinarat and Damestoye provided bricks for Daccarrette which he sold to the king’s storehouse in Louisbourg; in association with them and a Spanish merchant, Don Matheo Ilanos, he attempted to ship tobacco worth 50,626 livres to Saint-Jean-de-Luz in 1726. This venture was financed in part by the powerful Bayonne merchant Léon Brethous, who provided 10,000 livres at 24 per cent on a prêt à la grosse (an investment in which the ship is put up as security for a loan which need not be repaid if the voyage is not completed). In 1738 Joannis de Saint-Martin and Daccarrette sold 200 quintals of cod to Brethous in return for an advance of 16,000 livres. Daccarrette was to provide free transportation for the cod in his own or another’s vessel. If he failed to deliver, a larger quantity was to be sent the next year at a lower price. He did fail to deliver but it is not known whether the recompense was made. Brethous became more deeply involved in Daccarrette’s operations in 1738 by lending Saint-Martin 6,000 livres à la grosse at 18 per cent on Daccarrette’s guarantee. Saint-Martin later defaulted. The following year Daccarrette failed to meet the payment for an advance of 6,000 livres from Brethous, and was condemned by the bourse of Bayonne in 1742. The result of all these operations was that Daccarrette had to agree to pay Brethous 30,000 livres in instalments by 1753.
These problems and the general decline of the sedentary fisheries in the period 1739–45 left Daccarrette in financial difficulties. In April 1743 he sold some of his Louisbourg property for 25,000 livres. At his death in 1745 he still owed 37,000 livres, 26,000 to Brethous. He retained a house and some land in Louisbourg, and houses and fishing establishments at La Baleine and Fourché. What happened to his other fishing establishments is not known. Additional assets consisted of debts owed to him, although many of these were never collected. In 1745 his property fell into the hands of the invaders but was later reclaimed by his son Michel and his other heirs.
AN, Col., B, 45, 52; C11C, 11, 12; E, 103 (dossier Daccarrette); Section Outre-Mer, G1, 406–10, 466–67; G2, 178–80, 183, 185, 211; G3, 7/175, 8/176, 2037–39, 2046–47, 2055–58. Édits ord., II. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760. McLennan, Louisbourg. H. A. Innis, “Cape Breton and the French regime,” RSCT, 3rd ser., XXIX (1935),