BASSET, DAVID, Huguenot merchant active in Newfoundland and New England; fl. 1687–1701; d. 17 Aug. 1724 in the West Indies.
Basset seems to have been an inhabitant of Acadia originally; some time before 1682 he married a Mary Laverdure, by whom he was to have six children. This woman may possibly have been the daughter of the Acadian settler Pierre Melanson dit La Verdure [see Charles Melanson*]. Basset established himself in Boston and became actively engaged in trade between New England and Newfoundland, shipping tobacco, sugar, and other provisions in return for fish. In the autumn of 1687, he came into conflict with the governor of Placentia (Plaisance), Antoine Parat*, who accused Basset of carrying to Boston two Huguenots the governor had wanted to send to France. As a punishment for his alleged offence, Basset’s ship and goods were confiscated, and he himself was sent to France to be imprisoned at Bayonne. However, Parat was later reprimanded for his actions – evidently the governor owed Basset money. The latter, through the help of influential friends, was pardoned on condition that he return and settle at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.). He was allowed to go to Boston to fetch his family, but did not return.
In 1690 he served as master of the Porcupine under Captain Cyprian Southack* at the capture of Port-Royal by Phips*, and later took part in a coastal raid at La Hève and in the destruction of Fort Saint-Louis, the trading post of the Compagnie des Pêches sédentaires de l’Acadie [see Bergier*] at Chedabouctou (Guysborough, N.S.). The following year he captured a French vessel in the St Lawrence and raided the Baie des Chaleurs. He continued to be active in privateering and trading for some time, both on the east coast of North America and in the West Indies. He owned shares in various ships, including the Trial and the William and John.
In 1697, Basset was captured by Pierre Maisonnat, dit Baptiste, at Cap Sable and taken to Fort Nashwaak (Naxouat) on the Saint John River. Governor Villebon [Robinau*] hoped that with good treatment he could secure Basset’s much-needed services as a pilot. Basset agreed to serve and was once again allowed to go and fetch his family from Boston. He returned without them in December 1698 and was arrested by Villebon and sent to France as a dangerous person. When Governor Bellomont of Massachusetts protested this action, Basset was released and allowed to return to Acadia. Villebon was reprimanded for his inconsistent conduct towards Basset and was ordered to restore the latter’s confiscated property.
In October 1700, Villebon’s temporary successor, Claude-Sébastien de Villieu gave Basset permission to go to Boston for his wife. Basset returned early the next year, and departed again for Boston two months later. When he arrived in Acadia in June of 1701, still without his family, he was arrested by Villieu. Little is known of Basset’s activities from this time until his death in the West Indies in 1724. His throat was slit as he lay sleeping on the quarter-deck of his ship.
AN, Col., B, 15, f.8; C11C, 1, f.85; F³, 6, ff.303, 307. Mass. Hist. Soc., Parkman papers, XXX. “Mass. Archives,” VII, 64, 101; XXXVII, 93–95; LXI, 446, 447, 558, 558a, 559. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., II, 335, 336. “Journal of expedition against Port Royal, 1690,” 63. Mémoires des commissaires, II, 333; and Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 620–21. Taillemite, Inventaire analytique, série B, I. Webster, Acadia, 23, 72–73, 102, 116, 162. New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, XV (1861), XXIX (1875). Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I, 240–42, 247. T. B. Wyman, The genealogies and estates of Charlestown in the county of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1629–1818 (Boston, 1879).