DAUDIN (d’Audin, Dandin, Daudier), HENRI, priest, missionary; b. c. 1709 in the diocese of Blois, France; d. August 1756 in Paris.
Henri Daudin was a French worker of the 11th hour in English Acadia. In April 1753 the French government was looking for an astute priest, one who was capable of carrying out the delicate mission of persuading the Acadians to emigrate to French Acadia, the region around present-day Moncton, without upsetting the Nova Scotia authorities. On the recommendation of Jean-Louis Le Loutre*, with whom Daudin had studied at the Séminaire du Saint-Esprit in Paris, Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu, vicar general of the French colonies, chose Daudin, whom he described as a “mature person . . . possessed of prudence, intelligence, and experience.” For this mission Daudin had to leave a rich parish in the diocese of Sens.
In October 1753 Daudin arrived in Nova Scotia where Governor Peregrine Thomas Hopson received him cordially. The missionary had barely settled into his parish of Pisiquid (Windsor, N.S.) when he gave his attention to the question of Acadian emigration. In order to bring this about he urged the Acadians to ask leave to make “visits” in the Chignecto isthmus. At the same time he informed the authorities at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) and the Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu that the British “will go to any expense . . . not to let the Acadians be lacking in priests,” and that “they will apply to the Pope.” This plan, aimed at keeping the Acadians in Nova Scotia, worried him greatly. He therefore sought to obtain the recall of Jean-Baptiste de Gay Desenclaves, the parish priest of Annapolis Royal, whom he considered too favourable to the policy of the British. After Desenclaves’s departure in April 1754 for Pobomcoup (in the region of Yarmouth and Pubnico), Daudin became parish priest at Annapolis. In keeping with his instructions he remained in correspondence with Le Loutre, who continued to be the soul of the Acadian resistance. Some of his letters were intercepted and made known in Halifax. In fact, a junior clerk at Fort Beauséjour (near Sackville, N.B.), Thomas Pichon*, was spying for the British and was transmitting much information to the authorities. Daudin became suspect and was arrested early in October 1754, along with four of his parishioners. Upon giving his solemn promise to change his conduct, he succeeded in obtaining his liberty and returned to his post at Annapolis on 21 October.
In 1755 the Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu tried to have Daudin appointed vicar general for Nova Scotia. But events were moving fast in Acadia; in July 1755 the decision was taken to deport the Acadians (see Charles Lawrence), and on 6 August Daudin was arrested while he was saying mass. He was imprisoned in Fort Edward (Windsor), then a few days later taken to Halifax, along with his confrères Chauvreulx and Lemaire, amid a great display of arms and soldiers. Upon their arrival in the capital the missionaries were exposed to the population for three-quarters of an hour. The details of these events have apparently come down to us through an account by Daudin himself. An allusion by Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu in a letter dated 28 March 1756 supports the existence of such an account, which would be the one H.-R. Casgrain* published in Un pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline. The three missionaries were deported from Halifax to Portsmouth, England, where they were allowed to charter a ship which took them to France.
After his return to France on 8 Dec. 1755, Daudin took Chauvreulx to Orléans and then returned to Paris, where he made preparations to return to Acadia. In March 1756 the Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu presented him to the archbishop of Paris. He died suddenly in August of that same year, just as he was about to sail for Acadia. His death altered the plans of the Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu who, not having any other candidate for the missions in America, was obliged to give up a policy of resistance in Acadia.
AN, Col., B, 104, ff.172v, 333. C11B, 33, ff.242, 341–43. ASQ, Polygraphie, VII, 5. PAC, MG 18, F12. Coll. doc. inédits Canada et Amérique, I, 12–16, 41–46; II, 10–75; III, 60–80, 181–91. Knox, Historical journal (Doughty), III, 341–48. Derniers jours de l’Acadie (Du Boscq de Beaumont), 73, 132. “Lettres et mémoires de l’abbé de L’Isle-Dieu,” APQ Rapport, 1935–36, 378–79, 381, 383; 1936–37, 357, 404–5, 416, 421–22, 425, 453; 1937–38, 168–69, 172–73, 185. N.S. Archives, I, 202, 210, 221–23, 226–27, 229, 235, 239, 282–83. PAC Report, 1905, II, pt.iii, 346–56, Le Jeune, Dictionnaire. Tanguay, Répertoire, 109 [Tanguay is mistaken in the identity of Daudin and confuses him with another unidentified missionary. .]. Casgrain, Un pèlerinage au pays d’Évangéline, 137–44; Les Sulpiciens en Acadie, 410–17. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, III, 361, 366, 375, 431. Richard, Acadie (D’Arles), II, 349, 369–75. Albert David, “Les Spiritains en Acadie,” BRH, XXXV (1929), 461–63.