DU THET, GILBERT, Jesuit brother; b. c. 1575 at Chantelle (Allier), made his noviciate at the Collège at Verdun from 1594 to 1596; d. 3 July 1613 at Saint-Sauveur (near Ellsworth, Maine).
He lived several years in the noviciate house, made a trip to Italy, and from 1609 was in Paris, living in the professed house.
Around November 1611 Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, supplanted Fathers Pierre Biard and Énemond Massé in the partnership which they had formed with Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt, seigneur of Port-Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.). She entrusted her outlay of 3,000 livres tournois to Brother Du Thet, who was gullible enough to let Poutrincourt appropriate 1,200 livres of it. Du Thet sailed in December 1611 and reached Port-Royal 26 Jan. 1612. He noticed some irregularities in the administration of Simon Imbert, Poutrincourt’s agent, and suggested to Charles de Biencourt, the son of Poutrincourt and chief of the colony, that the intendant be asked to give an account of himself. Imbert avenged himself on the friar by attributing to him remarks which approved the regicide of Henri IV, 14 May 1610. Charles de Biencourt made an investigation, ascertained that there was no case, but refused to issue the necessary affidavits and to allow the friar to go to France to defend himself. It was following this incident that Father Biard was the victim of violence, the result of which was the canonical interdict laid upon Port-Royal.
After the reconciliation of the Jesuits with Biencourt, 25 June 1612, Brother Du Thet was allowed to go back to France. He must have done so on a fishing or trading vessel and have arrived only late in the autumn. He could not do otherwise than tell the Marquise de Guercheville of the treatment received by the missionaries. The noble lady then broke off the partnership which she had renewed with Poutrincourt on 17 Aug. 1612. She had a new ship rigged, the Jonas, commanded by Capt. Charles Fleury, to go and withdraw Biard and Massé from Port-Royal and found a new settlement on the American coast. Brother Du Thet, with Father Jacques Quentin, went on the expedition, but they were to return to France if they found their associates safe and sound. Brother Du Thet, however, wanted to end his days in Canada.
A site was chosen at Saint-Sauveur, but delays occurred in building through the fault of René Le Coq de La Saussaye, the commander of the settlement, and despite the protests of Charles Fleury, who wanted to return to France. On 3 July 1613 Samuel Argall’s surprise attack was launched; the Jonas, and then the fort which had just been started, were quickly overcome. Seeing the English coming, Du Thet had gone with Fleury on to the ship, to help with the defence. The Jesuit took the place of the gunner who was absent, but to little purpose. He was hit in the chest by a bullet and struck down among the wounded. The victorious English took him ashore and he died the next day, attended by Father Biard. He was thus the first French Jesuit to die in America.
Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, codex Gal. 94 I, f.171, lettre du frère Du Thet au père Ignace Armand, Nancy, 10 mai 1603; codex Franc. 22, catalogue des maisons et des personnes de la province de France. Bréard, Documents relatifs à la marine normande, 121–23. Factum (1614), passim. JR (Thwaites), III, 21–283; IV, 7–117, Relation du père Biard. Lescarbot, History (Grant), III, 58–64. É.-H. Gosselin, Nouvelles glanes historiques normandes, 41–43. Huguet, Poutrincourt. [See also bibliography for Jean de Biencourt.]