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DUMARESQ, PERRY, naval officer, office holder, jp, and judge; b. 19 Sept. 1788 on the island of Jersey, son of Philippe (Philip) Dumaresq and Jersua (Jerusha) Perry; m. 21 Nov. 1808 Louisa W. Newton in St Paul’s Church (Anglican) in Halifax, and they had 13 children; m. secondly 6 Aug. 1833 Mary Stewart in Dalhousie, N.B., and they had no children; d. there 13 March 1839.

Perry Dumaresq came from a family of Jersey nobility whose titles had descended from Guillé Dumaresq, seigneur of La Haule, born in 1360 in the parish of St Brelade. Perry was the grandson of John Dumaresq, a Jersey mathematician and astronomer. The family had a tradition of military service and had supplied many officers to the Royal Navy. In the period 1800–20 Perry’s father was a customs officer at Sydney, Cape Breton Island, as well as a member of the Executive Council of this colony. Perry himself followed the example of his uncles and at an early age served in the British North Atlantic fleet, stationed at Halifax.

Dumaresq saw service in turn on the Magicienne, the Hawk, and the Epervier, and on 14 April 1810 he was commissioned a naval lieutenant. During the War of 1812 he received command of the schooner Paz in a squadron under John Poo Beresford which was responsible for patrolling the east coast of North America. He distinguished himself by capturing a great many vessels. The prizes, for the most part American schooners, were taken to Halifax, to be adjudicated by the Court of Vice-Admiralty.

The high point of Dumaresq’s career was the capture on 27 March 1813 of the Montesquieu, a large armed merchant ship bringing a valuable cargo from Canton (People’s Republic of China). The ship belonged to Stephen Girard, a Philadelphia banker who was backing the American government financially during the war. Normally Dumaresq would have sailed for Halifax with his prize, but Beresford immediately entered into negotiations with Girard’s agents, who, after obtaining the authorization of the American government, paid 180,000 piastres to recover the ship. Dumaresq never forgave Beresford for having usurped his prize, and in subsequent years made many attempts, as did his descendants, to recover what was said to be his fortune.

When he called in at Halifax, Dumaresq was in the habit of visiting a family friend, customs officer Henry Newton, whose father, Hibbert Newton, had held the same post at Annapolis Royal and Canso for many years. It was Louisa, Henry’s daughter, whom Dumaresq married. Dumaresq came out of the war with a pension and, as the son and son-in-law of customs officers, soon found a post in customs, for which military service had given him good training. Around 1818, by then the father of five children born in Nova Scotia (including Perry John Newton, later customs officer at Shippegan, N.B.), Dumaresq became customs officer at St Peters (Bathurst). Six more children were born to the Dumaresqs here, and two others later in Dalhousie. The customs office at St Peters was located inside the harbour on what was formerly called Pointe aux Pères (Ferguson Point). From there Dumaresq could survey the movement of ships carrying New Brunswick lumber to Great Britain, where the preferential tariff adopted during the Napoleonic Wars favoured British North American wood.

Tired of having to refer to the county town, Newcastle, Dumaresq went to work to get Northumberland County divided. In 1825, with the cooperation of businessmen from the north end of the province, he had Hugh Munro, a neighbour and member of the assembly, take to the house a petition with 600 signatures, his own at the top of the list. Two years later Gloucester County was created, with Bathurst as the county town. Dumaresq became a justice of the peace, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and member of the board of the county grammar school.

As a result of the forest fire that had laid waste both sides of the Miramichi River up to St Peters in the autumn of 1825, the port of Dalhousie at the mouth of the Restigouche had experienced a remarkable boom. The lumber business relocated in the north of the province, attracting many families from Miramichi as well as businessmen and lumber exporters. Sensing the shift, Dumaresq decided around 1830 to move to Dalhousie and take up the post of customs officer; he settled on a lot at the entrance to the harbour, where he had a little house built that he named Bellevue.

Dumaresq again could not stand having to refer matters to a county town some 50 miles distant. He joined with others seeking a new county in the north of the province, and on 5 Dec. 1836 he chaired a public meeting called to push for this proposal. His name and that of Robert Ferguson* headed the petition which he got Peter Stewart to present in the assembly, and on 1 March 1837 the house passed the bill creating Restigouche County, with Dalhousie as its county town. After the county had been officially set up the following year, Dumaresq was appointed justice of the peace and judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. But his health was deteriorating, and on 13 March 1839 he died at Dalhousie, having bequeathed his estate to his wife.

A loyal, energetic, enterprising man, with a tenacity verging on stubbornness, and an excellent speaker, Perry Dumaresq had taken an interest in good causes, particularly education, public administration, and trade.

Donat Robichaud

BL, Add. mss 21862 (mfm. at PAC). Northumberland Land Registry Office (Newcastle, N.B.), Registry books, 26: 295, no.133. PAC, RG 8, IV, 75, 79, 94, 100, 130–31. PANB, RG 2, RS8, education, 2/78; RG 3, RS538, 135: 33; RG 4, RS24, S30-R4.2; RG 7, RS70, 1839, Perry Dumaresq; RG 10, RS108. PANS, Charts, 125; MG 1, 849, Newton family; RG 20B, 5, nos.35, 73, 135, 476. Private arch., Donat Robichaud (Beresford, N.B.), Papiers Dumaresq (copies). PRO, CO 193/6: 80, 193–97. Restigouche Land Registry Office (Campbellton, N.B.), Registry books, A: 32; 553, no.261. St James Anglican Church, Rectory (Melford, N.S.), Records of Christ Church Anglican, Guysborough, N.S. (mfm. at PANS). St Paul’s Anglican Church (Halifax), Reg. of marriages, 21 Nov. 1808 (mfm. at PANS). N.B., House of Assembly, Journal, 3 Feb. 1836, 14 Jan. 1837; 1836, app. Gleaner (Miramichi [Chatham, N.B.]), 1 Dec. 1829; 2 Oct. 1832; 23 July, 13 Aug. 1833; 19 Jan., 25 Oct., 20 Dec. 1836; 31 Jan. 1837; 3 July, 11, 18 Sept. 1838; 26 March 1839; 10 March, 17 Nov. 1840. Mercury, 29 May 1827. Novascotian, or Colonial Herald, 24 May 1832. Nova-Scotia Royal Gazette, 9 Dec. 1812, 28 April 1813. Royal Gazette (Fredericton), 12 Sept. 1838. United States’ Gazette (Philadelphia), 31 March, 1, 8 April 1813. Weekly Chronicle (Halifax), 22 Jan. 1813. G.B., Admiralty, The commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660–1815, [ed. D. B. Smith et al.] (3v., n.p., [1954]), 1; Navy list, 1803: 8, 10, 16. J. B. McMaster, The life and times of Stephen Girard, mariner and merchant (2v., Philadelphia and London, 1918).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Donat Robichaud, “DUMARESQ, PERRY,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 16, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/dumaresq_perry_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/dumaresq_perry_7E.html
Author of Article: Donat Robichaud
Title of Article: DUMARESQ, PERRY
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: April 16, 2014