GUILLOUET D’ORVILLIERS, CLAUDE, officer who served in Canada and Guiana; b. 11 June 1668 on the island of St Kitts (West Indies), the son of Rémy Guillouet and Anne-Marie Le Febvre de La Barre; married Marie-Claude de Vicq de Pontgibaud on 1 Feb. 1706; d. 12 Dec. 1728, on board the Paon while on his way back to France.
In 1685 d’Orvilliers was a lieutenant serving in Canada. On 1 March 1687 he obtained a captain’s commission and received command of a company, with which he campaigned against the Senecas, distinguishing himself particularly during an ambush laid by the Indians for the Marquis de Denonville [Brisay]. He then served at Fort Frontenac under the orders of his father, whom he ultimately replaced. In 1690 he took part in operations around Quebec with a party of Hurons from the mission at Lorette. On 11 Aug. 1691 he again drew attention to himself by the brilliant manner in which he backed up Clément Du Vuault de Valrennes in the battle of La Prairie against the Iroquois, when a numerically inferior French force defeated the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting, killing nearly 200 of them. “Since the colony has been established there has never been such a strong or vigorous action,” wrote Frontenac [Buade*]. Frontenac, on 20 Nov. 1690, had requested a sub-lieutenant’s commission for d’Orvilliers, “who is serving in this country with great ardour and who seeks out eagerly any opportunity to distinguish himself.”
D’Orvilliers was finally promoted sub-lieutenant on 1 Jan. 1692, and in February of that year he was put in command of a party of 120 Frenchmen and 205 Indians who were to proceed inland in the direction of Fort Frontenac (Cataracoui); he was, however, seriously burned when a bucket of boiling water was upset over him and had to hand over command to Dubois* Berthelot de Beaucours. In 1693 he returned to France and then served in the Marine. He became lieutenant of a free company at Rochefort on 23 Dec. 1696, and on 1 Nov. 1705 he was promoted lieutenant-commander, taking over command of the free company at Rochefort that same year. In 1706 he was in command of the Gaillard, on which he took his father to Guiana. He then carried out various transport missions to Guiana, Martinique, and Santo Domingo (Haiti) while in command of various ships: in 1707, the Saemslack; in 1711, the Profond; in 1712, the Renommée; and in 1713, the Héros. On 25 Nov. 1712 he was promoted commander and also became a knight of the order of Saint-Louis; the following year he was appointed king’s lieutenant at Moulins, and on 22 May 1715 he became governor of Guiana, the office having become vacant following his father’s death and the retirement of Commander Béthune.
He arrived at Cayenne in September 1716 and applied himself to the development of the colony, at the same time continuing to maintain good relations with the Indians through the Jesuit mission at Kourou. In 1724 he proposed to the minister an ambitious plan for settlement in the regions of the Oyapock and Marouini Rivers which foreshadowed the one that Choiseul tried to bring into being at Kourou in 1764; d’Orvilliers directed in person the development of a vast land grant that he had obtained in association with Antoine-Denis Raudot and the Sieur Pierre de Forcade. He developed the district of Approuague, founded the post of Oyapock, took an interest in the search for minerals, in botany, and in the introduction of new kinds of crops, such as tobacco and coffee.
Claude d’Orvilliers had four sons: Claude, who served as an officer in Guiana and Santo Domingo; Gilbert, who was governor of Guiana from 1749 to 1763; Louis, who had a brilliant naval career and was lieutenant general of the naval forces when he died in 1792; and Paul, who was a captain in the Régiment de Navarre.
AN, Col., B, 13, f.146; 28, ff.59, 161, 169, 393, 503, 511; 31, f.26; 33, f.103; 35, ff.4, 6v, 44v, 83v, 205; 36, f.202; 37, f.124; 39; 41; 44; 47; 50; 52; C11A, 11, ff.63, 108, 169, 235, 236; 12, ff.93, 97v, 359; C14, 8–14; D2C, 222, f.397; E, 188 (dossier de Forcade); Marine, C1, 161; C7, 231. Archives personnelles du général d’Esclaibes, château de Saternault, par l’Arbret (Pas-de-Calais). Le Jeune, Dictionnaire.