IMBERT (Imber), BERTRAND, merchant; b. 7 July 1714 at Bayonne, France, son of Pierre Imbert and Saubade Castera (de Cassera); m. 10 April 1752 at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), to Anne-Louise Lagrange, daughter of Jean-Baptiste-Martin Lagrange and Marie-Anne Maisonnat, dit Baptiste, and granddaughter of Pierre Maisonnat*, dit Baptiste; d. 26 Nov. 1775 at Bayonne.
Bertrand Imbert was the son of a master tailor of Agen who had married and settled in Bayonne in 1712. Imbert’s godfather, Bertrand Duvergé, a Bayonne merchant with whom Imbert appears to have maintained business relations during his years in Louisbourg, may have provided him with access to the world of commerce. In 1735 Imbert was in Louisbourg and formed a partnership that year with Jean-Baptiste Lannelongue*. Little is known of their early activities, but by the mid 1750s they had become successful merchants and privateers. Imbert’s marriage in 1752 may have supplied the partnership with the financial backing necessary to their commercial ventures.
On the eve of the Seven Years’ War the fishing enterprise of Imbert and Lannelongue was one of the most considerable on Île Royale. In 1758 they reckoned their holdings at 124,000 livres, consisting of a fishing habitation, 40 shallops, and two half-shallops at Petit Lorembec (Little Lorraine), two schooners of 50 tons each, presumably for the metropolitan and inter-colonial trade, and a third 50-ton schooner for the coasting trade. The capitulation of Louisbourg in that year entailed severe property losses for Imbert; subsequently his deteriorating financial position was exacerbated by his inability to claim the Louisbourg property he had inherited from his mother-in-law, who died en route to France in 1758, or to collect some 30,000 livres – confiscated by the British, according to Imbert’s wife.
The partners’ activities resumed in Bayonne but were plagued by setbacks. During the war they lost several ships, either wrecked or captured by the British: the snow Comte de Guiche, the frigate Rencontre, and a 66-ton schooner sent for delivery in 1759 to Joseph-Michel Cadet in Quebec for which they had been unable to secure insurance. In 1761 they held 28,000 livres of suspended bills of exchange on the treasurers of the Marine and the Colonies and the Compagnie des Indes. In the same year a lawsuit resulting from the loss of a ship, the Probité, whose purchaser they had guaranteed at Louisbourg, paralysed their affairs. Nevertheless, with the help of business friends in France, the partners set up a fishery on the island of Saint-Pierre in 1764. Between 1763 and 1766 they sent supplies to the fishery but by 1766 poor catches and the loss of the Saint-Michel, wrecked in 1764, had left their affairs in a bad state.
Apparently Imbert weathered the setbacks better than Lannelongue. In 1759, after they had returned to Bayonne, both paid about the same head tax, but by 1766 Lannelongue’s assessment had shrunk to four livres whereas Imbert was assessed at 11 livres plus three livres for his household. After Lannelongue’s death in 1768, Imbert continued in business; as late as 1771 he shipped a cargo of cod from Bayonne to Bordeaux. He seems to have retired in 1772, for he no longer maintained a clerk at his residence. His wife survived him and was living in Bordeaux in 1789.
AN, Col., B, 95, f.280v; 99, f.34; C11C, 12–14; E, 227 (dossier Imbert et Lannelongue); Section Outre-mer, G1, 408/2, ff.231–32; 458, ff.237, 244; 459, f.283v; 466, pièce 76 (1749); 467, pièce 21 (1764); G2, 202, dossier 289; 209, dossier 496; G3, 2041/1, 23 sept. 1751; 2047/2, 4 mars 1752. Archives communales, Bayonne (dép. des Basses-Pyrénées), CC, 133–45; EE, 62–72; GG, 56–58, 62, 123, 129. L. M. Hoad, “Surgeons and surgery in Île Royale,” History and Archaeology (Ottawa), 6 (1976), 259–335.