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LA MAISONFORT DU BOISDECOURT, ALEXANDRE DE, Marquis de LA MAISONFORT, naval officer; m. Catherine Chicoyneau, daughter of the king’s chief physician, who bore him a son; fl. 1699–1752.

Alexandre de La Maisonfort Du Boisdecourt entered the service as a page to the Comte de Toulouse, the admiral of France. He was accepted as a midshipman at Brest, France, on 8 March 1699 and immediately was assigned to an expedition against corsairs from Salé (Morocco). After cruises to the East Indies and West Indies, he was promoted sub-lieutenant and campaigned in the Mediterranean and again in the East Indies. In 1706 he took part in the siege of Barcelona, Spain. The following year he was given the important mission of escorting Spanish galleons between Veracruz (Mexico) and Cadiz. This mission, which lasted three years, was brilliantly executed. On 25 Nov. 1712 he was promoted lieutenant-commander, and that same year he sailed for a new campaign in the East Indies.

Upon his return to Europe in 1716 La Maisonfort was inactive for a long period as a result of the small number of ships in commission. On 28 June 1718 he was made a knight of the order of Saint-Louis. He served ashore at Brest until 1727, when he set sail again on the Brillant. On 1 Oct. 1731 he was promoted captain. As second in command on the Fleuron in 1732, he spent a season on the Newfoundland Banks and at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), then returned to cruise off the coasts of Spain in pursuit of corsairs from Salé. From 1734 to 1744 he served as second in command or as commandant on several ships, most of them belonging to the Brest squadron.

In 1745 La Maisonfort, now commanding the Vigilant, was given the task of transporting munitions and supplies to Louisbourg. When in May he arrived in sight of the port, already besieged by troops from the English colonies under the command of William Pepperrell, he fell into a trap set for him by an English privateer. Challenged by the privateer, the Vigilant pursued it and found itself confronted by Peter Warren’s English squadron. After a long fight, La Maisonfort had to surrender. In a report he claimed that he had surrendered “only at the last moment, after losing many men and when he could no longer defend himself.” Other accounts are less favourable to him. At the ministry of Marine he was blamed for not having fought more vigorously and for having surrendered too quickly. The loss of the Vigilant had a double result: a material one in that it deprived the defenders of Louisbourg of the help intended for them, and a psychological one in that it showed England’s supremacy on the seas, which would destroy for the besieged fortress any possibility of relief.

Having been taken prisoner, La Maisonfort did not return to France until March 1746. After the affair of the Vigilant he received no further command and served until the end of the war with the coastal batteries at Le Conquet. He retired on 1 July 1752 with a pension of 3,000 livres.

Étienne Taillemite

AN, Marine, B4, 50, ff.270–76; C1, 165, f.38; C7, 161 (dossier La Maisonfort). Lacour-Gayet, La marine militaire sous Louis XV (1910), 192–93. Troude, Batailles navales de la France, I, 299.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Étienne Taillemite, “LA MAISONFORT DU BOISDECOURT, ALEXANDRE DE, Marquis de LA MAISONFORT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 31, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/la_maisonfort_du_boisdecourt_alexandre_de_3E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/la_maisonfort_du_boisdecourt_alexandre_de_3E.html
Author of Article: Étienne Taillemite
Title of Article: LA MAISONFORT DU BOISDECOURT, ALEXANDRE DE, Marquis de LA MAISONFORT
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1974
Year of revision: 1974
Access Date: October 31, 2014