LAUVERJAT, ÉTIENNE, priest, Jesuit, missionary; b. 25 Jan. 1679 at Bourges, France; d. 16 Nov. 1761 at Quebec.
Étienne Lauverjat entered the noviciate of the Society of Jesus in Paris on 8 Nov. 1700. As soon as he had been ordained a priest he left for Canada, probably in 1710, for the records of Saint-François-du-Lac attest to his presence in that parish on 14 February and on 18 and 30 March 1711. His superior, Joseph-Louis Germain*, who intended to send him to the Abenaki missions in Acadia, had sent him to the one at Saint-François to learn the Abenaki language there under Joseph Aubery. After a stay in the missions at Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga) and Bécancour, he went to replace Pierre de La Chasse at Pannawambskek (Panaouamské), a village located a few miles north of the present-day city of Bangor, Maine. He was there in the autumn of 1718. In spite of his efforts the Abenakis of Pannawambskek let the English settle in the vicinity of Pemaquid in 1720.
In March 1723, during the first year of the war between Massachusetts and the Abenakis of Maine, Colonel Thomas Westbrook, coming from Boston with a troop of 230 men, burned the village and the Jesuit’s chapel to avenge the Abenakis’ attack the previous year against a small English fort on the St George’s River. Around 1728 Lauverjat quarrelled with Joseph d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin and his younger brother. Among other things the missionary accused them of having regularly thwarted his warlike undertakings.
Like his confrère Aubery, Lauverjat believed that the Abenakis of Acadia had to resist, even by force of arms, the encroachments of the English on their lands. He thought that, once masters of the country, the English would chase out the Catholic missionaries and that that would spell the end of their flocks’ religious fidelity. He was encouraged in his attitude by the governors and intendants of New France in whose opinion the surrender of their lands by the Abenakis of Acadia would open the door to Canada for the English. The Jesuit received financial aid from the authorities of New France secretly, since it could not be given openly because of the treaty of Utrecht (1713).
In 1732, after his dispute with the Saint-Castin brothers, Lauverjat left Pannawambskek to go to Médoctec (Meductic) on the Saint John River. In 1734 he returned to Canada, and from 1735 to 1738 he served the parish and mission of Bécancour, then from 1738 to 1740 the parish of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan. After another two years at Pannawambskek and a stay at the Jesuit residence in Montreal in 1742, he took charge of a new mission created for the Abenakis of Saint-François and Bécancour at the mouth of the Missisquoi River (in present-day Vermont). The authorities counted upon him to detach the Abenakis from the English and to keep them informed of the Indians’ attitude. Governor Charles de Beauharnois and Intendant Gilles Hocquart* had a house built and furnished for him. At the same time the Jesuit served “as a mission” the parish of Saint-Denis, which was at that time planned for the seigneury of Foucault, on Missisquoi Bay.
In 1747 Lauverjat left Missisquoi for Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse (Que.). In 1749 he went to Pointe-à-la-Caille (Montmagny) to bring spiritual succour to the hundreds of Indians from Acadia who had sought refuge there at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744. The war being over, he returned to their country with them in 1749 and served the mission at Norridgewock (Narantsouak; today Old Point, Madison, Maine), then that at Médoctec until 1754. Later he lived in retirement at the Jesuit college in Quebec, applying himself to confessing the Indians. Marcel Trudel believes that Lauverjat was the aged religious arrested by Lieutenant John Knox* after the fall of Quebec because he was suspected of having urged English soldiers to desert. He died at Quebec in 1761.
AJTR, Registre d’état civil, Bécancour et Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan. AN, Col., B, 45, f.801; 78, f.25; 81, f.42; C11A, 49, f.124; 81, f.12; 93, f.181; F3, 2, f.457. ANQ-M, Registre d’état civil, Chambly, 12 nov. 1745. ASJCF, Extraits des catalogues. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., III, 31, 54, 61, 134, 136, 143, 161, 166. JR (Thwaites), LXVI, 204, 206, 345; LXIX, 78; LXX, 80; LXXI, 163, 399. Knox, Historical journal (Doughty), II, 277–78. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 2nd ser., VIII (1826), 264. [Thomas Westbrook et al.], Letters of Colonel Thomas Westbrook and others relative to Indian affairs in Maine, 1722–26, ed. W. B. Trask (Boston, 1901), 76–77.
J.-D. Brosseau, Essai de monographie paroissiale: Saint-Georges d’Henryville et la seigneurie de Noyan ([Saint-Hyacinthe, Qué.], 1913), 35, 64, 227. Charland, Les Abénakis d’Odanak, 66, 77, 79, 80, 98, 99. Pierre Daviault, Le baron de Saint-Castin, chef abénaquis (Montréal, 1939), 182–83. E. J. Devine, Historic Caughnawaga (Montreal, 1922), 169. M. C. Leger, The Catholic Indian missions in Maine, 1611–1820 (Catholic Univ. of America studies in American church history, VII, Washington, 1929), 89. É.-Z. Massicotte, Sainte-Geneviève de Batiscan (Pages trifluviennes, sér. A, no.18, Trois-Rivières, 1936), 56. Parkman, Half-century of conflict, chap.x. Honorius Provost, Les Abénakis sur la Chaudière (Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Qué. 1948), 14. [F.-E.] Rameau de Saint-Père, Une colonie féodale en Amérique; l’Acadie (1604–1881) (2v., Paris, Montréal, 1889), II, 379. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siècle, III, 440, 443, 467; Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, I, 147; II, 13, 16, 202. Marie-Antoine [Roy], Saint-Michel de la Durantaye [notes et souvenirs]: 1678–1929 (Québec, 1929), 68, 69. Trudel, L’Église canadienne, I, 31.