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LE BORGNE, EMMANUEL, merchant, backer of and claimant to estate of Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, consular magistrate of La Rochelle, governor of Acadia 1657–67; b. 1610 at Calais; d. 5 Aug. 1675 at La Rochelle.

Le Borgne, a prosperous and influential merchant of La Rochelle, had made large advances to d’Aulnay for his Acadian enterprise. Upon receiving word of the latter’s death by drowning at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), Le Borgne obtained on 9 Nov. 1650 a formal recognition from René de Menou de Charnisay, the aged father of d’Aulnay, that 260,000 livres were due him. To satisfy his claim upon the d’Aulnay estate, Le Borgne sent an expedition to Acadia the following spring, hoping to take over the whole trade, in which Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour at Saint John and Nicolas Denys at Cape Breton were also active. His agent Saint-Mas took possession of Port-Royal and the goods there belonging to his debtor’s widow, Jeanne Motin. His second son Alexandre Le Borgne de Belle-Isle visited Boston on 10 June 1651 to seek good relations with the New Englanders, presenting letters from d’Aulnay’s father, widow, and Saint-Mas, and asserting his father’s claim (Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d ser., VII (1838), 114–18). Le Borgne’s men appear to have raided Denys’s establishments at Saint-Pierre and Sainte-Anne in Mme d’Aulnay’s name, for Denys and his brother were taken prisoner and sent to Quebec in October. The Capuchins at Port-Royal persuaded the widow to send her steward, Brice de Sainte-Croix, the son of Mme de Brice, to France to seek protection. He was provided with a power of attorney for her goods in France, dated 11 July 1651. Exceeding his authority, Brice made a contract with the king’s uncle, the Duc de Vendôme, on 18 Feb. 1652, under which the duke took over from the widow the seigneuries of Saint John and Île Saint-Pierre in exchange for his protection. Presumably in retaliation, Le Borgne’s men seized and imprisoned Fathers Côme de Mantes and Gabriel de Joinville and Mme de Brice at Port-Royal in 1652, and then took them to France, while the other Capuchins withdrew from Port-Royal.

In 1653 Le Borgne himself came to Port-Royal, and on 30 August made the widow, who in July had married her husband’s rival in the hope of safeguarding her interests, sign an account showing that 206,286 livres were still due him. He used this document as authority to seize property belonging to the d’Aulnay heirs both in Acadia and in the French ports. Continuing his effort to monopolize the Acadian trade, he captured the posts at Pentagouet (Castine, Maine), La Hève, Saint-Pierre, and Nipisiguit (Bathurst, N.B.); Nicolas Denys was once more taken prisoner, though later allowed to return to France, where he sought damages of 50,000 livres. On 3 Dec. 1653 Denys obtained a large grant from the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France which ran from Gaspé to Cap Canseau (Canso), and on 30 Jan. 1654 a royal commission as governor of the whole Gulf of St. Lawrence region, with a monopoly of shore-based fisheries as far south as “Virginia.” With his title to the northern Acadian trade thus reinforced, Denys returned to Saint-Pierre in the spring of 1654 in time to warn La Tour at Saint John of Le Borgnes impending attack upon him.

Le Borgne had reached an agreement with the Duc de Vendôme, and under his patronage returned to Port-Royal in 1654 in the ship Châteaufort, laden with 75,000 livres of merchandise, provisions, and munitions, to enforce the duke’s claim to Saint John and Saint-Pierre under the 1652 transaction. But Le Borgne failed to capture the Saint John fort and La Tour before his operations were interrupted by Sedgwick’s 1654 expedition to capture Acadia. Le Borgne was accused of favouring the New Englanders, since he refused to supply La Tour with needed provisions and munitions, and of having maintained a treasonable correspondence with them. In the capitulation of Port-Royal (16 August), which he signed along with Father Léonard de Chartres, he requested that his ship and his merchandise be returned to him. In the light of the charges made against him, it is significant that he was permitted to return to France in the Châteaufort late in 1654, leaving his eldest son, Emmanuel Le Borgne Du Coudray, as a hostage at Port-Royal, and Alexandre Le Borgne de Belle-Isle in charge of La Hève and other posts which the English let him have.

Once back in France Le Borgne seized all the furs and merchandise belonging to the d’Aulnay heirs, and continued to enjoy the revenues of the estate under the transactions of 1650 and 1653. Nicolas Denys obtained an arrêt of the Conscil Privé du Roi on 15 Oct. 1655, ordering Le Borgne to return furs belonging to Denys, which the former had seized from the Sieur de La Meilleraye. This same decree ordered Le Borgne and other claimants to the d’Aulnay estate not to take any action against the posts granted Denys by the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France. Le Borgne then proceeded to obtain from the company on 20 Nov. 1657 a grant running from the Rivière Verte (Sainte-Marie; now St. Mary’s) to New England, except for those lands conceded to La Tour. On 10 December he received a royal commission as governor of Acadia, in place of La Tour who had sold his interests to the English, with the right to command for nine years in the region from Canseau to New England. Thus there remained no legitimate source of conflict between Le Borgne and Denys except in the matter of shore-based fisheries, and the latter had no such establishment below Canseau. On 25 July 1658 the Parlement of Paris confirmed the 1650 agreement, despite the protests of the d’Aulnay heirs, and Le Borgne remained in, possession of their lands, though the key posts were occupied by the English.

Le Borgne seems to have gone to England early in 1658 to press for the restitution, of Saint John, Port-Royal, and Penobscot, while in May Belle-Isle captured La Hève and the furs and provisions there belonging to Col. Thomas Temple, who with William Crowne of Boston had purchased La Tour’s interests in Acadia in 1656 and had become Cromwell’s lieutenant general of Nova Scotia. Temple promptly retaliated, taking Belle-Isle prisoner, and drawing up a complaint against the elder Le Borgne the following November. By 6 Sept. 1659 (o.s.), however, Temple was writing Lord Keeper Fiennes of his willingness to give up La Hève to Le Borgne, reputed to be a very honest man who had nearly ruined himself in the Acadian trade and who wanted to establish his son in the fishery there.

At the time of the formation of the Compagnie des Indes occidentales in 1664, Le Borgne vainly tried to get a concession of the La Tour and d’Aulnay lands. He also urged the company to support his son [Emmanuel?] Le Borgne Du Coudray at Canseau on 27 Dec. 1664. But the company renewed his own grant in 1667, with an added concession. Belle-Isle received a royal commission as governor and lieutenant-general in Acadia. Although the Treaty of Breda of that year provided for the return of Acadia to France, and Belle-Isle went to Acadia to take possession on 9 Oct. 1668, he was advised to return home by Morillon Du Bourg, who on a visit to Boston had found that Temple was not ready to surrender the posts. When the transfer finally took place in 1670, Belle-Isle returned to Acadia with the new governor, Andigné de Grandfontaine, to protect the Le Borgne interests, despite the fact that that Andigné told the people to regard him as a simple habitant (AN, Col. C11D, I, f.139v).

Emmanuel Le Borgne died at La Rochelle in 1675, reputedly ruined by his Acadian enterprises, although a mémoire of 1667 in the La Tour interest alleges that he had received much more than the amount due him while he had enjoyed the revenues of the d’Aulnay estate. Belle-Isle continued to press his father’s and his own claims, which were finally settled by an arrêt of March 1702. After the English withdrawal in 1670, Emmanuel Le Borgne and his sons enjoyed the monopoly of the Acadian trade for which he had struggled for twenty years.

Mason Wade

ACM, B.194. AN, Col., B, 15, ff.44–44v; 23, f.133v; C11D, 10, passim; E, 277 (dossier La Vallière), F3, 1, ff.253–54; 3, ff.249–50; 6, fr.34–35v. Archivum Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda, Rome, Lettere Antiche, 260, f.25, Ignace de Paris, “Brevis ac dilucida . . .” (“Brève relation de la mission d’Acadie . . . 1656”) (photocopy of the original with a translation in PAC, MG 17, 1; see PAC Report, 1904, App.H, 333–41). BN, MS, Clairambault 867, f.890. BM, Egerton MS 2395, ff.313v–319.. ...      Coll. de manuscrits, relatifs à la Nouv.-France, I, 132, 137, 141–49, 151–55, 197–98, 441; II, 351–80 passim. Denys, Description and natural history (Ganong), 6–7, 26–27, 38, 57–70, 98–101, 116. JR (Thwaites), XXXVI, 143. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d ser., VII (1838) [XXVII of the Coll.], 114–18. PRO, CSP., Col., 1574–1660, 469–70. ...      J. B. Brebner, New England’s outpost: Acadia before the conquest of Canada (New York, 1927), 30–6. Couillard Després, Saint-Étienne de La Tour, chaps. XXIV-XXVI, passim. Candide de Nant, Pages glorieuses, 271–74, 305–11. W. O. Raymond, “The Acadians and early history, 1604–1713,” in Canada and its provinces (Shortt and Doughty), XIII, 48, 50.

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Mason Wade, “LE BORGNE, EMMANUEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed November 22, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_borgne_emmanuel_1E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_borgne_emmanuel_1E.html
Author of Article: Mason Wade
Title of Article: LE BORGNE, EMMANUEL
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1966
Year of revision: 1966
Access Date: November 22, 2014