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LE COQ DE LA SAUSSAYE, RENÉ, agent and lieutenant of Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, in Acadia; normally resided at Gaillon-sur-Seine (Eure); d. some time after 1613.

René Le Coq appears in history as the agent of the Marquise de Guercheville, who was associated with Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt for the purpose of trading in New France. Poutrincourt’s Factum systematically ascribes to the Jesuits all the misfortunes which befell this gentleman, since Poutrincourt himself did not dare to attack the noble lady. We have no space here to discuss the errors of the Factum; we shall merely outline what happened. On 17 Aug. 1612 La Saussaye undertook, by a notarial contract, to charter and rig a vessel at Havre-de-Grâce (Le Havre) to assist Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), Poutrincourt paying 750 livres in silver and Mme de Guercheville being required to provide the same amount. The seigneur of Port-Royal had borrowed this money from a Rouen merchant against a bond due in two months. On the arrival of Brother Du Thet in France at the beginning of October 1612, the marquise broke off her association with Poutrincourt, who attempted to take proceedings against La Saussaye in order to recover the money or the goods purchased. But as Poutrincourt himself had to pay his bond on 17 October, he was prosecuted in his turn by the Rouen merchant, cast into prison, then sentenced to discharge his debt before receiving the goods, which he does seem to have obtained eventually.

The Marquise de Guercheville appointed La Saussaye as her lieutenant for the founding of a new colony in Acadia. He left Honfleur on 12 March 1613 and landed on 16 May at La Hève, where he took possession of all the American coast, except Port-Royal, in the name of the marquise. He then withdrew Fathers Biard and Massé from Port-Royal and followed the coastline to Frenchmans Bay, in Maine. The obstinacy of the crew obliged him to stop at this spot, which they named Saint-Sauveur. Instead of pushing on with building La Saussaye started to till the soil, despite the protests of the more important people, and particularly of his lieutenant Nicolas de La Mothe, whom we shall meet again at Quebec in 1618–19.

On 29 June 1613 they received warning that an English vessel, in fighting order, was fishing off the mouth of the Penobscot, but La Saussaye was not disturbed by the news. On 2 July the English appeared in the bay; the French ship, loaded, was still at anchor in the roads. Capt. Fleury, with Brother Du Thet and a handful of men, clambered aboard to defend it. But La Saussaye had kept the majority of the defenders on shore; Argall, the English commander, seized the French ship and then landed, while La Saussaye took refuge in the woods with his party. The English looted the camp and pilfered from a chest the commander’s official papers. When La Saussaye reappeared he could offer no good reason for his presence there, and Argall pretended to consider him a pirate. He did, however, agree to let the 30 Frenchmen have a longboat, so that they could make for the Acadian peninsula and seek a fishing vessel. La Saussaye accepted, but Father Biard intervened, and pointed out that such an arrangement was tantamount to exposing them to certain shipwreck. So the French divided up into two groups and La Saussaye set out in the longboat with Father Massé and 13 others. He reached France during the month of October 1613, and there is no further trace of him. But it is evident enough from this account that La Saussaye did not belong to the race that founds colonies.

Lucien Campeau

AN, Minutier, VI, 413, contrat entre Jean de Biencourt et René Le Coq, 17 août 1612. BN, MS, NAF 9283 (Margry), 4–5, copie du rapport de Charles Fleury, Rouen, 27 août 1614. PRO, CSP, Col., 1574-1660, 15. Factum (1614), 38–42. JR (Thwaites), I–IV. Lescarbot, History (Grant), III, passimMémoires des commissaires, I, 37, 141; and Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 111, 197. Purchas, Pilgrimes (1905–7), XIX. Huguet, Poutrincourt.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Lucien Campeau, “LE COQ DE LA SAUSSAYE, RENÉ,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 31, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_coq_de_la_saussaye_rene_1E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_coq_de_la_saussaye_rene_1E.html
Author of Article: Lucien Campeau
Title of Article: LE COQ DE LA SAUSSAYE, RENÉ
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1966
Year of revision: 1966
Access Date: October 31, 2014