LEFEBVRE DE BELLEFEUILLE, FRANÇOIS, seigneur; baptized 4 March 1708 at Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld), second son of Jean-François Lefebvre* de Bellefeuille and Anne Baudry; m. 17 March 1749 Marie-Josephte Hertel de Cournoyer, and they had 11 children; d. 11 April 1780 at Trois-Rivières (Que.).
François Lefebvre de Bellefeuille helped his father and his brothers Georges and Pierre develop the family seigneury of Grand-Pabos, which had been acquired in 1729. Theirs was the only seigneury on the Gaspé coast permanently settled during the French period. In June 1745 François hurried from Pabos to Quebec with the first news of the siege of Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). The next year, Georges, who had been a subdelegate of the intendant of Quebec since 1737, went to France; his title was bestowed upon François in 1749. François’s duties were to settle disputes among both the resident fishermen and the French who came every summer to fish along the Gaspé coast.
After the death of his father around 1744, François had continued to develop the fishing resources of the seigneury with the help of his younger brother Pierre. Its most important assets were excellent beaches for dry-curing the codfish which could be caught a short distance offshore. Besides the money gained from selling his fish at Quebec Lefebvre de Bellefeuille obtained income by leasing space on his beaches to the summer fishermen from France. He seems to have lived well, since his seigneurial manor house was reported in 1758 to have been large and well furnished. Of the many seigneuries on the Gaspé coast only Grand-Pabos had a resident seigneur; it was thus the only one successfully developed. Lefebvre de Bellefeuille prospered without any assistance from the government.
Although his concession was restricted to the area around the mouth of the Rivière Grand-Pabos, Lefebvre de Bellefeuille extended his seigneurial authority to include the good beaches at the mouth of the Grande Rivière, a few miles to the northeast. Indeed, it was at Grande-Rivière that he lived with his family. The Gaspé coast was remote from Quebec and the government cared little that Lefebvre de Bellefeuille exceeded his authority. By the 1750s he had been given the vaguely defined military title of “king’s commandant for the entire Gaspé coast and the Baie des Chaleurs.”
In September 1758 Brigadier-General James Wolfe* visited the Gaspé coast with a small fleet of warships. Lefebvre de Bellefeuille was in no position to resist, and the British devastated French fishing operations all along the coast. At Grande-Rivière and Pabos they destroyed one sloop, more than 100 shallops, about 100 houses, over 10,000 quintals of codfish, and all goods and provisions. Lefebvre de Bellefeuille left and never returned to the Gaspé coast, choosing instead to live at Trois-Rivières near his wife’s family.
In 1765 Lefebvre de Bellefeuille sold the seigneury of Grand-Pabos to Colonel Frederick Haldimand. The proceeds of the sale helped him purchase part of the Cournoyer seigneury (near Trois-Rivières), and with his wife’s inheritances he gained control of most of the rest. He died on 11 April 1780; his son Antoine inherited the seigneury.
AN, Col., C11A, 83, ff.94, 170, 175; F3, 50, ff.361f.; Marine, C7, 24 (dossier Lefebvre de Bellefeuille). ANQ-Q, NF 2, 36, ff.80v–81. BL, Add. mss 21726, pp.7–8 (PAC transcripts). PAC, MG 9, B8, 1, Pabos; MG 18, M, ser.3, 24, no.2. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, IV, 98–101, 127–30. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, II, 601–3. David Lee, “The French in Gaspé, 1534 to 1760,” Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History (Ottawa), no.3 (1970), 25–64. A. C. de L. Macdonald, “La famille Le Febvre de Bellefeuille,” Revue canadienne (Montréal), XX (1884),168–76, 235–47, 291–302.