MILLY, FRANÇOIS, fishing entrepreneur and merchant; b. before 1691 at Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld.), eldest of the four surviving sons of Jean Milly and Marie Aubert; d. before 1749.
François Milly immigrated with his brothers, Jean, dit La Croix, Thomas, and Gaspard, to Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), around 1714. In 1719 he married Catherine Baudry, daughter of the late Pierre Baudry of Pointe Verte (Pointe Verde, Nfld.) and Jeanne Mechin. The couple were to have at least 11 children before Catherine died in 1744. As no dowry was specified in the marriage contract, we can presume that they had relatively modest means.
In 1719 François and his brothers held their property in common; it consisted of fishing establishments on the north side of Louisbourg harbour, on the Rue du Quay and the Rue Dauphin in Louisbourg, and at Saint-Esprit. François Milly seems to have achieved a modest prosperity in the fishing trade. Until about 1726 he apparently lived and worked with his brother, Thomas, as a habitant fisherman. As early as 1724 he had four shallops of his own. In 1727 the brothers divided their property among themselves with François retaining the establishment to the north of Louisbourg. He built up his fishing enterprise to the extent that by 1734 he employed 67 sailor-fishermen, about 40 servants, and some 14 shallops, working two fishing establishments at Louisbourg and Saint-Esprit. In 1742 he also acquired some further (unspecified) property and possessions, probably at Port-Toulouse (St Peters, N.S.), from a friend, Jean Baptiste, a ship’s captain residing in Louisbourg.
Unlike the larger sort of merchant at Louisbourg, such as Michel Daccarrette (d. 1745), Milly does not seem to have taken much initiative in overseas trade. He may have attempted to set up a slaughter-house with one or more of his brothers in 1737. He sold a small quantity of pine to the government in 1741, and he is known to have sold one ship, a 30-ton shallop, for 1,900 livres in 1724 and to have rented out two schooners in 1741. His nephew, whose name was also François Milly and who carried on local fishing and business activities between 1749 and the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, appears to have had better success than his uncle. Perhaps because his stepfather was Jean La Borde*, treasurer of the Marine, he was able to obtain several government supply contracts for food and equipment.
During the siege of Louisbourg by the Anglo-Americans under William Pepperrell to 1745, Milly signed the petition of the inhabitants asking for the surrender of the fortress. He appears to have died en route to France or after landing, since he is reported dead in 1749. At least three of his daughters were recorded as still living at Marcombe, near Agen, and subsequently at La Rochelle in 1789.