PARAT, ANTOINE, fire-ship captain, governor of Plaisance (Placentia); d. 8 Mar. 1696.
On 13 Jan. 1685 the court appointed Antoine Parat governor of Plaisance, after the death of Governor La Poippe. Parat assumed office on 2 June of that year. Immediately he took a census of the French colony in Newfoundland, which numbered at that time 640 people, 474 of whom were indentured employees. Plaisance consisted of just 18 houses; the rest of the population was scattered among some dozen ports along the coast. These posts offered refuge to about 60 fishing boats which each year took in approximately 140,000 quintals of cod from the Banks. With the ridiculously inadequate means at his disposal, it was not easy for the governor to assure the safety and to satisfy the needs of a scattered and turbulent population. One of Parat’s first concerns was to request a bigger garrison and the repairing of the fort. In 1687 a detachment of 25 soldiers arrived, under the command of Philippe Pastour* de Costebelle, but the governor had to be satisfied with patching up the fort at his own expense.
He lived on good terms with the English governor of Renewse and concluded a treaty of neutrality with him. He also traded with Boston, in order to obtain the stores and supplies that were needed. There was however great rivalry between the French and English fishermen who frequented the vicinity of Newfoundland and each side endeavoured to seize prizes. Parat had an English ketch, which had been seized by some French merchants, released, but this did not prevent a party of 45 privateers from attacking and pillaging Plaisance. They maltreated the governor and kept the population captive for six weeks. Thinking that the colony was lost, Parat asked the court to build a strong fort, to group the inhabitants together, and to send a frigate to cruise off the coasts. He considered Newfoundland to be “the most wretched country in the world,” and asked to be recalled.
Moreover he had stirred up complaints by engaging in fishing, running a tavern, and trafficking in food and munitions; he kept a concubine, from whom the bishop of Quebec had to separate him, and he quarrelled with Costebelle, with the inhabitants, and with the Basques. A ticklish affair with a Huguenot apostate by the name of David Basset* also did him harm at court. His recall had been decided upon in 1687, but Monbeton* de Brouillan, his successor, could not set out until 1690. Overwrought by the siege and the ill-treatment that he had received the previous winter, Parat left in September, 1690, without even waiting for Brouillan to arrive. The inhabitants’ complaints brought on an enquiry, which he got out of without any great harm to himself. He died 8 March 1696.
AN, Col., B, 11, 13, 15; C11C, 1. BN, MS, Clairambault 1016, ff.467–68. Sixte Le Tac, Histoire chronologique de la Nouvelle France ou Canada depuis sa découverte (mil cinq cents quatre) jusques en l’an mil six cents trente deux, éd. Eugène Réveillaud (Paris, 1888), 236f. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, I 429–37, 440–44, 447, 449, and the sources cited therein. Robert Le Blant, Philippe de Pastour de Costebelle, gouverneur de Terre-Neuve puis de l’Île Royale 1661–1717 (Paris et Dax, 1935), 54–71.