ROBICHAUX (Robichau, Robeshaw), LOUIS, merchant; b. 9 Aug. 1704 at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), son of Prudent Robichaux and Henriette Petitpas; m. 7 Feb. 1730 Jeanne Bourgeois at Annapolis Royal, and they had ten children; d. 20 Dec. 1780 at Quebec.
A merchant, Louis Robichaux was on good terms with the British troops at Annapolis Royal, who were by far his best customers. In addition to supplying provisions and wood for building and heating, he carried out various repair jobs for the garrison. Robichaux was one of those Acadians who in January 1729/30 took an oath to remain “completely loyal” to George II [see Richard Philipps*], and when war broke out between France and Britain in 1744 he and his family were employed in repairing the fortifications of Annapolis Royal. Members of his family even warned the garrison in August of the impending attack by French forces under François Du Pont Duvivier. As a result of these activities Robichaux – according to his own account – was twice plundered of his household goods and cattle and twice taken prisoner with his family by the French. Each time they managed to escape.
The Acadians suffered much during the war. Writing to Lieutenant Governor Paul Mascarene* and the Nova Scotia Council in June 1745, Robichaux and six other Acadian deputies described the distress of their people: “You know, Sirs, to what a state we are reduced by the French and the Indians in all their incursions, the latter plunder, pillage, kill us, the former overwhelm us with difficulties and labour, not giving us time to catch our breath, and from another quarter we hear that people will come from Boston to subjugate us totally, which would not be very hard since we are already much downcast in every way.” The French, they pointed out, treated them “as Englishmen” and the British suspected their loyalty although they had “done nothing that might be connected with arms.”
After the war Robichaux rebuilt his fortune, but his good relations with the British did not save him from the hardship of deportation in 1755. Major John Handfield* granted him only the privilege of choosing his place of exile. He opted for New England, where he hoped his loyalty to the British would be recognized and he would in consequence be treated leniently. On their arrival Robichaux and his family were ordered to Boston, where they remained until the government moved them to Cambridge in September 1756. That same month Robichaux petitioned the Massachusetts Council for permission to return to Boston, pointing out that although he had managed to support himself for the previous three months in Boston, he was unable to find work in Cambridge and promising that he and his family would “behave as peaceable good subjects & neighbours.” Perhaps fearing his influence among the Acadians, the Council refused his request; he was, however, furnished with a house and occasional financial assistance in the 11 years he spent in Cambridge.
During his exile in New England Robichaux emerged as the spokesman for his compatriots there, and for their missionaries in Acadia, and became the person upon whom they all relied. In a letter dated 17 Sept. 1761 Abbé Pierre Maillard*, vicar general of the bishop of Quebec in Halifax, authorized him, in the absence of a priest, to receive the mutual consent of exiled Acadians who wished to marry; he was to obtain necessary dispensations and to report on each union solemnized. Ten years later, on 17 July 1771, Abbé Charles-François Bailly de Messein wrote to him confirming his authority and also specifying the procedure to be followed where marriages had taken place without his authorization.
Exile was apparently less difficult for Robichaux than it was for his compatriots. His good education, his relations with Boston society, and the prestige he enjoyed with the missionaries and among his own people all helped to make his stay more agreeable. His status probably explains why his name does not appear on the lists of Acadians who applied to go to France, Canada, or Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola). Most of the Acadian families who wanted and were able to settle in Canada were there by 1766, but Robichaux did not go until 1775. He probably left the revolutionary turmoil of Boston with loyalist friends from Cambridge, such as colonels John and William Vassall and Edward Winslow*. He went to live in Quebec, where he died of smallpox on 20 Dec. 1780. His children settled in Quebec and New Brunswick; Vénérande* became the agent in Quebec for her brother Otho*, a prominent New Brunswick businessman.
Placide Gaudet, “Généalogie des families acadiennes avec documents,” PAC Rapport, 1905, II, iiie partie. 258–71. N.S. Archives, I, 84–85. Pierre Belliveau, French neutrals in Massachusetts . . . (Boston, 1972), 192–99. Calnek, History of Annapolis (Savary), 66, 68, 73. 75–76, 78.