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ROUSSEAU DE VILLEJOUIN (Villejoin, Villejoint), GABRIEL, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. 24 April 1709 at Plaisance (Placentia, Nfld), son of Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin, naval captain, and Marie-Josephte Bertrand; d. 6 Nov. 1781 at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (dept of Charente-Maritime), France.

Information on the first two decades of Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin’s career is scarce. Having entered military service as a second ensign at Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) on 9 May 1723, he was promoted ensign in March 1730 and lieutenant two months later. He evidently served at Louisbourg until 1737, when he was put in command at Port-Toulouse (St Peters, N.S.). In 1739 he returned to Louisbourg to succeed his brother-in-law, Robert Tarride* Duhaget, as assistant garrison adjutant with a captain’s commission on 1 April. Two years later Villejouin received formal command of a company. This he led in defence of the King’s bastion in 1745 when the fortress was successfully besieged by New England troops under the command of William Pepperrell*.

Although the record of these first 20 years is meagre, it reveals a certain ability. Villejouin was not yet 30 when made adjutant and, after leaving this position, he apparently continued to devote some time to military administration. By his own testimony, he earned the approbation of both his fellow officers and the townspeople for his success in pacifying the soldiers who mutinied at Louisbourg in 1744. Louis Du Pont Duchambon, the commandant of Île Royale, commended his valorous conduct during the siege.

In 1747 Villejouin was with the convoy commanded by La Jonquière [Taffanel*] when the British attacked and defeated it off Cape Ortegal, Spain. He may have been taken prisoner to England; in any event he was at Rochefort on 28 Feb. 1748 when he received the cross of Saint-Louis.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 restored Île Royale to France, but the attitudes of both France and Britain remained belligerent. French policy required a new and stronger fortress at Louisbourg and therefore more troops for its construction and defence; Villejouin was responsible for recruiting them in Rochefort. He then returned to Île Royale, and when Duhaget, the commandant of Port-Toulouse, was wounded in a mutiny in June 1750, Villejouin was assigned to command the post. After the death of Michel de Gannes* de Falaise in 1752, Duhaget took over the duties of town major at Louisbourg, and from 10 July 1753 to 1 April 1754 Villejouin acted as troop major, replacing Michel Le Courtois de Surlaville. Until 1751 the majority had been one office, and in 1754 the ministry of Marine reunited the two positions and gave them to Duhaget. Villejouin was thereupon appointed to succeed Claude-Élisabeth Denys* de Bonnaventure as major and commandant of Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island).

Villejouin had been in command there for only a year when, in the late summer of 1755, the deportation of Acadians from Nova Scotia [see Charles Lawrence*] led to a nearly disastrous influx of refugees. Designated earlier by French policy as a farm for Île Royale, the island had yet to become even self-sufficient. Nevertheless, Villejouin actively and energetically dealt with the problems raised by the refugees and the war. He sent the sick and unfit to Quebec, supported as best he could the guerrilla activities of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert, and even while establishing 1, 500 new settlers invigorated the island’s agriculture. “I foresaw,” he wrote at Port-La-Joie (Fort Amherst) in September 1758, “being able to feed the whole island this autumn with little outside help . . . .” The fall of Louisbourg two months earlier had, however, sealed the fate of Île Saint-Jean. Andrew, Lord Rollo*, took possession of the island in August and all but 200 settlers, isolated on the western shore, were eventually deported.

On his repatriation to France in 1759 Villejouin became garrison adjutant at Rochefort. On 23 May 1760 he succeeded Bonnaventure as inspector of all colonial troops. But France’s permanent loss of her North American colonies made the position redundant. Consolidation of what was left of the French empire led to Villejouin’s appointment as lieutenant-colonel and governor of Désirade (in the Leeward Islands) on 1 Jan. 1763. To this small, rugged island were sent the “black sheep” of many good families. To improve its society Villejouin obtained commissions there for three of his sons and several of the old Île Royale garrison. When Désirade came under the government of Guadeloupe in 1768, he returned to France and was made a brigadier of the king’s armies on 12 November. This appointment marked the end of his military career, since it seems to have carried few if any duties. He retired to Saint-Jean-d’Angély, where he died on 6 Nov. 1781.

On 11 Jan. 1733 in Louisbourg Villejouin had married Anne, daughter of Louis de Gannes* de Falaise and Marguerite Leneuf de La Vallière et de Beaubassin. The marriage was conceived of necessity; their first child was born in February. Four of their six children lived to adulthood, including Michel, who fought rearguard actions in Acadia during the Seven Years’ War and who attempted a relief of Louisbourg during the 1758 siege. After Anne’s death in 1751 Villejouin married, on 30 Dec. 1753 in Louisbourg, Barbe, daughter of Michel Leneuf* de La Vallière et de Beaubassin and Renee Bertrand. Only two of their four children survived infancy.

Andrew Rodger

AMA, SHA, Y4d. AN, Col., A, 1, p.5; B, 72, p.420; 72/2, p.440; 88/2, pp.280, 353; 99, p.222; 107, p.274; C11B, 10, ff.170–71v; 11, ff.61–68, 170v; 14, ff.188v, 190v; 15, f.40v; 20, f.95; 21, ff.63–64, 271; 28, ff.63–63v; 29, ff.66–71v; 32, f.242v; 33, ff.22–22v; 34, f.36v; 35, p.158; 36, pp.51, 181; 37, p.165; 38, ff.245v, 265v, p.269; C11C, 16, pièce 26 (2e sér.); D2C, 47; 48, ff.105, 108, 143, 168, 173, 184, 218, 240v, 369, 378, 404; 49, f.216; 60, ff.3, 11v, 12; 222; Marine, C7, 287; Section Outre-mer, G1, 406/2, p.301; 406/3, pp.366, 409, 489; 407, pp.133, 290; 408; 410; 411; G2, 201, dossier 243, pièces 1, 4; 202, dossier 295, pièce 1; 207, dossier 474, f.22v (paginated references are to PAC transcripts). PAC, MG 18, H13, no.100. Les derniers jours de lAcadie (Du Boscq de Beaumont). Æ. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis. Harvey, French regime in P.E.I.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Andrew Rodger, “ROUSSEAU DE VILLEJOUIN, GABRIEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 27, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rousseau_de_villejouin_gabriel_4E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rousseau_de_villejouin_gabriel_4E.html
Author of Article:   Andrew Rodger
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1979
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   May 27, 2024