SERREAU (Sarreau) DE SAINT-AUBIN, JEAN, soldier, sailor, and seigneur; b. 1621 in the province of Poitou; d. 29 March 1705, probably at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.).
Jean Serreau arrived in Canada around 1660, established himself in 1662 on Île d’Orléans on the Argentenay seigneury, and had been living there peacefully with his wife Marguerite Boileau for some time, when a certain Jean Terme, of Swiss origin, came and disturbed the happiness of the household by his over-intimate relations with Marguerite. Despite the husband’s repeated warnings, this relationship continued for about a year and soon led to threats between the two rivals. One day in July 1665, Jean Terme, surprised by the husband, put his hand to his sword, but the other dealt him a blow with a stick which proved fatal. As it was a case of justifiable self-defence, Saint-Aubin was completely exonerated from this slaying. He obtained a reprieve, signed by Louis XIV, and presented it in January 1667 to the Conseil Souverain of Quebec. A month later the council had the reprieve registered. In April, at the request of Madame d’Ailleboust [Boullongne*], the seigneuress of Argentenay, Saint-Aubin was expelled from the land which he occupied on Île d’Orléans.
He settled at Pesmocadie (Passamaquoddy) on the Sainte-Croix River in Acadia soon after 1676. In June 1684, he received a fairly extensive land grant which he made into a prosperous seigneury. He went to live on Île Archimagan, near what is now the town of St Andrews, N.B., and became the most influential citizen of the locality.
Here, however, difficulties of another kind awaited him. In August 1692 William Phips*, who had recently been appointed governor of Massachusetts and who wished to fortify the coast of Maine against the French, sent Major Benjamin Church with his troops in pursuit of the enemy, with orders to take as many prisoners as possible. Having set off in the direction of Penobscot Bay, Church seized Saint-Aubin and his son-in-law Jacques Petitpas, with their families, and took them to Boston. At that period the Bostonians coveted a prey that was much more valuable to them, namely Baron Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin, whom they could not abide. In order to obtain their freedom, the two heads of families pretended to accept the proposal that they should go with two deserters from Quebec to carry off or assassinate Saint-Castin. But when they reached Penobscot Bay, they tied up the two traitors and took them to Governor Robinau* de Villebon, who had them executed. Villebon rewarded the two Acadians with a sum of money sufficiently large “to enable them to deliver their wives and children from the English.”
One must suppose that they were not able to secure the freedom of all the members of their families, for in a letter that Saint-Aubin sent to Boston in 1695 mention is made of a ransom of 30 livres for his daughter. This letter also suggests that Saint-Aubin, having been ruined by Church’s raid, was thinking of going to settle elsewhere. Indeed he asked the governor of Massachusetts, whose territory included at that time the whole of Acadia, to grant him in exchange for his “land at Pesmoncady a small river which the Indians call Secoudec to build a saw-mill there.” In addition, he endeavoured to obtain, facing Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), a grant of land called Picquetou (Pictou), as well as a small river called Artigonyche (Antigonish, N.S.). The following year he asked the French authorities to confirm the grant of his “seigneury which he was forced to abandon because of the English invasion and which he is in a position to restore.”
He distinguished himself also in Newfoundland, in the service of his country: this was probably during the winter of 1696–97, when Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, after destroying Pemaquid, set out to conquer the island, at the time when Jacques-François de Brouillan [Monbeton] was governor at Placentia (Plaisance). The latter, when he became governor of Acadia, presented Saint-Aubin in 1703 with a certificate testifying to his services, his loyalty, and his bravery, both on the continent and in Newfoundland.
Saint-Aubin went to France for a short period, no doubt to recover possession of his land, which a general decree of 1703 had taken from him. In the following year he won his case and returned to Acadia, probably to Port-Royal, where he died at the age of 84.
AAQ, Registres d’insinuation A, 362–63. AN, Col., B, 25, 123; D2C, 47/2, f.366; Section Outre-Mer, G1, 466 (Recensements de l’Acadie, 1686, 1693). ASQ, Séminaire, XXXVII, 62. “Mass. Archives,” II, 536–38. Church, King Philip’s war (Dexter), II, 82–92. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., I, 386, 429; II, 92–96, 407. Jug. et délib., I, 371–73, 375–76, 379–81, 388, 394–95; II, 25. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., III, 145. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, IV, 116. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 548. Pierre Daviault, Le baron de Saint-Castin, chef abénaquis (Montréal, 1939), 106–7. Guy Murchie, Saint Croix, the sentinel river: historical sketches of its discovery, early conflicts and final occupation by English and American settlers with some comments on Indian life (New York, 1947), 92–97, 99. Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I, 168, 214. “Un drame en l’île d’Orléans en 1665: Jean Terme tué par Jean Serreau, sieur de Saint-Aubin,” NF, II (1927), 79–81. Ganong, “Historic sites in New Brunswick,” 266, 304, 307. P.-G. Roy, “Le Suisse Jean Terme,” dans Les petites choses de notre histoire, VI, 24–28. [PANS, RG1, 26, 29 mars 1705.]