Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
August 4, 1892


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


[W. F. Ganong, M. A.]

2.-Records of the Early French Period.

Certain references to Passamaquoddy and Grand Manan occur in the writings of the Jesuit missionaries at Port Royal, which, though interesting, have but little bearing on the events of the time.  They show however that the region was occasionally visited by the ships of the French.1

In July 1613 there was an interruption in the quiet current of events when the bay was visited by Captain Samuel Argall, who was sent with armed ships by the English in Virginia to drive the French from Acadia, which was then claimed, on the basis of its discovery by Cabot, as a British possession.  Argall visited St. Croix Island and burnt the remains of the buildings left by the French upon it, crossed to Port Royal (Annapolis) and took and destroyed that settlement.2  This gave the British a better claim than ever to Acadia, and in 1621 a grant or charter was issued to Sir William Alexander by King James I., reaffirmed in 1625 by Charles I., in which all Acadia, under the new name of Nova Scotia, was given over to him for colonization.  An order of Baronets of Nova Scotia was created, and grants of land, amounting in each case to about 16,000 acres were made over to these baronets, who in turn were to place settlers upon their tracts and otherwise contribute to their settlement.  Some of these grants were in the present province of New Brunswick.  So little is known of their locations, however, and so indefinitely were they described, that it is impossible to say whether any of them were in Charlotte county, though it is very probable that some of them were.  In a book published in 1624 by Sir William Alexander, he thus refers to this region:

‘After this, having seene Port Royall, they went to the River called by them Sainte Croix but more fit now to be called Tweed, because it doth divide New England and New Scotland.’

Accordingly on his maps he calls the St. Croix the Tweed, but the name did not persist.  No practical results of any permanent value to Acadia followed from this attempt, and in 1632 the country was ceded by Charles II. to France.

In the same year, 1632, the Company of New France undertook with vigor the work of colonizing Acadia, and sent there a representative named Isaac de Razilly, an able, earnest and conscientious man.  He brought with him some colonists whom he settled at La Heve in Nova Scotia; and to him, on the 19th of May, 1632, an immense tract of land in what is now Charlotte county was granted by the Company of New France.  The grant reads in part as follows:

‘For these reasons we have given and granted to the aforesaid Sieur de Razilly, and we do, by these presents, give and grant to him the extent of land and territory which follows, namely, the river and bay of St. Croix, the islands contained in it, and the lands lying adjacent, on the one side and on the other in New France, to the extent of twelve leagues in breadth reckoning its middle point at the island of St. Croix where the Sieur de Monts wintered, and twenty leagues in length inland from the Port aux Coquilles, which is on one of the islands which is at the entrance of the river and bay of St. Croix, each league to be of four thousand fathoms in length.’

Port aux Coquilles was Head Harbour in Campobello; and the grant of Razilly would therefore extend thence about sixty miles inland; that is almost twenty miles north of the county line, and almost to the River St. John.  In breadth it would include L’Etang Harbor and Lake Utopia on the east, and the entire main St. Croix to the Cheputneticook lakes and a goodly part of Maine on the west.  Doubtless de Razilly intended to conform to the letter and the spirit of his grant, and to found settlements within it; but he had much other work to do as commander in Acadia, and his unfortunate death in 1636 put an end to plans which promised better for this country than any that had been previously formed.

Then, so far as written records are concerned, there follows an almost unbroken blank for the next fifty-two years.

1Champlain  himself visited Grand Manan and passed a miserable night in a storm near Southern Head in 1606, and the Jesuit Relations show that a harbor known as La Pierre Blanche, that is ‘the White Rock,’ (probably White Head,) was a rendezvous and shelter for French ships.

2For reference to the part taken by the Passamaquoddy Indians in this and subsequent hostilities between the English and the French, see articles XVI. to XIX.-ED.

Addition: Article CI contains the following addition to this one: "Extracts from a letter of the famous Jesuit Missionary, Father Pierre Biard, given in the Proceedings of the Maine Historical Society for Oct. 1891, show that in the winter of 1612, in company with M. de Biencourt, he entered the St. John, the St. Croix, the Pentegoet and the Kinibequi; and ‘visited the French who wintered here this year in two places, on the river St. John and on the St. Croix; the men from St. Malo on the St. John, Captain Plastrier on the St. Croix.’  Captain Platrier of Honfleur, (as the name is given further on,) had a little while before been taken prisoner by the English near the mouth of the Kinibequi (Kennebec), and released on promise that he would not trade along the coast.  Biencourt visited the place where Platrier had been seized, and found boats there left by the English; but he did not destroy them because they belonged not to soldiers, but to fishermen."

Correction: Article XXX notes that this one should have been numbered XVIII.