Arrival in Boston
Signing the Oath
By Nelson Surette
My thanks for Nelson and his family's permission
to use Nelson's paintings on the Acadian Ancestral Home
Sadly, Nelson passed away August 2004

Petition of François LEBLANC and Charles LEBLANC

Sessional Paper No. 18

To his Excellency the Governour, the Hon'ble the Council and Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

François LEBLANC a poor french Inhabitant of Accaday humbly shew That he and his family five of which are men were placed at Port Shirley that they have with reat difficulty supported themselves since the provision allowed by the Province ceased but now they cannot find work and they have a Winter before them and no prospect of any opportunity of labour during that season and all necessaries of life are excessive dear there and your Petitioner's family must perish with hunger and cold. Your Petitioner has relations placed in the Town of York and is known to Col. Donnell and Cap. Donnell and has traded with them, and he thinks he could support his family, tho he is 63 years old with the help of his sons and some little relief from the Publick and as there is but 8 French in that Town he hoped there will be no exception and humbly prays he may be placed there with his family.

Signed: François LEBLANC
Signed: Charles LEBLANC

In Council Aug. 20, 1756. Read and ordered that James Minot Esq., with such as the Hon. House shall join be a Committee to consider of this Petition and report what they judge proper to be done thereon. Sent down for Concurrence.



Read and Concurred and Thos. Foster Esq. and Mr. Stockbridge are joined in the affair.

T. HUBBARD, Speaker

No. 216

IN THE HOUSE OF REP., Sept. 10, 1756

Voted that Francois LEBLANC with his family be removed from Point Shirley to Needham. (the vote of the 21st ult.) notwithstanding and that the Sheriff of the County of Suffolk be directed to remove them accordingly. Sent up for Concurrence.


In Council Sept. 10, 1756. Read and concurred.


Consent to, W. Shirley.

The Committee to whom was referred the Petition of Francis Le Blanc Having met and considered the same and finding the Petition so far true as that they cannot git Labour at Pointe Shirley, so as to have any hopes of supporting them through the ensuing winter therefore are of opinion that they be removed to some other place where they may have better prospects of getting labour for their support.

JAMES MINOT, pr Order.

In Council Aug. 26, 1756. Read and Ordered that the Report be accepted. Sent down for concurrence.


In the House of Representatives, Aug. 27, 1756, Read and Concurred.


Consented to, W. Shirley.

Petition from Magloire HÉBERT

To the Honorable His Majesty's Council of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

The Petition of Magloire HÉBERT humbly shewith.

That your Petitioner is one of those former Inhabitants of Nova Scotia, who soon was stopped by this Government in returning from Carolina, and was placed with his family in a Town called Attlebouroug (today's Attleboro), where he was abode ever since July 1756.

That he received sustenance from the selectmen (elected councillors) but four weeks from his first coming among them, and then was obliged to work by the selectment for what sustenance they allowed him, and ever since by his labour has paid for what has supported his family, being himself, his wife and three children, by doing which he has had nothing left to provide clothing and prevent his family from being naked.

That now the selectmen will find him neither work nor Provisions, so that he and his family are in the greatest distress and must perish unless, your honours will give him orders for their Relief. This he humbly requests your Honours would be pleased to do, and that your Petitioner may have the same allowance that other of his countrymen in the same circumstances are allowed in other Places, when he sees they live contented and are well taken of and your Petitioner shall ever pray.

Magloire HEBERT

Boston, May the 2nd, 1757.

Magloire HÉBERT was deported in 1755 to Carolina. In the summer of 1756, his family is now in Attleboro, MA which is south of Boston.

Petition from Claude BOURGEOIS

To the Honorable His Majesty's Council of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. May it Please your Honours.

Claude BOURGEOIS, your Petitioner, one of the late French inhabitants of Nova Scotia, was sent with his family to Amesbury by order of the General Court, where he has resided constantly with his wife and his children; and begs leave to represent to your Honours, that about four weeks ago then twelve men came and took away from him two of his daughters, one of the age of 25 years and the other of 18, that his daughters were at that time employed in spinning for the Family, the poor remains of the Flax of wool which they had saved from Annapolis. Your Petitioner having fetched his Daughters home again, the Town have withheld their subsistence so that fourteen Days past he has received nothing at all to prevent them from starving, and the owner of the house where he lives threatens that he shall pay the rent of it by his children's labour. Your petitioner prays your Honours to relieve him under these circumstances, and your Petitioners shall ever pray, etc.

The mark of + Claude BOURGEOIS

Boston, May 4th, 1756.

Sources: In addition to the Massachusetts State Archives, Vol XXIII French Neutrals. These petitions may also be researched in the Canadian Archives, Sessional Papers No. 18. This information is also in a Book entitled "Acadian Genealogy and Notes Concerning the Explusion by Placide Gaudet.

Gleanings from the Boston Selectmen's Minutes

The information from the Boston Selectmens' Minutes are part of volumes 23 and 24 on the French Neutrals at the Massachusetts State Archives.

Pierre LANDRY moved from Milton into a dwelling in the West part of the Town of Boston, a house owned by Benjamin Smith; in mid February 1760, Smith himself reported this to the Selectmen.

May 1, 1760, Claude WHITE (LEBLANC), his wife Julie [this was Judith dite Judique BENOIT] and their children Mary, Charles, Margaret, Modice (Madeleine) arrived with bundles carted in by team hired for the purpose by the Concord Selectmen. In August, Antoine THERIAULT came in from Hingham with his wife and six children.

Pierre DOOUCET, on public relief in Boston, belonged in Weymouth; Joseph BREAU, on public relief in Weymouth, belonged in Boston. when Weymouth demanded reimbursement from Boston, the Selectmen showed unwillingness to pay for both Breau and Doucet, but willingness to exchange Doucet for Breau.

Jean THIBODEAU, his wife Margaret [Marguerite Hébert] and their children Paul, Joseph, Marie, Elizabeth and granddaughter Marie HEBERT came pursuant to relocation. This family, nine in number on arrival from Acadie, lived in North Parish of Reading in a house rented by Selectment from Isaac Royal; two sons, Jean and Moise already lived near their employment in Boston. Moving the household furnishings and belongings a distance of 18 miles by way of Charlestown Ferry cost Reading the hire of a man and team and support on the way part of two days. Because Isaac Royal was good to this family, they fared well and were a notch above the pauper status other exiles experienced.

In May 1760, Olivier HEBERT, his wife, five children and Marie THERIAULT moved in from Newton. Widow THIBODEAU and her children Castin, Charles, Alexandre, Daniel, Bruno, Jean, Joseph, Rose, Anne and another moved into Boston from Sherbourne. The ROBICHAUDS: Henri, Francis, Honore, Anne, Marie, Modeste LANDRY, Anne ROBICHAUD, Jacques, Martha, Abigal and Frances came in from Sutton by team and a horse-chair to carry the aged woman.

In September, Rene BENOIT, his wife Félicité, and their children Gregoire and Marie arrived from Medfield with their household furniture, costing Medfield the hire of a man and team. Laurent PELLERIN, his wife, and their son Castin, along with Joseph,Jean, Freeman, Frances Daigle and daugher Frances and son Odo had the benefit of two men with a cart and team to bring them into Boston from Milton.

Marie Therese HEBERT also known as Susan THERIAULT, dwelt as a boarder in the home of Pierre Hebert in Newton; for which Newton Selectmen paid Pierre four shillings each week. While visiting, she became ill and a public charge in Boston. The Overseers provided care and billed Newton for three shillings six pence paid in her behalf; probably for medical attendance, or perhaps for her return to Newton.

Joseph LANOUE, taken ill while in transient in Boston, was too sick to be moved; he became a public charge. Since he belonged in Dorchester, Boston Selectment asked Dorchester to pay for firewood supplied during 8 months. Later moving Lanoue to Dorchester, the Selectment wrote: "a wife and two children who are desirous of being with their husband and father, we suppose it will not disagreeable for you" and they added that should the three accompanying LANOUE become public charges, Boston Selectmen will permit the three to return to Boston or pay their keep in Dorchester.

LANOUE recovered his health and was assigned to Roxbury; two years later, Selectmen Scolling and Cushing solicited a promise committing Roxbury to reimburse Boston in event Lanoue became a public charge.

Francis ROBICHAUD an inmate of the workhouse caught smallpox and moved to Dr. Gardiner's Hospital on the Common, in February 1761. Another Acadian identified as Ridgeway (probably BOURGEOIS) and another named ROBICHAUD moved out of the pest-house into recovery quarters.

Jean BENOIT, his wife, and sons were first stationed in Brookline. The sons hired on as sailors out of Boston; and this aggrieved Jean because his sons had assisted the family to maintain itself, but when grown to maturity he was deprived of their help. Jean claimed that his sons' seafaring put him and his wife to difficulties and suffering; he wanted them to return to Brookline, or he and his wife moved to Boston. Jean Benoit of Brookline fell sick while visiting in Boston in September 1760; he became a public charge; during six months he recieved from the Boston Overseers who later billed Brookline for fire wood and other necessities.

Charles PELLERIN, his mother, and five sisters were residents in Boston. Fear of smallpox induced them to rent a house in Cambridge and move. Whereupon Boston Selectmen promised to reimburse Cambridge or to receive the PELLERINS should they need public aid. Although a number of Acadians belonging to Boston or other towns were in Cambridge, at that particular time, no one disturbed them.

Jeremy THIBODEAU and his family were sent to Malden in accordance with reapportionment. In May 1763, he suffered a bad wound while transient in Boston. He was cared for and Malden Selectmen were billed for reimbursement.

Margaret BENOIT, was sent to Medway and became ill in Boston in April 1763; she was given care and Medway charged.

Jacques HEBERT and his family, moved to Boston from Dartmouth in May 1762. He lived in a rented house belonging to Benjamin Fitch. Fitch notified the Selectmen.

A ROBICHAUD and other French families occupied Mr. Gordon's house near the pesthouse in January and on February 22, 1764, the Selectmen received an inventory of the articles found in the house when the Neutrals moved out.

Hannah ROBICHAUD received three pounds four shillings in payment for her services rendered during the smallpox epidemic.

While several Acadians came to Boston for innoculation, three came in sick with the infection in May 1764. They were at Mrs. Walcott's sent in from Cambridge by Briggantine Brattle. Promptly, the three were placed in Mr. Chapman's infirmary in the Southend of Boston.

Some time in 1764 at staggered intervals, with Overseers approbation, (the Treaty of Paris had been signed in 1763), Boston's quota of 81 Neutrals (or many of them) shipped to Canso; where they gathered, procured a boat of their own and settled at Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Later, there were stories of more Acadians who went to Boston during the Fall of 1764 and made their petitions for passports to the French West Indies. In late January 1765, having made suitable provision, the Great and General Court required these Neutrals to return to the towns where assigned in 1760. The Minutes read: "There having been a general walk or visitation of the Town (Boston), this da being the 15th (Feb 15, 1765), the gentlemen that attended met and reported the following strangers they found in Town... (Four from Newfoundland, two from Rhode Island, one from the Country) and LEABEAR (this would be HEBERT) and other French people living in Carnes house let to Green a shoemaker at New Boston.

July 3, 1765 "Mr. Samuel Proctor keeper of the Almshouse was directed by two of the Selectmen to receive into said House on the Province charge Paul Bejean (?) a French Neutral who had been placed at Philadelphia but came here from Hispaniola he being sick and not having wherewithal to subsist himself."

Benjamen DOUCET, his wife, and child "they being strangers and not inhabitants of any town in the Province and now requiring some relief" were received into the Alms-house on orders from Boston Selectment July 8, 1766. DOUCET in some manner worked his way North, arrived in Massachusetts, and fell in need.

John FABRE, a blind Frenchman, and his wife Margaret "They being strangers and no inhabitants of any town in this Province, not having wherewithal to subsist themselves," were received into the Alms-house on an order signed by Selectman John Hancock, Selectman Austin and by Overseer Tyler.

In 1766, with exception of a few families, the remaining Neutrals petitioned for shipment to Canada; and in readiness to go assembled, a few in Salem, the others in Boston.

Entried in Boston Selectmen's Minutes show that some Acadians besides Louis ROBICHAUD and his family staid on because of sickness, employment, or unknown reason.

Royal Tyler Esqu., Chairman of the Boston Overseers of the Poor, received from the Selectment a certificate that Michael DAIGLE and wife, French Neutrals, were suffering; that the husband had not been assigned to any town. "The bearer Michael DAIGLE a French man is by means of a lame hand become unable to support himself. He has been legally warned out of this town; and by his account has obtained an inhabitancy at Roxbury. Although he served an apprenticeship to Mr. Bourn of Marblehead, we thought it proper to give you this information that you may act theron as you think best; the man requiring immediate assistance. By order of the Selectmen" Boston Jan. 21, 1767.

Mr. Augustus WHITE, alias BLANC (LEBLANC), and family, French Neutrals, are in suffering circumstances, come from Rutland. Charles LANDRE (LANDRY) and family come from Concord is the same." Selectmen of Boston Feb 4, 1767.

"Boston SS" At a meeting of the Selectment Feb. 5, 1767 to the Selectmen of Concord - this is to acquaint you that one Charles LANDRE (LANDRY) and family, French Neutrals who were assigned your town, are now with us and in such circumstances as to require some assistance. The man, we believe is industrious; but his work, which was chiefly sawing wood, hais failed; which occasions their application. We doubt not you will take such care upon this advice as to order what maybe necessary and so prevent our supplying them, the amount whereof must be finally borne by your town. We understand they intend for Canada in the Spring; so that a small advance may be necessary.

May 1, 1767 "Mr. Newell (Boston Selectman) a committee to consul with Royal Tyler Esq relative to the sending of Benjamin DOUCET and Joseph Naraen' family to Canada."

December 30, 1766 to the Selectmen of Billerica: "Gentlemen this is to acquaint you that the family of Joseph LANDRE (LANDRY) a French Neutral assigned your town is now with us and in such circumstances as to require some assistance - the man we believe is industrious; but his work, which was chiefly sawing has failed; and his wife now lays in with her sixth child. We doubt not you will take such order upon this matter as to prevent their applying to us for any supply of necessaries, the charge of which will eventually follow your town. By order of the Selectmen of Boston."

French Neutrals Petition the Great and General Court

Without special protection and without interventions by a strong arm of government whether in Quebec, England, France or a New England Province, destitute Acadians are subjects for exploitation, neglect and abuse. In the Bay Province, the Great and General Court protects and helps the Acadian prisoners of his Brittanic Majesty, from the day of arrival so to speak.. nonetheless, regardless of the protective legislation, instance of abuse crop up. Thus the injured petition for "relief" and members of both Houses intervene.

The interventions of the House of Representatives and Governor's Council, the bills and vouchers for supplies and care, and the petitions written for the Acadians constitute a large quantity of testimony on record ever since 1755-68. If such a quantity and quality of evidence on the treatment and condition of Acadian exiles were found elsewhere, such a find would establish that other people besides the sons and daughers of Puritan and Huguenot discover quality in the French Neutrals; that people elsewhere also are sorry for the Acadians, and try to treat them with humanity and kindness (however, this wasn't always so..).

The human element is present and a language barrier and inheritance; and there are prejudices and bigotries to overcome on both sides in everything concerning the Exiles. Born to give short-shift to foreigners in war times, some Selectmen abuse their office. A housing shortage adds aggravation. The Acadians are as flint; and their friends carry the sparks to the Great and General Court where ignition is sure fire.

The petitions to the G & G Court showed instances of abuse, neglect, or hostility on the part of Selectmen in twenty of the one hundred forty-seven towns harboring Acadian families during eight years of war scares, and eleven years of detention. Some petitions made out a wrong because the recitation of conditions and treatment made a cumulative wrong to the Massachusetts mind. Some recited matter insufficient to constitute a wrong, but told of hurt or injury to an Acadian by reason of his background, inability to conform, and status of recipient of public aid. Some told of children taken forcibly by the Selectmen; these instances of rawness and suffering, because of the Acadian concern and anxiety for his religion, required Trowbridge's or the Council Secretary's hand as scrivner. Two of the petitions were couched in French.

The number of petitions is small considering the times, circumstance and span of eleven years. In every instance, the content of the petition is interesting and telling. All the petitions are charged with emotion; all are in good faith; some are one-sided most favorable presentations, others are stark truthful recitations.

Laws Chapter 23 extended to all Acadians consideration and treatment similar to that afforded poor and needed natives.

The following Acadians petitioned the Great and General Court for abuse:

Joseph Mitchell vs Selectmen of Plymouth, March 1756; Nince aggrieved parents vs Selectment of Chelmsford, Oxford, Concord, Worcester, Andover, and Waltham, April 1756; Charles and Nicholas BREAU vs Selectmen of Hanover, April 1756; Claude BOURGEOIS vs Selectmen of Amesbury, May 1756;Jean and Pierre TRAHAN vs Selectmen of Scituate, May 1756; Augutin HEBERT vs Selectmen of Waltham, October 1756; Claude BENOIS vs Selectmen of Oxford, January 1757; Benoni MELANCON vs Selectmen of Lancaster, February 1757; Pierre BOUDREAU vs Selectmen of Scituate, April 1757; and Paul SIMARD vs Selectmen of Weston, June 1757.

Along with the cases mentioned, the petitions of Claude BOURGEOIS, Francis MIEUS, John LABRODOR(?), Charles and Nicholas BREAU, Pierre PELLERIN, Basil SIMARD, John and Peter TRAHAN, Peter TRAHAN, Augustin HEBERT, Magloire HEBERT, Laurent MIEUS or Armand THIBODEAU are cited by writers as evidence of mistreatment received by Acadians generally.

Claude BOURGEOIS daughters, ages 23 and 17, received public aid as indigents. The Amesbury Selectmen found employment and subsistance for them; Claude said they were his children and were to remain in his house at work which he supplied. The Selectmen arrived with witnesses and assistants; although Claude offered resistance, the Selectmen brought the daughters to the prospective home were they were to work (endentured). Claude brought the daughters back to his house. The Selectmen cut down on what they were giving the family, so Claude petitioned. Other families were not so fortunate in that when their children were endentured, sometimes their "owners" would move them to one of their other homes so that their fathers could not find time. We must remember that some families were never reunited again.

Claude BOURGEOIS' wife was Marie LEBLANC daughter of Pierre and Madeleine BOURG. Claude secured special protection against the Amesbury Selectmen....


Source: Massachusetts State Archives - the Boston Selectmen's Minutes that are part of the records in Volumes 23 and 24 on the French Neutrals (Acadians)

Additional source: "French Neutrals in Massachusetts" subtitle: The story of Acadians rounded by soldiers from Massachusetts and their captivity in the Bay Province 1755-1766 by Pierre Belliveau - 1972
Pierre was a lawyer in Massachusetts and member of the American Canadian Genealogical Society. He died in Deland, Florida, 4 July 1990.

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