The Acadians in Chelsea

BACKGROUND

Acadians are the original French people who settled the areas now called Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island starting in the early 17th century. The first French settlers arrived in 1604, but actual colonies didn't take root until the 1630s. Throughout the 1600s, various treaties flipped ownership of the Acadian colonies between the French and the English. In the early 18th century, the War of Spanish Succession spilled over into North America. The Treaty of Utrecht ended the war in 1713 and made the Acadians permanent British subjects. In 1730, the Acadians signed an oath swearing allegiance to the British Crown, but stipulating that Acadians would not have to take up arms against the French or Indians.

At the beginning of the French and Indian War in 1754, the British government demanded that Acadians take an oath of allegiance to the Crown that included fighting against the French. Most of them refused.

On July 28, 1755, British Governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council decided to deport the Acadians. The British government of Nova Scotia then began deporting the colony's French-speaking population, estimated to have included 15,000 to 18,000 persons in an ethnic-cleansing operation. Thousands more were killed. Some Acadians fled into the woods and to French territories such as Ile St-Jean, which is now P.E.I. When Louisbourg, the last French stronghold on the Atlantic coast, fell in 1758, British troops rounded up over 3,000 Acadians from former French holdings and sent them to France. About 6,000 Acadians were forcibly removed from their colonies and dispersed by an armada of ships among the 13 American colonies. Many colonies refused to take refugees and sent the Acadians to Europe. The British military ordered the Acadians' homes and barns to be burned down. Families were separated in the deportation and many lost everything they owned. Acadians call the deportation the Grand Dérangement, or Great Expulsion, of 1755. Exiles sent to British territories were placed in concentration camps and treated as prisoners of war.

Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the Acadian prisoners were given a grace period in which to relocate. In the ensuing period of wanderings, perhaps one-half of the Acadian population died of malnutrition, exposure, shipwrecks, and disease during the diaspora, known to historians as the Grand Dérangement.

In the 3rd week of November, 1755 there were 2000 Acadians, many ill and close to death, crowded aboard ships in Massachusetts Bay. The Massachusetts assembly passed an act that they should be permitted to land, and that they should be sent to such towns as a committee appointed for that purpose should think fit. The first group to land for settlement in Massachusetts consisted of 206 Pisiquid settlers who disembarked the "Seaflower" on November 19, 1755. Although the exact number is not known, Chelsea received her quota of refugees.

June 14, 1757, Hon. Samuel Watts of Chelsea was appointed chairman on part of the Council to provide for the care of these unfortunate people.

In 1762, the Council advised the Governor to permit a new group of 46 sick Acadians to go ashore at Point Shirley with the approval of the selectmen of Chelsea and there to remain until further orders.

Capt. Salt sailed the escort ship "Hornet" from Annapolis Royal on Oct. 23, 1755. After reaching Boston on Nov. 17, he continued on to Spithead.

Capt. Sylvanus Cobb sailed the escort ship "York" from Annapolis Royal on Oct. 13, 1755 and made it to Boston on Nov. 17.

The brigantine "Swallow" brought in 136 Minas Basin settlers on December 13, 1755. Four more ships of Acadians arrived on January 15, 1756.

The sloop "Eagle", captained by McKown, is said to have left Halifax (April 1, 1756) with 4 Acadians and sailed to Boston by May 29, 1756.

The 120 ton schooner called the "Race Horse" captained by John Baules brought 120 Acadians to Boston from Pte-de-Boudros. Departed on 12/20/1755 and arrived on 12/26/1755.

The 166 ton ship "Helena" captained by Samuel Livingstone departed Annapolis Royal on 10/27/1755 and arived in Boston on 1/5/1756 with 323 Arcadians.

A bill sent to the Province by Nathan Cheever for food given to the Acadians during their care in Chelsea.

The 81 ton "Seaflower" captained by Samuel Harris departed Piziquid on 10/27/1755 with 206 Arcadians. It arrived in Boston on 11/15/55.

The sloop "Vulture" captained by Jonathan Scife departed Port-Lature with 72 Arcadians on 5/10/56.

The final group of 90 Acadians arriving in Boston were part of a group of 200 Acadians that had been sent to Georgia, but were trying to sail back to Canada.

As with most of the ships, smallpox killed many of the Acadians before they disembarked. When they were allowed to settle down, they were afforded some freedom of movement.

Partial listing of the French Acadians who settled in Chelsea.

After the death of a Jacques d'Entremont, July 28th, 1759, his son Joseph and his daughter Marguerite are transferred August 22nd, 1760, to Chelsea.

August 22nd, 1760: Paul and Benoni are "retained" in Walpole with their mother; Joseph and Marguerite are sent to Chelsea.

Joseph DAUTROMONT, Margaret DAUTROMONT both from Walpole - Paul LANDRY, Rose LANDRY from Dedham

Total = 4 persons

This article has been posted from the Chelsea Historical Society
with the gracious permission granted by George Ostler.