Extraordinary Journal of J. Hamon, Captain of the ship, the Marie Anne from Granville, Messrs. Bretel Brothers, Shipowners, for the year 1770.

Journal of the incidents that occurred in the harbour of Greenspond between 30 May 1770, the day of my arrival in the aforementioned harbour, up to the day of my departure from the coast on 18 September 1770.

On the afternoon of 30 May, I made my first landing to inspect my former premises and to see how everything had fared since my departure from the coast the previous year. Having arrived at the place, I began by inspecting the cabins, where I found all the partitions destroyed, cut down, burnt or removed. One large cabin had been destroyed and the wood that made up the framework had been taken to different premises near mine and had been made into a new cabin. After this inspection of the cabins, I went to see the stage, which I found to be in very poor condition, the whole of the interior having been destroyed, together with some of the sides. I then made my way to the salt store which I had had built the previous year; I found that the sides had been hacked into and burned. Moreover, only the wooden siding remained to hold up the roof, the supports having been chopped down in order to make it collapse. I was even more astonished when, seeing the flake, I perceived that it had been almost totally destroyed, particularly a new part which I had had built the previous year.

After this inspection, I was very uncertain as to whether I would set up again in that place or choose some others, as I could have done. However, in order to avoid a continual round of difficulties, I opted to stay in my usual place and attempt to repair it by constant work during the fishing season; and this at the expense of my poor crew, who preferred to be overburdened with this work for the sake of peace and quiet rather than be constantly exposed to quarrels with the English.

I visited a few of the local people in order to find out who was responsible for the destruction of the place. Most of them told me that it could only have been a few of those who normally spent the winter in that harbour. I clearly saw that they wanted to put the blame on one Charles Roger who, not collecting any supply of wood in the fall and living only a short distance from my premises, must have been one of those who had destroyed everything. I have no doubt that he was involved, but after having inquired more fully into the matter, I began to discover some of the truth.

On 31 May, after having sent the whole crew both to get wood in Savage Bay and to repair the fishing boats, the only things that had not been touched, I decided to find out definitely who had destroyed my premises; this I soon discovered and the facts were all the more believable since I found them out myself.

It happened that, in late October, Mr. Keen or his agents decided to haul up on my premises four large fishing boats (which are normally forty feet long); because this hauling-up was impracticable without demolishing the premises, they began by hacking down a new platform and a wash-house to give themselves access to my beach. During this time, the men who were at work hauling these four boats out of harm’s way were chopping and hacking all around them to make the tackle to haul their boats above the March tide; then in the spring, in order to repair those boats, they chopped down and burnt all that they thought fit, even the planks which formed the decking on the enormous platforms were taken away; the result was that the person who was supposed to keep order there was the one who made every effort to try to destroy us and to do us as much harm as he was able; in other words, by adopting this extraordinary policy, he became the sworn enemy of our nation.

On 1 June, I went to visit the residents who all greeted me most warmly and received me with pleasure. I, in turn, invited them back and they all let me know how much the merchants were disposed to do me harm and even to try to turn them against me in particular, warning me to be on my guard because of the merchants’ indignation at the way I had curbed the insolent behaviour of Captain Randall before my departure the previous year.

On the evening of 21 June a Mr. Potdevin, captain of the ship the Marquise, out of Granville, entered the harbour, arriving from the Grand Banks with 8,000 green cod and coming, according to his orders, to continue fishing together with the ship the Comte de Lillebonne under Captain Renaudeau. The latter, seeing that there would be difficulties, sent word to me that he would like me to go and see him the next day to discover if, without getting himself into trouble, he could set up close to where he was, where there was a stage, and a small vacant beach which had not been occupied by the English until the arrival of the Marquise.

As soon as Captain Potdevin found himself at the place where the boats were usually moored, he began having the mooring lines put out, mainly on the south-east side, when a man named Green, an agent of this Mr. Randall, with all his men, prevented him from doing so, so that Captain Potdevin, realizing that he did not have the strength of numbers to moor by force, was obliged to spend the whole night moored fore and aft to my own ship for fear of being driven out to sea if the weather had turned rough.

On the morning of 22 June, Captain Renaudeau was aboard the Marquise with some members of his crew to help to secure that vessel, but, as Mr. Green tried to prevent him once again, he decided to have the mooring ropes moved further away, thus exposing the ship to being damaged on the rocks or by the ships berthed on her bow.

This problem being resolved, Captain Potdevin went to see Keen, both in an attempt to improve relations and to obtain the place which had not been occupied by anyone prior to the time when the Marquise came into the harbour, when was done by by Captain [two words illegible]. On going to Mr. Keen’s house to make this request, Captain Potdevin was told that Mr. Keen was not available. He returned a second time but Mr. Keen told him that neither he nor his captain, whose name was Caiseley, would accommodate him. Upon their refusal, Captain Potdevin came to find us at Mr. Renaudeau’s and gave us his report. At which we, in our capacity as joint admirals of the harbour, told him to stand firm; and in order to avoid any problems, to ask for no more than a cabin to live in which, in any case, legally belonged to Mr. Renaudeau. On going to take possession of it, Captain Potdevin found Mr. White with a band of men to prevent him from doing so and, not only that, but even to seize the cabin. The Captain was on the point of abandoning the cabin and giving up, but in the end Mr. Renaudeau became involved, with the result that Potdevin and his men, hardly showing any fear, once again prepared to face the danger of White encouraging his men to prevent the Frenchmen’s entry. In fact, one of the men with Mr. White, who was a captain and agent of Captain John Laike, seized an axe and was about to hit Captain Renaudeau and his men over the head with it. The same individual repeated this show of force a number of times. I had remained neutral up to that point, but seeing that the more worked up they became, the more serious the situation was, I felt I was justified in telling Captain White, who was encouraging his men, just how I felt. To this effect, I asked him the name of the man who still had his axe raised to attack Mr. Potdevin and his men. To which Mr. White replied that he did not know the man and on my asking him again if he were not indeed one of his men, he replied that he knew nothing about him and that this man had come from Trinity. It was certainly true that that was where he had come from, but he had been sent from Trinity by Captain John Laike to fish under the command of Captain White; at this reply, I told Mr. Potdevin’s men that they should not hesitate to take the cabin. The English then withdrew and when the dispute was over, Mr. Potdevin remained in possession of his cabin. As for the beach, it was decided that Mr. White would let him have as much as he could. Thus concluded the dispute which was ended by a dinner at Mr. Renaudeau’s where Mr. White was also present, but with the reservation that he would still make a complaint about the matter to the Lieutenant on his inspection tour.

On 23 June, Captain Potdevin was obliged to become involved in another disagreement with one of Captain Randall’s agents, a certain Green, and his brother, over the mooring ropes of his ship which they refused to allow, but the matter was soon settled although, as always, to the disadvantage of the Frenchman.

On 1 July, the poor fishery made Mr. Potdevin decide to return with the Marquise to the Grand Banks to continue his fishing there. On the evening of the 1st, whilst I was returning from a visit to Mr. Renaudeau and Mr. Wharen, a local resident, a certain Hoff, the master of a small skiff belonging to Captain Brixey, tried to pick a quarrel with me concerning some rocks on a small, unoccupied stage to which I had laid claim as additional space for all the men and boats that I had.

This Hoff occupied a stage, a beach, house, cabins, stores etc. with a small skiff and two men, and also wanted to take over the other stage, beach and sheds which, two years ago, had been occupied by a brig belonging to Mr. Leister with Captain Duheaume, a native of Jersey, in command.

Since I, like most of the ships fishing off Newfoundland, had brought from France cod nets to try out, since, according to the reports of those who use them on the coast of Norway, they are said to be better than fishing with a hook and line, on 5 July I had them set in the sea not far from my premises. The first few days, these nets proved most unfruitful to me from the point of view of cod, but I caught a few salmon which, since I had no bait, were useful to me for supplying my boats. When they became aware of this, Hoff and Adill Jefroy consulted several people to find out if there was not a way of having me arrested, but after careful consideration on the part of the merchants, but not of the residents, they decided that there were no grounds for arrest, especially as my nets were not in the places where salmon were caught, except for those that chance brought there, for there are many in that bay; but they decided that they should continue to make every effort to harass me in order to make me give up putting out such nets. In fact, since I had one of these nets set near the tip of my beach, they also set one at so short a distance from mine that there was no room for a boat to go and tend it.

When I became aware of this fact, I had theirs moved back, but to no avail, as I had to repeat the procedure every day. So I gave up touching their net, but subsequently, I was advised to keep an eye on them. In fact, I saw that, not only did they pull from my net the salmon and cod that had been caught there, but even that of Mr. Renaudeau which was about two cables’ length from mine.

These two men were also careful to check the net of one Maniel, a local man, from which I, together with my shoremen, had seen them taking salmon several times. As this Maniel was a neighbour of mine, I asked him if he had caught much salmon and if he was not working with Hoff. He replied that he was not and that quite frequently there was nothing in his salmon net.

I then told him that since he was not working with Hoff and Will, I was more than certain that they were stealing the salmon from his net. Upon which Maniel told me that he would find out the reason why they were doing it and that it was a punishable offence under an act of the British parliament; he would make a complaint about it to the Lieutenant on his inspection tour. This type of net cannot be used in the Greenspond area because of the numerous boats that endlessly pass each other in the bay on all sides; in addition, the sea bed is so uneven that if they are set on the bottom, a part of them will be useless, while if they are on the surface they will be completely torn apart by the English boats that go to and fro, both English and French, without distinction.

On 8 July, Hoff and Will, working for Brixey, once again picked a quarrel with me and hurled insults at me in front of some people who had come to visit me, Mr. Hayward and Mr. Atkins; these men had entered the harbour the day before on the ship the Diana from Pool. The reason for these insults was that I had warned Mr. Renaudeau and Mr. Maniel that salmon or cod which chanced into their trammels were being taken by Hoff and Will and because of this, the latter were all set to attack me. Upon this I slapped one of them in the face. Some of the supporters of these two men then appeared and seeing me alone, my stagers being all occupied, and the fishermen in their cabins, they decided to seize the opportunity. In fact one of them gave me a hard punch with his fist while the other made ready to grab me. Seeing myself in this crisis, I decided that it was absolutely necessary to use a small stick of spruce which I had in my hand and which I broke on them; for this reason the other supporters did not dare say anything more. This is the only effective way of getting the better of them because the complaints that one makes to the King’s officers are ineffectual and we are told quite openly that these men have no respect for them.

On 22 July, around eight o’clock in the evening, an Irishman, J.D…, came to look for me at my cabin and, having found me there, warned me to be on my guard because two of Captain Brixey’s men, Hoff and Will, had told numerous Englishmen coming to fish in Greenspond from other harbours where the fishing had been poor, to attack me; these two would initiate it, but they would have to pick the right moment when my men were absent. They added that as a reward they would be treated to a feast. They also wanted to draw the Irish onto their side, but most of these replied that, far from wanting to do me any harm, they would either remain neutral or would side with me. To which reply, the said Hoff and Will retorted that, in that case, a gun shot would settle the matter.

Nota. On 13 June, when I went to see a local resident, Mr. Wharen, he told me that there was to be a meeting to discuss fishing by the French on Sundays and to prevent us from taking cod. My reply to this matter was that the English merchants were sending their caplin boats to look for and catch stocks of bait, which was worse than fishing since, without bait, one cannot take any cod; and that, if they were brazen enough to force me to take my boats off the fishing grounds on Sundays, I would prevent their caplin boats from going after bait; I added that, if the Governor ordered the French not to go out fishing, I would carry out his orders until further notice. They informed me that at Twillingate the English were preventing the French from fishing. To which I replied that the French at Twillingate were not men, otherwise they would have shown that they were not under English domination.

The same evening the meeting was held and according to what I was told by Mr. F…, an Irishman who was present at the time, it was decided that the inspecting Lieutenant would have to be consulted before any action was taken since I was a crafty dog who would not allow myself to be ruled like the others at Twillingate.

On the morning of 30 July, the King’s corvette entered the harbour, under the command of lieutenant Parker of Her Majesty’s frigate the Niger.[1]

On the 31st, Mr. Parker, captain of the English corvette that had arrived the day before, came to see me between nine and ten o’clock. Before entering, having learned that we were quite generously supplied with fish, he went to the stage and the salt store, which, to his surprise, he found full. Then he came into my dwelling wanting to know the number of men that I had, the quantity of cod and barrels of oil, of which I gave him a rough estimate. He asked me about my weapons, whether I had any guns, rifles, etc… After this questioning, he told me in a very curt and cold manner that he had received complaints about me, particularly from Captain Randall about the matter that we were both involved in last year concerning a young man of Captain Breton’s who had died aboard my ship two years ago; after my departure from the coast they had taken sharpened stakes and had driven them through his grave and his body, saying: “Would to God that the last of your damned nation were with you!”

According to Mr. Parker, Mr. Randall had reported that I had been to see him to challenge him. To which I replied to that officer that it was true that last year, while I was having dinner at the home of Mr. Clark, a resident of Greenspond, with Captain Brixey, Captain Randall came in; not only did he insult me several times, but afterwards he asked what difference it made if they had driven sharpened stakes through the body of the deceased, what was so strange if it was a Frenchman? At which I had been unable to control myself. Mr. Randall wanted a fist-fight, but I refused that vulgar method, and when I proposed another, he refused haughtily, and even had people watch him for fear he might have a fainting fit. I added that, at that point, I decided as a true Frenchman to put him out of Mr. Clark’s house first and then follow him. The officer started to smile but said nothing, especially when I told him that the French were not in the habit of indulging in fist-fights.

When he had finished this speech, Parker told me that I was supposed to have said that if anyone was guilty of any grave offence towards me or stole from me, if I could catch them I would put them in irons and take them to France. To which I replied that in fact, as there was no justice in Greenspond, I would have put them in irons and taken them to St. John’s before the Governor who would certainly have granted me the justice which had been banished from this harbour. Mr. Parker still appeared very cold and told me in a very curt way that the minister in England had told him that there had been many complaints made about him. To which I replied that as far as I was concerned, I had made a faithful report of his behaviour towards me the previous year, especially when he had told me that if I returned with boats to Bonavista to have them hauled up on the shore, he would have them burned and would take me and my men prisoner.

It was the same for the salmon fishery to which I had laid claim and about which I reminded him, but he did not say whether we had the right to do it or not, so that his silence would seem to indicate that our claim could not be denied. I was going to remind him of the thefts of my property two years ago when he told me that he was going to have one William Wixes arrested, that he knew where the others were, and that he would have them arrested; but I am very much afraid that he will behave like last year, that he will have them warned to go into hiding for a few days, and by this means encourage their infamous behaviour; I shall find out about this before my departure.


Mr. Parker then asked me if I had heard anything about the harbour of Bonavista from my shipowner. To which I answered that we were entitled to go there since it was on the right side,2 but that my shipowner had not considered it appropriate to send me to fish there and besides, the boat was too small to go and fish in that harbour. Indeed, if one were to go and fish there with such a small crew it would be difficult to make a success of it, even though Bonavista is the fishing centre. But I told him that someone would probably be sent there next year. Then he told me that the harbour at Bonavista was very poor and, moreover, assuming I did go fishing there, I should have to go and catch bait to the south of the cape and that I did not have that right.

To which I responded that the harbour of New Ferolle was at least as bad, and yet we made no difficulties about going there, and that, as far as bait was concerned, I was well aware that our right did not extend any further south than the cape, but that to overcome difficulties of this kind, there was between the cape and the harbour a place where one could catch bait, and that I like many others knew where the caplin cove to the west of the cape was; moreover, the French would do as the English do, have a boat working with them in Greenspond or elsewhere in the bay, so that they could come and go from one harbour to the next; in this way they would fish like everyone else, without giving any cause for complaint or putting any boat in danger of being confiscated.

He was not able to point to any other difficulty because he knows that the harbour at Ferolle is at least as bad as Bonavista; he was even forced to admit it. Then he asked me if I was intending to haul up any boats there this year. To which I said no, and that I would simply take a second look at the area and see which spot would be most suitable for boats. Mr. Parker did not make any response to that.

I invited him to lunch, but he replied that he had already eaten and simply took a glass of liqueur. Then he went back on board his corvette; as soon as he returned there Messrs. Kean, Randall and White joined him, most likely to find out what I had said.

Since I omitted one thing that I asked him, I will note it here: whether it was permissible, under the law of King William III of England, to demolish, knock down or burn premises as Mr. Keen’s men had done last autumn. To which he said no. I do not know what order he will give; he will probably make his orders so secret that nobody will know about them.

On 1 August, when Mr. Parker was with Messrs. Keen and Randall, they told him that giving the French the right to fish in Greenspond and Bonavista meant driving them out completely, especially at Bonavista, and with this in mind they asked him if there was any way of preventing us from going into Bonavista. The officer said that he could not commit himself. At that they said that the surest way was to try to stop me going into the said harbour and even into that area, and that someone more tractable than me might come in the future. In fact, according to what has been reported to me by different people, they laid great stress on a number of ill-founded and imaginary complaints; they even attempted to have these confirmed by certain residents, but the latter answered that they had no objection or complaint to make against me or the French, that they knew nothing about what they were being asked, and that to speak the truth, they had heard of stakes that had been sharpened and driven through the body of Captain Breton’s young man whom I had buried, and that when Captain Randall and I had met at the house of Mr. Clark, a resident, Captain Randall and I had had an argument about this.

On 7 August, Captain Brixey, on his way back from a fishing trip to Fogo, came to visit me and told me that the French who were fishing at Twillingate had been greatly hampered by the residents, and that the residents had had a meeting to stop the French fishing on Sundays. In fact on Sunday, 15 July, when Mr. Delarue’s boats were out fishing on that day and had about 70 quintals of cod in their 16 boats, the English boarded them and threw the cod they had caught overboard, and even ill-treated some of the crews of these boats.

Some Irishmen on their way back from Fogo also told me that these events took place only at the instigation of Mr. Cocklan from Fogo who even said publicly that if everyone had acted as he did, there would be no more French in Twillingate or in Greenspond than there were in Fogo. (Indeed there were no French in Fogo this year.)

On 8 August, the above report was confirmed by a letter that I received from Mr. Laporte-Mignon, a surgeon for Mr. Delarue fishing in Twillingate, which read as follows:

“On the 15th the English boarded our boats and threw 70 quintals of cod into the sea; that day was the best day’s fishing we had had.”

On 10 August, a man by the name of J.B. came to my house to see me and told me that Lieutenant Parker had had a long discussion with Messrs. Randall, Keen and White in which Randall had vigorously maintained that I had challenged him last year, without saying what about, whereas it was he who had challenged me. For his part, Keen, angry at seeing me get along so well with the residents, invented whatever he thought fit, and urged the Lieutenant to write to the Governor in St. John’s to complain about me. After repeated requests, the Lieutenant said that he would do it, especially since last year I had written a report in France on all that he had told me about Bonavista, catches in different harbours, etc. and that he would be obliged to burn my boats if I proposed going there, and take me and my men prisoner. He said that, because of this, he would make every effort to have Mr. Byron, the Governor in St. John’s, prevent me from coming back.

J.B. assured me that this happened just as he had described it since one of Captain Randall’s men who had been present throughout the conversation had reported the events to him as he had told them to me; he also said that even as Mr. Keen’s sloop was ready to sail from Greeenspond to St. John’s, his departure had been delayed so that the Lieutenant could write a letter jointly with them with the intention of finding out the Governor’s response on what was to be done about me. The object of all the statements of Messrs. Randall, Keen and the Lieutenant is nothing less than to expel me from this area because, they say, this man is the cruellest enemy that we have in our bay.

Nevertheless I make so bold as to certify that I have never seen or spoken to any of these gentlemen, except for the Lieutenant when he came to convey to me the information I referred to earlier.

The same day Hoff, the one with whom I had found myself unfortunately obliged to take the law into my own hands to curb his insolence, came to apologize, and promised that he would not infringe the law again; since he was favourably received, he even wanted to make me a gift of a fine otter skin, which I refused.

On 4 August, Mr. Brazil, an Irishman, on his way to Fogo with a cargo of merchandise, came to my house to see me and tell me that in Bonavista they were making plans to attempt to put us off going there, in the event that we decided to fish there. He said that when the Lieutenant had told them that they had no reason to hold back, they all volunteered to make themselves as much of a nuisance to the French as possible. Mr. Randall, he added, had said the same thing when he had been at his house; Randall had told him that he and the others ought to make strong representations with the express purpose of preventing me from going to that area.

On 21 August, J.B. came to my house and told me that a boat from Twillingate that had tied up at his stage had told him that men named Slide and Mouth along with two others from the same place had attacked Mr. Delarue’s boats on Sunday, 15 July, that they had thrown 70 quintals of cod overboard, but that when the Lieutenant arrived, following complaints lodged by Mr. Delarue, he had gathered together all the captains and residents in the harbour and had not only forbidden them to do that kind of thing, but was even understood to have imposed a fine. But afterwards, said the master of this boat, we saw clearly that the Lieutenant acted in this way only to mollify Mr. Delarue, because when the Lieutenant had left Mr. Delarue, he went straight to Captain Slyde’s house where the other captains joined him, and for the rest of the day the Lieutenant and the others spent the time amusing themselves at the expense of Mr. Delarue, imitating his expressions; but he is quite a good sort.

I am not at all surprised that Lieutenant Parker acted in this way and the reason is even more clear since when he came to me in Greenspond, where he told me what I reported earlier, he was the first to bring up the subject of William Wixes and his accomplices who, two years ago, stole the grapnels, hawsers and sails, etc., from my boats. He told me that he would arrest them and I clearly saw the opposite, because it is true that this William Wixes was in the harbour the whole time on the day when the Lieutenant was there, yet he did not take the trouble to issue a reprimand or even speak to him about it, directly or indirectly; the result of this is that the French will always be in danger of being robbed by a few villains who are to be found among the many honest people who live in Greenspond and who would like an example to be made to put a stop to these illegal acts.

On the same day, the person referred to above told me that when the Lieutenant was informed that Mr. Cocglan had deliberately sunk a French boat that was on a fishing trip to Fogo, the same Lieutenant had sent for Cocglan, but the latter did not show up. According to what is generally believed, this Mr. Cocglan has a brother who is as pigheaded as he is and has already been punished for such an incident and others like it. This man claims to be the master of these parts and says openly that he does not care about anything that anyone says.

On the morning of 23 August, several residents of the harbour came to tell me that in the evening twelve French boats had appeared near Cape Recbon Frails making for our harbour. The day went by without any of them arriving so that around seven o’clock in the evening I went to the harbour entrance to Mr. Renaudeau’s house to see if anyone had learned anything about them.

Looking out towards my ship, I saw a large French boat tying up alongside it; a short while later there came ashore Mr. Duchesne, an officer of Mr. Delarue’s who was on his way to St. Pierre to carry on his fall fishery with a certain Yvon. This Mr. Duchesne confirmed that 15 boats from his ship were headed for my room to be hauled up in our harbour. The same officer confirmed for me that the English in Twillingate had behaved badly towards them and that, in order to be in a better position to carry out their plan, they had gathered in large numbers from the small harbours in the area and, armed with rifles, poles, sticks, etc., on Sunday 15th, when rifle shots were fired as a signal, they boarded the boats of Captain Delarue, who at the time was on board one of those where they threw the cod overboard and even threatened to ill-treat the crew if they dared to resist.

The same Mr. Duchesne also reported that Captain Delarue had been obliged to sign that he would never go back to the place that he was occupying. Finally, he told me that it is because this captain is too good-hearted that they are always looking for ways to do him harm.

On the night of the 23rd and 24th August, around three o’clock in the morning, Mr. Caillouet, one of Mr. Delarue’s officers, arrived with 14 boats accompanying him of which 12 were to be hauled up with mine and the three others to be used to bring back the crews, their belongings, etc. This officer told me the same thing as Mr. Duchesne, that the English in Twillingate had subjected them to an extreme form of harassment and that this was confirmed by accounts from all sides. It seems obvious that Mr. Cocglan from Fogo with the leaders from Twillingate are responsible for this unruliness, that all the harm done to the French takes place at their instigation; this is quite likely since Cocglan says openly that he does not care about the King of England or his officers, he is master of that place.

On the afternoon of the 24th., when the boats led by Mr. Caillouet had arrived, that officer then told me that he was afraid that there would be opposition to the boats being hauled up. To which I answered that I would look after that and that we had found the only real way of keeping the English in Greenspond quiet, and that if they had curbed the insolence of the English in Twillingate as we had in Greenspond, they would have had no more problems than us. This officer then began to haul up a few boats that very evening, and the next morning, 25 August, the rest, without a single Englishman showing up. And when we had finished hauling them up, while his master was having all the belongings, gear etc. gathered together, I showed him the entire harbour and introduced him to several of the principal residents of the harbour, who greeted him most warmly and said that he was welcome there.

On the morning of 26 August, Mr. Caillouet left there with 3 boats, his crews, etc, without anyone expressing any opposition to him.

On 31 August, I went off to go around the Mad Islands, where I had noticed that there are breakers at various points, but in between the islands; since it is not possible to go between these islands without running an extreme risk of being lost, these shoals are not in the path of ships, but there is a correction that should be made to the chart, both on the north and the south side, that is of great importance, or, more precisely, there are two very dangerous rocks and shoals to be added; I will give details when I return to Granville.

On 1 September, Mr. Renaudeau had the sail from one of his large boats stolen. The next day, following a complaint from Mr. Renaudeau, he was given permission to look for it, searching the premises of the residents in the presence of two constables, but to no avail whatsoever.

On 5 September Mr. Renaudeau and I were visiting the house of Mr. Beltam, a resident, when Captain Randall’s first mate entered and picked a quarrel with me; he was bent on having a fight, but after a short while he fell silent because I told him that I would be obliged to curb his insolence just as I had done with his master Captain Randall.

On 6 September, I was visited by all the men and women of Gooseberry Island, who made it known to me how pleased they were that our rights were recognized by the entire bay; they brought me a large quantity of produce such as fruit, fresh butter, milk from their harbour and vegetables for my return to France.

On 8 September, Mr. Stivinghton, who was fishing for salmon in Savage Bay, came to see me and informed me that the English merchants had decided among themselves in the course of a meeting that, in the future, if the French should arrive first and take the merchants’ rooms, as had been agreed by Governor John Byron, the merchants would feel obliged to take the residents’ rooms, particularly since as far as the salmon fishery was concerned, it seemed that we wished to exercise our right; they claimed that the ponds were overflowing [line illegible]. I answered that I could see only one recourse for the residents, and that was to make a request to the Governor in St. John’s to prevent the incursions of the merchants; I added that as far as we French were concerned we were fully in support of the residents and that, if it were the pleasure of the authorities to allow them to enjoy peacefully the same rights and privileges that they had had in the past and which they were entitled to enjoy according to the laws of William III, we should be the first to support them. This response that I made to Mr. Stivinghton became known to all the residents of the harbour, who were united in saying that my answer was fair and that the merchants of their own country were the only ones who were out to destroy them; they were most anxious that a sufficient number of French should come to drive out the English merchants who, not being content with making a living off the residents, went so far as to seek to condemn them to poverty.

On 8 August, Thomas Shear came to see me and told me that a man called Charles Roger had said that he would destroy the room that I had been occupying for the past two years, as he had done in part the previous year in collaboration with Mr. Keen’s men, and that, to speak the truth, he had been an eye witness to what had occurred last winter; he was prepared to swear to this under oath; this man Roger had told him that this was because I had been obliged to make a complaint about it to the Lieutenant this summer.

On 16 August, Mr. Levicaire, second in command of the ship the Comte de Lillebonne, captained by Mr. Renaudeau, came to ask me for a large topsail, since during the night of 15-16 August, someone had stolen a new large topsail that was covering a pile of cod. When the officer informed me of this theft, I was not greatly surprised, especially since Messrs. Keen and Randall applaud anything that can injure the French, imagining that in so doing they will discourage us from going to these parts; this all arises from the fact that the criminals who stole the grapnels, hawsers, etc. from the boats belonging to Mr. Lebreton and from my own have not received any punishment whatsoever.

On 17 August, the ship the Comte de Lillebonne set sail from the harbour of Greenspond headed for its destination in France in order to unload its cargo, which up to that point was the best French catch in these parts.

On the 18th, I set sail from the harbour of Greenspond with a million wishes for a safe passage from the residents, who, even though I was under sail, followed me to the mouth of the harbour as if they intended to continue with me out to sea, which shows that Messrs. Keen and Randall are the only ones who detest my presence in this area. In fact, as a token of their goodwill, the residents all wanted to give me presents of the finest skins that they had, but I expressed my thanks to them, pointing out that they would do better to make some money from them for the upkeep of their families, and that I was equally obliged to them.

The cod fishery has been extremely abundant this year from St. John’s to Flower’s Islands, especially in Catalina, Bonavista, Keels, Gooseberry Islands, Greenspond and Flower’s Islands. In general the boats have taken from 330 up to 400, and there are some that will even get to 500. The fishing was still good when I left, but the storms that lasted five weeks without respite have made the drying very difficult, which will cause a lot of the cod to be spoiled. The salmon fishery is not as great as last year, however, it has been very plentiful according to those who carry on that fishery and who have themselves provided me with information on it.

I have not visited all of the coast this year, not just because my orders did not take me there: the chief reason was the storms and continual rains that we have had for a period of five weeks. Had it not been for these, after what I was told by Mr. Parker, not only would I have ventured to take a second look at Bonavista, both the large and the small harbour, I would also have hauled up a boat there; but the cod that I had on my stage and on my beach required my presence on the spot, for it was all spoiling. Moreover I was obliged to leave with hardly any bread for the return journey, like the other French ship. This situation made me set aside any such plans, especially in a harbour where the merchants would not help us out with a single pound of bread for anything in the world.

However, Mr. Clavell supplied me with 3 quintals of biscuit at cost price and in so doing ran the risk of incurring criticism and anger of the merchants, who say that if they find out that anyone is helping us, giving us special treatment, or doing anything for us, they will be put in detention, and us too. Given this state of affairs, it is to be desired that the French minister should examine this situation, where any ship is liable to be put at risk in many ways, either because the fishing season is longer, as it was this year, since it started late, or because a ship can lose its bread because of spoilage and, hence, be left with no supply and no means of acquiring any; in this way a crew is in danger of suffering and worse. Just such a case arose a few years ago with a ship from St. Malo which, after losing its bread because it had spoiled, went from harbour to harbour without finding anyone who was prepared to give them bread for fear of being put in detention. The captain went as far as St. John’s, and when he spoke to the Governor the latter told him quite openly to go and get some in St. Pierre. However the Captain found some people who were better disposed towards the French and gave him some, but only after countless trouble.

Drawn up on 20 September, 1770 and all of its contents certified to be accurate.

by Jacques Hamon
Captain of the Marie-Anne from Granville
Messrs. Bretel Brothers, Shipowners

On my arrival in France, several captains involved in the Newfoundland fishery told me that Mr. Parker, the inspecting Lieutenant, had reported to Mr. Pinçon, an English captain, that he had come to see me to confirm for himself the report that I had made against him last year. Indeed, he did come to see me alone, but if it is true that he came to confirm my report, he could only have made a silent confirmation, since he said nothing to me about it other than what is included in the present journal.

Source: PANL: Archives des Colonies, Série C 11 F, vol. 4, 971-8F12, A-1-1, f. 86-93.

[1] Hamon wrote “The Niger ou le Nègre,” not realising that the presence or absence of a second “g” makes a world of difference in English!

2 Presumably Hamon means that the this was on the right side of Cape Bonavista, i.e. to the west, within the limits of the French Shore.


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