Joseph-Nicolas Gautier

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Joseph-Nicolas Gautier
Born (1709-09-26)September 26, 1709
Died April 10, 1752 (aged 62–63)
Place of birth Rochefort, France
Allegiance France
Service/branch Acadian militia

King Georges War

Father Le Loutre’s War

Joseph-Nicolas Gautier dit Bellair (1689–1752) was one of the wealthiest Acadians as a merchant trader and a leader of the Acadian militia.[1] He participated in war efforts against the British during King Georges War and Father Le Loutre’s War. In the latter war, Gautier was particularly instrumental in the Acadian Exodus.

King Georges War

Gautier was born at Rochefort, France. He arrived at Port Royal around 1710 and became elected as a deputy by 1732. He became one of the wealthiest and prominent Acadians.[2] Through engaging in the merchant trade, by the mid-1740s Gautier had assets valued at 85,000 livres.[3]

Gautier and his two eldest sons, Joseph and Pierre, actively supported the four assaults the French launched to win back Acadia by conquering the capital Annapolis Royal. He supplied intelligence on British defences and troop movements; transported foodstuffs, materials, munitions, and troops; and piloted French vessels along the coastal waters of the province.[3]

Siege of Annapolis Royal (1744)

He participated in the siege that happened in July 1744 and then again in September of that year. With the latter attack, he assisted François Dupont Duvivier in the siege. Gautier’s habitation at Bellair served as Duvivier’s headquarters during the siege of Annapolis Royal.[3]

Gautier’s partisanship was at great personal cost; in 1744 the British seized his 40-ton vessel and its cargo, valued together at 6,000 livres, The British also put a bounty on his head.[3]

Siege of Annapolis Royal (1745)

Gautier was also active in support of the French Siege of Annapolis Royal (1745). In May 1745, he assisted Paul Marin de la Malgue who led 200 troops and hundreds of Mi'kmaq joined a siege against Annapolis Royal. This force was twice the size of Duvivier's expedition. During the siege the English destroyed their own officers fences, houses and buildings that the attackers might be able to use. During the Siege, the British destroyed his habitation at Bellair, which had served as Duvivier’s headquarters during the siege of Annapolis Royal. As well, the British also incarerated his wife and one of his children at Annapolis Royal for ten months, “their feet in irons,”. (They escaped 10 months later in February 1746 by forcing the bars of their prison and scaling the walls of the fort.)[3]

Siege of Louisbourg (1745)

Gautier also assisted Joseph Marin de la Malgue in the Siege of Louisbourg (1745).[4]

Siege of Annapolis Royal (1746)

Finally, Gautier was instrumental in assisting the Duc d'Anville Expedition and Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay* in the winter of 1746–47. After the failure of the Duc D’Anville Expedition to reach Annapolis Royal, Ramesay withdrew his forces from the siege. When Ramezay withdrew his detachment north of the Missaguash River, Gautier abandoned his remaining assets in the Annapolis region and sought refuge with his family at Beaubassin (near Amherst, N.S.).[3]

Father Le Loutre’s War

Gautier was also active during Father Le Loutre’s War, in particular with the Acadian Exodus from mainland Nova Scotia. In September 1749 he contracted to supply 16 head of live cattle to the Acadian refugees recently arrived at Port-Toulouse (St Peters, N.S.).[3]

In 1748 Gautier and other Acadian collaborators determined to settle on Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island). On Île Saint-Jean the Gautiers settled by the Rivière du Nord-Est (Hillsborough River), on the site of present-day Scotchfort, close to the administrative capital of the island at Port-La-Joye. Gautier’s influence and stature among the Acadians helped to attract even greater Acadian immigration to Île Royale and Île Saint-Jean. He transported between 200 and 300 families to Ile Ste Jean.[5]

Gautier probably became the port Captain at Port-la-Joie. Two of his sons became assistant port captains until 1758.[6] His death occurred there, on the evening of 10 April 1752 and he was buried the following day at Bellair, as he had nostalgically christened his new habitation.


At least two of his sons continued in the service of the French cause beyond 1760. Joseph-Nicolas married the daughter of Joseph LeBlanc, dit Le Maigre, another Acadian supporter of France in the 1740s; both he and his brother, Pierre, eventually settled at Miquelon.[3]

Acadian Pierre Gautier, son of Joseph-Nicolas Gautier, led Mi’kmaq warriors from Louisbourg on three raids against Halifax in 1757. In each raid, Gautier took prisoners or scalps or both. The last raid happened in September and Gautier went with four Mi’kmaq and killed and scalped two British men at the foot of Citadel Hill.[7] In July 1759, Mi'kmaq and Acadians killed five British in Dartmouth, opposite McNabb's Island.[8]

See also


  • Thomas Garden Barns “Twelve Apostles” or a Dozen Traitors? Acadian Collaborators during King George’s War 1744-1748 in F. Murray Greenwood and Barry Wright eds. Law, Politics and Security Measures, 1608-1837. Canadian State Trials. 1996. pp. 98–113
  • John Faragher (2005). A Great and Noble Scheme
  • Bernard Pothier. The Siege of Annapolis Royal, 1744. The Nova Scotia Historical Review. 59-71
  • Bernard Pothier. Joseph-Nicolas Gautier. Canadian Dictionary of Biography.
  • Earle Lockerby. Pre-Deportation Letters from Ile Saint Jean. Les Cahieers. La Societe hitorique acadienne. Vol. 42, No2. June 2011. pp. 56–105
  • Robert Sauvageau, Acadie: La guerre de cents ans des Francais d’Amerique aux Maritimes et en Louisiane, 1670-1769 (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1987)


  1. Bernard, p. 64
  2. Lockerby, p. 75
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Bernard Pothier. Joseph-Nicolas Gautier. Canadian Dictionary of Biography.
  4. Canadian Biography erroneously identifies the Gautier as his father Paul Marin de La Malgue was in the Siege of 1745,
  5. Lockerby, p. 79
  6. Lockerby, p. 81
  7. Earle Lockerby. Pre-Deportation Letters from Ile Saint Jean. Les Cahiers. La Societe hitorique acadienne. Vol. 42, No2. June 2011. pp. 99-100
  8. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia. Vol.2. p. 366
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