Ordered to leave home

Acadians called to the Church
where the Deportation Act would be read to them.

By Robert Dafford

My thanks to Mr. Dafford for permission
to use his murals on the Acadian Ancestral Home

It doesn't take much imagination to realize that if the Acadians were being taken to places of exile, they were then being treated like prisoners who were despised and hated by people in the New England Colonies because of the press the British had been giving them for some time. Articles would appear in the newspapers accusing them of being high handed papists who took the best land in Nova Scotia that rightfully belonged to the god loving English protestants.

On the ships the Acadian Ancestors were on some of them recalled how they were so crowded on the transports that they did not even have room for all of them on the ships to lay down at the same time. As a result of both the lack of space and crowding, a great many Acadians were forced to leave any belongings they were told they could take with them on the shores of Acadia.

Time would tell that the Acadians on those ships were telling the truth as later documents would show that all of the ships carried at least a third more passengers than they were built to hold. Consequently, in no time provisions were gone. This overcrowding and lack of proper nutrition lead to a quick health decline among a once very healthy group of people. Add to this the stress of being deported and perhaps not even understanding the full extent and ramifications of it all, seasickness as a result of the stormy time of year these crossings to exile took place, it is a wonder that anybody actually survived the crossings alone. However, we do know that three ships carrying the Acadians to exile in England did sink at sea and many lives were lost.
Subsequently, typhus and smallpox - heretofore unknown diseases among the Acadians - effected the exiles either onboard ship or when they arrived in designated ports. The fact that they were ill certainly did not draw them any favor as they arrived - for the most part - unnannounced - in those places Governor Charles Lawrence had determined they would be sent. There had been so much bad press against the French Neutrals prior to their arrival that arriving with such serious illnesses did not help them nor did it arouse any sympathy for them.

The threat the New England Colonists believed the Acadians to be was soon forgotten as instead the infectious diseases they now endured and the expensive of caring for them now became the focus of the Colonists.

Deported to Virginia

When the British vessels arrived with 1,500 Acadian Exiles, Virginia unequivicably refused to accept them. Instead, they were sent to England where they would remain imprisoned (coastal detention centers) during the whole Seven Years War.

Deported to Georgia

Georgia was no more accepting of the Acadian Exiles than was Viriginia. John Reynolds, Governor of Georgia, wanted nothing to do from the arrival of the first vessel when it cast anchor off the coast of Savannah in December 1755. He was so adamant when the first ship arrived that he forbade the chief pilot from accepting any more such people into the Province. However, these orders ignored, nearly 400 Exiles were disembarked from the ships. The terrible thing is that because of how the Acadian/French Neutrals were perceived, these Exiles - already with nothing but the clothes on their backs - lacked the care and support that it was believed would be given them. It was not until January 1756 when they asked the government for help that their existence there was even acknowledged and even then only in as much as giving one week’s supply of rice only to those who were too sick to support themselves.

Since Georgia’s government could care less about what was happening with the Acadian Exiles, this situation allowed them to be detached enough to plan an escape. It seems that with the governor’s help the Acadians were able to obtained ten small boats. Of course, these boats were barely seaworthy and that makes one wonder if Reynold’s wasn’t really hoping that they would perish at sea and he would be rid of them altogether - of course, that is my personal opinion. Anyhow, before the early part of March 1756, the Exiles began their trek up the coast hoping eventually to reach Nova Scotia from this farthest south colony. Anyhow, regardless of what was a bad situation at best, and inspite of the fact that North Carolina tried to get them to remain there, these Acadians determined to return to their home land continued northward. When they arrived at Massachusetts Bay in July 1756, only seven boats remained. Two hundred had departed by the shores of Georgia but less than half - only 90 Acadians had made it this far. Once at Massachusetts, these 90 were arrested and kept here.

History tells us that of the few Acadian exiles who did not leave Georgia, some learned to do the kind of work required on the plantations and in the shipping business. However, most of those who did remain lived in extremely poor conditions. Documents tell us that they remained in Georgia until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 at which time they were given eighteen months to decide where they wanted to resettle. Most of those of survived through their Georgia exile took this opportunity to begin life anew in Sainto-Domingo which is known today as Haiti.

Deported to North Carolina

On March 29, 1756, the first party of Acadian Exiles who had set sail from Georgia arrived in their makeshift vessels. About 150 under the leadership of Jacques Maurice / Morris arrived showing a pass from Governor Reynodls of Georgia attesting their good behavior. A pilot had been provided them from Charles Town to Cape Fear.

Though Governor Glen seemed to be sympathetic to the Exiles, his Council however, was not and they reminded him of the cost already incurred for the Exiles who were already in South Carolina. Documents show that from Glen’s order to the Commissary General , Michel Bourgoies was listed as the leader of one of these parties wanting to make their way back to Nova Scotia. He was told to go northward immediately or to return to Georgia. Either way - going northward or returning to Georgia - they were promised provisions. However, should they refuse to go in either direction, they would be detained at Sullivan’s Island where they would remain under guard until further instructions.

The Gazette published April 15, 1756 stated that on Thursday night about 80 Acadians went off from hence in 7 canows, as far as Sullivan’s island, and put to Sea the next morning in order to proceed along Shore, and thro’ the Inlets to the Northward, having obtained Passports for that Purpose, and we hear that upwards of 300 more will follow them in a few days.

One would be believe that this would refer to some of the Georgia Acadians although other documents show that some of the families who were in South Carolina joined with them in their quest to head home.

It is interesting to note that though the Acadians could not be deported from the colonies because they wre British subjects, that in “exceptional instances” a few individuals were thus dealt with. Two of thirteen men who were sent to England because the were regarded as dangerous were Bernard Gonthier and Joseph LeBlalnc, whose names on certificates signed by Glen were natives of Beaubassin.

Though South Carolina hoped the Acadians would go elsewhere by encouraging them to do so, and though the Commons House actually passed a bill to provide Vessels and Provisions to be given to such of the Acadians now in Charles Town, as shall be willing to depart hence and go Elsewhere, and though the Acadians were agreeable to this, it all fell through. The Acadians had asked for pilots who would assist them with the large crafts they would sail on since they were unfamiliar with the navigation of such craft. The request would not be granted.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
1998 - Present

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