Acadians in Massachusetts

On July 20, 1756, there appeared seven two-masted boats at Manamet, a strange company of people speaking French. Silas Bourne (treasurer of Sandwich) wrote to Colonel Otis in Boston that "they were Acadians who professed to be bound for Boston and were requesting that their boats be carted to the opposite bay...they have women and children with them and say they were from Rhode Island, but previously from Nova Scotia...I fear they may continue when once in Cape Cod Bay to miss Boston and go to strenghten the enemy, and think it safe therefore to detain them".
Accordingly these strange people, ninety nine in number, were detained and guarded until the matter could be investigated. Later on the General Court ordered that the boats left at Sandwich by the French Neutrals should be sold.
The Acadians were taken to Boston, where they were first lodged in Suffolk County jail. After some delay it was decided to settle twenty in Dartmouth and five in Rochester. Sheriff Gorham and Gibbs brought these twenty five back to Sandwich, then to their new towns. The other seventy-four were to be distributed to ten towns in Bristol County overland from Boston.


The leader of this group of ninety-nine was a fifty-four-year-old grandfather named Jacques Vigneau, commonly called Jacques Maurice. Somehow the patient Jacques Maurice arranged that his large immediate family of eighteen be kept together and we find them first living in Charlestown. The Jacques Maurice party was regarded with extra suspicion by the ultra-vigilant since they had first hand knowledge of American ports and could guide French warships to attack.Because of this danger to the Provinces, Charlestown petitioned in September that the Maurice family be removed inland to Leicester or Spencer. As of March 20, 1757 they were in Leicester but were transferred to Roxbury in December 1758.


In 1756, Barnstable started providing for a family of eight consisting of Charles Boudreau his wife and one child, also Mary Boudreau, a widow with two children.
It was observed that they wore wooden shoes and were good at woodcarving. With their language barrier the French Neutrals must have found life in these Provinces deeply frustrating, and a constant reminder of the dreadful change that had befallen them. In the Barnstable group, the Grandmother died in November 1756 and a baby was born in April 1758.
In 1760 there was a significant shift of status of the French Neutrals from prisoners of war held at the expense of the Province to temporary residents of the towns where they lived. This caused a widespread relocation to towns which had not had them before. There was much confusion so that a comprehensive census was demanded from each County from which the new allocations to towns can be found. Barnstable County (Cape Cod) had gotten off lightly, but now were required to put up thirty-seven individuals as follows:

Town of SANDWICH---Joseph Trahan, wife & twin children. (Joseph was the son of John in Eastham)
Town of Falmouth---Mary, Joseph & John Trahan, children of Joseph of Sandwich.
Town of Eastham---John Trahan, wife and two grown children, Charles & Mary
Town of Truro---Peter & John Jr., sons of John Trahan of Eastham
Town of Barnstable---Boudreau family of eight
Town of Yarmouth---John Pellerin, wife & five children
Town of Harwich---Domenick Cloistre, wife & four children
Town of Chatham---Three persons to be sent from Nantucket(where some 37 neutrals were quartered)

Joseph Trahan was born in 1728 and married his wife Anne or Agnes LeBlanc in 1750. The twins were born in 1759 so were very small when they lived there.

Source: Council Records Massachusetts Archives: Volume 23 House Journal-Boston Selectmen's Minutes 1756

Source: Identity of Acadians: Mass. Archives Vol.23 & 24

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