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Langille Family's Arrival and First Years in Nova Scotia
The Langille's came from a small area in eastern France, some 400 kilometres southeast of Paris called Montbeliard, which was until 1793, an independent principality.
In the 12th century, Montbeliard had been a province within the Holy Roman Empire with a mixed French and German heritage. The German House of Wurttemberg
incorporated it as an integral part of its Duchy in 1397 and had ruled it, albeit with significant interruptions, from that day. During the persecutions of
the Protestants in France in the latter part of the 17th century, the area had become overrun by French protestant refugees, many of whom settled in
As a result of the many wars over the ensuing years, by 1750 Montbeliard had become geographically separated from the rest of the Duchy of Wurttemberg by an expanding France. Although the German House of Wurttemberg still ruled over Montbeliard, it had to concede that its rule, outside of the main town, was only as an agent of the King of France. Although the Wurttemberg rulers did not enforce the King of France's edicts for the restoration of Catholicism in Montbeliard,
eventually orders were given that all children should be baptized in the Catholic faith and finally, all the Protestant churches ordered to be handed over to the Catholics or to be destroyed.
In 1751, after being persecuted by the Catholics, the protestants gladly accepted an offer from the British government to settle in the new world. They received the offer from a representative of a Dutch shipping agent, named John Dick. Dick was appointed by the British Board of Trade to recruit "Foreign Protestants" along the Rhine to settle in Nova Scotia. They were brought from Montbéliard, along with about 420 French-speaking Protestants to Nova Scotia from 1749 to 1752.
The offer made to them was that the British Government would make them an interest free loan covering their fares and any incidental costs incurred while awaiting boarding in Rotterdam. The loan could be paid off by work that the immigrant would be liable to provide the Nova Scotia government on various public works, such as building forts, laying roads, etc. If the settler died before the loan was fully paid off, then the balance would be waived and his family not held responsible. Enough land for a large farm, along with the basic farming implements and materials to build a house, would be provided to each settler and his family without charge. For their first year in Nova Scotia,
they were to be housed and fed by the government.
Although the immigrants were themselves financially responsible for getting to Rotterdam, Mr. Dick's repsentatives would assist them in obtaining transportation. After accepting the offer, they put themselves and what goods they had on a barge and drifted down the Rhine until they reached Rotterdam. Their troubles were not over.
The British government had promised to provide them with passage and supplies but failed to do so. The whole party was left without means of support. Finally the government was induced to act and in the following spring, four vessels sailed for America. Two of these vessels set sail for Nova Scotia and two to South Carolina.
David Langille and his son, John James Langille sailed on the ship Sally. Passengers boarded on 30 May 1752. On
2 June the ship left Rotterdam for Hellevoet Roads, where it waited for a wind to begin the Atlantic Crossing. Sally's voyage proved to be most difficult and even the Captain, John Robinson, died on the voyage. Of 258 people, 218 arrived alive (12 adults, 26 children, and 4 seamen, including the captain, died). The passengers were allowed to disembark at Halifax on 26 Sep 1752.
The passengers spent the fall on George's Island within the shelter of the harbour. Their Barracks were crudely built temporary shelters.
The new Governor of Nova Scotia, Colonel Peregrine Thomas Hopson, who had relieved Colonel Edward Cornwallis, attempted to correct some of the problems. New barracks were built on the mainland and they were transferred there from George's Island. Because of the onset of winter work demands on the settlers practically ceased. Dr. Moreau, a former French Catholic priest who had become an Anglican, was appointed as pastor to
the French speaking immigrants.
The winter of 1752/1753 was a difficult one for the immigrants. An epidemic swept through the immigrant communities, hitting the French settlers particularly hard. Approximately one out of every six French settlers died over that first winter.
By the early spring of 1753, the British authorities had come to a decision as to where to settle their Foreign Protestant immigrants. The site of an abandoned French hamlet, named Merligash, was chosen. It had more than 300 acres of land that had been previously cleared by the French inhabitants which could be quickly put to use for small vegetable gardens. It was close enough to Halifax to be readily supported by a fleet stationed there in time of war. To honour the King, the British authorities changed the name of the settlement to "Lunenburg", which was one of the German ducal titles of King George.
By the time cooler weather arrived in the autumn of 1753, the setters had erected their first homes and put in root crops for the winter. In fact, even though a lot of the settlers had indebted themselves to the Board of Trade and Plantations for the cost of their passage, many of them had retained sufficient savings to purchase the additional materials and contract labour to built large, framed houses. In September 1753, Colonel Lawrence returned to Halifax, leaving a small garrison of British troops and the armed militia of settlers under Colonel Sutherland to defend Lunenburg.
By the end of November, morale among the settlers had begun to seriously deteriorate. A rumour had arisen among the French settlers that one of their number, by the name of John Petrequin, was hiding a letter from a relative in London, which concerned the petitions that had been sent to the Board of Trade and Plantations. By the time the rumour had spread among the German speaking settlers, it had taken an ominous turn. The alleged letter was now believed to have confirmed their suspicions that the efforts of the Board to make concessions to the settlers had been thwarted by the Governor and his Council in Halifax. The settlers became so angry when Petrequin denied that any such letter existed, that they seized him and imprisoned him in the town's blockhouse.
When Colonel Sutherland tried to intervene, the settlers' militia was called out and shots were exchanged with the British troops, wounding two settlers. An armed standoff ensued, with neither side willing to yield.
The Governor, upon hearing of the situation, dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Moncton with a force of two hundred regulars. Lieutenant Colonel Moncton's orders were to restore the government's authority, disarm the militia, and arrest the ringleaders for trial in Halifax. Moncton landed at Lunenburg on December 22, 1753. Faced with this formidable force, the militia soon surrendered.
By December 24, Moncton was able to report that he had completely accomplished his mission. An officer of the settlers' militia, John William Hoffman, was arrested and charged with tricking the illiterate Petrequin into believing that some pieces of paper were a letter from Petrequin's cousin in London and then using the subsequent uproar to mount a treasonous rebellion. The government lacked substantive evidence, other than the contradictory and self-serving testimony of Petrequin himself, and Hoffman was ultimately convicted of only lesser misdemeanors. He left Nova Scotia after serving some time in prison at Halifax.
After the rebellion of 1753 had been put down, things became calmer at Lunenburg. By March 1754, the thirty acre plots had been assigned by lot. After the lots had been drawn, trading of plots occurred among the settlers prior to their occupation. Many of the French settlers, who had been scattered randomly among the more numerous German speaking settlers, traded their plots so as to be concentrated into one area along the distant North West Range section of Lunenburg, from three to six miles from the town's center.
During that spring and summer, the settlers began to occupy the thirty acre plots as they were properly surveyed and staked out. For the most part, the plots were wooded and required clearing before a house could be built and the land farmed. The British authorities decided to encourage the settlers to occupy and begin farming the plots as soon as possible by extending the free rations an additional year beyond the one year originally agreed to and offered to distribute free seed and livestock throughout the year as it became available to them.
Progress on the clearing of the heavily wooded land in Lunenburg was slow and the farms that had been established by mid-1755 still did not produce nearly enough food for the inhabitants of Lunenburg. Accordingly, the Governor again prevailing against the strong opposition of the Board of Trade and Plantations authorized the extension of free rations for the settlers for an additional year until the summer of 1756, albeit at a somewhat reduced rate and excluding those few settlers who were well established.
The first Indian raid on Lunenburg occurred on May 8, 1756 just before the formal declaration of war between England and France. The raid resulted in the deaths of four settlers, some destruction of property, and the taking prisoner of one adult woman and four of her children. Similar raids occurred every few months over the next three years. Although no more than a small number of settlers were killed or carried off in any of the individual raids, the constant threat of lurking Indians and the consequent need to be continuously on guard drove some of the settlers from their distant thirty acre plots into their better defended town lots and seriously restricted the activities of those who chose to remain on their plots.
In addition to this threat, there was also the threat of French privateers operating out of Louisbourg commandeering ships from Lunenburg that were carrying lumber to be sold at the Halifax market.
The threat from bands of Indians operating in the Lunenburg area ceased early in 1760 when the various tribes surrendered at Halifax. Due to the unusual circumstances of the war, the Governor had been repeatedly able to convince the British Board of Trade and Plantations to extend, albeit grudgingly, the provision of rations to the settlers until the summer of 1760, when they were finally terminated.
David Langille and family had remained in Lunenburg for eighteen years when Joseph Frederick Wallet DeBarres, who had been rewarded for his service to the British Government in North America with a grant of 20,000 acres of land in Nova Scotia, offered to rent to the French settlers, land from his estate at Tatamagouche (a Micmac word for 'meeting of the waters') in the northern part of the Province. The men and their families, dissatisfied with the poor farming conditions and the lack of French schools for their children to attend, were glad to accept his offer.
Col. DeBarres provided a ship to take them to Tatamagouche, Colchester Co., NS.
On April 11, 1771, DesBarres made a special joint lease of the intervale along the France River, which he renamed Frederick River, in perpetuity to David Langille and his associates, George Gratto, John Boutelier, George Tattrie, John Maillard, James Bigney, George Mattatall, and Matthew Langille. Each Tenant was to have a lot of sixty acres. However, Matthew Langille, George Tattrie, John Millard and John James Langille (son) were the only ones to settle under the leases.
By settling in Tatamagouche, they were actually helping Col. DeBarres to meet the requirements of this government land grant which stated that he must settle the land with settlers or the land would revert back to the crown. Many of their names are still common in and around Tatamagouche including the name Langille.
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