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49. CAPT. PIERRE DOUCET (1750-1792)

Yarmouth Vanguard, December 5, 1989

At the time of the American Revolution, while the American privateers were scanning the coast of Nova Scotia, especially in the Bay of Fundy, and that the British vessels kept watch over their maneuvers, Capt. Pierre Doucet, of Belliveau’s Cove, was involved more than once in their operations. In a petition to the Council of the State of Massachusetts Bay, dated August 11, 1780, he says “That he has often and frequently received and entertained a number of American prisoners at his own expense and at the hazard of his life – brought off one that had made his escape from Halifax Gaol, and others that made their escape from different confinements.”

Capt. Pierre Doucet, alias Peter, was born in Port Royal, May 16, 1750, the son of François Doucet (himself son of René) and of Marguerite Petitot (daughter of Denis). In 1755, the family was taken into exile and quartered for many years at York, Maine.

On his return from exile, Pierre Doucet married Marguerite LeBlanc and settled on the south- western shore of that cove from which Belliveau’s Cove takes its name, at a place known for some time as “Doucet’s Point,” which became “La-Pointe-à-Major” (Major’s Point), on account of the fact that their son, Anselme, was made a “Major” in 1793, when the Acadian Militia was formed as a section of the Annapolis Regiment, which is now Digby County being included then in Annapolis County. Major Anselme Doucet was also the first Acadian commissioned as a Justice of the Peace in Annapolis County.

Pierre Doucet built the first vessel ever constructed at Belliveau’s Cove, which he commanded himself, being better known in English circles as “Captain Peter Doucet.” This must have been the “Eunice,” mentioned further on.

Testimonies regarding his involvements during the American Revolution are not wanting. May 27, 1777, John Battson, from Portsmouth, Maine, testified that the previous summer he was taken by the “Viper,” belonging to the King, and was confined fro six months, when he made his escape with three other prisoners, succeeded to reach St. Mary’s Bay, where Peter Doucet gave them shelter and “went to the expense and trouble of bringing them to Machias.”

We have a similar testimony from Richard Harper, who was taken prisoner to Halifax, from where he made his escape with four other prisoners. They got to St. Mary’s Bay and were taken to Passamaquoddy by Capt. Peter Doucet, paying all expenses. This testimony is of July 8, 1778.

Another testimony dated July 23, 1778, from Daniel Newman, who says that after having been taken prisoner, he managed to reach St. Mary’s Bay, where “Peter Doucet and his Father and Brother received ‘us’ very kindly and provided a passage to us to us home in Ipswitch.”

Even though Capt. Peter Doucet had embraced the American cause, he was to be molested by American privateers. He says that on June 1st, 1778, in his schooner “Polly,” on his way from Speppardy (surely Shepody, in Chignecto Bay) to Annapolis, he was taken by Captain Samuel Rogers, Commander of the privateer schooner “Revolution” when he was sent ashore in Nova Scotia while the “Polly” was taken. He went to Boston to plead his cause, when he gave proofs of his “Friendly disposition to the American Prisoners at Nova Scotia.” He won his case and was given $400.00 for the damage he had sustained. This was taking place around the end of July, 1778. For more proofs of his good intentions toward the American cause, he stated that he had “a boat called ‘Betsy,’ which is the only Vessel a float in Sissibew (Sissiboo), which he is willing should be improved for the release of any prisoners that may come there.”

It could be that he sold this schooner, the “Betsy,” because we find in Machias in the month of May 1786, a schooner of the same name, of 60 tons, whose Master is Thomas Jones, being bound for St. Eustatia, Netherlands, Antilles. A few months previous to that date, we find, again in Machias, the “Sloope Polly,” of 30 tons, Jesse Noble, Master, bound for Rhode Island; it could have been the schooner taken from Capt. Doucet in 1780 by Capt. Samuel Rogers.

Capt. Peter Doucet is known to have owned another vessel, the Brigantine “Hannah,” recorded at the same place, Machias, in August of 1785. Even a year before that date, viz., in July of 1784, has been recorded “a Journal of a voyage by God’s permission (from Yarmouth) to Antigua on board the schooner, Hannah, Peter Doucet, Commander.”

We know that Capt. Peter Doucet had owned yet another schooner, according to the following statement: “Capt. Peter Doucet, Commander of the schooner “Eunice,” has left Halifax Dec. 21, 1775, and has arrived at Grenada Jan. 30, 1776, with a cargo of 15,000 feet of lumber and 20,000 shingles.”

In fact, Capt. Doucet was pursuing a regular lucrative commercial relation with the West Indies. It is said that he purchased lumber at St. Mary’s Bay at five dollars per thousand and would sell it in the West Indies at forty and fifty dollars for the same quantity. On his way back, he would bring merchandise and other goods, which he sold in his store just built, which was the only mercantile establishment in Clare, along St. Mary’s Bay.

Returning from one of his voyages, he was to meet his death, when a sudden change of wind off Briar Island blew heavily in squalls and occasioned loss of the ship, the crew and the cargo; that was in 1792. His watch was afterwards found near the shore, which would mean that the wreck took place close to land.

And that is the story of one of our bravest Acadians of ore, who, after being sent into exile, helped the American cause and was finally subdued by the tempest of the sea and the waves of the ocean. which he had so often mastered. A wonderful story for a scenario.


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