With a few exceptions, the distribution of the 961 Acadian deportees throughout more than 100 communities across Massachusetts was done with kindness, in keeping with the March 6, 1756, Massachusetts Act making provision for the lately arrived inhabitants of Nova Scotia (short title). This humanitarian law required local authorities to provide, at the expense of the province, necessary implements of husbandry-work, weaving, spinning, and other handicraft work… not exceeding forty shillings for any one person. In addition, (suitable) houses were to be provided to all family heads who committed to self-reliance: see Laws of the province of Massachusetts, 1755-1756, Chapter 35.
The Journal of the House of Representatives (Volumes 23 and 24 of the Provincial Archives) offers numerous details on the support provided to the Acadian refugees by various communities. Here are some of them over the years:
▪ On 27 August 1756, the General Court accepted François LeBlanc’s request to leave Winthrop with his family to settle elsewhere where there was employment.
▪ At Plymouth on April 22, 1757, the Court awarded Thomas Foster reimbursement of his medical expenses for the treatment of Charles Meuse and his family.
▪️The Court approved on December 21, 1758 the expenses incurred by the community of Sherborn for its support to the widow Gourdeau and her ten children.
▪The burial expenses of certain Acadians presented to the Court by the Hanover Selectmen Bureau were ratified on January 5, 1759.
▪️In Boston, the Court validated, on April 26, 1760, the distribution of Acadians throughout the counties according to their proportion of provincial tax.
▪The invoice for transporting Acadians from Rowley to Salem, as submitted by the officials, was endorsed by the Court on January 22, 1761.
Know that between Rowley and Salem is the port of Gloucester in Massachusetts Bay, near Boston. It was visited and mapped by Samuel de Champlain in September 1606 (photo), fourteen years before the arrival of the Pilgrims who founded the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, named after the indigenous people who inhabited the site. In the 18th century, Joseph and Anne Doucet and their ten children as well as widow Eliza Janvire (of spouse Jean Cyr), 72 years old, resided in Gloucester, which Champlain called “Le Beau Port” in 1606.
Except for a few petitions to the House of Representatives and several motions before the Massachusetts General Court to assert their rights, the Acadians’ stay in the “Old Colony” (of Plymouth) is without a trace.
Generosity of the population
If all the historic houses that have rubbed shoulders with the 961 Acadians in exile in Massachusetts could speak, they would tell us, like Thomas Hutchinson (governor of the colony) in his book The History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, from 1749 to 1774, that the generosity of the local population and the beneficence of the political elites deserve to be highlighted. In Boston, there were 174 Acadians living around Paul Revere House (photo) built around 1680, located at 19 North Square, now a museum.
The Fairbanks House in Dedham (photo), erected around 1637, is considered the oldest wooden frame house in America still standing. In the 18th century, the Acadian Benoît and Michel (Mitchell) families resided in the neighbourhood. Click here to view about sixty other houses in Massachusetts built before 1755.