In general, the approximately 1,000 Acadians deported to Connecticut were treated with respect. A law concerning their distribution throughout the settlement was adopted by the colonial Legislature in advance of their arrival, which allowed the citizens to prepare themselves for cohabitation. In some cases, Connecticut citizens made unoccupied homes available to Acadian families. Others funded the trip of Acadians wishing to resettle in Quebec via the Albany, Hudson and Richelieu rivers through lakes George and Champlain.

Connecticut is the only settlement in the original 13 American colonies that notified its citizens of the upcoming arrival of “French People from Nova Scotia”. This early notification did facilitate greatly the acceptance of the Acadians. In the Legislature archives of January 1756, the Act for distributing and well ordering the French People sent into this Colony from Nova Scotia specifically provided that the newcomers are “to be taken care of and supported” as though they were residing citizens. A reception committee was created and 50 host towns were designated to receive on average fourteen Acadians per town. For instance, Norwich expected 19 Acadians, Fairfield 17, Hartford 13, New London 12, Guildford 11 and Bolton three. In 1755, at the beginning of the War of the Conquest, Connecticut’s population numbered about 133,000 residents, while there were only 70,000 souls in the entire territory of New France.

The schooner Mystic Whaler
The schooner Mystic Whaler near New London, Connecticut, where the transportation ships deporting the Acadians arrived

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Archives (Volumes 23 and 24), in December 1755 and in the course of the first months of 1756, the British ships Dove, Edward, Elizabeth, and Two Sisters as well as an unknown schooner arrived in New London, Connecticut’s principal seaport, from Acadia (Nova Scotia) with more than 1000 Acadian deportees on board.

Treated with respect

Among the families deported to Connecticut, via Massachusetts in some cases, Pierre Hébert, his wife Elisabeth Dupuis (also Dupuy) and their four children (Fabien, Marie-Isabelle, Anastasie and Simon) and his father René Hébert are listed in the archives. Mention is also made that in 1772 Pierre Hébert’s family left Connecticut for Laprairie, Quebec. Moreover, these detailed archives reveal the exile of a great number of Acadians in eight other original American colonies, including Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, as well as the North and South Carolinas.

By boat on the waterways or by charrette on land, Connecticut citizens transported every Acadian family to one of the 50 towns previously selected under governing law to welcoming them. René Hébert and his family, who came from Grand-Pré in Acadia, arrived at Guildford on the Long Island Inlet.

The Acadian House in Guildford
The Acadian House in Guildford, Connecticut (Courtesy of Versageek, without modification, CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

In Guildford the house on Union Street, built in 1670 by Joseph Clay, has appropriately been named the “Acadian House“. In 1756 Samuel Chittenden was the owner. According to local legends the house was vacant, so its owner decided to make it available to René Hébert and his family. This lovely house has been on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States since 1975.

In 1771, Pierre Hébert and his eight children (four additional children were born in Connecticut) left Guildford to resettle in Laprairie, Quebec via the town of Albany, New York. Their voyage was amicably funded by wealthy citizens of Guildford. Pierre died at Laprairie near Montreal on February 29, 1788, at the age of 78.