Numbers of Acadians Who Came to Louisiana, 1764-1788

Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, viii, says:  "... in the years 1764-65 ... 606 Acadians came to Louisiana."  This is very close to my estimate of 610.  My total for the 1765 arrivals is derived from official letters and reports found in Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, which I summarize below.  Italics not indicating French expressions I have added for emphasis:  

Page 31, Commandant and Interim Governor Charles-Philippe AUBRY to his superior, Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul-Stainville, Minister of Marine, 25 February 1765, gives a rounded figure of 200 individuals for the BROUSSARD party, just arrived, but no figure for the number of families in the party.  

Pages 32-33, French commissaire-ordonnateur Denis-Nicolas FOUCAULT to Choiseul-Stainville, 28 February 1765, provides a more precise figure of 193 for the BROUSSARD party, but, again, no figure for the number of families.  

Pages 43-44, AUBRY and FOUCAULT to Choiseul-Stainville, 30 April 1765, announces the arrival of "several Acadian families from Saint-Domingue," adding that, "Since their arrival, others have come.  Notwithstanding seven or eight who have died, they constitute 231 persons.  More are expected."  Are AUBRY and FOUCAULT telling the duc that the BROUSSARD party came in two ships, and that the arrival of a smaller contingent of party brought the total from 193 to 231, or 38 more Acadians?  The number 38 conforms almost exactly to the number of Acadians who settled in the Opelousas District in 1765.  See Appendix.  But why do none of the Opelousas Acadian heads of household appear on the card money exchange list of April 30 if they arrived in March or April?  The card money exchange list seems to include only Acadian heads of families who settled at Attakapas.  See <>; Brasseaux, ed., p. 76.

Page 48, FOUCAULT to Choiseul-Stainville, 13 May 1765, says, "The 80 persons whom I discussed in my letter ... dated May 4 [not in Brasseaux, ed.], and these 48 additional families are causing me a great deal of concern."  FOUCAULT seems to be saying that another party of Acadians, numbering 80 individuals, has just arrived from St.-Domingue in addition to the Acadians who came with Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil.  This second party probably was the one led by Jean-Baptiste BERGERON dit d'Amboise.  A party of 48 families would, with an average of four persons per family, constitute approximately 192 individuals, almost precisely the number of men, women, and children given for the BROUSSARD party.   

Page 49, AUBRY to Choiseul-Stainville, 14 May 1765, writes:  "This uninterrupted influx of new families will turn Louisiana into a new Acadia."  He adds:  "I am informed that 300 men, women and children are on the lower river."  What seems to be happening is that additional parties of Acadians from St.-Dominique reached La Balize and were waiting to move upriver to New Orleans to join the Acadians who had already arrived in the colony under Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil & Jean-Baptiste BERGERON dit d'Amboise. 

Page 51:  AUBRY to Choiseul-Stainville, 8 August 1765, states:  "Small groups, however, are coming aboard the ships arriving daily from Saint-Domingue." but AUBRY provides no specific dates or numbers.  

Page 54:  New Orleans merchant Antoine-Gilbert de ST. MAXENT, administrator of the Acadians' Canadian funds, in his report to the French authorities in New Orleans, 8 May 1766, gives the figure of 58 families for the BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil group, which matches my average of 4 persons per family given above if the 10 families that went to the Opelousas District are included in this count.  ST. MAXENT goes on to say that a certain amount of funds was given to him by "one BERGERON [Jean-Baptiste BERGERON dit d'Amboise of Cabanocé] ... belonging to 73 families, some of whom arrived in June 1765, and the remainder of whom will arrive at the first opportunity."  This means that the Acadians who arrived from Halifax after the BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil party/parties were part of another group of exiles, including the party under BERGERON, and that the French authorities sent them to Cabanocé instead of Attakapas and Opelousas.  ST. MAXENT also says in this important report that more funds were delivered to him by "one LACHAUSSE [Philippe LACHAUSSÉE of Cabanocé, an Acadian physician] ... belonging to 37 families, some of whom reached this colony in various ships--in August, September, October, and November--and the remainder will arrive shortly."  

By "the remainder" he may be referring to the Acadians who reached Louisiana from Maryland in September 1766 aboard an English sloop, four months after he made the report.  These Maryland arrivals were probably relatives of the Halifax Acadians and had somehow learned of their kinsmen's emigration to Louisiana the year before.

As ST. MAXENTs report shows, these 1765 arrivals carried with them funds from Canada, that is to say, Halifax, which they hoped to use in Louisiana.  This is an essential fact in determining the origin of these 1765 arrivals.  In their joint letter to the duc de Choiseul-Stainville of 30 Apr 1765, AUBRY and FOUCAULT state:  "In an enclosed request, the Acadians beg Your grace to grant them the sum of 33,395 livres, 15 sols.  This sum represents all the card money, orders for payment, [and] certificates which formerly circulated in Canada.  They are among the ones His Majesty ordered liquidated through the Council of State's decree of June 29, 1764....  The Acadians have entrusted Mister [ST.] MAXENT, a local merchant, with their card money, their certificates and orders of payment.  He will forward them to Mister LAMALATIE, a merchant and his correspondent in Bordeaux, in order to recover the full amount.  Despite the fact that the date on these bonds has long since expired, it would be most unfair on our part, if we did not comply with their request.  From the time Canada surrendered [1760] till their arrival here [1765], these wretched people underwent such setbacks that they were completely unaware of this new arrangement.  In the sad situation in which they find themselves, this sum can be of great help to them."   As ST. MAXENT's report shows clearly, not only did the BROUSSARD party carry this money, but also the subsequent 1765 arrivals led by Jean-Baptiste BERGERON dit d'Amboise and Philippe LACHAUSSÉE.  This means that the 1765 arrivals, though they reached Louisiana via St.-Domingue, had come originally not from the horror of St.-Domingue or even the British-Atlantic colonies, but from Halifax, where they had been kept as prisoners in the final years of the war against Britain and where they acquired their Canadian money that they hoped to exchange in Louisiana for French money.  This is doubtlessly what Dr. Brasseaux meant when he wrote: " The documentary record in Louisiana ... makes it clear that few, if any, Saint-Domingue Acadians migrated to the Mississippi Valley."  See Brasseaux, Scattered to the Wind, 45.  Appendix

Thus, using the letters of AUBRY and FOUCAULT, and ST. MAXENT's report, written between 25 February 1765 and 8 May 1766, we can see that the following parties of Acadians reached Louisiana from Halifax via St.-Domingue between late February and November 1765 and went to the following settlements:  

~A first party in late February of 193 individuals, consisting of approximately 48 families, under the leadership of resistance fighter Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil, went to the Attakapas District in April.
~A second party in March or April of 38 individuals, or 10 more families, on a separate ship, probably originally with the BROUSSARD party, left New Orleans in late April or early May and settled in the Opelousas District, perhaps after following the BROUSSARDs to Attakapas.
~A third party in early May of 80 individuals led by Jean-Baptiste BERGERON dit d'Amboise, went to Cabanocé.  
~Several parties of approximately 300 individuals in 73 families who reached New Orleans in the late spring, summer, and fall on separate ships, including 37 families under the leadership of Acadian physician Philippe LACHAUSSÉE, went to Cabanocé.  

Thus, approximately 610 Acadians reached Louisiana in 1765 from Halifax.  A quick count of the Acadians at Attakapas, Opelousas, and Cabahannocer in the Spanish militia census of April 1766 reveals a total of 547 individuals with Acadian names in those settlements; deduct the 20 individuals who arrived in 1764, and you have a modified count of 527 individuals.  The smaller number of individuals in the census reflects the sad fact that there were many more deaths than births among the Acadians, especially in the Attakapas District, during the first year of settlement.  See Voorhies, J., 114-19, 124-25, 128, for the census numbers.  (One of the 1765 deaths was Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil himself, who died at Attakapas in late October 1765.)   

The number 610 is reinforced by the following communication from Nova Scotia Governor Montague WILMOT to Britain's Lord Halifax, dated 18 Dec 1764, Halifax:

"I had the honor in my letter of the 9th of last month, to lay before your Lordship some further particulars of the disposition of the Acadians, after the Oath of Allegiance had been tender'd to them, and offers of a settlement in this Country.

"Since that time, no reasonable proposals being able to overcome their zeal for the French and aversion to the English government, many of them soon resolved to leave this Province, and having hired Vessels at their own Expense, six hundred persons including women and children, departed within three weeks for the French West Indies, where, by the last information I have had, they are to settle for the cultivation of lands unfit for the sugar cane.  And although they had certain accounts, that the climate had been fatal to the lives of several of their countrymen, who had gone there lately from Georgia and Carolina, their resolution was not to be shaken; and the remainder of them, amounting to as many more, in different parts of the Province have the same destination in view, when the Spring shall afford them convenience and opportunity."  See Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 269 (italics added).  

These 600 did go to St.-Domingue, but they did not remain there.  But 600 more did not follow them in the spring of 1765; they chose to settle elsewhere, many of them going to Île Miquelon, a French-controlled island off the southern coast of Newfoundland.  

The number 610, as I have said, is close to a total of 606 "Acadians who arrived in this colony during the year 1764 and 1765 and settled in the various districts," appended to a "Recapitulation of the General Census taken in New Orleans and in all the districts below the city of New Orleans to Pointe Coupée in the year 1763,"  found in Voorhies, J., 103.  The 606 count was broken down thusly: 137 Acadian men, 120 women, 123 boys above the age of 14, 96 boys below the age of 14, 58 girls above the age of 12, and 72 girls below the age of 12. 


The latest edition of Wall of Names, 9-26, lists 1,297 individuals who came to Louisiana from 1764-1813, exclusive of the Seven Ships passengers.  The editors of Wall of Names include a number of non-Acadians on their list.  They count a total of 1,607 individuals on the Seven Ships, not distinguishing Acadian from non-Acadian, giving them a grand total of 2,904 names on their bronze tablets, a figure inflated, I believe, by a number of people with non-Acadian surnames.

Carl A. Brasseaux, pre-eminent authority on the Acadians in Louisiana, in his Scattered to the Wind, 67, gives a more conservative total of approximately 1,039 Acadians who reached LA from 1764-88, exclusive of the Seven Ships passengers, broken down thusly:  
          20 from New York [via Georgia and Mobile] 1764, 
        311 from Halifax 1764-65, 
        689 from Maryland and Pennsylvania 1766-1770,  
          19 from St. Pierre/Miquelon 1788.  
Add his figure of 1,596 Acadians who migrated to Louisiana from France on the Seven Ships, and he comes up with a total of 2,635 Acadians who came to Louisiana between 1764 and 1788.  As I have pointed out, I think his figure from Halifax 1764-65 is too low (see Voorhies, J., 103), and his use of the official number of Acadians from France in 1785 is too high because it includes so many non-Acadians.  

In summary:   

Source Acadians to Louisiana, 1765-early 1800s, exclusive of Seven Ships passengers  Seven Ships passengers, 1785 Acadians to Louisiana, 1764-early 1800s, including Seven Ships passengers 
Brasseaux  1,039   1,596  2,635
Cormier 1,339 1,547 Acadians  2,886
Wall of Names 1,297  1,607 2,904

The historical records are so sparse that we may never know how many Acadians came to LA.  Perhaps genealogy will trump history in getting close to the true number.

These figures, with slight variations, also can be found at <>, "Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana."


One other comment:  The Acadians from the prisons of Halifax who sailed to New Orleans via Cap-Français, St.-Domingue, in 1764-65 did so on their own hook; theirs was no movement of people directed by higher authority, nor were they deported to the French West Indies and Louisiana.  They were doing their own thing, as one of their descendants who grew up in the 1960s would say.  Contrast this to the seven expeditions from France 20 years later:  a carefully-planned, expensive, systematic effort in which the Spanish government hired French vessels for the express purpose of transporting Acadian families to Louisiana to populate their still-too-sparsely-settled colony.  Faragher, A Great & Noble Scheme, 430, says:  "Unlike the French project to settle Acadians on Saint Domingue, there was no official sponsorship of this [the 1765] migration to Louisiana.  It was a plan developed entirely by Acadians themselves."  For the 1785 migration, see especially Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey.  

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Copyright (c) 2005-17  Steven A. Cormier