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BIGOT, JACQUES, priest, Jesuit, missionary to the Abenakis, brother of Vincent Bigot; b. 26 July 1651 at Bourges, France; d. April 1711 at Quebec.

Jacques Bigot had entered the Jesuit noviciate in Paris on 9 Sept. 1667. When he arrived in Canada in 1679 he was assigned to the mission to the Algonkins at Sillery, near Quebec, where the Abenakis, fleeing from the war being waged against them by the English, were taking refuge. Sillery was soon no longer adequate to receive these immigrants. The soil, which had been badly farmed by its former settlers, was exhausted, and firewood was no longer to be found in the proximity of the dwellings. Father Bigot settled the Abenakis near the falls on the Chaudière River, on ground for which he obtained a grant on 1 July 1683 from Le Febvre* de La Barre and de Meulles.

This new mission, which was named Saint-François de Sales, became the most zealous in North America. In his 1684 report the missionary wrote: “Everyone in this country agrees that no one has ever seen a tribe here receive so readily the teachings of our mysteries.” Every year Father Bigot went on a preaching trip to the Abenakis who had remained in Acadia. In 1687 he was instructed by Brisay de Denonville to go to the region of Boston in order to urge the Abenakis to settle at his mission, so as to increase the number of inhabitants and so that they might join the French in case of attack. Two years later the village on the Chaudière numbered not fewer than 600 souls. In 1690, in a report to Seignelay [Colbert], Denonville rejoiced that “the good relations that he had with these Indians, thanks to the Jesuits and in particular to two priests, the Bigot brothers, has ensured the success of all the attacks they have made upon the English.”

In the autumn of 1691 Father Bigot went to France, taking with him the Abenakis’ vow to Our Lady of Chartres and a large wampum belt for the canons of the cathedral. In return the canons gave him, to take back to the Abenakis, a large chemise in a reliquary, which he brought with him to Quebec in the spring of 1694.

In September 1698 Father Bigot went for a few months to replace his brother Vincent, who was ill, at Naurakamig, an Abenaki village in Acadia. The following month he accompanied the Abenakis to the seaside to treat for peace with the captain of an English ship. These negotiations came to nothing, as the captain of the ship proposed that the Indians expel the French missionaries and replace them by Protestant clergymen. Father Bigot was back at Quebec in the spring of 1699.

As the land at the falls on the Chaudière had become unproductive for growing corn, Father Bigot decided in 1700 to transfer the mission to the shores of the Saint-François River, where a certain number of Sokokis and Abenakis had been settled since 1676 at least. There he obtained as a grant for his Indians a good part of the seigneuries of Saint-François and Pierreville. According to the testimony of Bacqueville de La Potherie [Le Roy], who visited him in his bark cabin in 1701, Father Bigot’s life in the midst of his Indians was given over completely to spreading the gospel. Drunkenness was the great evil that he had to combat. And as this vice was caused by vagabondism, he strove to induce those Indians who practised it to settle down at the mission. The sight of the orderly life which was led and of the veritable fervour which reigned there, together with the exhortations of the good Christians, contributed even more than the missionary’s urgings to bringing the profligates back into the strait and narrow path.

Bigot had to leave the Saint-François mission in the autumn of 1707 or at the beginning of 1708. He was stricken by a lingering disease and retired to live at Quebec, where he died in April 1711.

Thomas Charland

AN, Col., C11A, 8, ff.108, 129, 132, 132v, 176, 177, 183, 193v, 235, 238, 239v; 9, ff.121, 130v, 159, 159v; 11, 185v. [Jacques Bigot], Copie dune lettre escrite par le père Jacques Bigot de la Compagnie de Jésus l’an 1684, pour accompagner un collier de pourcelaine envoié par les Abnaquis de la mission de Sainct François de Sales dans la Nouvelle-France au tombeau de leur sainct patron à Annecy(Manate [New York], 1858); Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable dans la mission Abnaquise de Sainct Joseph de Sillery, et dans l’establissement de la Nouvelle Mission de Sainct François de Sales, l’année 1684. Par le R. P. Jacques Bigot de la Compagnie de Jésus(Manate [New York], 1857); Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable dans la mission Abnaquise de sainct Joseph de Sillery, et de sainct François de Sales, l’année 1685. Par le R. P. Jacques Bigot, de la Compagnie de Jésus(Manate [New York], 1858); Relation de la mission Abnaquise de St. François de Sales l’année 1702, par le Père Jacques Bigot, de la Compagnie de Jésus(New York, 1865). Documents inédits concernant la Compagnie de Jésus, éd. Auguste Carayon (28v., Poitiers et Paris, 1863–74), XI, 277. JR (Thwaites), LXII, LXIII, LXIV. Father Bigot’s letter which Carayon and Thwaites date as 26 Oct. 1699 should be 26 Oct. 1698 according to A.-L. Leymarie, Exposition rétrospective des colonies françaises de l’Amérique du Nord. Catalogue illustré(Paris, 1929), 278. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 354, 440. J.-A. Maurault, Histoire des Abénakis depuis 1605 jusquà nos jours (Sorel, 1866). Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siècle, III, 226–29, 289–90, 377, 395–96, 407, 437–39.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Thomas Charland, “BIGOT, JACQUES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 16, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bigot_jacques_2E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bigot_jacques_2E.html
Author of Article: Thomas Charland
Title of Article: BIGOT, JACQUES
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1969
Year of revision: 1969
Access Date: April 16, 2014