BIGOT, JACQUES, priest, Jesuit, missionary to the Abenaki; baptized 10 Sept. 1651 at Bourges, France, son of Jacques Bigot, Baron de Contremont, king’s councillor, and provost, and Claude Sarrazin; brother of Vincent Bigot; d. April 1711 at Quebec.
Jacques Bigot 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 Algonquin at Sillery, near Quebec, where the Abenaki, fleeing from the war being waged against them by the English, were seeking safety. Sillery was soon no longer adequate to receive these refugees: the soil was exhausted and firewood could no longer to be found nearby. Father Bigot settled with the Abenaki close to the falls on the Chaudière River, on land for which he received a grant on 1 July 1683 from Governor General Le Febvre* de La Barre and Intendant de Meulles.
This new mission, which was named Saint-François de Sales, became, according to some, 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 Abenaki who had remained in Acadia. In 1687 he was instructed by Brisay de Denonville to go to the region of Boston to urge the Abenaki to settle at his mission, thus increasing the number of inhabitants so that they could 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 Abenaki vow to Our Lady of Chartres and a large wampum belt for the canons of the cathedral. In return the canons gave him a large chemise in a reliquary to take back to the Abenaki, which he brought 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 Abenaki to the seaside to sue for peace with the captain of an English ship. These negotiations came to nothing, as the captain proposed that the Abenaki expel the French missionaries and replace them with 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 Abenaki, particularly the Sokoki, had been settled since at least 1676. There he obtained for them a grant of 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 this community was given over completely to spreading the gospel. The liquor trade was the great evil that he had to combat and he strove to convince those who participated in it to settle down at the mission. The sight of the orderly life and genuine fervour there, together with the exhortations of other Christians, contributed even more than the missionary’s urgings to curb the consumption of alcohol.
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.
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 d’une 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 that 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 jusqu’à 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.
Bibliography for the revised version:
Arch. Départementales, Cher (Bourges, France), “Reg. paroissiaux et état civil,” Bourges, Paroisse Notre-Dame-du-Fourchaud, 10 sept. 1651: www.archives18.fr (consulted 10 July 2022).