BIGOT, VINCENT, priest, Jesuit, missionary to the Abenaki, brother of Jacques Bigot; b. 15 May 1649 at Bourges, France, son of Jacques Bigot, Baron de Contremont, and Claude Sarrazin; d. 7 Sept. 1720 in Paris.
Vincent Bigot had entered the Jesuit noviciate in Paris on 2 Sept. 1664. Arriving in Canada in 1680, he was attached first, in 1681–82, to the Algonquin mission at Sillery, then in 1682–83, to the mission to the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) at La Prairie-de-la-Magdeleine. He went back to Sillery in 1683 and was superior of the mission until 1690. Then, when his brother Jacques returned to France, he took his place at the Saint-François de Sales mission at the falls on the Chaudière River. In 1694 he went to Pentagouet in Acadia to found a mission to the Abenaki. He directed this mission for more than seven years and then transferred it in 1698 to Naurakamig on the Androscoggin River, a location better suited to farming. He baptized the majority of those who lived in this Indigenous village. During the summer of 1698 he fell ill and for some months was replaced by his brother Jacques; Vincent later took his place at the Chaudière mission. It was from there that on 25 Sept. 1699 he wrote to renew the union of prayers between the Abenaki and the canons of the cathedral of Chartres, to whom he sent a belt, six feet long, composed of 11 strings of wampum. In return the canons sent the Abenaki a small silver statue of the Virgin, a copy of an ancient wooden statue which is kept in the underground church of the cathedral of Chartres.
According to tradition it was Vincent Bigot who established the Abenaki mission at Bécancour in 1700; in reality this mission was founded by Father Sébastien Rale, but not until after 1705. Bigot returned to his Acadian mission in 1700, but his superior withdrew him the following year. It was claimed that he was not sufficiently zealous in keeping the Abenaki attached to French interests. On 6 Oct. 1701 Brouillan [Monbeton], the governor of Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), wrote to the minister, Pontchartrain: “It is certain . . . that he has not been able to prevent the Indians from entering into negotiations with the English and that these negotiations have progressed to the point where they have received the presents and have promised to make peace with them.”
After attending the meeting of the First Nations that opened on 25 July 1701 at Montreal to ratify the peace of 1700, Vincent Bigot went to aid his brother at the Saint-François mission, concerning himself particularly with training the Abenaki in church singing. From 1704 to 1710 he was at Quebec, where he held the office of superior general of the Jesuit missions in Canada. During these years he rescued two English prisoners of the Abenaki: Marie-Anne Davis*, who became a nun at the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec in 1710, and Esther Wheelwright*, who entered the Ursuline convent in Quebec and was elected superior in 1760. In 1713 Father Bigot returned to France, where he held the office of procurator of the missions in Canada until his death on 7 Sept. 1720.
[Vincent Bigot], Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable dans la mission des Abnaquis à l’Acadie, l’année 1701 (Manate [New York], 1858). Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1940–41, 437. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., II, 386. JR (Thwaites), LXXI. T.-M. Charland, Histoire des Abénakis d’Odanak (Montréal, 1964), 56. A.-L. Leymarie, Exposition rétrospective des colonies françaises de l’Amérique du Nord. Catalogue illustré (Paris, 1929), 278–79. 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, 229, 282, 290, 298, 302, 377, 406, 437–39, 443.
Bibliography for the revised version:
Arch. Départementales, Cher (Bourges, France), “Reg. paroissiaux et état civil,” Bourges, paroisse Notre-Dame-du-Fourchaud, 18 nov. 1649: archives18.fr (consulted 16 Aug. 2022).