CASTAING, PIERRE-ANTOINE (he was usually known as Antoine), merchant and colonial official; b. at Bordeaux, France, son of Antoine Castaing, a merchant, and Isabau (Elisabeth) Sareillier (Sarcelié, Lecarulier); d. 1779 in France.
Pierre-Antoine Castaing immigrated to Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), about 1740. His age and previous experience are unknown and he had no close relatives in Île Royale, but it appears he intended to enter business. Initially his commercial dealings were small, and he supported himself by his appointment on 5 Nov. 1740 as translator to the Louisbourg admiralty. The arrival of trading ships from New England created a need for translation and surviving documents attest to Castaing’s ability.
Shortly before the capitulation of Louisbourg in 1745 and the deportation of the inhabitants, Castaing married Charlotte-Isabelle Chevalier, the daughter of a shipping and trading family established at Louisbourg since the colony’s foundation. Castaing and his wife returned in 1749 with a daughter, two servants, and his brother Jean and sister Rose. He had probably improved his commercial connections in Bordeaux between 1745 and 1749, for he developed a substantial and diversified business on his return to the colony. He rented a fishing property near Louisbourg and bought the catches of independent fishermen. He also bought ships, contracted with some of the fishermen he employed to have them build schooners for him during the winter, and chartered other vessels to carry his cargoes to Bordeaux, where he was represented by his brother-in-law, Joseph-Guillaume Lapeire. To extend his business Castaing imported for sale in his storehouse such varied goods as coffee, sugar, wine, rum, and rope, and he exported shingles, bricks, planks, and staves, in addition to cod. Castaing had only one close business associate, his brother Jean, who died in 1755, but he frequently formed short-term partnerships with fishermen, ship captains, and merchants.
Despite his expanding business, Castaing did not give up translation. In 1752 he was nominated as translator and interpreter to the admiralty. In 1755 he was ordered not only to translate documents for English captains, but also to perform a surveillance role for the admiralty by ensuring that restrictions on foreign trade were obeyed by visiting captains, crews, and passengers.
Though most of Castaing’s commercial links were with Bordeaux, he did some business with the French Caribbean colonies and had a rather unusual New England connection through his second wife. His first wife had died in 1749 and in 1752 he married Willobe King, known as Olive Le Roy, of Rhode Island. Despite the trading links between Île Royale and the British colonies, relatively few New Englanders actually settled in the French colony. Castaing’s wife and her sister, who also married a Louisbourg merchant, Jean-Jacques Brunet (Brunnet), were two of the small number of New England residents. Castaing’s sister Rose married another Louisbourg merchant, Pierre Rodrigue.
Castaing’s business dealings were typical of the more active Louisbourg merchant, as were his ties to France and his local family connections. His Louisbourg career ended with the capture of the fortress in 1758. With his wife and children, he returned to Bordeaux where he pursued new business interests, apparently without success. In 1779 he disappeared while “in the mountains on a logging operation,” and his family was left dependent upon charity.
AD, Charente-Maritime (La Rochelle), B, 271, ff.16v–17, 22v–24; 276, 9 sept., 21 nov. 1740. AN, Col., C11B, 30, 33; E, 65 (dossier Élizabeth Castaing); Section Outre-mer, G1, 407/2, f.54v; 408/2, ff.39, 40, 49v; 409/ 1, f.74v; 410; 466, pièce 76; G2, 209, dossier 499; 210, dossier 517; G3, 2041/1, 16 nov. 1749; 31 juill. 1750; 9 juill., 1er déc. 1751; 20 nov. 1752; 2047/1, 20 sept., 28 nov. 1743; 2047/2, 23 juill., 29 nov. 1752. McLennan, Louisbourg. Christopher Moore, “Merchant trade in Louisbourg, Île Royale” (unpublished ma thesis, University of Ottawa, 1977). H.-P. Thibault, L’îlot 17 de Louisbourg (1713–1768) (Can., Service des lieux historiques nationaux, Travail inédit, no. 99, [Ottawa], 1972), 87–91.