LA GOUDALIE (La Gondalie), CHARLES DE, priest, Sulpician, missionary; b. c. 1678 at Rodez, France; d. c. 1753 in Nantes, France.
Charles de La Goudalie received his ecclesiastical training at the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris and was ordained a priest in 1705. He was not, however, immediately admitted as a member of the society. He came from the Massif Central, and it appears that he had the sturdy build of the French peasant; his superior, M. François Lechassier, described him: “He is very robust, hard-working, self-disciplined; his manner is not engaging. However, his charity and zeal give him the ability to win over his fellow-men and make himself liked.” La Goudalie arrived in New France in 1707 and took charge of four parishes in turn in the Montreal region: Prairie-de-la-Madeleine (Laprairie) from 1707 to 1708; Sorel, 1708 to 1718; Pointe-aux-Trembles, 1718 to 1727; and Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue), 1727 to 1728. In 1728 he had to return to France to be admitted into the society of Saint-Sulpice. He was nominated a missionary in “English Acadia” (Nova Scotia) and was put in charge of the parish of Saint-Charles, which at that time took in the two villages of Grand Pré and Rivière-aux-Canards (near Wolfville). He arrived there in 1729.
In 1730, in conjunction with Noël-Alexandre de Noinville, the parish priest of Pisiquid (Windsor), La Goudalie was successful in negotiating with Richard Philipps, governor of Nova Scotia, the conditions of an oath of allegiance which would suit both the British authorities and the population of Minas Basin. The oath signed by the people of Minas stipulated simply that they would be “completely loyal” to the king of England, who was recognized as “the Sovereign Lord of Nova Scotia and Acadia. “ On 25 April La Goudalie and Noinville drew up a certificate which declared that Philipps had exempted the Acadians “from the war against the French and Indians and [that] the aforementioned inhabitants . . . have promised never to take up arms in the event of war against the kingdom of England and its government.” From that date the Acadians were referred to by the British authorities as “French Neutrals,” and until the founding of Halifax in 1749 they were not asked to take any other oath. This settlement ended 20 years of discussion on the oath of allegiance and ensured nearly 20 years of relative calm in the internal affairs of Nova Scotia.
In 1731 La Goudalie was appointed the bishop of Quebec’s vicar general for English Acadia. He contented himself with increasing the number of missionaries, thus satisfying the religious and political authorities. For their part, the religious authorities wrote: “The missionaries are of great importance to Acadia, the English clergymen [are] insinuating, and simple peoples easily become accustomed to a less confining religion.” On the other hand, except for a few disputes with the lieutenant-governor, Lawrence Armstrong*, La Goudalie maintained excellent relations with the authorities in Annapolis Royal. In 1740, “being of rather advanced age,” he returned to France, but as the court had granted him a pension of 800 livres, payable to the bishopric of Laon, he agreed to return to Acadia in 1741. He ministered temporarily at Annapolis Royal until Jean-Baptiste de Gay Desenclaves arrived in June 1742, then returned to his former parish.
La Goudalie’s return can be explained by the international situation. The Austrian succession had just become open, and a conflict between France and England seemed inevitable; for the first time the Acadians’ neutrality was to be tested. At Versailles, as at Annapolis Royal, it seems that people were counting upon La Goudalie’s experience to govern the Acadians’ conduct under these circumstances. According to Maurepas, the minister of Marine, La Goudalie “offered to procure help for the French” when they attempted to take possession of Annapolis Royal in 1744. In February 1747, however, with his confrère Jean-Pierre de Miniac* he obtained the release of a certain Mr Newton, an English officer taken prisoner by the French at Grand Pré [see Arthur Noble]. Newton’s uncle, “a councillor at Port Royal, had rendered [services] to the missionaries on several occasions.” These two incidents illustrate the missionaries’ difficulties. The small number of Acadians who did in fact take part in the fighting suggests that the missionaries preached and practised neutrality. Certainly compared to a partisan spirit such as Abbé Jacques Girard*, the parish priest of Cobequid (near Truro), La Goudalie gives the impression of being a moderate.
After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 La Goudalie asked to be allowed to return to France. In 1749 the new governor, Edward Cornwallis*, intended to demand an unconditional oath of allegiance from the Acadians, and when they refused to comply the authorities in Halifax carried La Goudalie off and “forced him to return to France.” Fundamentally, the negotiator of 1730 was considered a nuisance. In 1750 the president of the council of Marine decided to send the old man to Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), to which the French government hoped to attract Acadians. La Goudalie left it soon after his arrival and went to Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), perhaps at the beginning of 1751. In 1752 he was at the fort on the Saint John River as garrison chaplain, but he was still vicar general of Acadia. Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu, the bishop of Quebec’s vicar general in Paris, considered him “a very good man, but a great talker who does not think much and makes decisions without reflection. “
We do not know when La Goudalie returned to France. After 1754 his name is no longer encountered in correspondence. A report dated 1761 informs us that he was dead.
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