LEFEBVRE DE BELLEFEUILLE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS, seigneur; b. probably 27 Aug. 1670 at Sillery (Que.), son of Thomas Lefebvre* and Geneviève Pelletier (Peltier); d. c. 1744 at Pabos in the Gaspé region (Que.).
Jean-François Lefebvre de Bellefeuille settled in Newfoundland around the beginning of the 18th century and operated a small dry-cod fishing establishment near Plaisance (Placentia). In 1706 he was reported as employing six fishermen and two boys. He married, probably in 1703 or 1704, Anne Baudry, daughter of another local fisherman; they had three sons and two daughters.
Lefebvre de Bellefeuille left Plaisance after the English took control in 1713 and probably went to Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). In 1729 his brother Pierre bought the seigneury of Grand-Pabos from the heirs of René Hubert. Pierre Lefebvre de Bellefeuille appears never to have resided on the seigneury and it was Jean-François who, in effect, became the seigneur. Grand-Pabos was located a few leagues south of Île Percée.
Lefebvre de Bellefeuille was the only seigneur who established himself permanently on a Gaspé seigneury during the French régime. With his sons Georges and François* he developed a successful dry-cod fishery without any government assistance and virtually independent of government control. In 1730 he apparently had at his fishery about 30 men whom he armed and deployed to prevent a crew of Basque fishermen from landing on the beach at Pabos where they had traditionally dried their fish. Subsequently Lefebvre de Bellefeuille allowed visiting fishermen to establish their drying operations on his beaches if they paid a fee, sometimes a year in advance, based on the number of shallops they brought. There were complaints that Lefebvre de Bellefeuille and his sons tried to extend their authority beyond the limits of their seigneury; the government warned them but it had little effective control in this area. In fact, in 1737 the government relinquished some of its control by appointing Georges Lefebvre de Bellefeuille as subdelegate of the intendant for the Gaspé coast. After his death Lefebvre de Bellefeuille’s sons carried on the fishery until it was wiped out by Wolfe’s raiding expedition on the Gaspé coast in the autumn of 1758.
AN, Col., B, 74, f.17; 76, f.35; C11C, 5, pp.50ff. (PAC transcripts); F2B, 11; Marine, B3, 415, ff.31–37. ANQ, Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 22 oct. 1729; NF, Ord. int., XXVI, 3v–4; XXVIII, 26 août 1740. PRO, CO 194/5, f.355. “Recensement de Terre-Neuve et de Plaisance, 1704” (SGCF Mémoires). P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, IV, 127–29; Inv. ord. int., II, 150, 292. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, II, 601–3. A. C. de Léry Macdonald, “La famille Le Febure de Bellefeuille,” Revue canadienne, 2e sér., XX (1884), 168–76, 235–47, 291–302.