RAYMOND, JEAN-LOUIS DE, Comte de RAYMOND, army officer and governor of Île Royale; b. c. 1702; d. 12 Oct. 1771 in the parish of Saint-Antonin, Angoulême, France.
Little is known of the early life of Jean-Louis de Raymond. According to Michel Le Courtois de Surlaville, Raymond’s family were minor provincial seigneurs, probably in Angoumois (dept of Charente). Raymond began his army career as lieutenant in the Régiment de Vexin. He was promoted captain in 1725 and lieutenant-colonel in 1743. In 1731 Raymond secured the king’s lieutenancy of the town and château of Angoulême, an increasingly titular position, which brought him an annual income for life of 2,100 livres. He was present at the battle of Dettingen (Federal Republic of Germany) in 1743 and served with the French armies along the Rhine in 1744–45, although it seems he never engaged directly in combat. In 1747 he was accorded the non-venal general officer rank of brigadier and in 1749 was transferred to the Grenadiers de France with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. During his army career he had learned how to manipulate the mechanism of official patronage. After he had convinced the minister of War, Voyer d’Argenson, that he was a blood relation, the minister helped to obtain his promotion to major-general in 1751, and in the same year interceded with the minister of Marine, Rouillé, to secure him the governorship of Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) in succession to Charles Des Herbiers* de La Ralière.
Athough unsolicited, the governorship offered Raymond the two things he desired most: prestige and money. His lavish lifestyle had impoverished him and Rouillé offered generous terms: an initial gratuity of 10,000 livres; an annual salary of 9,000 livres plus the 1,200 livres annual stipend awarded both the governor and the financial commissary for travel within the colony; and permission to return to France on a year’s notice. After Pierre-Arnaud de Laporte, chief clerk of the Marine colonial bureau, had flattered Raymond’s ego, he readily accepted the post, although he had had no prior experience in either the Marine or the colonies.
Raymond’s appointment was part of an attempt by Rouillé to upgrade the quality of personnel in the colonial service. Raymond was the last governor of a Canadian colony during the French régime to have pursued a regular army career and the only one appointed to Louisbourg who was not a Marine officer. He came to Louisbourg with superficially impressive credentials and accolades. Prior to his appointment he had purchased the tiny fief of Oyes (dept of Marne) and he was the first member of his family to be styled count, although his distant cousin, Charles de Raymond Des Rivières (who belonged to a noble branch of the family), and Surlaville doubted the legitimacy of the title.
Raymond was the most flamboyant governor of a Canadian colony between Frontenac [Buade*] and Lord Durham [Lambton*]. With Frontenac he shared an unbounded ambition and a passion for extravagant living. For both men the title of governor evoked, as Mme de Sévigné wrote, “noise, trumpets and violins.” Like Durham, Raymond gloried in pomp and ceremony. The fanfare that greeted his arrival at Louisbourg on 3 Aug. 1751 was greater than that surrounding Durham’s debarkation at Quebec in 1838. The celebrations he staged for the birth of the dauphin in 1752 were unsurpassed in the annals of the colony.
Raymond came to Louisbourg anxious to impress his new superiors. He was determined to allow no area to escape his attention, nor any of his activities to escape his superiors’ notice. Some of his actions were preposterous. He tried to impress Rouillé by sending Canadian animals to France, and even included partridge pies that were putrid on arrival. When iron pyrites (fool’s gold) was discovered, Raymond rashly announced that Île Royale was a new Peru. Because of such stories, rumours circulated in the ports of France that he was deranged. With the help of Surlaville and Thomas Pichon, he wrote a host of memoranda on many subjects. He recommended changes in the regulation of trade, the religious establishment, the administration of justice, and Louisbourg’s fortifications. He maintained close surveillance on the British in Nova Scotia and in 1752 toured both Île Royale and Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), meeting with Indian allies at orchestrated parleys. Detailed but exaggerated accounts of his movements were dispatched to Versailles.
Some of Raymond’s ideas were sound: all were expensive to implement. Although the financial commissary had jurisdiction over settlement, Raymond, by virtue of his responsibility for the military and public order, undertook to make Louisbourg self-sufficient in food. He paid troops to clear land for agriculture and sought to augment the island’s defences by settling soldiers in agricultural communities similar to the early Roman coloniae. In 1752 he had 22 soldiers married and placed in a village obsequiously called Rouillé on the Rivière de Miré (Mira River). Others were located at Baie-des-Espagnols (Sydney), at Port-Toulouse (near St Peters), and on Île Saint-Jean. He also devised an ingenious plan for the coastal defence of the island and without authorization from France paid troops to build a barely passable road from Port-Toulouse to Louisbourg at a cost of 100,000 livres. His scheme projected a series of redoubts along the coast to aid settlement, avert smuggling, and give warning of enemy attack. The engineer Louis Franquet* opposed this plan as too costly, and it was ultimately rejected by Rouillé. To improve the colonial officer corps, Raymond instituted formal instruction in mathematics and artillery as well as reading and writing for the illiterate.
Raymond thought his role as governor was to govern in the fullest sense. Because of his inexperience, his ambition, and the flattery of Laporte, he failed to appreciate that government in New France was a diarchy in which the military and commissariat branches exercised separate and largely independent authority; the former over external relations, Indian affairs, and military discipline; the latter over justice, finances, and supply. They jointly shared the responsibility for public order. The Louisbourg financial commissary, Jacques Prevost de La Croix, was no less vain or domineering than Raymond. Surlaville commented that “each wanted to gain control” and that both were “equally headstrong . . . vain and presumptuous.” The two men clashed frequently over both petty jurisdictional and major policy matters. Prevost opposed the governor at every turn and used all means at his disposal to ensure adherents to his camp. Not only did he complain incessantly to his superiors about Raymond’s high-handedness, but he distributed additional supplies to military officers who supported him. With Surlaville’s aid, Raymond retaliated by preparing an extensive memorandum documenting Prevost’s inflation of colonial accounts. He concluded that Prevost had defrauded the monarchy of 33,000 livres in one year. Unfortunately, he presented this information to the ministry in July 1754 when Rouillé had left office, and consequently no action was taken.
Unhappy with his increasingly untenable situation at Louisbourg, Raymond requested a transfer after less than a year. When Duquesne’s appointment as governor general of New France was announced, Raymond avowed that his dignity would not permit him to serve under a man who held a rank inferior to his own. In the fall of 1753 he left the colony with a pension of 4,000 livres. Charles-Joseph d’Ailleboust* assumed temporary command until the arrival of Raymond’s successor, Drucour [Boschenry*].
After his return to France, Raymond was reassigned to the War department. In 1755 he became commandant at Le Havre. Pathologically obsessed with his self-importance, he attempted to impress French officials with his intimate knowledge of colonial affairs. After constant pleading he gained audiences with ministers at Versailles in 1755 and 1757. In 1759 he successfully petitioned to be appointed commandant of Angoumois, but he remained king’s lieutenant and received only 2,000 livres, one-quarter the additional salary he had requested. In the same year Raymond was drawing 8,400 livres in pensions, exclusive of the pension attached to his new post: 2,100 as king’s lieutenant, 800 as former lieutenant-colonel of the Vexin, 1,500 on the order of Saint-Louis, and 4,000 from the Marine. Little is known of him after the Seven Years’ War.
Raymond never emerged from the debts that plagued his life, though Surlaville estimated that his income during the governorship was 86,000 livres. Even the major’s canteen, the only officially sanctioned canteen in the fortress, which he expanded and tapped for a supplement to his income of 3,000 livres, went broke. Much of his money came as gratuities from Rouillé because Raymond did not degrade his status by engaging in trade. The minister cleared 20,000 livres of the governor’s debts, but when Raymond mustered sufficient temerity to request a second gratuity of an equal amount, the minister refused. Last notice of Raymond is a 1766 petition to the minister, the Duc de Praslin, to pay a 6,000 livres’ debt to the Bordeaux merchant David Gradis, still outstanding from the Louisbourg years. Typically Raymond attempted to improve his chances by outlining his relationship to the minister, although it was five generations removed on the distaff side. Raymond never acquired the Midas touch that alone could have supported his extravagant life.
Vain and self-centred, Raymond forced his contemporaries to be either loyal allies or bitter opponents. Numerous people, including Pichon, Franquet, Surlaville, and Joannis-Galand d’Olabaratz, complained of his high-handed treatment. He used people with little regard, at Louisbourg getting his servant girl pregnant. Surlaville, who later annotated much of Raymond’s correspondence with biting sarcasm and frequent cynicism, was perhaps most charitable when he wrote that Raymond was animated by “an intense zeal which never lets him listen at all.” Yet the object of his energies was personal advancement rather than public service. Pichon observed that he knew “how to profit by the knowledge of others, and to turn it to his sole advantage.” Although many of his projects had merit, they failed through his inability to concentrate his energies and his lack of discrimination, and from opposition within the colony and France. His agricultural communities withered because of his failure to appreciate the infertility of the location he chose for them; his roads project was vetoed by France on financial and security grounds; and, before his departure from Louisbourg, his schools for mathematics and artillery had begun to collapse. Raymond’s two years on Île Royale had been tumultuous but ultimately his impact was negligible.
[Some archival calendars and secondary sources confuse Raymond’s career with that of his cousin. Charles de Raymond Des Rivières, because the Raymond dossier in AN, Marine, contains material pertaining to both men. t.a.c.]
AD, Charente (Angoulême), État civil, Saint-Antonin d’Angoulême, 13 oct. 1771. AMA, Inspection du Génie, Bibliothèque,