Although the Treaty of Breda restored Acadia to France in
1667, there was still a dispute over just what territory was
Thomas Temple, the Englishman who
had been given the land, wanted to hold onto as much of it as he
could. He argued that, under the treaty, Acadia was just a small
part of the land that he had been given by Charles Cromwell in
1656, and that what had been returned to France was only a strip
of land along the Atlantic Coast.
That left him holding Port Royal and
the fertile Annapolis Valley, the fur-rich territory around the
fort at Saint John, and the developing trading post at Penobscot
The French ambassador to Great
Britain had the treaty clarified to specify that Acadia
included the forts at Pentagoet (Penobscot Bay), Saint John,
Port Royal, La Have and Cape Sable. But when a French
commissioner brought the order to Temple, who was living in
Boston, Temple sent him away. Those places, Temple said, were in
Nova Scotia, not Acadia, and the Treaty of Breda said
nothing about Nova Scotia.
The negotiations went back and forth
for another two years before England's King Charles II finally
sent Temple a direct order to hand over all of Acadia "forthwith
and without all manner of doubt, difficulties, scruples, or
delays." Temple finally complied and, on July 7, 1670, signed a
document handing over the lands to Hector d'Andigne de
Grandfontaine, French Acadia's first royal governor.
As Charles Mahaffie points out, "By
1670, there were about 500 Acadians. They had never stopped
being French. In terms of language, religion, and joie de
vivre, they are French today. Yet as recollections of France
dimmed, and as trade with New England became more and more
important, and in the absence for almost 20 years of any sort of
French authority, they had begun to slip their national ties.
They meant to give no sovereign their full allegiance. They were
adopting the mindset that in later years would give them the
name 'French neutrals.'"
The new royal governor, representing
France in the style to which the Acadians had been accustomed,
governed lightly. Trade ties that had been built with New
England were uninterrupted, even though they were illegal again
now that Acadia was again French. He did nothing - and
didn't have the wherewithal to try - to resist English claims to
a disputed area in Maine.
But Grandfontaine did one thing that
has been of abiding historical interest. In 1671, he ordered the
first census of Acadia. From it we know the names of some
of the early settlers there, a little bit about where they
lived, and some of their occupations.
For instance, from it we learn that
Port Royal in 1671 had 650 cattle, 425 sheep, horses and pigs,
and 400 arpents under cultivation, not counting natural grazing
According to the census data and
research by historian and genealogist Bona Arsenault, at the end
of 1671, Port Royal and the neighboring area had 68 families and
a population of 373.
In Arsenault's words, "These
families were to be the founders of the Acadian people and some
of them were already in their third generation as pioneers."
Naomi Griffiths, who devoted much
study to the origins of the Acadian families, notes, "The
census...gave the colony about 350 inhabitants, a figure which
is probably a little conservative....The most important
settlement was Port Royal, but there were other small
establishments at Pubnico, Cap Neigre, Port Rochelais, Pentagoet
and Mosquodoboit, and even a family of six on Cape Breton
Island. The census in most cases gives the names and ages of the
husband, wife and children, as well as their possessions. Two
men, Pierre Melanson and Etienne Robichaud, told the census
taker that they wouldn't answer his questions.
"Most of he men were identified just
as 'laboreur,' but this meant a man who had land and animals,"
Griffiths continues. "The colony possessed people who considered
themselves trained in various ways, the list going from the
practice of surgery through carpentry, barrel making, tailoring,
masonry, and various branches of the lumber trade to blacksmith,
armorer, and candle maker."
In 1673, Grandfontaine was replaced
as governor by Jacques de Chambly, who had a misfortune of
becoming victim of a ship captain who claimed Acadia for
In 1672, the Dutch and the French
began fighting in Europe, and England allied itself with the
French. England and the Netherlands came to terms early in 1674,
several months before the July day when Captian Jurriaen
Aernoutsz sailed into New York harbor. He had been sailing the
North Atlantic, looking for French and English ships to fight.
In New York, he met a trader named
John Rhoades who told him that the Dutch were no longer at war
with the English, but that France had yet to come to terms.
Rhoades went on to explain to Aernoutsz that the French colony
in Acadia was barely defended and ripe for conquest.
Aernoutsz immediately set sail for
Fort Pentagoet in Penobscot Bay. There were only 30 French
soldiers in the fort and they were lightly armed. The Dutchman
took the fort easily, then sailed to Saint John and captured the
fort there. At both places, he buried bottles with messages
inside them proclaiming that Acadia henceforward was to
be known as New Holland.
New Englanders looked on with some
amusement until Aernoutsz, feeling his oats, attacked two ships
from Boston. Governor John Leverett of Massachusetts organized a
fleet and, in short battle in the Bay of Fundy, captured
Aernoutsz and took him to Boston for trial. He was eventually
In 1676, the Dutch named Cornelius
Steenwyck governor of the "coasts and countries of Nova Scotia
and Acadia," but nothing ever came of it.
The Acadians, meanwhile, continued
to devote themselves to raising crops, cattle, and children.