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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
SURGERY AND SURGEONS IN ILE ROYALE
H F 21
Linda M. Hoad
Fortress of Louisbourg
Jean Baptiste LaGrange
LAGRANGE AS SURGEON MAJOR
Nothing is known about Jean Baptiste Martin Lagrange prior to his arrival in Louisbourg in 1713, other than that be was a native of Périgord in France, and that he was serving in the hospital at Rochefort when he was chosen surgeon major for the Louisbourg expedition.  Lagrange was appointed in France by Beauharnois, intendant de la marine at Rochefort. De Costebelle, governor of Plaisance then of Ile Royale, pointed out that this overlooked the prior claims of Viarrieu, surgeon major at Plaisance since at least 1693,  and the young surgeon, Le Roux, whom Viarrieu had left in charge there when he returned to France.  According to Soubras, both Le Roux who had come to Ile Royale with the inhabitants of Plaisance in 1714  and Lagrange were poor surgeons "deux mauvais fraters", and Viarrieu or another "good surgeon" was required.  The minister promised to send someone more experienced in 1716;  in the meantime, Lagrange went with de Costebelle and Soubras to Port Dauphin in October of 1715 when it was decided to make that port the principal establishment on the island.  Presumably Le Roux remained at Louisbourg, since he moved from there to Port Toulouse in 1717. 
In April of 1716, since neither Lagrange or Le Roux were able to fill this position, the Council decided to appoint an experienced surgeon major who would reside at Port Dauphin, and requested de Costebelle and Soabras to choose surgeons for Louisbourg and Port Toulouse.  The decision to establish the Brothers of Charity in Ile Royale was mentioned in this dispatch, but it was not until June that the implications of this decision were revealed:
" .... since the Brothers have asked to carry out all surgical operations in their hospital, which has been granted, the Council deems it useless to send a surgeon major. There is among the Brothers who are going out this year one who understands surgery perfectly well." 
By October 1716, the Brothers had arrived in Port Dauphin, and Lagrange found himself without a job. He and his family were "reduced to the last extremity" and Lagrange returned to France on the Atlante, arriving at the Ile of Aix on December 28, 1716. 
Subsequent events seem to indicate that Lagrange may have been treated unfairly by the administrators at Ile Royale. Following the Council's orders of 1716, de Costebelle and Soubras had appointed a surgeon to serve in Louisbourg,  who could only have been Le Roux. No mention was made of an appointment in Port Toulouse, and one wonders if Lagrange was considered. It is interesting to note that Le Roux retained his employment, moving to Port Toulouse when the Brothers of Charity came to Louisbourg, until at least the end of 1719 although orders had been given in 1718 to abolish the position.  It appears that Le Roux was supported by de Costebelle in preference to Lagrange, either because they had known each other in Plaisance, or because de Costebelle disliked Lagrange.
Thus the reason for Lagrange's initial failure in Ile Royle seems to have been a combination of administrative confusion, bad luck, and possibly a certain amount of ill-will.
It is not clear why Lagrange exerted so much energy to re-establish .himself as surgeon major at Ile Royale rather than set up a private practice. The post of surgeon major was not a particularly lucrative one; in fact, the salary was lower in 1716 (300 livres a year)  than it had been in 1713 (600 livres a year).  As will be seen in the next section, however, Lagrange had interests other than surgery. In addition, his request to Soubras in 1717, that he be paid for shaving the troops according to a written agreement with the officers, and for shaving the officers themselves, reveals that the position of surgeon major offered more than the salary indicated.  Lagrange's first step towards rehabilitation was a request to the Council of Marine for the position of surgeon major at Louisbourg, the salary and rations owed to him, and compensation for his property losses.  The first part of this request could not be granted because Le Roux had already been appointed. The Council calculated that Lagrange was owed 1233 livres 6 sols 8 deniers in unpaid salary.  His property losses were valued at 1200 livres, and the Council suggested that he also be given the choice of another concession to replace the one he had lost in Louisbourg. This claim was not finally settled until 1724.
Not content with this reaction to his misfortunes, Lagrange submitted a second list of requests two months later for a concession on the waterfront at Louisbourg, title to his Port Dauphin property so that he could sell it, permission to practice surgery in Ile Royale, the position of cadet for his 12 year old son, payment for shaving the troops and officers for three years and 8 months and free passage to Ile Royale.  The Council encouraged him to return to Ile Royale by giving him free passage (including 4 engagés and 2 tonneaux of provisions, and permission to practice surgery, but made no comment about his other requests.  Lagrange seems to have contented himself with this for the time being.
It is not known when Lagrange returned to Ile Royale, but it may have been as early as 1717. He stated that he was forced to abandon his property in Port Dauphin in 1717 and set up a practice in Louisbourg "in order to support his family".  He was in Louisbourg by September 1718, when he examined the corpse of a fisherman.  However, he was listed in the census of 1719 as a resident of Port Dauphin,  although he described himself in November of that year as "former surgeon major for the king, at present master surgeon established at Louisbourg".  He was listed in the 1720 census as a resident of Louisbourg,  and was granted a concession in August or September of that year for property in Block 3. 
In October 1722, Lagrange made another plea for compensation for his property losses. These losses totalled 5700 livres and his claims were supported by certificates signed by L'Hermitte, de Verville, Soubras, de Couagne and de la Forest.  While Lagrange was waiting for an answer, St-Ovide recommended that he be given a brevet as surgeon major and a salary of 400 livres, He pointed out that surgeons major were employed in Martinique, St. Domingue and Guadeloupe, where the Brothers of Charity were also established, and that these surgeons received 800 and 600 livres although Lagrange only asked for 400.  Apparently this request was granted before September 1723 because Lagrange appears by then as "chirurgien-major".  His brevet was set on June 26, 1724; his salary was set at 300 livres per year and he was paid 1500 livres compensation. 
The documents concerning Lagrange during this period do not give any indication of why he regained the position of surgeon major. His only professional activities seem to have been the performance of several autopsies. There can be little doubt that Lagrange had St-Ovide to thank for his reinstatement. In spite of the fact that the Council had declared in 1717 that a surgeon major was unnecessary and that the Brothers of Charity would suffice,  St-Ovide was able to convince the minister that the installation of the troops in the barracks made the appointment of a surgeon major essential. 
Lagrange's success from this point until his death may have been due in large part to St-Ovide's continuing influence in his favour. In 1730, de Mezy informed the minister that the captains had complained to him about the 3 livres a year paid by the soldiers, because they were afraid to complain directly to the Court.  Again in 1732 he suggested that Lagrange enjoyed St-Ovide's patronage. He stated that "Grand Lorembec was conceded by M. de St-Ovide to S. Lagrange, his surgeon and I signed it at his request". 
Since Lagrange was not allowed to treat the soldiers once they went to the hospital, and one of his apprentices was installed in the barracks to shave the troops and give them first aid, his duties as surgeon major cannot have been very arduous. The documents indicate that he performed several autopsies, treated a man who had been beaten by a soldier, gave a certificat d'invalidité to the baron de l'Esperance, and treated a fisherman (who later died) .
In 1731 he received a firewood allowance of 50 livres;  it has not been possible to find out if this allowance was continued.
On April 28, 1735, at Lagrange's request the "Edict for reestablishing the lieutenants of the King's surgeon" was registered by the Superior Council in Louisbourg, and Lagrange was ordered to appear before the bailiff to be installed as "lieutenant du premier chirurgien".  There is a possibility that Lagrange made a trip to France in order to obtain this position, because he is not listed in the census of 1734;  however, this could just as easily be a mistake on the part of the census-taker.
Apparently, Lagrange abused his position as "lieutenant du premier chirurgien". Le Normant complained to the minister that Lagrange was the only surgeon in Louisbourg, and that no other surgeons were "received" (i.e. allowed to practice). Lagrange had filled the positions near Louisbourg with his own apprentices, giving himself a virtual monopoly on surgery.  This complaint was made only one month after Lagrange received his position, so it appears that he had been functioning as "lieutenant du premier chirurgien" for some time before his official appointment. In fact, he described himself in 1732 as "monsieur surgeon major of the troops of Ile Royale and Lieutenant of the King's first surgeon".  The minister rebuked St-Ovide and Le Normant for allowing such an "abuse" and ordered them to correct it, but he apparently did not blame Lagrange. 
Lagrange did not have long to enjoy his privileged position. At the end of 1735 he was obliged to return to France because of ill-health. He certainly intended to return to Ile Royale, although Le Normant and the minister both felt that he would not recover. The minister indicated that he intended to "procure him something for his retirement so that he could subsist on the savings from his work at Louisbourg". However, Lagrange did not wish to retire, even though he would be replaced by his son-in-law, Bertin.  Perhaps he agreed with the minister, who approved Bertin's decision to go to Ile Royale adding that "the position is good although the salary is only 300 livres".  Lagrange was still surgeon major when he died in late 1737, or early 1737, presumably at Bagnères where he had gone to take the waters. 
One of Lagrange's last actions had been the promotion of a marriage between his daughter, Anne Henriette, and Louis Bertin, a ship's surgeon who had been in Louisbourg in 1735.  It is probable that he intended this marriage to provide him with a successor, although he certainly did not intend that Bertin should replace him quite as soon.
It is virtually impossible to determine Lagrange's professional capacity. The early complaints about him resulted in an ironic reply from the ministers:
" ... the S. La Grange ... is a very good subject who has worked for a long time in the Rochefort hospital with success and approbation. This is the opinion of M. de Beauharnois, and the king's physicians and surgeons in this port, and it is quite different from what you have written me about him. Perhaps you have got to know him better since then ..." 
There were no further complaints, and Lagrange presented certificates affirming the "capacity and exactitude" with which he had filled his post in Ile Royale at the time of his first request to the Council of Marine.  The only complaints about Lagrange after 1724 concern his fees and not his capacity. Lagrange probably trained several apprentices, but their names and the conditions of their apprenticeship are not known. Although Lagrange arrived alone in 1713, by January 1715 he had acquired a "garçon chirurgien".  In every census after this date Lagrange had four "domestiques", "engagés", or "domestiques et servantes", among whom was probably at least one apprentice. It was one of Lagrange's apprentices who was installed in the barracks to shave the soldiers and administer first aid. St-Ovide reported in 1725 that the prompt action of this apprentice had saved the lives of three soldiers who would have "suffocated in their beds" if he had not bled them.  LeNomant's complaint about Lagrange in 1735 mentions that his apprentices were established in the vicinity of Louisbourg and worked for him, preventing other surgeons from practicing in the area.
There is little doubt that Lagrange was more competent than Soubras indicated in 1714. The monopoly he was said to have established by 1735 seems to indicate that he was more interested in the economic possibilities of his position than in serving the populace. As will be seen in the following section, Lagrange had other interests, and may not have spent much of his time in the exercise of his profession.
LAGRANGE AS MERCHANT
Although Lagrange is referred to only once in the available documentation as a merchant, there are numerous indications that he was engaged in some kind (or several kinds) of commercial activity. The only direct reference occurs in the 1720 concession for lot A in Block 3 where he is described as a "Mar[chan]d M[aitr]e chirurgien". 
Lagrange seems to have begun his commercial activities as soon as he arrived. In 1713 he built a house, and a storehouse which measured 40 pieds by 20 pieds, then another house in 1714.  The probable use of the storehouse is revealed in the 1715 census: besides his family, an apprentice and a valet, Lagrange's establishment consisted of two fishermen.  When Lagrange left for Port Dauphin in 1715: he left his Louisbourg properties (and possibly his business enterprise?) in the hands of Louis LaChaume, a retired sergeant. 
Nothing is known about Lagrange's activities in Port Dauphin, except that he built two houses with courtyards and gardens there which he was forced to abandon in 1717 and which were reported to be in ruins in 1722.  He spoke of selling this property in 1717,  but it appears that he did not do so before 1722. There is no reference to the Port Dauphin property in the "Statement of the widow Lagrange's losses", so it must have been sold or abandoned after 1722. 
When Lagrange returned to Louisbourg in 1717 or 1718, he probably resumed his commercial activities. The garde magasin, Florenceau, noted in his will that he owed Lagrange for silk buttons, thread and silk.  At the sale of Florenceau's goods Lagrange bought a suit and 15 cravats, either for his own use or for resale. 
However, most of his energy seems to have been expended in getting compensation for his property losses, and in acquiring more property. His original concession in Louisbourg had been diminished because part of it occupied the site reserved for the parish church. One of his houses had been demolished, and the other one was in ruins. In 1720 he received a concession for the property in Block 3 where he seems to have established himself again, as he noted, for the sixth time.  Lagrange seems to have been determined to remain in the area of his first concession; it is significant that in 1717 he asked for a concession on the waterfront, and was eventually allowed to stay there, although officially the waterfront concessions were reserved for merchants. 
From this point on, Lagrange acquired property very rapidly. In 1722 he received a concession for lot A in Block 11; in 1724 a concession on the north side of the harbour; in 1725 or 1726 he built an imposing masonry house in Block 3; in 1727 he was granted a concession in Grand Laurembec; in 1729 he received lot B of Block 11, and purchased a property on the north side of the barachois.  See Appendix I for plans showing the locations and extent of these properties.) Unfortunately, it is impossible to estimate the value of his holdings, although most of them can be described from the "Statement of the widow Lagrange's losses", and a few other sources.
The house in Block 3 was Lagrange's home, and became the home of his daughter and son-in-law after 1736.  The buildings were described in 1758 as being "a large masonry house" and "a large masonry storehouse beside the house".  In fact, archaeological excavations have shown that the basement of the entire east wing of the home was used as a storehouse, well-fitted out, with an area of 20 feet by 44 feet. (See Figure 8 in Appendix TV.) The size of this storehouse in itself leads one to suspect that Lagrange did not confine himself to surgery.
The property in Block 11 apparently was never developed; in 1758 it was only enclosed with pickets. 
The barachois property when it was acquired consisted of a small picket house (22 pieds by 15 pieds) roofed with bark, and a garden enclosed with pickets. The total area was 100 pied by 180 pieds and was bought for 420 livres.  The buildings were probably burned before or during the 17145 siege, because by 1758 the property consisted of a "new wooden house with a large garden enclosed with pickets". 
The property on the north side of the harbour was used for fishing, although it must have been rented rather than operated directly since, according to the 1726 census, Lagrange did not have any boats or employ any fishermen. It seems to have been damaged during the siege because the widow Lagrange arranged for it to be repaired in 1751.
In 1758 it consisted of the "necessary cabannes and flakes for a six goalette fishing operation with a large new wooden storehouse". 
The nature of the Laurembec property is difficult to determine. Lagrange had a house there as early as 1732,  and in the 1734 census one servant was said to be living there.  In 1758 the property yielded 300 quinteaux of hay a year.  It could presumably have bee used for fishing but no flakes are mentioned; more likely it was a farm (métairie).
Unfortunately, no rental agreements have been found for any of these properties, and no further information concerning the structures or their use has emerged from this study. The fact remains that Lagrange had sufficient capital to acquire and develop these properties, which yielded an annual rent of 4500 livres in 1758.
One other indication of Lagrange's activities are the payments he received from the king: 200 livres in 1729 (no reason is given), 240 livres in 1731 for supplying the troops with vegetables, and 234 livres for "expenses for the Service" in the same year. 
In 1732 Lagrange was called before the Admiralty court, probably because he had refused to pay for several barrels of pork. He complained that the pork was of bad quality and that the barrels weighed less than the amount stated on the bill. He offered to pay for the barrels at a reduced rate (25 instead of 30 livres per quintal) and this offer was accepted.  There are no other indications of Lagrange's commercial dealings, and it is impossible to determine their exact nature and extent.
Lagrange seems to have had a passion for owning property; he built two houses and a storehouse in Louisbourg, and two more houses in Port Dauphin. He apparently did not speculate with these properties, so it must be assumed that he acquired them for the purpose of developing them and collecting the rents. Without more information about his commercial dealings however, it is impossible to estimate their success or the amount they contributed to his income.
THE LAGRANGE FAMILY
Lagrange's wife, Marie Anne Maisonnat, a native of Bergerac, in the diocese of Périgueux, France (about 50 miles east of Bordeaux), was the daughter of Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste and Judith Soubiran.  Pierre Maisonnat emigrated to Acadia before 1692 where he operated successfully as a shipmaster, privateer and port captain.  He was engaged by de Costebelle to navigate for St-Ovide on the first expedition to Ile Royale in 1713 since he was "familiar with all the ports of the island and could speak the Indian language."  After completing this task, Maisonnet returned to Beaubassin with the intention of removing his family to Ile Royale.  It has been impossible to trace his movements beyond this point, but it is unlikely that he emigrated to Ile Royale. 
In 1704, Marie Anne Maisonnet married Christophe Cahouet, a native of Orleans, France and a "soldat licencié". They resided at Port Royal and had three children, Marguerite (born 1705), Antoine (born 1706), and Jeanne (born 1709).  The date and place of Cahouet's death are not known; however, his widow was residing in Rochefort early in 1713,  and it was probably from this port that she embarked in that year for Ile Royale with her three children and one valet.  Her marrriage to Lagrange must have taken place shortly after the landing in Cape Breton, since by January of 1715 they had a son two months old. 
The Cahouet children lived with Lagrange and his wife, but it has been difficult to discover what became of them. Lagrange asked in 1717 that his 12 year old son be made a cadet;  he must have been referring to Antoine Cahouet, since his own son was only five years old at this time. In the census of 1724 and that of 1726, Lagrange had one son over 15 who was almost certainly Antoine Cahouet.  One of Lagrange's sons was granted a free passage to Ile Royale in 1726;  this too may refer to Antoine. There are no further references to him after this date and it is probable that he died or returned to France.
Nothing is known about Marguerite and it must be assumed that she died.  Jeanne lived with her mother throughout the period of Louisbourg's existance and was godmother to many of her nieces and nephews, and a witness at almost all family ceremonies. The date and place of her death is not known, but it must have been after 1758.
It would be interesting to know why Anne Maisonnat, a widow with three young children, chose to come to Louisbourg with the first settlers and face the hardships of founding a new colony; and why Lagrange chose to marry her at the beginning of his career in Ile Royale. It seems probable that the marriage was planned before the couple left Rochefort, and Lagrange himself suggests the reason for what appears to be a foolhardy step; he stated in 1717 that his wife "had used all her capital to build three houses in different places".  Another statement made in 1722 may indicate that Lagrange too had some capital to invest in the new colony. He reminded the Council that he had always provided his own lodging in Ile Royale and that in so doing (I"en deffrichant des terres Ingrattes") had spent the "fruits of his youth".  Nevertheless, it is very likely that one of the main reasons for his marriage to Anne Maisonnat was financial.
The Lagrange family consisted of at least three sons and three daughters. Two sons were born before 1724, the first as we have seen, in 1724, Lagrange stated that this child was the first male born in the new colony.  Etienne Marie was born in 1725 and died a year later. Nothing is known of the two surviving sons, except that a Lagrange fils was granted free passage to Ile Royale in 1726 and that one of Lagrange's sons was with him when he died in France. The request for provision of a tutor and assistant tutor for the Lagrange children mentions "Jean Michel anne henriette et Louise Lagrange".  Since there is no punctuation, "Jean Michel" may be one person or two.
There is more informaton about his daughters, Anne Henriette, Marie IMagdelaine and Anne Louise. The first was born in 1717, married Louis Bertin in 1737, and died in Louisbourg in 1752. Marle Magdelaine died in 1733 at the age of four years. Anne Louise, born in 1729, married Bertrand Imbert in 1752 and lived in France on a pension until at least 1789. 
Through his wife's sister, Judith Maisonnat, Lagrange was related to René Tréguy, a fairly prosperous fisherman. Tréguy lived at Scatary at the time of his marriage, around 1717, moved to L'Indienne prior to 1724, and to Louisbourg between 1726 and 1734.  There is no evidence of any commercial relations between the two families, although they were usually present at each other's marriages and baptisms.
Like several other Louisbourg widows, Anne Maisonnat managed the family business after the death of her husband. She rented a part of the house in Block 3 to her son-in-law, Bertin for 200 livres a year (paid by the king, since Bertin was surgeon major) .  Both she and her daughter Jeanne Cahouet contributed to the finances of the colony in 1745 and were repaid by lettres de change. There are no details given as to the nature -of their contribution . The widow Lagrange had at least one servant when she returned to Ile Royale in 1749.  In 1749, she supplied a scale for the King's storehouse, in 1750 she purchased 50 livres of oakum, and in 1752 a quintal of peas. 
These two purchases may have been connected with the re-establishment of the fishing property located at the "fond de la baye". The widow Lagrange hired Gilles Chalois, a carpenter, in July 1750 to build a cabanne 60 pieds long with the same number of flakes as had existed before the siege of 1754. He was to provide all the materials except the boards and nails; and was to receive 2000 livres for his work.  There are no records indicating to whom this property or any of the other Lagrange properties were rented, but the "Statement of the widow Lagrange's losses" indicated that she was receiving rents totalling 4500 livres per year in 1758. The only other indications of the widow Lagrange's activities are a request for payment of a debt owed by the heirs of Antoine Paris (a merchant) in 1754,  and a payment received from her son-in-law, Bertrand Imbert, and his business partner, Jean Baptiste Lannelongue for storing the cargo of a captured ship. The final information we have concerning Anne Maisonnat is her death in 1759, presumably in France. 
It is virtually impossible to estimate the social position of Lagrange, since not enough is known generally about Louisbourg society. His dual role as surgeon major and merchant complicates the matter because to a certain extent his position was probably due to his merchant status.
Although the surgeon major's job was to care for the troops, he was not a part of the military establishment. His salary was always listed with the "other employees", a large group which included clerks (from the Earivain principal down), armourers, missionaries and interpreters.  His salary was not high 300 livres was lower than the salary paid to the garde magasin (500-600 livres), the master canoneer (600 livres) or the master armourer (360 livres).
The interpreter received the same salary as the surgeon, and only the minor clerks received less. (e.g. garden copiste, 240 livres.)
Lagrange's establishment never seems to have exceeded four people, at least one of whom was an apprentice. He does not seem to have employed any fishermen after 1724. He had at least one negro servant, a negress who died during the 1733 epidemic.  It is unfortunate that Lagrange does not appear in the 1734 census since he was well-established at that time, and may well have had a larger number of servants than in 1726.
Lagrange signed a petition to St-ovide and de Mezy objecting to the proposal to recall the Recollets who were serving the parish and substitute another branch of the Order. Among the other signators were Lartigue, Lessenne, C. Morin, Jean de Lasson, T. Seigneur, François and Jean Milly, Daccarrette le jeune, Archer, Benoist, Jean Bernard, Pugnant and Lachaume (merchants and artisans for the most part).  From this evidence, it might be assumed that Lagrange held the same views as his neighbours on religious matters.
Probably the most significant indication of social position is found in the parish records: the godparents and witnesses of acts concerning Lagrange's family, and the families for whom he or his wife were godparents. However, the list of names is in itself interesting. Those who were godparents to Lagrange's children are: Verrier (chief engineer), Madame de Villejouin, (widow of an officer), Louis Delort (habitant bourgeois), Anne Henriette Lagrange, Jean Baptiste Cabarrus (ship's captain), and Jeanne Cahouet. The witnesses included: Verrier fils (sub-engineer), Sabatier (Ecrivain principal, controlleur), Dailleboust (officer), Boucher (sub-engineer), Villejouin (officer), Delort (twice), B. Cabarrus (ship's captain, twice), Magdeleine Berichon (daughter of a merchant, twice), Marie Anne Villejouin (daughter of an officer), Lartigue (merchant), and Madelon Lartigue (his daughter).  The witnesses at his daughter's wedding were, besides the immediate family, Judith Maisonnat, Benoit (officer), Lartigue, Verrier and Boucher. 
Lagrange was godfather to children of Jean Baptiste Rodrigue (merchant), François Chevalier (merchant), Jean Richard (master Mason), Jean Baptiste Guyon (merchant), Philippe Carrerot (merchant), and Jean Bernard (master roofer). [ His wife was godmother to children of Joseph François Lartigue (merchant), Jean Dutraque (merchant), Jean Bernard and Pierre Martissance (merchant). 
seems that Lagrange had friends in at least, four major social groups:
officers, civil servants (entretenus), merchants, and artisans. He seems to
have been particularly friendly with the Louisbourg engineers, Verrier and
Boucher. It may be significant that, while officers and other entretenus
were witnesses or godparents for the Lagrange family, Lagrange and his
wife were asked to be godparents only for children of merchants or artisans.