Acadian "French Neutral" Expulsion Die is Cast as Tensions Build During Conflicts Leading to the French and Indian War


Governor Charles Lawrence orders the expulsion of the Acadians

Colonel John Winslow takes over 400 Acadians prisoner at the Grand-Pré Church Sept 5, 1755

The Acadians are held prisoner, loaded on transport ships and exiled from their homeland as their homes, farms and possessions are burned to the ground by the British forces.


1) Governor Charles Lawrence's expulsion orders
2) Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow Orders Sept 5 Meeting at Grand-Pre Church
3) Winslow Announces Commencement of Deportation at Grande Pre Church
4) British Decide to Deport the Acadians - Story at Grand-Pré

The British in Nova Scotia Decide to Deport the Acadians in 1755

It was evidently the desire of Governor Lawrence that the Acadians should not take the oath. He acted promptly. Everything was ripe for the undertaking. It was decided on July 28, 1755, to deport the Acadians. New England troops were in the country, having assisted in the capture of Beausejour. In a letter to the commandant, Moncton, he informed him that the French of that place were to be removed at once, as soon as transports, which had been ordered, should come up the Bay. Very full particulars were given as to the removal of the people and the seizure of property and cattle. Not the slightest trace of pity or compunction is apparent in the orders he issued to the officers in command at the different centres. If the people had been animals or wild beasts, and likely to escape in spite of his vigilance, he could not have been more merciless in working out the soulless scheme of the deportation.

Governor Charles Lawrence's official expulsion orders

Halifax 11 August 1755

Instructions for Major Handfield, Commanding his Majesty's garrison of Annapolis Royale in relation to the transportation of the Inhabitants of the District of Annapolis River and other French Inhabitants out of the Province of Nova Scotia.


Having in my Letter of the 31st of July last made you acquainted with the reasons which Induced His Majesty's Council to come to the Resolution of sending away the French Inhabitants and clearing the whole Country of such bad subjects, it only remains for me to give you the necessary orders for the putting in practice what has been so solemnly determined.

That the Inhabitants may not have it in their power to return to this Province nor to join in strengthening the French of Canada in Louisbourg; it is resolved that they shall be dispersed among his Majesty's Colonies upon the Continent of America.

For this purpose Transports are ordered to be sent from Boston to Annapolis to ship on board one thousand persons reckoning two persons to a ton, and for Chignecto, transports have been taken up here to carry off the Inhabitants of that place; and for those of the District around Mines Bason Transports are in from Boston. As Annapolis is the place where the last of the transports will depart from, any of the vessels that may not receive their full compliment up the Bay will be ordered there, and Colonel Winslow with his detachment will follow by land and bring up what stragglers he may meet with to ship on board at your place.

Upon the arrival of the vessels from Boston in the Bason of Annapolis as many of the Inhabitants of Annapolis District as can be collected by any means, particularly the heads of families and young men, are to be shipped on board of them at the above rate of two persons to a ton, or as near it as possible. The tonnage of the vessels to be ascertained by the charter partys, which the masters will furnish you with an amount of.

And to give you all the ease possible respecting the victualling of these transports, I have appointed Mr. George Sauls to act as agent Victualler upon this occasion and have given him particular instructions for that purpose with a copy of which he will furnish you upon his arrival at Annapolis Royale from Chignecto with the provisions for victualling the whole transports; but in case you should have shipped any of the Inhabitants before his arrival you will order five pounds of flour and one pound of pork to be delivered to each person so shipped to last for seven days and so until Mr. Saul's arrival, and it will be replaced by him into the stores from what he has on board the provision vessel for that purpose.

The destination of the Inhabitants of Annapolis River and of the transports ordered to Annapolis Bason:

  • To be sent to Philadelphia such a number of vessels as will transport three hundred persons.

  • To be sent to New York such a number of vessels as will transport two hundred persons.

  • To be sent to Connecticut such a number of vessels / whereof the Sloop Dove, Samuel Forbes, Master to be one / as will transport three hundred persons.

And To be sent to Boston such a number of vessels as will transport two hundred persons, or rather more in proportion to the province of Connecticut, should the number to be shipped off exceed one thousand persons. When the people are embarked you will please to give the master of each vessel one of the letters of which you will receive a number signed by me of which you will address to the Governor of the Province or the Commander in Chief for the time being where they are to be put on shore and enclose therein the printed form of the Certificate to be granted to the Masters of the vessels to entitle them to their hire as agreed upon by Charter party; and with these you will give each of the Masters their sailing orders in writing to proceed according to the above destination, and upon their arrival immediately to wait upon the Governors or Commanders in Chief of the Provinces for which they are bound with the said Letters and to make all possible dispatch in debarking their passengers and obtain certificates thereof agreeable to the form aforesaid.

And you will in these orders make it a particular injunction to the said Masters to be as careful and watchful as possible during the whole course of the passage to prevent the passengers making any attempt to seize upon the vessel by allowing only a small number to be upon the decks at a time and using all other necessary precautions to prevent the bad consequence of such attempts; and that they be particularly careful that the Inhabitants carry no arms nor other offensive weapons on board with them at their embarkation. As also that they see the provisions regularly issued to the people agreeable to the allowance proportioned in Mr. George Saul's instructions.

You will use all the means proper and necessary for collecting the people together so as to get them on board. If you find that fair means will not do with them, you must proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support by burning their houses and destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country, and if you have not force sufficient to perform this service, Colonel Winslow at Mines or the Commanding Officer there will upon your application send you a proper reinforcement.

You will see by the Charter partys of the vessels taken up at Boston that they are hired by the month; therefore I am to desire that you will use all possible dispatch to save expense to the public.

As soon as the people are shipped and the transports are ready you will acquaint the Commander of His Majesty's Ship therewith that he may take them under his convoy and put to sea without loss of time.

- Sir Charles Lawrence, Orders to Captain John Handfield

On Sept 2, 1755, Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow orders a Sept 5 mandatory meeting at Grand-Pre Church with the Acadians of that area

British Governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council decided on July 28, to deport the Acadians. Although Grand Pré to this day is the most well known symbol of the expulsion, it actually began at Fort Beauséjour on August 11.

At a consultation, held between Colonel Winslow and Captain Murray, [of the New England forces, charged with the duty of exiling the Acadians,] it was agreed that a proclamation should be issued at the different settlements, requiring the attendance of the people at the respective posts on the same day; which proclamation should be so ambiguous in its nature that the object for which they were to assemble could not be discerned, and so peremptory in its terms as to ensure implicit obedience. This instrument, having been drafted and approved, was distributed according to the original plan. That which was addressed to the people inhabiting the country now comprised within the limits of King's County, was as follows:

"To the inhabitants of the District of Grand Pre, Minas, River Canard, as well ancient, as young men and lads:

"Whereas, his Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his late resolution, respecting the matter proposed to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same in person, his Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of his Majesty's intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given to him. We, therefore, order and strictly enjoin, by these presents, all of the inhabitants, as well of the above-named district as of all the other Districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the Church at Grand Pre, on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart to them what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels, in default of real estate."

"Given at Grand Pre, 2d September, 1755, and 29th year of his Majesty's Reign, John Winslow."

British forces take the Acadien population into custody at Grand-Pré

Le Grand Dérangement Commences at Grand-Pré

September 5, 1755 - Acadien Inhabitants of Grand-Pré are detained
as prisoners of the British Crown

On September 5, 1755, at Grand-Pré, Kings County, N.S., over 400 unarmed Acadien men and youths were assembled and marched into the local church. There the commander of the British Provincial Troops, Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow, under order of Governor Charles Lawrence informed the Acadiens they had been called together to hear the decision of the King of England in regard to the French inhabitants of the province:

Deportation of Acadians order, read by Winslow in Grand-Pré church, painting by C.W. Jefferys
painting by C.W. Jefferys

"your lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds, and live-stock of all sorts, are forfeited to the crown, and you, yourselves, are to be removed from this province. I am, through his Majesty's goodness, directed to allow you liberty to carry off your money and household goods, as many as you can, without discommoding the vessels you go in.

Thus it is peremptorily his Majesty's orders that the whole French inhabitants of these Districts be removed;

and hope that, in whatever part of the world you may fall, you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people."

At conclude of his announcement, Colonel Winslow declared that the adult male poulation of the Acadien communities of Grand-Pré and the Minas Basin were to be held as prisoners of the British Crown:

"I must also inform you, that it is his Majesty's pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command".

" After carrying off the priests, the English raised their flag above the churches and made the latter into barracks when their troops passed there. . . . The missionaries reached Halifax with this fine accompaniment, drums beating. They were led out on the parade, where they were exposed for three-quarters of an hour to mockery, contempt and Insults."

Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow, the commanding officer that was charged with the forcible removal of young Acadian men at Grand-Pré, later that month, described the scene in a letter dated September 10, 1755:

"Order ye Prisoners to March. They all answered they would not go without their fathers. I told them that was a word I did not understand for that the King's Command was to be absolute and should be absolutely obeyed, and that I did not love to use harsh means, but that the time did not admit of parleys or delays, and then ordered the whole troops to fix their bayonets and advance towards the French. I bid the four right-hand files of the prisoners, consisting of twenty-four men, which I told off myself to divide from the rest, one of whom I took hold on (who opposed the marching) and bid march. He obeyed and the rest followed, though slowly, and went off praying, singing, and crying, being met by the women and children all the way."

Winslow's Official Address to the imprisoned Acadians in the Grand-Pré Church on September 5, 1755

Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow Orders French Inhabitants of Grand-Pré to be Imprisoned in the Grand-Pré Church while awaiting forced departure

In obedience to this summons four hundred and eighteen able-bodied men assembled. These being shut into the church (for that, too, had become an arsenal), Colonel Winslow placed himself, with his officers, in the centre, and addressed them thus:


"I have received from his Excellency Governor Lawrence, the King's Commission, which I have in my hand; and by his orders you are convened together to manifest to you, his Majesty's final resolution to the French inhabitants of this his Province of Nova-Scotia; who, for almost half a century, have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions; what use you have made of it you yourselves best know. The part of duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species; but it is not my business to animadvert but to obey such orders as I receive, and therefore, without hesitation, shall deliver you his Majesty's orders and instructions, namely- that your lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds and live stock of all sorts, are forfeited to the Crown; with all other your effects, saving your money and household goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this his Province."

"Thus it is peremptorily his Majesty's orders that the whole French inhabitants of these Districts be removed; and I am, through his Majesty's goodness, directed to allow you liberty to carry off your money and household goods, as many as you can without discommoding the vessels you go in. I shall do everything in my power that all those goods be secured to you, and that you are not molested in carrying them off; also, that whole families shall go in the same vessel, and make this remove, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, as easy as his Majesty's service will admit; and hope that, in whatever part of the world you may fall, you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people."

"I must also inform you, that it is his Majesty's pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command."

E.g. West Pubnico, 1990; Annapolis River (Melanson site), 1996; Truro, 2004.

The scenes at embarkation were very painful. Even at this lapse of time one cannot but regard with sorrow, mingled with a feeling of horror the tortures of a defenceless people and the cruelties perpetrated on innocent women and children. Abbe La Guerne says that many of the married women, deaf to all entreaties and representations, refused to be separated from their husbands and precipitated themselves in the vessels, where their husbands had been forced

Text Below is Excerpted From:


And he then declared them the King's prisoners. The whole number of persons collected at Grand Pre finally amounted to four hundred and eighty-three men, and three hundred and thirty-seven women, heads of families; and their sons and daughters, to five hundred and twenty-seven of the former, and five hundred and seventy-six of the latter; making in the whole one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three souls. Their stock consisted of one thousand two hundred and sixty-nine oxen, one thousand five hundred and fifty-seven cows, five thousand and seven young cattle, four hundred and ninety-three horses, eight thousand six hundred and ninety sheep, and four thousand one hundred and ninety-seven hogs.

As some of these wretched inhabitants escaped to the woods, all possible measures were adopted to force them back to captivity. The country was laid waste to prevent their subsistence. In the District of Minas alone, there were destroyed two hundred and fifty-five houses, two hundred and seventy-six barns, one hundred and fifty-five outhouses, eleven mills, and one church; and the friends of those who refused to surrender were threatened as the victims of their obstinacy.

In short, so operative were the terrors that surrounded them, that of twenty-four young men, who deserted from a transport, twenty-two were glad to return of themselves, the others being shot by sentinels; and one of their friends, who was supposed to have been accessory to their escape, was carried on shore to behold the destruction of his house and effects, which were burned in his presence, as a punishment for his temerity and perfidious aid to his comrades. The prisoners expressed the greatest concern at having incurred his Majesty's displeasure, and in a petition addressed to Colonel Winslow intreated him to detain a part of them as sureties for the appearance of the rest, who were desirous of visiting their families, and consoling them in their distress and misfortunes.

To comply with this request of holding a few as hostages for the surrender of the whole body, was deemed inconsistent with his instructions; but, as there could be no objection to allow a small number of them to return to their homes, permission was given to them to choose ten for the District of Minas (Horton) and ten for the District of Canard (Cornwallis) to whom leave of absence was given for one day, and on whose return a similar number were indulged in the same manner. They bore their confinement, and received their sentence with a fortitude and resignation altogether unexpected; but when the hour of embarkation arrived, in which they were to leave the land of their nativity forever--to part with their friends and relatives, without the hope of ever seeing them again, and to be dispersed among strangers, whose language, customs and religion were opposed to their own, the weakness of human nature prevailed, and they were overpowered with the sense of their miseries. The preparations having been all completed, the

10th of September was fixed upon as the day of departure. The prisoners were drawn up six deep, and the young men, one hundred and sixty-one in number, were ordered to go first on board of the vessels. This they instantly and peremptorily refused to do, declaring that they would not leave their parents; but expressed a willingness to comply with the order, provided they were permitted to embark with their families. This request was immediately rejected, and the troops were ordered to fix bayonets and advance towards the prisoners, a motion which had the effect of producing obedience on the part of the young men, who forthwith commenced their march. The road from the chapel to the shore, just one mile in length, was crowded with women and children; who, on their knees, greeted them as they passed with their tears and their blessings, while the prisoners advanced with slow and reluctant steps, weeping, praying, and singing hymns. This detachment was followed by the seniors, who passed through the same scene of sorrow and distress. In this manner was the whole male part of the population of the District of Minas put on board the five transports, stationed in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel being guarded by six non-commissioned officers, and eighty privates. As soon as the other vessels arrived, their wives and children followed, and the whole were transported from Nova Scotia.

The haste with which these measures were carried into execution did not admit of those preparations for their comfort, which, if unmerited by their disloyalty, were at least due in pity to the severity of their punishment. The hurry, confusion, and excitement connected with the embarkation had scarcely subsided, when the Provincials were appalled by the work of their own hands The novelty and peculiarity of their situation could not but force itself upon the attention of even the unreflecting soldiery; stationed in the midst of a beautiful and fertile country, they suddenly found themselves without a foe to subdue, and without a population to protect. The volumes of smoke which the half expiring embers emitted, while they marked the site of the peasant's humble cottage, bore testimony to the extent of the work of destruction. For several successive evenings the cattle assembled round the smouldering ruins, as if in anxious expectation of the return of their masters, while all night long the faithful watchdogs of the Neutrals howled over the scene of desolation, and mourned alike the hand that had fed, and the house that had sheltered them.

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CANADA; By SIR J. G. BOURINOT; K.C.M.G., LL.D., LIT.D.; NEW AND REVISED EDITION, WITH ADDITIONAL CHAPTER BY WILLIAM H. INGRAM, B.A.; T. FISHER UNWIN LTD LONDON: ADELPHI TERRACE; Copyright by T. Fisher Unwin, 1897 (for Great Britain); Copyright by G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1897 (For the United States of America). Title: Canada; Author: J. G. Bourinot; Release Date: September 10, 2007 [EBook #22557]

FRANCIS PARKMAN; MONTCALM AND WOLFE; With a New Introduction by SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON; COLLIER BOOKS; NEW YORK, N.Y. 1884 edition; First Collier Books Edition 1962; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62:16974; Copyright (c) 1962 by The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company All Rights Reserved; Title: Montcalm and Wolfe; Author: Francis Parkman; Release Date: December 29, 2004 [EBook #14517]

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Note on Gutenberg Project ebooks: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Montcalm and Wolfe, by Francis Parkman; These eBooks is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with these eBook or online at;


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