Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
BaronDeStCastin1881byWill H Lowe Wilson Museum Archives.jpg
Will H Lowe: Baron De St Castin, fantasy portrait 1881
Escout, Béarn, France
Died1707 (aged 54–55)
AllegianceFrance, Abenaki

King Philip's War (1675-1676)

King William's War

Other workrepresentative

Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin (1652–1707) was a French military officer serving in Acadia and an Abenaki chief. He is the father of two prominent sons who were also military leaders in Acadia: Bernard-Anselme and Joseph. He is the namesake of Castine, Maine. He died at Pau, France, in 1707.

Early Life[edit]

Castin was born at Escout, Béarn, France, the youngest of three sons in his noble family. Little is known of his early years other than he lost his mother in infancy and his father before his teens. He left for Canada at the age of thirteen as an ensign in the army, a suitable pursuit for the younger son of a noble.

He was likely part of Alexandre de Prouville's brutal campaign against the Iroqois in 1666 although his name does not appear in surviving records until 1670 when he was part of the repossession of Acadia by the French. In the Penobscot River area he gained his knowledge of the Penobscot and was eventually adopted into a local tribe.

In 1674, along with the governor of Acadia, Castin was taken to Boston as a prisoner in the Dutch-led conquest of Acadia, who renamed the colony New Holland. After he returned from Boston, Governor Frontenac gave Castin the task of allying the Abenaki with the French and recaptured the former capital of Acadia, Fort Pentagouet the following year (1675) during King Philips War. He took this role seriously and, while he became the third Baron de Saint-Castin on the death of his elder brother that year, he appears to have devoted his time to becoming an Abenaki.

During King William's War, after Benjamin Church successfully defended a group of English settlers at Falmouth, Maine in the fall of 1689, Castin returned to the village in May 1690 with over 400 soldiers and destroyed the village.[1]

Polygamist or Multiple Wives and Numerous Children[edit]

Castin seems to have married at least one[2] and possibly two different daughters of Penobscot chief, Madokawando, as described by French Acadian Governor de Menneval, December 1, 1687: "...being in the forest with them, since 1665, and having with him two daughters of the chief of these [Indians] by whom he has many children."[3] Menneval suggests polygamy and some recent historians have upheld this view, at least insofar as Castin having married more than one daughter of Madockawando. [4]

Writing a brief account of Castin within a decade of Menneval’s account, Baron de Lahonton makes a point of countering rumors that Castin was a polygamist:::::::“He has several daughters, who are, all of them, married very handsomely to Frenchmen… He has never changed his wife, by which means he meant to give the savages to understand, that God does not love inconstant folks.” [5] Lahanton’s itinerary, as he recorded it, did not take him to the Penobscot region. If Lahonton met Castin in person, it would have been far from Castin’s home (perhaps in Quebec). By the mid sixteen-nineties, Lahonton had returned to Europe and written his account. Thus the “several daughters” already married by this time would seem to precede Castin's marriage in Penobscot in 1684, said to have been blessed by a Jesuit missionary. [6] The woman Castin married in 1684 may have been a teen bride named Pidianske or Pidiwamiska or Marie-Mathilde or one of the former may have been changed to the latter as a baptismal name, or these names may refer to at least “two distinct women.” [7]

Earlier children[edit]

At least one of the “several daughters” referred to by Baron de Lahonton may have been born as early as 1671 [8]. This daughter or an unidentified sister may have married a Frenchman with the last name Meunier. [9]

Later children[edit]

Two sons became scions of the Castin name:, Bernard-Anselm (ca.1689 per Canada Biog. in French) and Joseph (ca.1690). Another son named Jean-Pierre died in Quebec while still a minor. Two of Castin's daughters, Thérèse and Anastasie, are said to have married on the same day, December 4, 1707.[10]

Shifting Allegiances, A Secret Treasure, and Final Return to France[edit]

In 1700, the governor of Massachusetts wrote to England describing a conversation with John Alden in which Alden characterized Castin as a friend and correspondent who was always eager to trade and "professes great kindness to the English and speaks English." Alden stated the Castin had recently told him "he hoped he should shortly come under the King of England's government, for that he would much rather be a subject of England than a slave to France." Castin was also quoted as saying the border with New France should be the St. Croix River.[11] A much later message, in 1750, from the Boston council to one of Castin's sons, seems to give some support the idea that Castin was friendly, or at least could be shrewd in matters relative to Boston, as it refers to Castin's "good affection to us."[12]

In 1701, Castin returned to France to answer charges of disloyalty that stemmed directly from Alden’s characterization, and also to secure his baronial inheritance in France through court lawsuits. He died in France in 1707.

At some point prior to departure, Castin seems to have buried a large treasure of silver coins on a bank of the Bagaduce river, but without telling family or friends. (Or, if he told someone, they were unable to locate or take advantage, for whatever reason.) The buried treasure was not discovered until Anglophone inhabitants of Penobscot stumbled upon it almost 150 years later.


In 1714, Castin’s son, Bernard-Anselm sailed to France with his wife Marie-Charlotte Damours de Chauffours and daughter. He sought to prove his legitimacy and secure his inheritance and baronial title. He subsequently died in 1720 and his wife and children remained in France. [13]

Continuity of the Castin name in the Penobscot region falls to Castin’s son Joseph. Joseph is referred to simply as “Casteen” in correspondence from 1725. [14]As late as 1750, Joseph was corresponding with Lt. Gov. Spencer Phips, the adopted son of the former governor— and sometimes-nemesis of Castin— William Phips.[15]

A record from 1725, mentions an unindentified “one of Casteen’s daughters” married to a Frenchman with the last name Bellisle and living near Port-Royal (Annapolis).[16] Another daughter was said to still be living on Mount Desert Island in 1735 [17]

An anthropology dig[edit]

In 1899-1900 Frank Hamilton Cushing, a famous anthropologist from the Smithsonian, while conducting a dig on Campbell Island, just off Deer Island Maine, uncovered a French skeleton in armor. The weapons and items were identical to those of a French officer of the Carignan-Salières regiment. A halberd, sword, blunderbuss and other weapons were recovered. A tomahawk was found with a Maltese cross etched on it. The remains were found buried next to a Native American woman. They were re-patriated to the Penobscot Nation.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ The history of the great Indian war of 1675 and 1676, commonly called Philip ... by Benjamin Church, Thomas Church, Samuel Gardner Drake, pp175-176
  2. ^ Baxter Manuscripts vol. v p. 121.
  3. ^ Harald E.L. Prins, Bunny McBride Wabanaki Peoples (NPS, 2007) p. 175.
  4. ^ “[Castin] marries two of Madockawando’s daughters and has many métis children." Wabanaki Peoples (2007) p. xvii.
  5. ^ Lahontan, New Voyages to North America, p. 328.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Wabanaki p 159 n. 92
  9. ^ WabanakiPDF p. 191-2. With regard to an altercation with a Paul Meunier, see also, Brit hist online. For 1793, see entries for March 31, April, 1, April 5, May 1, and May 10. Note there is some contradictory information between the two sources listed here, and the former has a Paul Meunier still living in 1735.
  10. ^ Therese married Philippe Mius d’Entremont, and Anastasie married Alexandre Le Borgne Belle-Isle.
  11. ^ Baxter Manuscripts Vol X, p.58.
  12. ^ The Baxter Manuscripts, vol X, p. 123.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Baxter Manuscripts vol X p. 313.
  15. ^ Baxter Manuscripts vol 12 p. 121-127.
  16. ^ Baxter Manuscripts vol x, p. 300.
  17. ^ Wabanaki p. xix
  18. ^ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes. France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


External links[edit]

  • The Baron of Castine - Longfellow
  • Salagnac, Georges Cerbelaud (1979) [1969]. "Abbadie de Saint-Castin, Jean-Vincent d', Baron de Saint-Castin". In Hayne, David. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. II (1701–1740) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Saint Castin, Jean Vincent de l'Abadie, Baron de" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900. p. 368.