Thomas Pichon by Henri Baud(1800–1900) (copied from original portrait by N. Coucourt)
March 30, 1700|
Vire (dept of Calvados), France
|Died||November 22, 1781
Saint Helier, Jersey
|Known for||colonial official, spy, and author|
Thomas Pichon (1700–1781), also known as Thomas Tyrell, was a French government agent during Father Le Loutre's War. Pichon is renowned for betraying the French, Acadian and Mi’kmaq forces by providing information to the British, which led to the fall of Beausejour. He has been referred to as "The Judas of Acadia."
Father Le Loutre's War
During Father Le Loutre's War, Pichon entered the service of secretary for Jean-Louis de Raymond, latterly reputed to be a place-seeker, who had been appointed Governor at the Fortress of Louisbourg and Île-Royale (New France) in 1751.
Jacques Prevost de la Croix dispatched Pichon to Chignecto, employing him as scrivener and subdelegate of the intendant of New France. Pichon arrived at Beauséjour on 3 Nov. 1753. For the next two years he acted as chief clerk responsible for stores. Pichon served as scribe to the commandants. Pichon also helped Father Jean-Louis Le Loutre with his writing, although Pichon's suspicions about Roman Catholicism were confirmed by the missionary and he came to despise the priest.
British commander Captain George Scott invited Pichon to Fort Lawrence to offer him monetary gain for information on the French forces. For more than a year Pichon practised espionage and subterfuge against the French under the assumed name of Tyrell. He sent Scott and his successor, Captain John Hussey, detailed accounts of French activities in Quebec and Acadia, plans of forts Beauséjour and Gaspereau, comments on the defences of Louisbourg, copies of official documents, censuses of Acadian refugees, reports on French missionaries and warnings of attacks by the Mi'kmaq and Acadians.
Battle of Beausejour
Pichon was instrumental in the British success in the Battle of Beausejour. Prior to the battle, Pichon supplied Scott with an outline of the steps necessary for their capture, which Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton later used in the attack. Pichon discouraged the Acadians from joining the Mi'kmaq and retarded the strengthening of Beauséjour by advising that the British would not attack that year.
During the siege Pichon urged Acadians and the French commandant, Louis Du Pont Duchambon de Vergor, to capitulate. Before the fall of Beauséjour Pichon had made arrangements with the British to continue his spying. As a prisoner in Halifax, he passed on to Governor Charles Lawrence, a French plan for seizing Halifax.
Death and legacy
Pichon retreated to London in 1757, where he entered on an affair with the French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, whose marriage had been annulled. Never a master of the English language, in 1769 he moved to Saint Helier, Jersey (a remnant of the Norman conquest where French was spoken) in which place he died on 22 November 1781.
Thomas Pichon left behind a very large collection of documents. They are held by the Bibliothèque municipale de Vire, in Normandy, France. His 1760 book on Cape Breton Island -- Genuine letters and memoirs relating to the natural, civil, and commercial history of the islands of Cape Breton and Saint John : from the first settlement there, to the taking of Louisbourg by the English in 1758 -- published in both English and French shortly after the conquest of Louisbourg in 1758, was the first such history of that island.
- Thomas Pichon - Canadian Biography Online
- Thomas Pichon. Lettres et mémoires pour servir à l'histoire naturelle, civile et politique du Cap Breton, depuis son établissement jusqu'à la reprise de cette Isle par les Anglois en 1758, La Haye, Pierre Gosse / Londres, John Nourse, 1760, [New York, Johnson Reprint, 1966].
- Genuine letters and memoirs relating to the natural, civil, and commercial history of the islands of Cape Breton and Saint John : from the first settlement there, to the taking of Louisbourg by the English in 1758
- Geneviève Artigas-Menant, Lumières clandestines : les papiers de Thomas Pichon, Paris, Honoré Champion, 2001 ;
- Geneviève Artigas-Menant, « Un Français chez les Micmacs en 1752 : Thomas Pichon », Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 1992 ; 305: pp. 1593–97 ;
- (in English) John Clarence, Webster ; Alice de Kessler Lusk Webster, Thomas Pichon, “the spy of Beausejour,” an account of his career in Europe and America, Sackville, N.B., Tribune Press, 1937.
- [L.-T. Jacau de Fiedmont], The siege of Beauséjour in 1755; a journal of the attack on Beauséjour . . ., ed. J. C. Webster, trans. Alice Webster (Saint John, N.B., 1936).
- J. C. Webster, Thomas Pichon, “the spy of Beausejour,” an account of his career in Europe and America . . . ([Sackville, N.B.], 1937).
- "LEPRINCE DE BEAUMONT | Dictionnaire des journalistes". dictionnaire-journalistes.gazettes18e.fr (in French). Retrieved 2017-06-14.
- Knaves or knights? A history of the Spiritan missionaries in... by Koren, Henry J.
- DCB: "RAYMOND, JEAN-LOUIS DE, Comte de RAYMOND"
- Thomas Pichon - Canadian Biography Online
- DCB: "PREVOST DE LA CROIX, JACQUES"
- Artigas-Menant, Geneviève (2001). Lumières clandestines : les papiers de Thomas Pichon. Paris: Honoré Champion.
- http://www.ourroots.ca/e/toc.aspx?id=4923. Retrieved 10 April 2013. Missing or empty
- Albert David, Le Judas de l’Acadie, Revue de l’université d’Ottawa, III (1933), 492–513; IV (1934), 22–35; Thomas Pichon, le `Judas’ des Acadiens (1700–1781), Nova Francia (Paris), III (1927–28), 131–38.
Thomas Pichon's life is the inspiration for a series of novels by Canadian historian and novelist A. J. B. Johnston.
- Johnston, A.J.B. (2015). Crossings, A Thomas Pichon Novel. Sydney: Cape Breton University Press. ISBN 978-1-77206-020-1. EPUB 978-1-77206-022-5, Kindle 978-1-77206-023-2, Web pdf 978-1-77206-021-8
- Johnston, A.J.B. (2014). The Maze, A Thomas Pichon Novel. Sydney: Cape Breton University Press. ISBN 978-1-897009-76-5. EPUB 978-1-927492-71-0, MOBI 978-1-927492-72-7
- Johnston, A.J.B. (2012). Thomas, A Secret Life. Sydney: Cape Breton University Press. ISBN 978-1-897009-74-1. EPUB 978-1-897009-89-5, MOBI 978-1-897009-90-1