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Thomas Pichon
Thomas Pichon by Henri Baud(1800–1900) (copied from original portrait by N. Coucourt)
Born (1700-03-30)March 30, 1700
Vire (dept of Calvados), France
Died November 22, 1781(1781-11-22) (aged 81)
Saint Helier, Jersey
Nationality French

Thomas Pichon (1700–1781) was a French government agent during Father Le Loutre's War who is renown for betraying the French, Acadian and Mi’kmaq forces by providing information to the British, which led to the fall of Beausejour. Upon his return to France, he had a relationship with French author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1757–1760).

Father Le Loutre's War[]

During Father Le Loutre's War, Pichon was the secretary for Jean-Louis de Raymond,[1] Governor at Louisbourg (1751).[2]

Jacques Prevost de la Croix[3] 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.[4]

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 (near Port Elgin, N.B.), 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.

Pichon's writings[]

Thomas Pichon left behind a very large collection of documents. They are held by the Bibliothèque municipale de Vire, in Normandy, France.[5]

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.[6]

See also[]



  • 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].
  • 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 ;
  • (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).


Related Reading[]

  • A.J.B. Johnston. Thomas - A Secret Life. Cape Breton University Press, Sydney, NS 2012. (A Novel)

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