Box Descriptions

Box One
Correspondence from 1694-1709; undated incoming correspondence.

Includes correspondence of Maurepas' father, mother and grandfather, the majority of which are letters from Jérome Phélypeaux, Maurepas' father, reporting as Secretary of the Navy to Maurepas' grandfather, the Chancellier de Pontchartrain, from various port cities in France. Also from this early period: a series of reports to the Chancellier from Bory and Chabert concerning the expedition of the Aimable to South America (including a ten page description of the Brazilian coast), and a letter from Bigorre to Cardinal Fleury.

Correspondence dating from Maurepas' ministry concerns war with England, the Bastille and colonizing Patagonia. Of particular interest is a note from Voltaire in his capacity as royal historiographer requesting information for his history of the Navy.

Box One Folder Listing

Box Two
Correspondence from 1707-1709 and 1732-1741.

Includes seven more letters from Bory and Chabert to the Chancellier de Pontchartrain concerning the South American expedition.

Correspondence dating from Maurepas' ministry consists primarily of reports and memoranda related to foreign trade and Franco-British hostilities. There are also journal extracts, recommendations, and requests for raises, promotions and appointments.

Topics addressed include: the possible acquisition of l'Isle de Tabarque; trade with Turkey and the Levant; information on the Turkish government and consulates in Turkey and Egypt; gunner ships; English seizure of French ships; the "new" Spanish Navy*; movement of French and foreign ships in the Caribbean; commerce in Marseilles; commercial navigation; solution to recruitment problems (complaints about an ordonnance of 1734); British free navigation in the West Indies*; poor living conditions aboard ship; a sea-battle off Santo Domingo; a solution to malfunctioning ship engine* .

There are letters from Maurepas to d'Antin, to d'Enville, and one to Champigny on fortifications at St. Lucie and the capture of the Barbadoes.

Of special interest: Duclerq's 1741 journal of events in Jamaica, with commentary on a sea-battle with the English; a series of letters from Maurepas to d'Antin giving him information about the British and instructions in case of a war; a fifty-page report on the commerce of Marseilles with the Levant; a letter in code from Larnage to Orry, the Comptroller General.

* These letters have accompanying documents filed in Boxes 8 - 15.

Box Two Folder Listing

Box Three
Correspondence from May 1741-1744.

Correspondence from this period reflects continuing Franco-British hostilities at sea (which culminated in a declaration of war in March 1744), the French Navy's involvement in the Jacobite cause, continuing efforts to expand foreign commerce, and the more mundane internal affairs of the Navy. Several letters deal with family and court matters. There are a number of letters from the duc d'Enville and comte de Luzerne, as well as letters accompanying documents and requests for promotions, raises, recommendations, etc.

Topics addressed include: English invasion in defense of the Stuart cause; commercial treaties with Prussia and Portugal; naval provisions supply; armament projects* ; treasure*; recruitment*; royal fireworks; the Bastille.

Of special interest: Pellerin's plan for the invasion of England; Four letters from Meilly-Nesle, Maurepas' aunt and an influential member of the court; letters from Irish Jacobite, O'Bryen, appealing to Maurepas for aid in the Jacobite Revolution; a letter from the marquise de Mézi&egraveres, daughter of a Court officer to James II and an Irish mother, married to a Frenchman, describing her role as agent of Protestant Jacobite faction; a letter in Spanish from Campo-Florida to Spanish Secretary of State Muniain that discusses French plan for attacking British ships.

* These letters have accompanying documents filed in Boxes 8 - 15.

Box Three Folder Listing

Box Four
Correspondence from 1745-October 24, 1745.

During this period, France was officially at war with England, a second attempt at invading Britain was being planned, and the Navy was seriously underfunded. Louisbourg fell to the English. There are many letters from Pellerin, First Clerk of the Navy, and several pertaining to Maurepas' duties as Secretary of the Royal Household.

Topics addressed include: the Jacobite cause; French maritime commerce; raising funds for the Navy*; war booty; life at the Royal Court; requests for promotions; Opéra disputes.

Of special interest: A letter from James III requesting French aid for the "Young Pretender" of Scotland; letters from Irish Jacobites O'Bryen and O'Heguarty, with suggestions for French intervention in Stuart cause; a report by the shipowner Fournier about the serious state of maritime commerce and how to rehabilitate the Navy.

* These letters have accompanying documents filed in Boxes 8 - 15.

Box Four Folder Listing

Box Five
Correspondence from October 25, 1745 - January 17, 1746.

The correspondence from this period tracks the preparation of a second expedition to Britain, and an expedition under the duc d'Enville to recapture Louisbourg (which failed). The Navy's financial crisis continues. A major focus on the domestic front is the separation agreement of the Prince and Princesse de Talmond; Maurepas represented the Princesse, who was a frequent correspondent during this period. There are many letters to Maurepas from Thomond and Saint-Simon.

Topics addressed include: preparations for the British expedition; separation agreement of the de Talmonds; life at the court of Louis XV; Opéra disputes; requests for favors.

Of special interest: Letters from Thomond, Maurepas' friend and intermediary in France's involvement in Jacobite cause; A letter from the Duke of York delivered to Maurepas via the Irish Jacobite O'Bryen; letters from Irish Jacobites Walsh and O'Bryen involved in the expedition; a letter from Richelieu as commander-in-chief of the expedition.

Box Five Folder Listing

Box Six
Correspondence from January 1746 - December 1746.

This year saw the defeat of the Jacobites and the failure of the American expedition to recapture Louisbourg. There are many letters from Maurepas' friend, the earl of Thomond.

Topics include: movements of ships; the American expedition; raising funds for the "Young Pretender"; the defeat of the Jacobites; French and Spanish corsair warfare; Franco-Spanish relations; various requests.

Of special interest: orders from Louis XV to the duc d'Enville regarding the American expedition to recapture Louisbourg; letters from Thomond, Maurepas' friend and the intermediary in France's involvement with the Jacobite cause; a letter from the marquise de Mézi&egraveres reporting Jacobite defeat; a letter describing Charles Stuart's departure from Scotland; a letter from the Duke of York; firsthand account by Ambassador Chavigny of diplomatic relations with Spain; a letter from Estourmel (suicide), asking relief from command of "Le Trident" because of low numbers and an extract from the journal of Montlouet, officer on "Le Trident," recounting Estourmel's mental degeneration.

Box Six Folder Listing

Box Seven
Correspondence from December 10, 1746 - December 29, 1747.

In this year the French were defeated in battles at Capes Finisterre and Ortegal.

Topics include: Navy archives; Marseilles; duc d'Enville's death; manoeuvers of British ships; plans of the Spanish court; the Corsican situation; the campaign against the Austrians (besieging Genoa); suggestions about trade policy; a commercial treaty with Spain; comments on the Belle l'Isle campaign; the Talmond separation agreement; various appeals and requests.

Of special interest: letters from Laffilard, chief of Navy archives, which contain information about the archives and cataloguing procedures; firsthand account by Ambassador Chavigny of diplomatic relations with Spain; a letter from Thomond recounting his career; a letter from Duval, ship surgeon on the "Northumberland," describing d'Enville's illness and death; two letters from Charles Edward Stuart announcing his arrival in France via Spain.

Box Seven Folder Listing

Box Eight
Documents: undated and from 1707-1732.

Documents include: many papers associated with the expedition of the Aimable to South America (remarks on the Brazilian coast, commerce in New Spain, the "decadence" of Chile and Peru); a fifteen-page description of Louisiana by D'Artaguiette; a series of substantial memoranda by d'Aubenton on Spanish ports and French trade in Catalonia, Grenada and other Spanish colonies; a printed account of sea combat with English; Macary's invention (dredging machine); a list of ships; a record of sums paid to retiring officers; petitions and requests; a letter of introduction; labelled folders (empty) from Maurepas' files.

Other reports and memoranda address: the present state of the Navy; the Navy's expenses for 1732; armaments; ship construction; combat; the children of dead officers.

Box Eight Folder Listing

Box Nine
Documents from 1732-1739.

Several long reports from Maillet on activities in Mediterranean; observations on a problem in ship structure and a fifty-three page booklet detailing a solution; memoranda on map correction; a twenty page letter on the Spanish Navy; several reports on the abuse of French flags; a proposal by Maurepas for intervention in Corsica; commentary on a Royal ordonnance of 1734; a royal decree concerning Genoa; lists of officers.

Other reports and memoranda address: English methods of naval construction; the use of flags by the French Navy; Spanish silk trade; commerce with Russia; armaments; Turkish government; consulates in the Levant; goods and supplies; treasure; Isle de Tabarque; Navy finances; expenses in colonies.

Box Nine Folder Listing

Box 10
Documents from 1739-1740.

Many documents pertain to the hostile relationship between France and England, largely acted out at sea and in the colonies. There is a considerable number of items from Barry, the Commissaire des Classes at Marseilles.

Documents directly related to war with England cover: the arming of English ships; how to defend coasts of France from English threat; English presence in America; English request for free navigation; naval orders. There are two British documents concerning corsair warfare with Spain.

Other documents include: instructions to officers from Maurepas; notes on galley construction; an instruction booklet on methods of sailing (with color diagrams); reports on maritime laws, navigation, movement of ships, armament and the arsenal, the crew of the Reales, ship names, pensions, the Bureau des Classes; a list of offences punishable by galleys; various requests.

Notable documents include: a twenty-one page journal kept by the French Jesuit, Vitry, on an expedition against Native Americans in Louisiana (contains a detailed account of Indian life); a significant study of French trade and its political function by Buthaud (a good articulation of the philosophy behind Maurepas' administrative policy); a study of French trade; printed rules for corsair warfare decreed by George III of England; a description of an invention; a description of the civil and military functions of Admiral; an illustrated booklet on maritime manoeuvres.

Box Ten Folder Listing

Box 11
Documents from January 11, 1740 to May 1741.

There are many documents written by Pellerin. Also: a draft of a trade treaty with Portugal; a proposal for replenishing Navy funds through taxation; a new plan for the Navy (with observations on the British Navy); a draft by Maurepas establishing the current primary concerns of the Navy; documents relating to d'Antin's illness and estate and to the Gigou affair; instructions for officers; a resume of d'Antin's campaign in the West Indies; promotion orders; lists of ships.

Reports and memoranda also address: British maritime activities; the British threat to possessions in America; armaments; expenses; supply of provisions; fate of provisions in shipwrecks; lodgings; war casualties; the need for instructions for officiers de plumes; payments to veterans.

Of special interest: a memorandum on reforming maritime laws, including a history of the law and a series of questions and answers about specific articles.

Box Eleven Folder Listing

Box 12
Documents from May 27, 1741 - March 1743.

Reports and memoranda concerning: the fireworks display for King's birthday; armament expenses for 1740-42; improving the status of navigators; income from tenth of seizures; anchorage fees; recruitment problems and plans for improvement; the Mediterranean squadron; the security of Santo Domingo; threat of war with England; plan for trade treaty with Prussia.

Other documents include: an inventory of French and foreign ships; campaign orders from Louis XV.

Of special interest: a twenty-two page report on the degeneration of the French Navy and proposals for its improvement (discusses disciplinary problems and is implicitly critical of Maurepas' ministry, rather than simply blaming the lack of funds); a memorandum by Pellerin on the preparedness of the Navy in the event of war with England; a proposal by Cossigny to establish a port of call on Ascension Island, with a description of the Island and plans for water supply, etc.; report by Duvalaer and Robion on the finances of a proposed expedition to South America.

Box Twelve Folder Listing

Box 13
Documents from April 1743 - c. 1744.

Reports and memoranda concerning: the wealth of France; ship construction; Navy expenses and funds; taxation; provisions; expanding French trade and navigation; Spanish trade and French trade with Spain; the West Indies; "prises à juger"; proposed expedition to Pacific coast of South America; commerce of Venice and Livorne with Egypt; Genoa's position during Anglo-Spanish war; problems with British in Spanish America.

Other documents include: lists of officers; descriptions of ships; a royal edict.

Of special interest: Pellerin's reports on state of Navy funds; an account by the head of the French army in Piedmont of the battle at Cony against Savoy and Sardinia; a memorandum on freshwater fish for Lent; a secret agent's report from Genoa.

Box Thirteen Folder Listing

Box 14
Documents from 1744.

Reports and memoranda cover: trade with Russia; the Levant; taxation; corsair warfare; Navy archives; Mediterranean operations; expenses; French commerce in general; the armament of ships and its funding; warfare with British; treasurers; the case of La Lievende; commercial regulations for Naples based on report on trade; the Académie Royale de Musique (the singer Lany's dispute).

Other documents include: orders; a list of ships.

Of special interest: Maurepas' memorandum on the state of the Navy in 1745; the marquise de Mézi&egraveres' plan for invasion of England; Fournier's report on losses in French commerce during years of war with England and the consequent need for strong trade; proposal for a new method of fighting enemies at sea.

Box Fourteen Folder Listing

Box 15
Documents from January 19, 1745 - June 1746.

There are several documents connected to Thomond. Also: the duc d'Enville's observations on a voyage; d'Albert's review of his career. Reports and memoranda cover: English ships; French trade with Spain; corsair warfare; Irish Jacobites; Irish soldiers; the Stuart cause; Scotland; recruitment; expenses of the Navy and of the colonies; replenishing Navy funds; the treaty of Utrecht; the relationship between the comédiens and the Académie Royale de Musique.

Other documents include: orders; requests for pensions; recommendations.

Notable documents include: an eye-witness account of the Battle of Freiburg (War of Austrian Succession); an account of the siege of Louisbourg; a 39-page plan for French commercial settlement in Chile; Maurepas' report submitted at Aix-la-Chapelle peace talks on ways of protecting French commercial interests; Maurepas' memorandum on (the second) proposed expedition to aid the Stuart cause; report by Fournier on how to save "le débris du commerce en France"; printed memorandum documenting the case of two French ships disputing corsair booty.

Box Fifteen Folder Listing

Box 16
Documents from September 1746 to c. 1751.

Documents include: inventories of documents from various departments of the Navy made by Lafillard, the Navy archivist. Reports and memoranda cover: the progress of the Franco-Prussian War; the Corsican situation; the state of the Navy's finances; Spanish commerce; English finances; armaments; the battle of Cape Finisterre; a plan for invading Scotland; the separation agreement of the Prince and Princesse de Talmond.

Other documents include: lists of officers; a list of ships and their destinations.

Notable documents include: a book manuscript on principles of navigation with color diagrams.

Box Sixteen Folder Listing

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