Captain Jock's Sloop

The question of the sloop is almost as interesting as Captain Jock himself. Again Reference 1) below is the first written statement concerning the legend that Mattie's great-grandfather had been given a sloop by the King of France.

Speck wrote Mattie Mitchell's great-grandfather "...is said to have received a sloop as a present from the French king in order to facilitate the movements of the Micmac on the water in the interests of France..." I had assumed this meant he had received it in Nova Scotia when the French were at war with the English. However a possibility I am considering now is that the vessel was presented after the Mitchells came to Newfoundland and the "interests of France" referred to the French Shore Fishery. This would also make more sense from a time line perspective. Since Mattie was born ca 1840 and assuming 30 years per generation this would have Captain Jock being born ca 1750 and coming to adulthood ca 1780. This as I understand it is when the French regained St. Pierre and Miquelon and cemented their fishing rights on the French Shore of Newfoundland. Apparently the St. Georgeís Bay area was one of the areas that the French Navy, who protected the French fishing interests, visited regularly and might have provided a vessel to the Miíkmaq there to help them be better equipped to promote the French interests. Is there any evidence that the Mi'kmaq had a sloop in the late 1700's and early 1800's?

1815: Rev. Lejamtel from Arichat PEI advised Plessis, Archbishop of Quebec in a letter of Oct. 1815 that a "fortnight ago I had to return to the Indian Mission [at Chapel Island, Cape Breton] for the benefit of a ship-load of Indians from Newfoundland, who told me they had not seen a priest for six years." Reference 2)

1816 Rev. A.B. MacEachern, missionary to Chapel Island MacEachern another missionary , advised Plessis, Archbishop of Quebec that at Chapel Island " met ..schooner full of indians ....... from Bay of St. George". Reference 3)

1817 51 Indians, men, women and children are at Miquelon, stranded with no provisions, following the loss of the rudder of their shallop. They had come from the west cost of Newfoundland on their way to St. Pierre to fulfill their annual observances. Reference 4)

1822 Cormack is quoted by Howley as saying .....At St Georgeís Harbour there are about twenty families amounting to one hundred souls, most of the parents natives of England and Jersey. .... They possess four schooner three of them being built by themselves and one by the Indians, ....." Reference 5)

Is the schooner Cormack saw, the same schooner referred to by Lejamtel and MacEachern? How did the Indians get their schooner? Cormackís statement makes the distinction that the Europeans built three of them and implies the Indians built the other. But could this not be the sloop referred to by Speck? Technically a sloop is a one-masted vessel while a schooner has two or more which would seem to preclude the possibility. Also what would the life of a schooner have been on those days? Could it have been presented by the French in the late 1700ís and survived to the 1820ís?

What about the shallop the indians had at St. Pierre in 1817. A shallop, or chaloupe in French, is defined as an open boat fitted with oars, sails or both. Definitely not in the same class as a sloop or schooner. But the account mentioned 51 people stranded so it must have been a large boat.

Again I welcome input from other researchers, but before we leave the subject; below are two other references, one concerning Mi'kmaq and vessels and the other French Royal Letters of Mobility.

1711 Chief Jean Michau captured 3 English fishing vessels under the permission of Vaudreil, Govenor of New France, Quebec. Reference 6)

1751 Denis Michau chief of Ile Royale Mi'kmaq in 1750, died 1751. His grandfather[ perhaps Jean Michau?] had rendered great service to former king, Louis XIV, rewarded w/ Letters of Nobility. Denis left a widow and son who were placed in care of new chief Jeannot. Reference 6)

Charles Martijn believes that Chief Jeannot is the Chief or Sachem referred to by Lieut. Chappell as the one who was granted land near Bay St. George by the British. Did he bring the son of Denis Michau with him. If yes could not the unknown Michau be the origin of the name Michel Aga or Michel Agathe and eventually Mitchell. Also could the legend of the Captain Mitchell with the sloop be a combination of "Letters of Nobility" awarded by Louis XIV to his great-grandfather and his great-grandfather's vessel-capturing exploits.

More fodder for Mitchell researchers. But now let's proceed to webpages which give us contemporary accounts of Mattie.


Literature References
(1) - Indian Notes And Monographs by Frank G. Speck. . Published 1922. p. 121, Library National Museum of Canada 034516
Reference (1) refers to the great-grandfather of Mattie sr. "Indeed, the great-grandfather of Mathew Mitchell, who was a captain, or sub-chief, is said to have received a sloop as a present from the French king in order to facilitate the movements of the Micmac on the water in the interests of France. "

(2) - Information from Professor Hans Rollman, Memorial University of Newfoundland in an e-letter of 17 Jan 1995.

3) - Innu (Montagnais) in Newfoundland by C.M. Martijn, presented at 21st Algonquian Conference, Ottawa 1990, p. 231,

4) - Emile Sasco and Joseph Lehuenen, Ephemerides des Iles St. Pierre et Miquelon. 1970:23. from Ruth Hoolmes Whitehead Mar. 17 1995 letter.

5) - "The Beothuks....," pp. 189-196 by J.P. Howley originally published in 1915.

6) - National Archives of Canada:Archives des colonies- Aug. 17-22, 1711 (MGI, G3,Vol. 8, p176; Archives francaises). By letter from C. Matijn June 8,1995.

7) - Louisbourg records via curator S. Balcom in letter of 16 Feb. 1996 from C.M. Martijn


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