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CAPTAIN JOHN PHILLIPS and THE EXPEDITION to QUEBEC ~

Researched and compiled by John Phillips Buczek

My Dear Cousins………

Our John Phillips was a fourtunate man; for he participated in the expedition undertaken by the Colonies in 1690 for the reduction of French Quebec. He, with many others undertook this fruitless venture… he survived, many did not.

After all was said and done, the Colony of Massachusetts had anticipated paying for this war with the plunders it was gong to obtain in Montreal; the "army" never even reached Montreal. As you know, in a settlement reached in 1736 (46 years after the expedition), those soldiers from Easton who fought in this war were granted the rights to land in the unsettled western frontier of Massachusetts in an area we now know as Huntstown, named after Captain Ephraim Hunt the commander of the troops who went nowhere and returned when many did not.

Phips' Expeditions against New France

In the spring of 1689, war broke out in Europe between France and the League of Augsburg, a coalition of countries led by England. France wanted to launch a fullscale attack on the British colonies in America, particularly New York. For this purpose, the French decided to reinstate the Count of Frontenac as Governor General, despite the fact that he was 67 years old at the time.

In 1690, Frontenac sent his troops to New England, where they attacked and destroyed a number of villages, killing their inhabitants or taking them prisoner. Frightened and horrified by these events, the residents of Boston developed a bitter hatred for their neighbours to the north and called for the destruction of Québec. New Englanders as a whole joined forces against New France. Phips was appointed commander of a squadron and immediately led his troops against Acadia. He arrived at Port Royal on May 22, 1690 and easily captured the post, then returned to Boston on June 9 with an impressive booty. On August 19 of the same year, Phips set sail for Québec with a fleet of about 30 ships, including 4 large vessels and over 2,000 men.

After several delays, Phips finally reached Québec City on October 16. When he ordered Frontenac to surrender, the latter entrusted Phips' messenger with the now famous reply: "I will answer your general through the muzzles of my cannon and muskets." [Translation] Phips attacked Québec on October 18, but was driven back. He had to resign himself to returning to Boston a few days later.

Phips' squadron encountered several storms on the return voyage. Although his own vessel reached its destination in December and others arrived in February, a number of ships were wrecked. Four never returned.

Sir William Phips

Phips was born on a farm on the Kennebec, the youngest of 26 children. He never attended school. After having learned carpentry, young William walked to Boston to seek his fortune. He was not in Boston for long before he befriended a ship's captain, Roger Spencer. Spencer had a daughter, Mary. Mary had married John Hull, a ship builder, who died while Mary was still yet a young woman. William Phips was to marry her. And thus we can see, how, at a comparatively young age, Phips was to become a captain of a trading sloop carrying codfish and pineboards to the West Indies and molasses in return.

It was to be in 1690 when Phips played his short role in the History of Nova Scotia.  He laid siege to the Acadian capital of Port Royal. The French garrison having consisted of around only 70 men who were behind unfinished fortifications, versus, Phips' superior forces (a fleet of seven vessels and 450 militia) Thus, it is easy to understand why the French governor, Meneval, prudently surrendered up the place. After spending 12 days pillaging Port Royal, the forces of New England went on to wreck havoc on the rest of Acadia, including: Castine, La Harve, Chedabucto and the settlements at the head of the Bay of Fundy. "Massachusetts had made an easy conquest of all Acadia; a conquest, however, which she had neither the men nor the money to secure by sufficient garrisons." Leaving the community under a provisional government consisting of a council of local French leaders, Phips returned to Boston to bask in his glory.

Fancying himself to be a conqueror of all French territory in North America, Phips, fresh from his Port Royal victory, mustered the forces of New England for an immediate attack on fortress Quebec -- so ambitious -  he was to play out his trumps. His fleet was increased from seven to 32 ships; and his men, to 2000 (mostly inexperienced militia). Within two and half months of arriving back from Port Royal, he was ready. The principal difficulty of this extended military adventure undertaken in the same season (1690) was that Phips left Boston for Quebec too late in the year; he seemingly made no allowance for an extended siege and the oncoming Canadian winter.

It was around the 20th of August, 1690, that Phips set sail from New England. "Bad weather, contrary winds, and lack of a St. Lawrence pilot" hampered Phips' progress, such that, his forces were not to anchor in the basin at Quebec until very late in the season. Frontenac, to the extent he could, given that he only had 3,000 men, was ready for this invasion from New England. Phips made a bit of a run at it; but, as we can see from the historical accountings, by October the 23rd, a disappointed Phips had packed it up and was making a run for it down the St Lawrence and back to Boston: the defeat for the New England invaders, this time around, was "complete and disastrous.".

It would seem that in the following years, Phips settled in to play out his role as a royal governor at Boston. It was a role for which Phips had little training and his rough ways were to soon get him into considerable trouble. Certain influential people at Boston were able to bring considerable pressure on the new regal regime4 that had established itself at London, and, eventually, charges were laid back in England; so serious were these charges, that Phips was called to London to answer them. Arriving in England in the fall of 1694, Sir William prepared himself to face his adversaries; but, before any formal hearing got under way, Phips suddenly died on February 18th, 1695. He was buried in London in the yard of the Church of Woolnoth.

Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac

Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, was born on May 12, 1620 at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. He served as Governor General and representative of Louis XIV in New France from 1672 to 1682 and from 1689 to 1698. He died in Québec City on November 28, 1698. In Canada, Frontenac is considered the architect of French expansion in North America and the defender of New France against attacks by the Iroquois Confederacy and the British colonies.

Here, below is some additional information regarding one of the ill fated ships.  Fortunately for all of us, Captain John Phillips was not aboard this vessel, for if he were, this whole genealogy would not be a reality.

Map of the area involved in the first intercolonial war (1689-1697) and location of the Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck on the North Shore of Québec.

The ANSE AUX BOULEAUX - Historical Importance of the Shipwreck

The siege of Québec in 1690 was one of the most important events in the history of New France. It pitted Frontenac, representative of Louis XIV in America and one of the most colourful figures of the period, against Phips, a sailor and famous adventurer from New England in the service of the British Crown. The Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck offers tangible, eloquent testimony to this event, which took place during the colonial wars between New France and New England.

The hull of the ANSE AUX BOULEAUX
 

According to historian Emerson W. Baker, the Massachusetts General Court approved a military expedition to Québec City after the successful campaign against Port Royal in Acadia. Phips and the General Court called for volunteers throughout the New England colony, particularly in the towns of Dorchester and Roxbury. However, they had trouble finding enough militiamen. Compulsory enrolment in several towns made it possible to mobilize an additional force of 308 men. Phips set sail from the port of Nantasket in Boston on August 10, 1690. The contingent had nearly 2,000 members, including about 50 Amerindians from the colony of Plymouth. Of the 32 ships that came to attack Québec City, only 5 or 6, including the flagship Six Friends, were actually warships. Most of the others, which had been requisitioned specially for the expedition, were merchant or fishing vessels.

Wrecks from this period are very rare. The oldest identified to date in Canadian waters are those of Red Bay, Labrador, which date to the mid-16th century and are of Basque origin. The Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck (1690) is probably the oldest known in Québec. The second oldest is the Corrosol, a vessel of the King of France, which sank in the bay of Sept-Îles in 1693, followed by the ships from Walker's fleet, which ran aground at Île aux Oeufs near Pointe-aux-Anglais in 1711.
The Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck has several characteristics of tremendous historical and archaeological importance. In addition to being the oldest wreck in Québec, it is a source of extremely valuable data on 17th-century shipbuilding in America. The artifact collection is also surprisingly rich, not in terms of its market value, but for the information its provides on lifeways during this period and on the expedition itself.

More of the hull
 

Identification of the Shipwreck

An article by
Marc-AndréBernier
Autumn 1998

At the time of its discovery, no one had any idea of the possible identity of the Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck. Neither toponymy nor local tradition had preserved traces of the wrecking. Researchers had to gather all the clues they could in order to solve this enigma.

The first step consisted in determining the vessel's origin and narrowing down the date of the wrecking. To do so, researchers studied the artifacts recovered or observed in 1995. The typology and the study of the form of objects of the glass bottles, muskets, and of a pistol suggested a date going back to the end of the 17th century or perhaps to the beginning of the 18th century. Ceramics, wine bottles, the weaponry and a pewter porringer tended to indicate an English origin, while a red clay pipe and a ceiling plank of white pine in the hull section pointed towards New England.

These first observations guided archival research. Contemporary documents were researched, as well as modern studies, in order to find indications of wrecks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence area. The period targeted through the artifact analysis, the end of the 17th century or the very beginning of the 18th century, sees the beginning of intercolonial wars between New France and New England. This corresponded with the first observations from the site: a possible English origin and the predominance of military-related objects (firearms, etc.). Two possibilities emerged from the documentary research: a ship from Sir Hovenden Walker's fleet which, in 1711, lost eight ships near Egg Island, only 25 km downstream from l'Anse aux Bouleaux, and a ship from Sir William Phips' fleet which lost four vessels coming back from its siege of Quebec City in 1690. Researchers explored these two possibilities while still keeping on the lookout for other hypotheses.

The next step consisted of comparing the known details on these wrecks with the information extracted from the Anse aux Bouleaux artifact assemblage. Although they comprised militia troops from New England, the bulk of the troops and crews of Walker's fleet were from the British army. On the other hand, the 1690 expedition had been a colonial initiative and all the troops were militia. The weapons found at l'Anse aux Bouleaux related more to a militia group since all were different and some had been personalized either with initials or decorative motifs. As for the location of the shipwreck, it did not match the account of the events of the wrecking of Walker's vessels. According to contemporary documents, Walker had detailed information on the losses the morning following the catastrophe, something hardly possible for the ship lost at l'Anse aux Bouleaux given its distance from Egg Island. Following the comparison of the site information with the documents, it seemed that the theory of a vessel from Phips' fleet was more plausible.
 
 

The confirmation of this hypothesis came when initials from two objects were compared with a list of the soldiers having taken part in the 1690 expedition compiled in the 19th century by W. K. Watkins. One of the objects, a musket, bore the initials "CT" on a small lead plaque. The other object, a pewter porringer, showed on its handle three letters positioned in a triangle: M, I and S. The position of the letters told us that the owner's initials were "IM" (the "I" could also have represented a "J") and that his wife's were "SM". Of all the names gathered by Watkins, only three could match these initials: Caleb Trowbridge and Cornelius Tileston for the "CT", and Increase Mosley for the "IM". It happened that the last two, Tileston and Mosley, were part of the same company, the company of Dorchester, Massachusetts, of which most of the men had disappeared without a trace with their ship. What is more, Increase Mosley's wife was named Sarah, which conforms to the initials on the porringer. The archaeological excavations did confirm that the ship wrecked at l'Anse aux Bouleaux was indeed part of Phips' fleet and that it had on board the Dorchester company. Ten or so objects have dates on them, all of which predate 1690, and another 15 or so bear initials matching those from the Dorchester list of soldiers.
 

If we know that the ship lost at l'Anse aux Bouleaux carried the Dorchester company, we still don't know with certainty the name of this vessel. According to Cotton Mather, who writes in 1697, four vessels were lost returning from Quebec City: one was lost without a trace, another wrecked with most of the men being saved by another ship, a third wrecked with only one survivor making it back to Boston many years later after a period of captivity and a fourth one, of Captain Rainsford, wrecked at Anticosti Island with a number of men coming back to Boston the following spring.

The loss of these four ships is confirmed by the Massachusetts General Court Records which also give their names: the Mary, 60-tun brigantine of Captain John Rainsford, the Mary Ann, a 70-tun ketch, the Hannah and Mary, a 40-tun ketch and the Elizabeth and Mary, a 45-tun bark.

Research in the archives has allowed us to make connections between the militiamen companies lost entirely or in part in these incidents, Mather's wrecks and the ships mentioned by the General Court Records: part of the Plymouth company was lost at Anticosti Island with Captain Rainsford's Mary; a handful of men of the Newbury company drowned during the wrecking of Mary Ann but most passengers were saved by another ship; the Dorchester company was lost without a trace; and only one soldier of the Roxbury company, Samuel Newall, came back to Boston, in 1695, turned over by the French after having been captured by the Indians.

Unfortunately, the information presently available does not allow us to determine on board which vessel were the Dorchester and Roxbury companies. The Anse aux Bouleaux shipwreck could either be the Elizabeth and Mary or the Hannah and Mary, but colonial-built. However, researchers keep looking for an answer and are presently following a few interesting clues.

For more information and pictures go to this link. >>>>>>>>> http://www.mcc.gouv.qc.ca/pamu/champs/archeo/epaphips/wreck01.htm

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