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Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers

Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers

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Processing and conservation for this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Lamarque, Jean Baptiste, d. ca. 1802
Title:Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers
Dates:1746/1810, 1899/1901
Quantity:2 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers contain personal, business, and governmental papers of Lamarque, a French citizen and resident of Saint Lucia in the West Indies during the early years of the French Revolution.
Collection Number:MSS 77

Series List

SERIES I. Personal Papers
SERIES II. Business Papers
SERIES III. Saint Lucia Government Papers
SERIES IV. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers contain personal, business, and governmental papers of Lamarque, a French citizen and resident of Saint Lucia in the West Indies during the early years of the French Revolution. These papers reflect his mercantile business and the activities of the St. Lucia government while Lamarque was a member of the Colonial Assembly and mayor of Castries, from 1791 to 1794. This collection also includes a 1746 will of Maurice de Saxe and documents relating to an article published on Saxe. This collection has been arranged into four series.

Series I. Personal Papers include Lamarque's journal, which was written as a series of letters to his friend and business associate, Lambert, in Bordeaux. Although there is some mention of trading conditions in the West Indies, the bulk of the letters give a detailed narration of the political and social upheaval on Saint Lucia, and the surrounding islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe. Activities of the French Government during the early years of the French Revolution, 1790-1791, are discussed in Lamarque's nephew, Maximein's, letters. These contain information on discussions or actions taken by the National Assembly and on the French Army's movements. The remaining correspondence to Lamarque primarily discusses deaths, illnesses, and activities of family members, with only a few references to events in France.

This series also includes the legal papers of Lamarque, consisting of correspondence, agreements, and court orders produced from Lamarque's attempts to retrieve money, in the form of slaves, owed him by a Mr. Fressenjat. There are also papers generated during Lamarque's deportation from Saint Lucia. These include a list of his property, property subrogation agreements, and an untranslated document concerning his deportation.

Series II. Business Papers contains Lamarque's mercantile papers, miscellaneous correspondence, and financial papers, from 1771 to 1802. The bulk of the mercantile papers is comprised of correspondence from other merchants in Bordeaux discussing the current prices and sales of Lamarque's sugars and cotton goods. There are also letters from Lamarque's captain, Napias, of the ship Felicity.

The miscellaneous correspondence contains letters to and from business associates and friends in France. These primarily discuss favors rendered and payments of debts. There are a few references to political events in both France and the neighboring Windward Islands. Letters written during Lamarque's last two years (1793-1794) on Saint Lucia often relate to political events and convey an idea of the social and political unrest of the inhabitants. Also included here is a series of letters written by Lamarque from Salem, Massachusetts, to friends and family in France and Saint Lucia. Here he describes the 1794 conquest of Saint Lucia by the British and the conditions of his deportation. In addition, there is a letter dated 1802, from Lamarque's nephew to Mr. Robinson inquiring about the whereabouts and the return of a trunk containing the papers which comprise this collection. Additional letters from Lamarque to Joshua Ward, concerning the return of these same papers, are located in the Ward Family Papers (MSS 46, Box 16, Folder 7). Within the miscellaneous accounts and bills are a list of "habitations burned and number of Negroes in insurrection" and an inventory of Negroes owned by Lamarque.

Series III. Saint Lucia Government Papers covers the years 1787 to 1794 and includes correspondence, speeches, decrees, and notes generated by the Colonial Assembly, the Commandant of the local military group, and by Lamarque as mayor of Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia. These papers discuss the proceedings of the Colonial Assembly, resolutions and laws made in France to be implemented in her colonies, and military and political activities of the local governments on Saint Lucia and Martinique. They reveal the problems of a colonial government neglected by its mother country, and its attempts at dealing with the social and political unrest resulting from different class structures, and the laws and ideology passed on by the French Revolution.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Papers contains material relating to a Maurice de Saxe, including his will, correspondence, and an article written about him. Also included in this series are the original transcriptions of the material, from French to English.

Biographical Sketch

Jean Baptiste Lamarque, a native of Bayonne, France, was a sugar and cotton merchant residing on Saint Lucia island during the French Revolution (1789-1794). In addition to his mercantile exportation to France, Lamarque was very active in the colonial government. He held the posts of the Chief of the National Guard, member and president of the Colonial Assembly, and mayor of Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia. He held the position of mayor from 1791 to 1794, during the island's struggles against the contra-revolution and Great Britain. When Great Britain captured the island in 1794, Lamarque was offered the commissary at Fort Charlotte, Saint Lucia. He declined the post and was placed on a transport vessel under adverse conditions. Ransomed from captivity, he was deported from the colonies on the first American vessel which carried him to Salem, Massachusetts. He resided in Salem for a year, returning to France in July 1795. His several attempts to retrieve the trunk full of books and papers, which he left in Salem in the care of Joshua Ward, were unsuccessful. He died in approximately 1802.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

De Saxe, Maurice
Account books--Merchants--West Indies
Cotton manufacture
Diaries--Social conflict--West Indies
Shipping--West Indies
France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799
Saint Lucia--History


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Jean Baptiste Lamarque Papers, MSS 77, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is an integration and reorganization of four boxes, one account book, and several miscellaneous folders. In 1795, Lamarque left his papers in a trunk in the care of Joshua Ward. It is unknown who donated these papers to the Essex Institute. The majority of the manuscripts are written in French, but are accompanied by English translations, transcribed by Amelia E. Mac Swiggen in the 1950s. Two letters regarding Lamarque's attempts to retrieve his trunk have been added from the Ward Family Papers, MSS 46. A bill of lading for Joshua Ward's ship, Betsy, has been moved to the Ward Family Papers.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Prudence K. Backman, October 1982. Updated by Hilary Streifer, November 2014.

Related Material

Ward Family Papers, 1718-1946. MSS 46.

West Indies: Memorial of Pierre Lamolie and Jean Baptiste Lamarque, Merchants of Grenada, Regarding Land Held by Charibbs at St. Vincent. The National Archives, Kew, England.

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