Fleury Mesplet was born in the Accoules parish of Marseilles, France in 1734. He moved to London in 1773 and set up a printing press near Covent Garden. He was jailed for a time and met Benjamin Franklin who encouraged him to move to Philadelphia. He maintained his relationship with Franklin and came to Montréal with the American Army in 1775 to set up a press to print pro American propaganda to encourage sympathy for their cause. When the American forces left in 1776 he remained behind. His press, the first in Montréal continued to flourish. In 1778, he founded a printing shop and a newspaper, The Gazette du commerce et littéraire (Commercial and Literary Gazette). He was again put in prison. The newspaper is still operating and is now known as the Montréal Gazette. He died in 1794.
His father was born in Agen, France. Could there be a close link between Fleury and the François who is listed below?
Pierre Mesplay is mentioned in the 1779 census of St. Genevieve as coming from Canada.
I've heard there was a priest from Canada that established churches in the American Northwest. He had some involvement with the first Catholic churches in Boise and Idaho City, Idaho during the gold rush.
In 1741, François Mesplès was born in the town of Valence in Agen, France. His family was poor but apparently had baronial rights to some of the land in the area. He left home at an early age and eventually traveled to Saint-Domingue, which is now Haiti. He formed a partnership with his younger brother Jean who worked for a time in Haiti and then returned to Bordeaux, France where they could outfit ships and sell goods on both sides of the ocean. They did very well for themselves, got their father Bertrand out of debt, and bought a few ships of their own. Later François gave up the merchant business and went into house construction. He built some spectacular houses in Port-au-Prince.
He was named Second Lieutenant of the militia in 1772, Lieutenant in 1778, and Captain in 1786.
His marriage to Marie Anne Antoinette de Barras in 1783 at Cap Français (now Cap Haitien) was witnessed by Moreau de Saint-Mery, a famous man who authored several books and newspapers in France. François and Marie settled at the Cap in 1786. They had one child who died as an infant. François died in 1789.
Upon settlement of his estate, it was indicated that he owned four slaves, Louis, Scipion from Taquoua, Zephir from Arada, and Valentine from Anglaise. His younger brother, Jean Mesplès, who lived in Bordeaux, France, had a son who inherited the fortune.
Marie returned to France and died in Paris in 1826. She more than likely left when François died but may have left during the revolt from 1791 to 1803.
François remembered when he was a young child, his father, Bertrand, talking to his uncle, Mesplès de Gaché, about the family history. They recalled that they were descendant from a very old house of the name, originally from Pau in Béarn.
Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.