Guide to the Viscount de la Belinaye Papers

MSN/COL 0503

 

Collection Summary

Title: Viscount de la Belinaye papers
Dates: 1764-1792
Collection No.: MSN/COL 0503
Creator: Belinaye, Maurice-René, Viscount de la
Extent: 25 folders; 1 container and 1 flat storage container; 2 linear feet
Language: Collection material in French
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: 68 manuscript business letters and documents relating mainly to the Saint-Domingue property holdings of Maurice-René, Viscount de la Belinaye as they were managed by a mercantile house under Stanislas Foäche in Cap-Français (modern-day Cap-Haïtien, Haiti) between 1775 and 1790.

Selected Search Terms

Haiti -- History -- To 1791.
Caribbean Area -- Commerce -- History.
Belinaye, Maurice-René, Viscount de la (1739-1794).
Foäche, Stanislas Pierre (1737-1806).

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Viscount de la Belinaye papers, [Collection and folder no.], Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Viscount de la Belinaye papers were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame in 2017, from Michael Brown Rare Books (list number 138 item 22). Arranged, described, and finding aid by Kathryn Rose Sawyer, 2017.

Biographical Note

Maurice-René, Viscount de la Belinaye (1739-1794), was from Fougères in Brittany. Belinaye was first captain and then lieutenant colonel in the Régiment de Dragons de la Reine (Dragoons of the Queen). He appears to have inherited his property in Saint-Domingue through his wife, Louise Gravelle (b. ca. 1724), who was the sole heir of her father Simon Lelouable, a lawyer in the Superior Council in Cap Français. With the onset of the Revolution Belinaye and his family emigrated to England (1790). According to a 1794 letter written from Belinaye's brother Charles to George Washington, Belinaye returned to France from London in 1792 when his family ran out of money. After hearing nothing from him the family learned through the public papers that Belinaye had been guillotined. A notice of his death sentence appears in issue 281 of the Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel (Paris), 11 Messidor 2e (29 June 1794). Belinaye's daughter, Louise de la Belinaye, became Marquise de Belloy through her husband Nicolas-Séraphin, Marquis de Belloy. She was named his sole heir in a claim for her father's estate in 1826.

Stanislas Pierre Foäche (1737-1806), a slave trader and business agent (négociant) in Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue (modern-day Cap-Haïtien, Haiti), was from a family of traders in Le Havre, France. His father, Martin-Pierre Foäche (1687-1762), was a merchant captain before establishing a trading business in Le Havre with an outpost in Saint-Domingue. His sons Martin Pierre (1728-1816) and Stanislas served in turn as heads of the Saint-Domingue company. Stanislas quickly became one of the premier agents in the colony, managing a number of property interests for absentee landlords in France, including the Belinayes. Stanislas Foäche also owned 584 slaves and a 600-hectare plantation with a sugar-making operation in Jean-Rabel, just west of the Cap, as well as a company in Le Havre. Like many of the whites in Saint-Domingue, Foäche was a Protestant, and was regularly forced to pay fines for not serving in offices for the Catholic Church, the established religion in the colony. He and his family emigrated to London in 1796, where they remained until 1802.

Scope and Content Note

This collection is a selection of the personal papers of Maurice-René, Viscount de la Belinaye, mainly relating to houses he owned in Cap-Français. The houses were managed by a mercantile establishment under the agent and slave trader Stanislas Foäche, who oversaw Belinaye's business interests in the Cap between 1775 and 1790. Foäche's agency was known first as Stanislas Foäche et Compagnie, then Stanislas Foäche, Hellot et Compagnie, and finally Stanislas Foäche, P. Morange et Compagnie; notices of the change of business name appear in the collection. Belinaye inherited his property in Saint Domingue through his wife, Louise Gravelle, who was the sole heir of her father Simon Lelouable, a lawyer in the Upper Council in Cap Français. The death of Lelouable and Belinaye's inheritance of his papers are documented in the first two folders of this collection. The bulk of the collection consists of account sheets and accompanying letters from Foäche about Belinaye's assets in the Cap, describing the company's efforts at maintaining and leasing his houses, court cases between Belinaye and tenants, the problems created by the billeting of officers in houses during the Anglo-French War (1778-1783), and the issues surrounding the transmission of payments between Saint-Domingue and France. The final folder in this collection includes similar papers that relate to the business interests of Belinaye and his wife in Cádiz and Saint-Malo. There is no mention of slavery in the documents aside from some slaves being listed among the possessions of Lelouable in MSN/COL 0503-02. Some of the letters include integral address leaves but most do not, though the entire collection appears to consist of copies retained by Belinaye. All the documents carry markings in their upper left corners that seem to indicate a numerical filing system.

Arrangement Note

Arrangement of the collection is mainly chronological, with multiple items per folder.

Container List