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La Poippe
Governor of Plaisance, 1670-1684

La Poippe, a native of Lyons and former naval lieutenant, was appointed governor of Plaisance (Placentia) early in 1670. After taking a census that enumerated a mere 73 souls, La Poippe received a subsidy of £10,000 to improve the colony and attract new colonists. Because of the precedent of abuse set by former governors, he was instructed that this money was not for his personal needs. Colonists were again encouraged to turn their attention to agriculture as a way of diversifying the settlement's economy, and emphasis was placed on raising livestock, exploiting natural resources and hunting wild game.

Conflict arose between La Poippe and some fishing captains who had resorted to extorting from the fishermen one-third of their catch. He asked for their removal, but was denied this request. The port of Plaisance experienced difficult times during the war with the Dutch (1672-1678), and in 1675 ships were ordered not to leave the port because of the threat of enemy privateers. The following year, however, the king reinstated fishing, and under La Poippe's supervision Placentia became a bustling centre for Breton and Basque fishermen.

As the years passed French authorities showed less interest in the colony at Placentia, leaving the door open for La Poippe to imitate the abuse so characteristic of previous governors. Whether he committed illegal acts remains unknown. Some reports claimed that La Poippe was a fine governor, while others alleged that he was involved in illegal trade, claimed an excessive share of the taxes and stole the king's bounty destined for the colonists. Whatever the case, La Poippe, appointed governor for three years, stayed on for fifteen, making him the longest-serving of all Plaisance governors. He died, likely in Plaisance, in 1684.

August, 2000.

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