Nicolas Gargot

Governor of Plaisance, 1660

Nicolas Gargot was born in La Rochelle, France, on February 20, 1619, the son of Hilaire Gargot and Anne Lardeau. He became a soldier at the age of 13, fought against Spain in 1636 and served as commissary and storekeeper in Acadia in 1638. He left there in 1639 to return to France, but was captured by the Spanish. After he obtained his freedom, he served in Brittany where he helped to protect the coasts. In 1645, during the siege of La Mothe, in Lorraine, Gargot acquired his nickname, "Jambes de bois" (Peg Leg), after losing a leg. Despite this disability, Gargot was promoted to ship's captain in 1648.

Five years after the first failed attempt to establish a colony in Newfoundland, the king of France again tried to introduce permanent French settlers at Placentia. In 1660, Gargot was appointed as governor. He had already held the title of Count of Placentia for two years, and as such he possessed certain military and civil rights along the coast of Newfoundland, to a depth of 26 leagues (125 km) inland, between Cape Ray and Cape Race. Among his duties as governor, he was to claim for France the most advantageous ports and harbours, and to encourage settlement and construct fortifications. Placentia became Gargot's exclusive property, which meant that he would receive no salary for his work as governor and that all expenses incurred would be his own.

In 1662, Gargot selected a young man named du Perron to serve as governor at Placentia and, after recruiting about 50 colonists and 30 soldiers, crossed the Atlantic in the summer of 1662. Du Perron disembarked at Placentia while Gargot continued to Québec. Eventually Gargot returned to France where he died in December 1664.

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