Philippe de Pastour de Costebelle

Governor of Plaisance, 1706-1713

Philippe de Pastour de Costebelle was born in the village of Saint-Alexandre in Languedoc, France, probably in 1661. In 1683, he served in the navy as mid-shipman. And in 1692 he served as lieutenant at Plaisance (Placentia). Shortly after his arrival in Newfoundland and again in 1693, he helped to defend the colony from a British naval assault. Costebelle returned to France with the governor's report of the 1693 attack and was promoted to a captain of the company his brother, Louis, had formerly commanded.

In March 1695, he was named as the king's lieutenant at Plaisance, but returned to France in the following year. Hoping to become governor, he returned to Plaisance in 1697. Joseph de Monic, who had already obtained this position, was absent from the colony in 1698 and 1699, and during this time Costebelle had his first taste of governing the settlement. He improved the fortifications and established contact with the English colonists in St. Mary's Bay.

Costebelle returned to France once more in 1700, but left for Plaisance again in 1702. For the second time he was overlooked when Subercase was chosen governor instead. Because Subercase was not able to make it to Placentia until the spring of 1703, Costebelle again acted as interim governor.

In 1704, Costebelle married Anne de Tour in Plaisance, and they had a daughter. He got along well with Subercase, and took part in his expeditions against the British in 1704 and 1705. When he was finally appointed governor in 1706, after Subercase's departure for Acadia, the atmosphere was peaceful and the economic conditions were favourable. Under such conditions he was able to improve fortifications and concentrate on agriculture and raising livestock.

In December 1708, Costebelle conducted his own attacks against the British at St. John's. His crew quickly took the forts and occupied the town for a time in 1709. Eventually, though, an English governor was reinstated in St. John's and hostilities between the British and French mounted. The settlement at Placentia was inevitably affected as provision shortages became all too common.

In 1713, Newfoundland was handed over to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht. The king of France ordered Costebelle to evacuate the colony in the spring of 1714 and to send the garrison and inhabitants to Cape Breton Island. In 1716, at Port Dauphin (now Englishtown, Nova Scotia), Costebelle married his second wife, Anne Mius d'Entremont, who gave Costebelle another daughter. He died in October 1717, after returning to Louisbourg from La Rochelle in France.

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