Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LAVALETTE, Antoine de, clergyman, born in France, 21 October, 1707. The place and date of his death are unknown. He became a member of the Society of Jesus in Toulouse, 10 October, 1725, was ordained priest in 1740, and in 1741 sent as missionary to the island of Martinique. In 1754 he was named superior-general of all the Jesuit missions in the French possessions in Central and South America. He was accused about the same time of engaging in commerce, contrary to the canon law, and summoned to Paris for trial; but his defence was undertaken by the authorities in Martinique, and the matter was allowed to drop for the time. His conduct afterward was one of the causes that led to the downfall of his order, His mission was heavily in debt, and to restore it W financial prosperity he made extensive purchases of land in Dominica, and engaged in various commercial ventures, borrowing large sums of money when these proved unsuccessful. When Ricci, the Jesuit general, was informed of this, in 1757, he sent three visitors to Martinique, all of whom met with mishaps that prevented them from arriving. At last, in the spring of 1762, the fourth visitor, Father de la Marche, reached the island, and organized a tribunal of the principal fathers of the restun, before whom Lavalette appeared. He was condemned and suspended from all ecclesiastical functions until their report was laid before the general of the order in Rome. Lavalette signed a confession declaring that he alone was guilty, and after his confession he went to England, where he was notified of his expulsion from the society by the Jesuit general. Lavalette gave information to his superiors by which it appeared his debts amounted to 2,400,000 livres. the French Jesuits were making an effort to settle with the creditors when the case was brought before the courts, the whole society was heht responsible for the debt, and a decree was issued for the seizure of all their property. This rendered the society in France bankrupt, and led to the royal edict of November, 1764, which abolished the order in that country.
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