Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DUTERTRE, John Baptist, clergyman, born in Calais, France, in 1610; died Paris in 1687. He served at first on board the Dutch fleet, then entered the army, and was present at the taking of Maestricht in 1633. After escaping numerous dangers, he went to Paris and entered the Dominican order in 1635. The confidence of his superiors in his piety and knowledge of affairs induced them to send him on a mission to the Antilles in 1640. There he passed eighteen years, returning to France several times in the spiritual interests of the new colonies. He not only preached to the natives, but gave useful advice to the authorities, assisted in maintaining peace and order, and carefully took notes of all that was interesting or curlous in his surroundings.
After his return to France he made preparations for publishing the history of the islands he had visited. In 1656 the work was interrupted by an invitation from a M. de Cerillac, who wished to form a colony in America, and for that purpose asked Dutertre to go to that continent and, in conjunction with Duparquet, purchase the Island of Grenada. He yielded reluctantly. His ship had hardly left port when it was captured by the English and taken to Plymouth. His friends obtained his liberty, and also letters patent ordering his effects to be restored. "But," he says, "one knows not what it is to find one's self in a country like that. My robbers, seeing that I was tired of such a melancholy residence and ready to abandon everything to get out of it, kept the letters, and never spoke of them until after my departure."
To avoid such difficulties in future, he embarked at Texel, and landed safely at Martinique. Then, having examined Grenada and concluded the purchase of the island, he returned to France toward the close of 1657. In pursuance of his promise to Cerillac, he sailed from Havre with him for America; but a terrible storm forced the ship to put, into an English port, when Dutertre abandoned the enterprise and returned to France. He was sent to the convent of Tulle, where he remodelled his work and added to it the new documents he had procured.
He was afterward recalled to the house of his order in Paris. His works are "Iiistoire generale des iles St. Christophe, de la Guadeloupe, de la Martinique et autres de l'Amerique, oh l'on verra l'etablissment des colonies francoises dans ces iles, leurs guerres civiles et etrangeres, et tout ce qui se passe dans le voyage et retour des Indes," containing a translation into Carib of several prayers of the Church (Paris, 1654; enlarged ed., 4 vols., 1667'71), and "La vie de Ste Austreberte, premiere abbesse de l'.abbaye de Pavilly, pres de Rouen, tiree de l'ancxen manuscrit de SainteAustreberte de Montreuil sur mer" (1659). The former comprises a narrative of all that passed in the founding of French colonies in the Antilles from 1625 to 1667, and also the natural history of the islands, as well as curious details concerning the savages, creoles, and Negroes, and has often been laid under contribution by writers on natural history.
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