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Jean Campagna Trial

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"Jean Campagna was born in France circa 1640 and had come to Pentagouët (Castine, Maine) as an indentured servant in 1669. He relocated to Port-Royal circa 1672, and then to Beaubassin circa 1675. At Beaubassin, he initially worked for François Pellerin as a farmhand. Campagna asked to marry one of Pellerin's daughters and he was rebuked. Sometime later, Pellerin fell ill with fever and died in November/December 1678, but not before accusing Campagna "of bewitching him by blowing a mysterious substance into his eyes while they were out working in the fields in an attempt to usurp his place as head of the family." Later, Campagna asked to marry a daughter of Roger Caissie and Françoise Poirier and was, once again, refused. In anger Campagna told the Caissies they would regret their decision in eight days. Mysteriously, eight days later, the Caissies' cattle fell ill. La Vallière then became involved. He threatened to "run his sword through" Campagna if he did not break the spell. The cattle miraculously recovered a day later. While other incidents occurred that were linked to Campagna's perceived sorcery, including Jean-Aubin Mignau's poor harvest, it was not until the accusation of complicity in the death of La Vallière's wife that Campagna was charged with witchcraft and arrested by La Vallière’s servant, Michel Haché dit Gallant, around September 1684.

Over the next few months, depositions, testimony, and witness statements were taken. The list of participants included: Thomas Cormier and his wife, Marie Madeleine Girouard; Martin Aucoin and his wife, Marie Gaudet; Jacques Blou; Germain Bourgeois; Roger Caissie, his wife, Françoise Poirier, and their 16-year-old daughter, Marie; Pierre Godin; Jean-Aubin Mignau; Marie Madeleine Martin, wife of Pierre Morin; Pierre Mercier and his wife, Andrée Martin, widow of François Pellerin; and Isabelle Pellerin, daughter of François Pellerin and Andrée Martin. Of all these witnesses, only Germain Bourgeois offered any testimony for the defense. As a witness to Pellerin's deathbed accusation, he testified: 'The man was obviously delirious with fever, I did not take the accusation seriously.'

Campagna was sent to Québec for trial, where he was interrogated 25 June 1685. He claimed that La Vallière "owed him over 700 livres in wages and claimed that this was the true motivation behind the accusations of witchcraft." The deposition of Jean Renaud, who had known Campagna years earlier, was given the following day. He served as a character witness recounting the accused as a "reliable and skilled laborer." Despite the overwhelming evidence of the depositions, testimonies, and witnesses, Campagna was acquitted and released 28 June 1685. However, he was banned from returning to Beaubassin." [1]



Jean Campagna aka Campagnard


Court Documents

Duration of the trial: 26 September 1684 - 28 June 1685

The 35-page manuscript of this criminal case file is accessible online at Advitam, BAnQ. "Procès de Jean Campagna, prisonnier, 45 ans, laboureur, natif d'Angoulins en Aunis, demeurant à Beaubassin en Acadie, accusé de sorcellerie." (Trial of Jean Campagna, prisoner, 45, plowman, native of Angoulins, Aunis, living in Beaubassin in Acadia, accused of witchcraft) [2]

A transcription in French of the court documents has been published but is not available online. [3]

"... the court documents related to the Jean Campagnard sorcery case in 1684 paint a compelling picture of a growing community running into significant obstacles such as insufficient harvests and diseases."[4]

Summary of a Few Testimonies

  • "Roger Quessy’s testimony included an accusation that Campagnard had used witchcraft to sicken another farmhand, Pierre Godin, while he was sleeping. Godin confirmed the story and both men noted that Campagnard only removed the curse after he was threatened. Quessy then explained that when Campagnard sought his daughter in marriage he was reluctant to refuse outright as “he was aware of his bad reputation,” and was afraid of what he would do in retaliation. Instead, he said he would have to wait to consult with his wife. "[4]
  • "Andrée Martin testified that in 1675, in Port Royal, Campagna wanted to hit her, but that she struck him with a stick because he was insulting a young girl. Campagna told her right there and then that some day she would be sorry for hitting him. Then in 1678, while Campagna was working at de La Vallière marsh, in Beaubassin, he breathed in the eye of her husband, François Pellerin, who immediately started ailing, that which went to his head, and, that same evening, a high hot fever developed. He died shortly after." [5]
  • "Thomas Cormier said that one evening, Campagna, a little drunk, told him that he would like to marry his daughter. The father replied that he would have to come back the next day to ask his wife. She (Marie Madeleine Girouard) claims that Campagna did indeed come back the next day, but with a gun. Marie-Madeleine Girouard refused him her daughter's hand, to which Campagna allegedly replied that bad luck would happen to her."(Google translation) [6]
  • "Marie Martin says that Campagna wanted to give Marie Denys butter, which he said was 'bewitched'. She would have told him that he was insolent. However, she (Marie Denys, La Vallière's wife) took the butter and ate it without thinking about it. Soon after, she fell ill and died."[6]
  • "Marie Godet claimed that Campagnard administered the poison with a prick to the neck."[4]
  • "Jean-Aubin Mignaux accused Campagnard of casting an incantation on his crops to cause a poor harvest." [4]
  • Germain Bourgeois "Identified as a witness to François Pellerin’s death, Bourgeois admitted he overheard Pellerin accuse Campagnard of witchcraft but then added 'The man was obviously delirious with fever. I did not take the accusation seriously.' ” [4]
  • Jean Renaud dit Bordenave came to Campagna's defense. "He testified that he had known Jean Campagna at Pentagoet from the year that he arrived in Acadia 14 years ago. He had always been a good and hard worker and had earned a nice sum of money. He said that the whole trouble came from that fact that some people, who owed him money, so not to be obliged to pay him, started to say that he was a sorcerer." [5]


  1. Melanson, Michael B. Cormier Genealogy: Generations 1-7. Dracut, Massachusetts: Lanesville Publishing, 2021, p. 14-15
  2. Fonds Conseil Souverain, Procès de Jean Campagna, TP1, S777, D117, Advitam, BAnQ accessed at https://advitam.banq.qc.ca/notice/398808
    "This criminal case file includes the depositions and confrontations of witnesses with the accused; the request of the King's attorney of the Provost of Quebec; the summons and information of the witness Régnault Bordenave, 33 years old, servant of the sieur Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie (Labadie) of Saint-Castin, residing in Pentagoet (Pentagouet) in Acadia, and currently in Quebec, rue du Cul-de-Sac; an extract from the register of the jail of royal prisons of the Provost of Quebec; the record and the interrogation of the accused; as well as the indictment of the public prosecutor. The pieces come from the Prévôté de Québec. This file contains the interrogations or depositions of the following people: Andrée Martin, about 40 years old, widow of François Pellerin; Marie Martin; Pierre Mercier dit Caudebec, around 40 years old; Martin Aucoin, 34 years old; Thomas Cormier, around 50 years old, inhabitant of Beaubassin; Marie-Madeleine Girouard, around 31 years old, wife of Thomas Cormier; Marie-Françoise Poirier, around 36 years old; Marie Godet, about 28 years old; Jean-Aubin Mignault, 35 years old (two depositions); Roger Kuessey (Caissy), Irish, about 35 years old, inhabitant of Beaubassin; Marie Caissy (Kuessey), about 16 years old, daughter of Roger Kuessey (Caissy); Isabelle Pellerin; Pierre Godin said Châtillon; Germain Bourgeois, around 35 years old; Régnault Bordenave, 33, servant of Sieur Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie (Labadie) of Saint-Castin, residing in Pentagoet (Pentagouet) in Acadia, and currently in Quebec, rue du Cul-de-Sac" (google translation)
  3. Un sorcier en Acadie : transcription annotée des minutes d'un procès et documents contemporains, 1684-1686 / [édité par] Jacques Gagnon. — Nouvelle édition papier. — [Sherbrooke, Québec] : PACD'A, 2019. 71 pages
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Kennedy, Gregory, Thomas Peace, and Stephanie Pettigrew. 2018. “Social Networks across Chignecto: Applying Social Network Analysis to Acadie, Mi’kma’ki, and Nova Scotia, 1670-1751”. Acadiensis 47 (1). https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/Acadiensis/article/view/26239.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Clarence-J. d’Entremont, “Jean Campagna, The Sorcerer,” Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, May 29, 1990. Link to article :
    Jean Campagna the Sorcerer
    Jean Campagna le sorcier
  6. 6.0 6.1 Poirier, Marc. "Jean Campagna, le 'sorcier' de Beaubassin." Acadie Nouvelle, vendredi le 30 octobre 2020, accessed at https://www.acadienouvelle.com/chroniques/2020/10/30/jean-campagna-le-sorcier-de-beaubassin/

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Comments: 3

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Gisele, here is another source that provides a view of why the trial many have happened.


Plus much interesting information about social networks in Beaubassin during that period (which helps explain the why). I really enjoyed reading it,

posted by Cindy (Bourque) Cooper
I agree. Also liked the analysis of relationships between the Mi’kmaq and the Acadians.
posted by Gisèle Cormier
Yes, I hadn't read that part when I gave you the ref. But very interesting. I also found the rest of the citation

Journal of the HIstory of the Atlantic Region Acadiensis, Volume 47, Number 1 (May 22, 2018)

Here is their citation format: Kennedy, G., Peace, T., & Pettigrew, S. (2018). Social Networks across Chignecto: Applying Social Network Analysis to Acadie, Mi’kma’ki, and Nova Scotia, 1670-1751. Acadiensis, 47(1). Retrieved from https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/Acadiensis/article/view/26239

posted by Cindy (Bourque) Cooper