Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville

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Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville[1] (16 July 1661 – 9 July 1706 [probable])[2][3] was a soldier, ship captain, explorer, colonial administrator, knight of the order of Saint-Louis, adventurer, privateer, trader, member of Compagnies Franches de la Marine and founder of the French colony of Louisiana of New France.[3]

Le Moyne was born in July 1661 at Ville-Marie, now Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the third son[2] of Charles Le Moyne, a native of Dieppe in France and lord of Longueuil in Canada, and of Catherine Thierry, called Primot too, from Rouen.[2][4] He is also known as Sieur d'Iberville[1] [2] or Sieur d'Iberville et d'Ardillières.[3]

He had eleven brothers, most of whom were soldiers. One, Jacques Le Moyne de Sainte-Hélène, led French and Indian forces in the Schenectady massacre. Charles le Moyne de Longueuil, Baron de Longueuil, was governor of Montreal. Another, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, founded New Orleans. Jacques and Paul LeMoyne were with him on James Bay, and Joseph LeMoyne was with him in Louisiana.

Le Moyne d'Iberville was raised Catholic under the Jesuit order. Parish records indicate that, at the age of 12, he received the religious sacrament of First Communion.[5] D'Iberville received his formal education at a Sulpician seminary, where his academic knowledge was also embedded with religion.[6]

Destined for the priesthood, he chose a life of adventure. At the age of 12, he became a cabin boy on his uncle's ship trading to Port Royal, Acadia. A few years later he was in the fur trade at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where he would have learned something of canoe travel in the wilderness. He later became quartermaster on one of his father's ships.

In 1682, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to travel from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The French began dreaming of building a great empire by linking the Saint Lawrence and Mississippi basins, thereby bottling up the English on the Atlantic coast. This presented diplomatic problems; because the Gulf coast was claimed, but not occupied, by Spain.

Pontchartrain, the minister for naval affairs and colonies, gave Iberville the task of locating the mouth of the Mississippi River, which La Salle had failed to find on his last expedition, and building a fort which would block the river to other nations. Iberville left Brest with four ships in October 1698. He sailed along the Florida coast, past the new base the Spanish were building at Pensacola. In March 1699, he entered the Birdfoot Delta. It was only after meeting some Indians who remembered La Salle that he was sure that this was the Mississippi. Having achieved his first aim and finding no good sites in the delta, he built a temporary fort at Biloxi, left a garrison of 81 men, and returned to France.


1. The name Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville is pronounced /piːˈɛər lə ˈmwɑːn diːbɛərˈviːl/ or /diːbɛərˈvɪl/ (French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ lə mwan dibɛʁvil]). The title Sieur is pronounced /sjɜr/ ([sjœʁ]). However, residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast pronounce the city of D'Iberville, Mississippi as /diːˈaɪbərvɪl/. 2. "Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville" (biography), Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907, webpage: CathEnc-7614b: gives dates (16 July 1661; d. at Havana, 9 July 1706) and mentions surnames of 6 brothers. 3. "Le Moyne d'Iberville", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, 2009 (see below: References). 4. She was baptized at Saint-Denis-la-Petite parish church (now destroyed) 5. Nellis Maynard Crouse, Lemoyne d'Iberville: Soldier of New France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1954), 7. 6. Nellis Maynard Crouse. Lemoyne d’Iberville: Soldier of New France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1954), 8. 7. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 164.


Crouse, Nellis Maynard. Lemoyne d’Iberville: Soldier of New France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1954. Frégault, Guy. Iberville le conquérant. (Montréal, 1944). "Le Moyne d'Iberville", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Univ. of Toronto, Canada, 2009, webpage: bio-ca-940.