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Cavelier De La Salle, René-Robert (1643-1687)
Contemporary Documents dated Paris June 1717 and July 1717, transmit to Jean-Baptiste Cavelier de la Salle, nephew of the Explorer, his Letters of Nobility: “Lettres de confirmation et de transmission de la noblesse de Robert Cavelier de la Salle pour Jean-Batiste Cavelier de la Salle…”

folio 4 pages, and, octavo, 2 pages, the folio document is on watermarked paper: profile in crown, cross of Malta underneath, neatly inscribed in ink, the documents are in two different hands, top edge of folio document slightly ruffled, else very good. Folio document, likely a retained or notarial copy, it is “signed” at the end “Phelypeaux” likely Louis Phelypeaux, comte de Ponchartrain (1643-1727), one time Chancellor of France.

These important documents transmit to Jean-Baptiste Cavelier de la Salle, the nephew of René-Robert Cavelier de la Salle, and apparently his sole surviving heir, in consideration “of the great expenses which he has employed in his discoveries, and which ended up in total financial losses to his family, and his nephew in particular”, the title of nobility of the great explorer, as well as all the properties which had been granted to his uncle. These included, inter alia, the entire estate of Fort Frontenac (now Kingston, Ontario) and all the adjoining lands four leagues around.

Highly important documents in the history of Canada and New France; without La Salle French explorations would have taken a different pattern, and Louisiana, so important in the workings of John Law and his economic empire, would very likely have become part of Spain’s New World Empire.


René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle (1643-1687), came to Canada in 1667 and obtained the grant of a seigniory at Lachine. In 1669 he began his attempts to find the route to the Western Sea, and by the time he was killed he had explored more of North America than had any European before him. He first explored the Ohio River; then he penetrated into Lake Michigan, and discovered the upper Illinois. In 1673 he was placed in command of Fort Frontenac and in 1675 in recognition of his marvelous pursuits and successes, was granted the right to join the ranks of French nobility. In 1677 he set out from Fort Frontenac to explore the Mississippi; after many trials he succeeded, in 1682, in descending that magnificent river from its junction with the Illinois to its mouth. He next attempted to found a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, despite the claims of the Spaniards, but his ships failed to find the river and the intended colonists were landed on what is now the coast of Texas. In his attempt to reach the Mississippi and to bring back relief from Canada, La Salle was shot, on March 19, 1687, by mutineers from among his own men. Thus died one of the greatest of the explorers of the North American continent.