The Organization of New France

The Police In New France

Navy Archers

Navy archer, in about the mid­eighteenth century

Caption: Navy archer, in about the mid­eighteenth century

Navy archers, instituted in France at the same time as the office of Navy provost-general, should not be confused with Maréchaussée archers. Navy archers were in the service of intendants, both in France and in the colonies. They formed their escorts and guards during official ceremonies, as intendants were senior administrative officers of the Ministry of the Navy. The archer or archers at their command carried out their orders and arrested people when necessary. Navy commissaries, like the one in Louisbourg, were also assigned Navy archers.

When the first intendant of New France, Jean Talon, arrived in 1665, he was accompanied by two archers. His immediate successors were also entitled to one or two. However, when Intendant Bigot arrived in Quebec in 1748, he had no difficulty increasing their number to three for his personal service and adding a fourth to assist the Navy commissary in Montreal.

Navy archers wore cassocks in the seventeenth century, then blue velvet bandoliers decorated with the royal insignia and anchors. Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, they adopted red and blue uniforms.