MÉMOIRE POUR MESSIRE JEAN-FRANÇOIS DE CANTINEAU...APPELANS, QUANT AU CHEF QUI LEUR FAIT PRÉJUDICE, DE LA SENTENCE DE PARTAGE RENDUE PAR LE JUGE DU FORT-DAUPHIN LE 22 SEPTEMBRE 1738, &c...[caption title]
by [Saint Domingue]
[Cap Français]: De l'Imprimerie Royale de St. Domingue, 1767. 47pp. Stitched as issued. Contemporary inscription on first page. Internally bright and clean. Near fine. An extremely rare and interesting legal brief concerning a notable family of Saint Domingue, and a very early piece of printing from the island. This is a lawyer's brief concerning the trial about the inheritance of the Dureau family in Saint Domingue. The process concerned the division of the estate of the late Laurent Dureau, who died in 1745, between his children from two mothers. The endless quarrels about the inheritance began in 1719 when Laurent Dureau married Marie Louise Michel; the lawsuit began in 1754 and temporarily concluded with this document, an interlocutory judgement, in 1767. Laurent Dureau's father, Sebastian, was appointed governor of Saint Domingue by King Louis XIV of France. His son, Laurent, was born in 1694, married three times, and had six children. His most notable offspring was by his third wife, Elisabeth: Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-René Dureau de la Malle (1742-1807), who was known for his translations of Latin literature, and who became member of the Corps Législatif and the French Academy. The origins of printing in Saint Domingue, now Haiti, are obscure. The best contemporary source, Isaiah Thomas in his HISTORY OF PRINTING IN AMERICA, says that a press was established at Port-au-Prince as early as 1750, but this is uncertain; the earliest imprint we can locate is one from 1767 at the Library Company of Philadelphia. At the same time Thomas says the press at Cap Français was established "as early as 1765, and probably several years preceding." However, the Library Company has a 1752 imprint. It seems likely to us that Thomas reversed the places, since Cap Français was the largest and wealthiest town in colonial Saint Domingue, and that printing began there around 1750 and in Port-au-Prince about 1765. The present work is the earliest imprint from Saint Domingue which we have handled. We could trace only one copy in institutional holdings, at the New York Public Library.
(Inventory #: WRCAM51474)
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