Marie- Joseph Angelique born around 1705 in Madeira, Portugal. Angelique may have been the first enslaved person in Portugal, an lucrative of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Angelique was later sold to an Flemish merchant named Nichus Block when she was in her early teens. Black brought Angelique to the New World (North America).
Angelique lived in New England for one year before being sold in 1725, at the age of 20 to an French businessman from Montreal named Francois Poulin de Francheville.
Francheville brought Angelique back to his home town in Montreal to work as a domestic slave.
When Francheville died in November of 1733, ownership of Angelique passed down to Francheville widow, Theresa de Couagne. It was said that Theresa renamed the enslaved woman from Marie-Joseph to “Angelique” after her deceased daughter.
Angelique had three children while enslaved on the Francheville plantation. None of Angelique children lived beyond infancy, she have a boy in 1731 who lived only one month and twins born in 1732 both died within five months. Birth records indicated the father of Angelique three children was a man named Jacques Cesar, an black man from Madagascar. Cesar belonged to a man named Ignace Gamelin, a friend of the Francheville from a neighboring plantation. It’s known whether Angelique and Cesar was lovers by choice or force by their owners to produce offspring’s.
While enslaved nine years on the Francheville plantation Angelique was involved with an white indentured servant named Claude Thibault who was employed by the Francheville and whom Angelique tried to flee enslavement with on several occasions.
On February 22, 1734 while Theresa de Francheville was away handling business on her late husband estate Angelique and Thibault attempted to escape enslavement, but due to bad whether and the frozen river they never made it far, they were captured by six militia’s nearby Chambly. Angelique was returned to her mistress with no discipline of any kind for her escape attempt. Theresa however did relieved Thibault of his duties and ban him from her home, this did not go over well with Angelique. Angelique started talking back to her mistress and making threats to burn down her mistress home. Theresa de Francheville found herself unable to control Angelique, this result in Theresa de Francheville selling Angelique to Francois-Etienne Cugnet of Quebec City for 600-pounds of gunpowder. Theresa even offer Marie-Louise Poirier her job back once the ice was thaw on the St. Lawrence river and Angelique was shipped to her new home.
Word got back to Angelique about her mistress intentions, feared of being sold Angelique went begging to her mistress for forgiveness even telling her mistress that she could do all that Poirier do better than Poirier, but the damage was already done and Angelique was schedule to be shipped to Quebec City once the whether cleared.
Arson of April 10, 1734
On the Saturday evening of April 10, 1734 a fire alarm sounded off in the quiet streets of Montreal. The fire started on the South side of Rue Saint-Paul and in minutes it was spreading East Rue Saint-Joseph. The fire was so intense law-enforcement could not get close enough to extinguish the flame. As a result of the fire at least 46 buildings, mainly homes and the Hotel-Dieu de Montreal (a hospital) was all destroyed in less than three hours. Rumors started circulating accusing Angelique of setting the fire. Locals went and confronted Angelique on the rumors but she denied all rumors.
On April 12, 1734 an warrant was issued for Angelique. She was arrested and brought before the judge for the jurisdiction of Montreal named Pierre Raimbault, with Raimbault was chief attorney & prosecutor Francois Foucher, and began one of the most spectacular trials to come out of the 18th-century of Canada.
Over 24 witnesses were called claiming to have heard or saw Angelique setting the fire, including an five year old girl named Amiable that claimed she have heard Angelique talking about setting a fire to her mistress house and on the day of the fire she claim to have saw Angelique carrying a shovel of coals to the attic of her mistress home.
The court believe that Angelique reasoning for setting the fire was to escape enslavement and to cover her tracks the courts also believed Angelique was alone in this conspiracy and her lover Thibault was very much involved so the courts issued an warrant for Thibault but when the bailiffs went to serve the warrant Thibault was already gone he had disappeared and was never seen again in New France.
After a six week trial Angelique was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death, she was to have a noose around her neck carrying a two-pound flaming torch (a symbol of her crime) with a noose around her neck then have her hand cut off, hanged and burnt alive.
On the morning of June 21, 1734 Angelique was tortured in her jail cell with a medieval torture instrument that crushed her legs. The judge and prosecutor of the Montreal courts wanted Angelique to confess to setting the fire under torture. Angelique broke down and confessed but refused to name her lover Claude Thibault as Co-conspirator and Co-arsonist. After the torture Angelique was dressed in a white Chemise and holding the burning torch in her hand she was placed into an garage cart and taken through the streets of Montreal facing ruins of the building destroyed by the fire. Angelique then was hanged, her hangman and torture was Mathieu Leveille, an enslaved black ma employed as royal executioner. After she was strangled until dead, her body was displayed on a gibbet for two hours for all to see. At around 7:00 p.m. her body was then burnt her ashes was gathered and then scatted in the wind.
Angelique was 29 years old.