Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux papers (1756-1805)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Caitlin Marineau, April 2011
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux papers
Creator: Vaux, Charles Grant, vicomte de
Inclusive dates: 1756-1805
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
Correspondence and documents related to Vaux's support of the colonists in the Revolutionary War, his business interests, and his efforts to relocate to Canada.
Language: The material is in English and French
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1913, 1936. M-305, M-4854.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The items are arranged into the following series:
  1. Unbound Correspondence
  2. Bound Volumes and Removed Items

Items that were accessioned separately from the bulk of the collection are arranged chronologically within their own folder (Series I). In addition, documents that were laid in at the front of the two volumes have been removed to their own folders and arranged chronologically.

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux, was the descendant of a family of nobles who had emigrated from Scotland to France in the 14th century. Vaux was born in 1749 on the island of Mauritius, where his father, Louis-Charles Grant, the Baron de Vaux, served as governor. As a youth, Vaux sailed to France to be educated and settled at Vaux-sur-Seulle in Normandy, and eventually became an army officer. During the American Revolution, he sided with the colonists and earned money selling supplies to the colonies and investing in ships to engage in privateering. The majority of the ships were lost, and after the war Vaux petitioned the United States Congress for compensation. Though Vaux considered emigrating to North America, he remained in France until forced by the revolution in France to flee to Great Britain in 1790. During his time as a refugee, Vaux became interested in the prospect of starting a settlement in Canada, and much of his energy during the next decade was focused on gaining permissions and raising money for the expedition. In the mid-1790s Vaux attempted to support himself as an army officer after being granted the position of colonel and permission to recruit a regiment, which he formed with other French émigrés; it was stationed temporarily in Holland. This pursuit failed, however, and the regiment was dispersed after France invaded Holland during the French Revolutionary wars. Vaux then turned to writing to support himself, publishing numerous books which included History of Mauritius and Introduction to Four New Maps of the Four Quarters, all the while still attempting to plan a Canadian settlement. Despite his constant petitioning, planning, and pleas for aid, Vaux was never able to realize his dream of moving to Canada. Little is known of the last two decades of his life, but he is thought to have died in France around 1818.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux papers are composed of 8 unbound letters and 2 volumes containing correspondence, notes, and other writings. A total of 32 items that had been laid into the front of the volumes have been removed to their own folders.

The Unbound Correspondence series contains letters spanning May 8, 1778, to April 26, 1779, and primarily concerns Vaux's activities during the American Revolution, including his attempt to send aid to the colonies on the ship Comtesse de Brionne (May 8, 1778). A letter from June 1778 pertains to permission obtained from congress to arm a ship. Several other letters deal with Vaux's naval pursuits and contain news of the trans-Atlantic shipping business.

The Bound Volumes and Removed Items series contains two bound volumes of manuscripts, as well as the loose documents originally laid into the volumes, now arranged chronologically into folders. Materials in the series span approximately 1756-1805, though much of the material is undated.

Volume 1 contains correspondence, drafts, and documents, primarily dating from the period during which Vaux resided in Great Britain to escape the French Revolution. The items relate mainly to Vaux's attempts to organize a military regiment and to his efforts to settle in Canada. One undated document, entitled "State of the case of Charles Grant Viscount de Vaux in Great Britain," documents Vaux's life and history, and relates to his ancestry, birth, exile from France, attempts to build a military career in Britain, and literary works ([n.d.]; Folder 2). Vaux and his supporters' attempts to secure a military post or some other means for him to settle in Canada are a constant theme throughout. Also of interest are several letters that contain information on Vaux's son, Romain Grant, who remained in France when Vaux fled and was arrested attempting to travel to London without a passport (pp. 17-21).

Volume 2 primarily contains essays related to travel and notes on regions outside of France, such as Mauritius and the Americas. Included is a journal titled "Journal du voyage de Louis-Charles Grant de Vaux . . . lorsqu'il revenoit de l'isle Maurice en France en 1758" (Travel Journal of Louis-Charles Grant de Vaux. . .when returning from the island Mauritius in France in 1758). The journal begins on page 73 of the volume. Also included is the essay "Amerique ou Nouveau Monde," which contains an account of the history of the Americas from its discovery by Columbus in 1492, with descriptions of different regions such as Virginia, California, Nantucket, and the West Indies (begins on p. 25). The loose items include letters and notes related to the American Revolution and Canadian settlement. Of particular interest is "Memoire au congrés ameriquain," a draft of a letter to the American Congress describing vessels Vaux lost off the coast of America during the Revolution, and asking for some land in Ohio and Connecticut as recompense for his losses (1782).

Subject Terms

  • Canada--Emigration and immigration--History.
  • Canada--History--1791-1841.
  • France. Armée.
  • France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799--Refugees.
  • Great Britain. Army.
  • Great Britain--Colonies--America.
  • Mauritius--Description and travel.
  • Mauritius--History--To 1810.
  • United States--Description and travel.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, French.
  • Dalkerque, Delattre.
  • Ferroux, Jacques L. F.
  • Grant, Charles, 1746-1823.
  • Grant, James, Sir, 1738-1811.
  • Grant de Vaux, Louis-Charles.
  • Hobart, Robert, Earl of Buckinghamshire, 1760-1816.
  • Melfort, James Lewis Drummond, duke of.
  • Melville, Henry Dundas, Viscount, 1742-1811.
Genre Terms:
  • Autobiographies.
  • Diaries.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Memorandums.
  • Travel literature.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Unbound Correspondence [series]
Box   1  
 8 May 1778-26 April 1779 (1 folder)
Bound Volumes and Removed Items [series]
Volume   1  
 ca. 1790s
Volume   2  
 ca. 1790s
Box   1  
Items removed from Volume 1,  1793-1805 (2 folders)
Box   1  
Items removed from Volume 2,  1782-1804 (2 folders)

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

Related items include a portrait of de Vaux held in the graphics division:

Condé, Pierre. Charles Grant, Vicomte De Vaux, Maréchal Des Camps Et Armées De Sa Majesté Très Chrétienne. [S.l.: s.n., 17--?].

The Viscounts Melville papers contain a document written by de Vaux from January 15, 1800, titled "Notes sur les isle de France, de Bourbon, etc." enclosed in a letter from J. Grant to Melville on January 30, 1800.


Weatherford, John. The Vicomte De Vaux: Would-be Canadian.. [n. p., 1955].