John Gyles

Born in Pemaquid, Maine around 1680, the Puritan John Gyles entered New Brunswick as the famous boy captive of the Maliseet of the St. John River. He later became an interpreter, military officer, and author of Memoirs of Odd Adventures, Strange Deliverances, Etc., in the Captivity of John Gyles (1736), one of the most arresting captivity narratives in our literary history. Attack and capture by indigenous populations was part of the English-French struggle in the New World, a struggle that often pitted native peoples against the English. It was routine for English settlers to carry guns to guard against ambush by native war parties led by French officers and instigated to violence by French clergy. Such was the fate of a young John Gyles, who was captured by a Maliseet raiding party in 1689, brought from Maine to what is now New Brunswick, made a slave of the Maliseet for six years, and eventually sold to a French family on the St. John River with whom he lived for three years until 1698. In the process he was one of the first English residents to live in the province, and undoubtedly the first, observed Stuart Trueman, to have an intimate knowledge of the culture, language, and habits of English, Maliseet, and French societies. His value as a translator and interpreter came from that unique experience, which he (purportedly) recorded in his personal journal, which he published as Memoirs of Odd Adventures in 1736.

For the full Author Page on Gyles, click here.

 

The linked Author Page contains excerpts from Memoirs of Odd Adventures, Strange Deliverances, Etc., in the Captivity of John Gyles.