Lempfrit, Father Honoré Timothée
b. 1803-01-24
d. 1862-01-08
Father Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit was a Roman Catholic priest from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who served in North America between 1847 and 1853.1 He was a controversial figure who often found himself in conflict with colonial administrators, fellow clergymen, and First Nations.2
Born in Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on 24 January 1803, Lempfrit was ordained in 1827. He served as an assistant and parish priest in France before joining the French military as a chaplain. He left the military after a year and accepted a position as parish priest in Bernécourt, France in 1831. In 1832 he joined the austere Carthusian Order of monks, remaining with them until 1846. He left the Carthusians and became a member of the Oblates in 1847, departing for North America in 1848.3 After serving briefly in Oregon, Lempfrit arrived in Victoria 6 June 1849.4
Lempfrit established a mission with the “Cowegin” First Nation, but was forced to return to Victoria in 1851 after his relationship with them deteriorated to the point that Governor James Douglas dispatched an armed group to retrieve him.5 Rear Admiral Moresby wrote to the Admiralty on 7 July 1851 to report that the good Padre was the cause of anxiety to the settlement, through a misunderstanding with the Indians, when the Tribe assembled round the Fort in a threatening manner.6 The cause of this conflict has not been determined, but the bishop of Vancouver Island, Modeste Demers, later wrote that Lempfrit had been involved in sexual relationships with First Nations women. Lempfrit did not address these accusations in any surviving correspondence, and abruptly left the colony in 1852.8 He served at the Mission of St. Ines in Monterey, California until 1 October 1853 when he returned to France.9 The Oblates expelled him from the order on 20 September 1853.10
In a letter addressed to Lempfrit dated 17 December 1853, Eugène de Mazenod, the order's founder, wrote:
Poor priest, go back to the solitude of the Charterhouse which you should never have left, or go and enclose yourself in some Trappist monastery where you will be able to do penance for the rest of your days and so make amends, insofar as is possible, for the sins you have unhappily committed.11
Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit died in Moselle, France on 8 January 1862 at the age of fifty-nine.12
  • 1. Emilien Lamirande, Le Père Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit et son ministère auprès des autochtones de l'île de Vancouver (1849-1852), Western Oblate Studies 1 (Edmonton: Western Canadian Publishers, 1990), 54, 70.
  • 2. Patricia Meyer and Catou Levesque, eds., Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit: His Oregon Trail Journal and Letters from the Pacific Northwest, 1848-1853 (Ye Galleon Press, 1985), 201-239.
  • 3. Ibid., 21-27.
  • 4. Ibid., 201.
  • 5. Douglas to Earl Grey, 28 May 1852, 7372, CO 305/3, 113. V52104.html
  • 6. Parker to Peel (Parliamentary Under-Secretary), 28 November 1851, 10075, CO 305/3, 215. V515AD08.html
  • 7. Paul Drouin, ed., Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée en Orégon 1847-1860 (Ottawa: Archives Deschâtelets, 1992), 268-270.
  • 8. Yvon Beaudoin and Gaston Carrière, Lempfrit, Honoré Timothée. http://omiworld.org/lemma/lempfrit-honore-timothee
  • 9. Meyer and Levesque, Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit: His Oregon Trail Journal, 37, 15.
  • 10. Beaudoin and Carrière, Lempfrit, Honoré Timothée.
  • 11. Eugene de Mazenod, Letters to North America 1851 - 1860 (Rome: O.M.I, 1979), 67.
  • 12. Beaudoin and Carrière, Lempfrit, Honoré Timothée.
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Demers, Modeste

Douglas, James

Moresby, Fairfax

Places in this document

Vancouver Island