Jean Baptiste Labat, a French missionary and historian, born in Paris in 1663, died there, Jan. 6, 1738. He entered the order of the Dominicans, taught philosophy at Nancy, afterward devoted himself to preaching, and became a missionary to the Antilles. After remaining two years at Martinique, he passed in 1696 to Guadeloupe, where he established a station of his order, and also distinguished himself as an engineer and agriculturist. On his return to Martinique he was appointed procu-reur general of the mission, and for his diplomatic and scientific services was held in esteem by successive governors. He explored the archipelago of the Antilles, founded in 1703 the city of Basse-Terre, and in that year took an active part in the defence of the island against the English. He organized a company of 60 negroes, who, as he said, destroyed more of the enemy than all the French troops. By the decease of his associates, he gradually united in his own person nearly all the higher offices of his order in the Antilles, and in 1705 returned to Europe to obtain recruits. He was detained by his superiors at Rome till 1709, and at Civita Vecchia till 1716, after which he went to Paris, where he passed the rest of his life.
His principal works are: Nouveau voyage aux iles de l'Amerique (6 vols. 12mo, 1722); Nouvelle relation de l'Afrique occiden-tale (5 vols., 1728); and Voyage en Espagne et en Italie (8 vols., 1730).