Jean Louis Anne Madeleine Lefebvre De Cheveris, a French prelate, the first Roman Catholic bishop of Boston, Mass., born at Mayenne, Jan. 28, 1708, died at Bordeaux, July 19, 1830. After completing his classical and theological studies, he was admitted to the priesthood in 1790, and officiated for some time as a curate at Mayenne; but on his refusal to take the oath ordered by the assembly, he went to England, and became a teacher of French and mathematics in a private Protestant school. In 1795 he proceeded to the United States, and joined the Catholic mission at Boston. The members of that church were then but few in number; his well directed efforts gathered new adherents, while his affability, simple and winning manners, fluency of speech, and inexhaustible benevolence, made him popular even among other religious denominations. From Boston he went to Newcastle, Maine, where he founded a Catholic church, and spent three months in missionary labors among the Indians on the Penobscot river, and in the vicinity of Passa-maquoddy bay. He was recalled to Boston, where the yellow fever was then raging with great severity, and gave renewed evidence of courage, devotion, and benevolence, which extended to all persons without distinction of creed.
When he opened a subscription for the building of a Catholic church in Boston, he found assistance among Protestants, President John Adams heading the list. In 1808 he was appointed by Pius VII. first bishop of Boston, and was consecrated as such notwithstanding his entreaties and objections. He continued to attend to the humblest duties of the ministry, and to visit every year the Penobscot Indians. After living in Boston for nearly 30 years, he was recalled to France by Louis XVIII., who in 1823 appointed him to the bishopric of Mon-tauban. The vicinity of that town having been devastated by a flood, the bishop opened his residence as an asylum to all the sufferers. His popularity throughout France became at least equal to that he had enjoyed in America. A vacancy having occurred in the archbishopric of Bordeaux, he was appointed to that office, and was at the same time created a peer of France by Charles X. His career at Bordeaux was signalized by the establishment of several charitable institutions. When the cholera broke out in that city his palace was again turned into a hospital, and at the entrance he caused to be inscribed the words, Maison de secours. He was also instrumental in calming the exasperation of the people, who attributed the disease to poisoning.
On the revolution of July he lost his rank as peer of France, and declined receiving it back at the hands of Louis Philippe. He had no taste for offices or honors of any kind, but could not prevent the king from soliciting for him the dignity of cardinal, to which he was appointed Feb. 1, 1836; but he died of apoplexy within less than six months. Two translations of his life by M. Hamon of St. Sulpice (under the name of J. Huen-Du-bourg) have appeared in the United States.