First Jesuit president of Fordham University, author;b. Nantes, France, Nov. 20, 1807; d. New York City, Dec. 17, 1885. He studied for the priesthood in the local seminary, was ordained in 1832, and after three years in pastoral work at St. Clement's, Nantes, entered the Society of Jesus in Italy. After further studies in theology at Rome and in natural science at the Sorbonne in Paris, he was sent in 1839 to teach chemistry at St. Mary's College, Marion County, Kentucky. In 1846 the Jesuits withdrew from Kentucky to take charge of St. John's University (later Fordham University) in New York, where Thébaud served as president from 1846 to 1851, and from 1860 to 1863. Following his first term he taught chemistry at the university from 1851 to 1852, then served as pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Troy, New York, until 1860. In 1863 he returned to Troy where he remained for the next six years, leaving in 1869 for Canada. The following years were spent in pastoral work in Montreal, then in St. Joseph's Church, Hudson City, New York (1870–72), and finally (1874), at St. Francis Xavier's, New York City. He returned to Fordham shortly before his death, and he was buried there.
Thébaud was deeply concerned with immigration and sociological problems and at Troy he exerted a restraining influence in the Nativist agitation. He was a frequent contributor to Catholic World, and to American Catholic Quarterly Review, which published his essays "Superior Instruction in Our Colleges" (1882) and "Freedom of Worship in the United States" (1883). He was the author of The Irish Race in the Past and the Present (1873), The Church and the Gentile World (1878), The Church and the Moral World (1881), and two fictional works, Louise Kirkbride: A Tale of New York (1879) and Twit Twats: A Christmas Allegorical Story of Birds (1881).
Bibliography: Archives, New York Province of the Society of Jesus. t. j. campbell, "Father Thébaud," in a. j. thÉbaud Forty Years in the United States of America, ed. c. g. herbermann (New York 1904). Woodstock Letters, passim.
[v. c. hopkins]