René Georges Le Pelley Pléville

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Le Pelley was born June 26, 1726 in Granville. He died October 2, 1805 in Paris. He married Ursula Marie Rambaud, in 1755. His father Captain Hervé Le Pelley is Sieur de Pléville and ship captain. Contrary to popular belief, is not Pléville commoner. One of his grandfathers ended his life ruined, but it is born Squire. It was King’s Body Guard, Governor of Granville in 1695 and shipowner. The father of his mother Sieur Saussey Parish Lingreville, Prosecutor in the Vicomte de Granville in 1701 and Treasurer of the Navy in 1718 for admiralties Coutances and Granville

Norman Corsaire

At the age of twelve, in 1738, George left his family and the College of Coutances comes to Le Havre, where he sailed as foam under an assumed name (Du Vivier) to avoid detection of his family. He made several campaigns in the cod fishery off the coast of Newfoundland, with good results, thanks to the “jigger” a new fishing equipment. According to him, a beginner can catch as many cod with a “jigger” an experienced fisherman. In 1742 he received lieutenant aboard a privateer Le Havre and made war along the Canadian coast. Some months later, he went to Granville and is found Lieutenant privateer on the Frances Lake . In 1744, he was wounded in a battle off Ushant and a leg amputated after he met two English vessels and have delivered battle. In this commitment the young Pléville has carried the right leg by a bullet and was taken prisoner. He is 18 years old.

Pléville Le Pelley D by Antoine Maurin

Antoine D. Maurin

Portrait of Pléville Le Pelley

(Cl. Museum of Old Granville)

Officer in the Royal Navy

Back in France, and barely recovered from his injury, he is as lieutenant of frigate on the Argaunaute , commanded by M. de Tilly the Pelley, his great-uncle. In 1746, being on the ship Mercury , part of the squadron of the Duke of Enville, he was attacked on his return Chebucto by Admiral Anson. In the fight that supports this ship Pléville loses his wooden leg. His captain saw him fall on deck, asked if he was not hurt:

No, he replied, the ball has given the work that carpenter.

Seven Years’ War (1754-1763) and marriage.

During the Seven Years War, he commanded the privateers. It begins in 1754 in North America. It is found in Canadian waters in pursuit of the English ships. He returned to France and wife Ursula Marie Rambaud in 1755. This is the daughter of Captain Jean Rambaud (Navy captain and shipowner in Marseille) and Mary Magdalene Lieutaud. In 1759, Commander Swallow , equipped with 14 cannons of six, Pléville attack and takes three English vessels armed for war. His wooden leg is still removed in this case. Forced by the decay of his health, to temporarily leave the sea service, it is attached to that port, and successively appointed lieutenant of frigate firebrand captain and lieutenant port.

Officer and then commander of the port in Marseille (1766-1771)

It is found in 1766 in Marseille, the city where was born and his wife Marie Rambaud where she her family since she was forced out of the Dauphiné, is deprived of his property, as Protestant. Pléville also include Granville fishermen who come to sell their production of cod in Provence, including his cousin Eustace The Pellay-Fonteny. At the end of 1770 the British frigate Alarm commanded by Captain Jervis (from Lord St. Vincent), is thrown by storm in the bay of the port. This warship is sprawled on the coast, is in danger of crashing on many rocks, which it is sown. Pléville, informed of his troubles, went to Fort St. John. Along the way he meets all sailors he met and commits them to render assistance to the English frigate. The night is very dark and terrible time. Moreover, sailors showed some hesitation. So he takes on a field of these resolutions that ardent love of humanity often inspires a generous soul, but with great courage, attached to maritime knowledge alone can ensure success. Pléville, the one-legged, goes around the body a strong enough rope to hold it suspended. Then seizing the end of a cable he had the precaution to tie strongly to earth, he lets himself down from the rocks to fury at sea and arrived after the greatest efforts to the frigate Danger. Through the operation he commands, he managed to make it into the port. Pléville not content with having saved the alarm and his crew of some loss, puts all his efforts to repair the damage that it has experienced. And 20 days after, this vessel is en route to England. The Admiralty in London, struck with admiration for a distinguished service and wanting to give a token of his appreciation to the intrepid sailor who is the author, load Jervis captain to return to Marseille with his frigate. He hands Pléville, £ 10,000 and a piece of silverware for 50 covers meals, with a letter conceived in his words:

Sir, the quality of service you have rendered to the frigate “Alarm” is admired by English. Work like yours that Providence deserved the couronnât by success. Your reward is the most flattering deep in your soul, but we ask you to accept as a pledge of our eternal believes that the Jervis commander, captain of the frigate is charged to deliver us from you.

Vernet The Port of Marseille.

Claude Joseph Vernet,

The port of Marseille, in 1754

Marine Museum, Paris

(Cl. Guy Rambaud)

The noble conduct Pléville found later in another award. During the war of 1778 his son boarded a frigate, was taken after a fight. As soon as the English Admiralty is educated, orders were given for his return to France without return, and has the right to take with him a number of his comrades of his choice.

In June 1777 Sir, since Louis XVIII, after a trip to the southern provinces, visit the port of Marseille. Pléville is employed there as a harbor master; in the number of festivities at the illustrious traveler, the one that offers him the Navy is entrusted to the officer. A few thousand barrels of tar placed on the mountain Our Lady of the Guard, have their spontaneous combustion simulacrum of a volcano; jousting on the water, catching your place in a basin at the port entrance. The maneuvers and developments used in combat are imitated by the buildings that are in the harbor. Finally all that the most fertile imagination can invent to express the joy of Provencal sailors is the work of Pléville, during the three days that the Prince goes to Marseille.

On his return to Versailles, His Royal Highness sent her his portrait with a letter full of kindness.

At that time, Marseille became the second French port for the Atlantic and increases its trade in the Mediterranean.

the American War of Independence (1776-1783)

In 1778 Pléville ordered to go to Toulon. It is embedded as the second captain of the Languedoc , the flagship of Admiral d’Estaing and done on this ship the whole American war. During a hurricane that made great damage to the French fleet off Newport saves his ship sank.

Admiral is quick to trust him. Chosen by him to lead in American ports the many prizes made by the squadron of the English, he is responsible to make the sale. A month sufficed to this operation. On his return, he makes the accounts of his management, Admiral wishing to reward his zeal and activity, decided to allocate a commission of two percent of the proceeds from the sale amounting to 15 million (300 000 francs the price of 3 “lands”), but Pléville refuse the award by saying that it is satisfied with the king’s salary gives him to serve him. at some time later, the Comte d’Estaing in need of $ 60,000 for the service of his squadron made useless efforts to obtain them. American merchants, friends Pléville offer to lend him the money and delicacy and honesty reputation did get this very urgent help in this circumstance. Lafayette had tried to find the money, but despite his great fortune, he had found that $ 10,000.

In the assault on Savannah, 9 October 1779, he commanded a company, and comes to the reform when it is dispersed in a swamp under fire from British batteries. In 1780 he served under Guichen, and also fighting at the Battle of Yorktown in Grasse in October 1781. After the defeat of admiral, April 12, 1782, he joined Vaudreuilles, serving under him until the conclusion of the campaign.

The United States, emancipated with our participation, recognize the courage Pléville by the decoration of the Order of Cincinnati (a page dedicated to him on the site Famous Americans ). In 1783 he made several cruises off the coast of North America.

Governor of the Port of Marseille (1783/1789)

In 1783 Pléville Le Pelley, Captain of the port of Marseille, proposes to increase the depth of the Port de Bouc and filed several briefs on that. In 1785, the Chamber seized in turn the Minister concerned a project work. Barras says that as soon as our ship was repaired, we left Cadiz and took the direction of Marseille. We ran aground in the harbor entrance by the clumsiness of a replacement of slabs captain killed in Cape St. Vincent. M. Pléville, commander of the port and the Navy, full of activity, though he had a wooden leg, managed by the maneuvers that were familiar to him, to tow our ship on the dock. From said Barras : it was the Marseille port congestion by “Sartine” which gave birth to the famous Marseille history of the port blocked by a sardine. ” .

January 12, 1786, George became the patron of Benoist Rambaud, his nephew, at the Saint-Louis de Versailles. Pléville meets Louis XVI and his ministers, and was made to portray the request of the city of Granville, by a Court painter.

Pléville Le Pelley

anonymous painting, late eighteenth century

Museum of Old Granville

(Cl. Museum of Old Granville)

Vice Admiral and Management Minister

The Revolution did not take long to burst, he adopts the principles, like most officers who served in America, but in moderation. In 1794 he was called to be part of the Committees Navy and Commerce of the Convention, where his advice is very useful. Soon after, he was appointed Head of Division in the Ministry of Marine. The following year, he fulfills a mission to Ancona Corfu militaire.1797 organize the service, it is done against Admiral.

In early July 1797 he was sent as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Lille Congress, to address the peace. Pléville himself by his distrust with respect to English:

” Rather Letourneur and Pléville the Pelley, honest people, but unaccustomed to diplomacy, had the revolutionary savagery; they considered both English as dangerous men, always ready to intrigue and deceive, and against whom he had come into confidence. They would see that officially, and feared to compromise with any kind of communication. It was not so that we could get along. ”

” … Intimate reconciliations M. Maret more accustomed than his colleagues with diplomatic practice it pressed willingly. But it was necessary to negotiate with Letourneur and Pléville The Pellay to bring meetings to show” Judge Adolphe Thiers in his History revolution, the Consulate and the Empire.

There are only a few days because of his appointment to the Ministry of Marine and Colonies (16 July 1797-1728 Messidor Year V). After leaving Lille Conferences, Letourneur is in complete ignorance of the secret negotiations. Maret let him honors. It replaces Truguet ” man loyal to drastic measures … the character haughty and violent,” according to Adolphe Thiers. This Pléville judge as “an old and brave sailor, an excellent administrator … ”

Justice and unselfishness are the currency adopted by Pléville. Charged to tour on the ratings of the west, allocates 40 000 F. for this mission. On his return, he produced the memory of his costs, amounting to 8000 F and returns to treasure the remaining F 32000. They refuse to take them, the entire sum having been paid in expenses. Pléville insists, but pressed again, it reflects the desire to erect a monument helpful. His wish is fulfilled and the money used to raise the telegraph which serve well in the Ministry of Marine Hotel. Selflessness Minister is the more noble it is far from rich and has a large family. It is made vice-admiral in 1798. He exercises the functions of admiral, in addition to the function of the Minister. The Navy since the beginning of the war accumulated setbacks. Pléville Le Pelley advocated a defensive strategy: ” avoid meeting” . Only individual fighting is allowed, to prevent the France of Trafalgar. We owe him a number of laws which reflected his love of mankind (15 Thermidor Year V / shipwrecked on enemies, 26 Thermidor Year V / refugee relief colonies or other, 15 Fructidor Year V / relief for residents 25 Fructidor Year V / treatment cashiered officers, 5 Vendémiaire Year VI / where pirates may release prisoners of war …).

27 April 1798 (8 Floreal Year VI), for health reasons (he is 72), he resigned is accepted only after great difficulty.

Commander of naval Mediterranean army

Appointed a few months away, at the command of the naval force assembled in the Mediterranean, but exhausted by the fatigues of a life so active, he soon resigned this command and retired to his family to take that rest. The Management Board is aware of the plight of the Eastern Army, tent Oct. 4 to implement a rescue squadron, assigned to Vice Admiral Pléville Le Pelley, former Minister of Marine, and composed of three vessels former Venetian. But the vessels are found in very poor condition, making the water everywhere and serviced by untrained crews. After a month of fruitless cruise, the squadron Ancona rallies just to get out.

Time honors

He returned to Paris to live with his family a well-deserved retirement. The honors come to fetch him. Napoleon has created the Conservative Senate, seeks citizens distinguished by their services and talents . Pléville Pellay is the Senator in 1799. .. A top 50 holders of the Legion of Honour (02/10/1803): Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1804.

He did not long enjoy his distinctions. A few days of illness removes October 2, 1805 at the age of nearly 80 years. A simple monument, decorated with an epitaph composed by Mr. Lemaire is high it at the Eastern Cemetery in Paris by his family and friends.

The Pléville Pellay was a Freemason. Besides its signature testifies, like that of many other eighteenth-century naval officers. One of his daughters, Therese, married January 23, 1788, with Francis Viefville Essarts. The father of this is Mr. François de Viefville Essarts, a former lawyer in Parliament of Paris, later deputy of Vermandois the States General, which allowed Camille Desmoulins to study on a scholarship at Louis-Le-Grand college . He is the author of a text in 1790 on the emancipation of blacks.

And that of oblivion

A single event: July 21, 1907 inauguration of the statue of Pléville Le Pelley, work of John Magro u, Granville

The year 2000, the end of amnesia

Pléville, for 200 years, suffers from amnesia French (not American).

The year 2000 marks a change in attitude: a photograph of his bust (Palais du Luxembourg) is visible on the Internet:

Three books have been published on Pléville Le Pelley, last year:

Monique Le Pelley Fonteny-: Journey of a marine Granville: Georges-René Pléville Le Pelley (1726-1805). Neptunia Vol. 55, Paris, 2000.

Memoirs of a marine Granville, collective heritage collection, Les Cahiers Cultural Channel, Home Department 50008 St-Lô (unfortunately sold out)

Georges Fleury: Award winner Henri Queffélec 2000 for his book Le Corsaire – Pléville Le Pelley – 1726-1805, ed. Flammarion

November 7, 2001 to February 2, 2002: Exhibition on the theme of adventure Granville Newfoundland, accompanied by a publication: Memoirs of a Newfoundlanders Granville, Eustache Le Pelley-Fonteny (1745-1820) edition scientific and highly illustrated a text remained unpublished to date. Departmental Archives of La Mancha, BP 540-50010 Saint-Lô Cedex

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