Marie-Etienne or Etienne PELTIER

(1762 -
1809 ?)

Marie-Etienne was born in Anjou at Gonnord January 6th 1762. He felt his roots were in Brittany and pretended he was born in Nantes as did his brother Jean-Gabriel PELTIER, the journalist, which doesn't facilitate genealogical research? After strong studies, this tall man for the time (1m75) embarked on merchandise ships.

In 1781 one can find his name on the roster of "La jeune Héloise", a family armament ship (Pelletier-Dudoyer, Carier) leaving for l'Isle de France (today Mauritius Isle) he stayed on board until Brest. In 1782, he has already carried out one campaign and 4 trips when he re-embarks on "La Bienfaisance". He then sails on two ships, mythical for the Acadians of Louisiana : "Le Saint Rémy" et "Le Bon Papa". In 1784 aged 22, he embarks on "
Le Saint Rémy" armed with 4 cannons, heading for Saint-Marc and Port au Prince (Saint-Domingue). In 1785, at 23, he is 2d captain on "Le Bon Papa" heading for Saint-Marc via Louisiana in order to take Acadians with the blessing of Charles III of Spain.

We don't know much about the following 10 years. The "Matricule des Volontaires" (Archives Départementales de Loire-Atlantique in Nantes A.D.-L.A.) briefly states : "1788, no news".

During the Revolution, most ships were armed for "en course". Jean Peltier-Dudoyer, Marie-Etienne's father has armed a ship "Le Zephyr" to escort arms shipments to the American insurgents. It is no wonder that Marie-Etienne reappears in 1795.

At 33, officer on corsair "Egalité". As the captain he is granted 8 shares on the take of the Brigantin
"Everton ", sold in Charleston (south Carolina, USA) June 20th 1795.

December 2nd 1796, he commands "L'Aventure" corsair ship armed in Calais, 16 cannons, crew of 65.

November 2nd 1797, he embarks as 2d captain and becomes captain on the corsair "
Le Barbier de Séville", ship owner Grelier from Nantes. He will sail during 4 months in Southern Atlantic and make several catches :

"L'Elisa ", English ship from Liverpool, 16 canons. During the fight Marie-Etienne and members of the crew are injured and must stop over at Paramaribo (Surinam).
"La Cécilia ", English 3 masts en route from Glasgow to Demarary. Deguer, first lieutenant will take command of that ship and loose it back to the enemy a few days later.
- A
3 masts ship, sold in Guayra (Venezuela) in order to fund the repairs to the "Barbier de Séville",
"Le Larck ", English brick sold in Santander (Spain) in may 1798 by the ship owner Grelier.

These adventures, made of courage and suffering, will be related in the newspaper "La Feuille Nantaise".

In July 23rd 1798,
a letter from Amiral Bruix, Minister of the Navy, gives Marie-Etienne command of "La Virginie" as a reward for his bravery during the fight for the "Elisa", 18 cannons ship, property of citizen Basterreche (Bayonne). We don't know if he ever commanded it.

In December 1798, Marie-Etienne is captain of the corsair "
Le Hussard", 20 canons, property of citizens Basterreche brothers (Bayonne), with that ship he will roam the Atlantic, he will catch:

- January 7th 1799 "
La Carolina", American 3 mats, 10 canons, travelling from London. The ship will be sold January 30th 1799 in Tenerife to Mister James Barry. This most unusual catch occurs during a near state of war between the USA and France.

"Le Phaeton ", Portuguese ship, brought to French Guyana May 4th 1799.

Marie-Etienne has accomplished
28 takes !

Amiral BRUIX
Unfortunately, the vast territory of these takes and of their places of sale has made it easier for him to be forgotten. Another factor: his first name "Marie-Etienne" was quite unusual at the time, and has been recorded as Etienne-Marie or even Etienne, his last name has seen various spellings such as Peltier, Pelletier or Le Pelletier. Last but not least: how can you find track of somebody whose birth town doesn't exist any more: Gonnord has merged to become Valanjou.

Made prisoner thrice by the English in An IV during 3 month, around 1796, in An V, and August 20th 1799, he got a taste of the pontoons while his brother Jean-Gabriel was living as a "émigré" in London. He was probably exchanged with an English prisoner, as corsairs, unlike pirates non considered as prisoners of wars. Exchanges were regulated by an "Exchange cartel", man to man, rank to rank.

English pontoons
Through the République, the Directoire, and the Consulat, he was leading an adventurous life in North and South America, the Caribbean, Canaries and Madagascar islands. He was staying at Nantes, as indicates a certificate from the mayor dated Mars 25th 1802. That certificate was probably established as a proof that Etienne-Marie had not fled the country during the Revolution. In Floréal an VIII (April 30th 1800) Etienne-Marie married a young woman aged 20, Anne Rivière-Souchère (or de la Souchère), he was 38. They lived in Nantes and had a daughter born in Paris, on the 6 Pluviose an IX (January 26th 1801): Marie, Françoise, Hipolitte Peltier who is to become "Fanny" de Langlais.

The Peltier and Rivière families probably knew one another, they had common acquaintances the Archambault. Pierre Archambault was surgeon one the "Saint Rémy" (Armament Pelletier) in 1785, and Jacques Archambault, captain of a ship, was present at Sophie Jeanne Rivière baptism on December 14th 1782.

After his wedding, in April 1802, some administrative steps are taken in order to piece together his career. He may be at a turning point of his life, as the Amiens peace treaty has made a stop to activities, or else he might be dead and his widow is applying for retirement pension.

According to a letter from his daughter, dated 1819, he would has died in Madagascar.
If he ever pursued a second career, was he a grower in Saint-Domingue or a pirate ? Does he rest in a hidden cemetery Vezo or in the Pirates Cemetery in Sainte-Marie isle, in Madagascar ?

He left a family in great distress. His father in law Jean-Baptiste Rivière-Souchère, went back to Saint-Domingue with his titles in order to recover his land, unfortunately he died in 1802 at Port au Prince from the yellow fever without having recovered his ownership, and his daughter was never compensated. The Peltier did not share a better fate, they suffered bankruptcy and loss of their possessions in Saint-Domingue. Etienne-Marie father, Jean Peltier du Doyer dies in 1803. His brother in law, François Michaud, ship owner from Nantes, will do his best to manage the estate from Nantes.

---------------------------------------------------------------Tugdual de LANGLAIS

Translated by Florence ATON

N.B. :
Words in blue have corresponding links in the French text.