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Beaumarchais Contract Ship
Le Marquis de la Chalotais





Le Marquis de la Chalotais
Beaumarchais Contract Ship

(1) François Jerome Foligné-Deschalonges

Secret Committee Ship

[October] 1776-

(2) Honoré Febure

1778


Commissioned/First Date:

[October] 1776

Out of Service/Cause:

1778/captured by the British


Owners:

Jean-Joseph Carié de Monthieu of Nantes, France


Tonnage:


Battery:

Date Reported: 16 November 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

22/6 pounder      132 pounds 66 pounds

Total: 22 cannon/132 pounds

Broadside: 11 cannon/66 pounds

Swivels:


Crew:


Description:


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) Nantes, France to Saint-Domingue, [February] 1777-April 1777

(2) Saint-Domingue to Charleston, South Carolina

(3) Charleston, South Carolina to Nantes, France


Prizes:


Actions:


Comments:



On 15 October 1776, Pierre-Augustin, Caron de Beaumarchais, the ostensible owner of the “commercial” firm of  Rodrigue Hortalez et Cie [the front organization for the furnishing of clandestine war supplies to the Americans]; the American representative in France, Silas Deane, and one Jean-Joseph Carié de Monthieu, signed a contract for the supply of shipping. De Monthieu agreed to furnish 1600 tons of shipping “on account of the thirteen United Colonies of north america . . .” De Monthieu rented the vessels at 200 livres per ton, with half to be paid in advance. Additional charges applied to passengers. The lading was to be made by Rodrique Hortalez et Cie and by the Continental Congress. It was expressly agreed that the risk of being chased, driven ashore, or capture were to be compensated by the United States. The vessels were to be ready to depart in  November and December 1776.1 The purchase of about eight vessels was contemplated at this time.2


Le Marquis de la Chalotais (François Jerome Foligné-Deschalonges) was apparently one of these eight. She had been loaded and was at sea by 7 March 1777, seemingly the fourth of Beaumarchais’s vessels to sail for America.3 Although we know little of the ship, we might know a bit more about Fran*ois Jerome Foligné-Deschalonges. This might be the same man as the “Captain Foligny of the ship Constance from Nantes …” who complained about the British searching his ship off Leogane, Saint-Domingue in early 1776.4


On 11 April 1777, during her passage from Nantes, France to Saint-Domingue, Le Marquis de la Chalotais fell in with the Maryland Privateer Brig Sturdy Beggar (Commander John McKeel). McKeel had just captured a slave ship, the St. George (Moore) with some 400 slaves aboard. McKeel wanted to continue on his cruise, so Foligné offered to conduct the prize into Saint-Domingue. McKeel agreed and Foligné delivered the St. George to Fort Dauphin, despite being dogged by “three Jamaica Cruizers … off Cape Isabella.5


Le Marquis de la Chalotais certainly wasn’t at Saint-Domingue very long. On 46 or 5 May 1777 she entered the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, putting in to “refit, having sprung a Leak, hurt her Rudder, and received some other Damage, in a storm she met with after coming out …” from Saint-Domingue.7 Three other French vessels were said to have gone in with her. Whether this tale was taken seriously is not recorded. Beaumarchais had received the news in Paris that Le Marquis de la Chalotais had reached her destination by 1 July 1777.8


Le Marquis de la Chalotais returned to France without incident.


The ship was at Nantes in November 1777, preparing to load again under the directions of Continental Agent Jonathan Williams, Jr. Commissioner Silas Deane had not concluded an agreement with de Monthieu at that time, but thought that 120 livres per ton would be the price. Deane hoped that Le Marquis de la Chalotais could sail for America with several other vessels being loaded.9 By 16 November Deane had made a deal with de Monthieu. Williams could load either the Mercury or Le Marquis de la Chalotais. The freight was to be 120 livres, which Deane thought was too high. Monthieu agreed to arm Le Marquis de la Chalotais with twenty-two 6-pounders for the voyage.10


When it came time to load the ships however, de Monthieu loaded Le Marquis de la Chalotais with his own goods. Williams was able to obtain space for 240 cases of arms, after some persuasion.11 Le Marquis de la Chalotais was loading at Nantes and had nearly completed her lading by 16 December 1777.12 The loading had been completed by 24 December 1777.13


A vessel called Le Marquis de la Chalotais was captured by the British. Her master is given as Honoré Febure. However, her case file indicates she was captured in 1776 and the case was open until 1779. It also indicates that she was a French ship with a congé. This is likely to be the same ship, with the notation 1776 an error for 1778.14



1 NDAR, “Contract between John Joseph de Monthieu, Roderique Hortalez et Cie, and Silas Deane,” VII, 691-692

2 NDAR, “Marquis de Grimaldi to Count de Aranda,” VII, 707 and 707-708 note

3 NDAR, “Beaumarchais to Vergennes,” VIII, 650

4 NDAR, “Gabriel de Sartine to Count de Vergennes,” VI, 384-386

5 NDAR, “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Monday, May 12, 1777,” VIII, 956-957

6 NDAR, “Beaumarchais to Vergennes,” IX, 451

7 NDAR, “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Monday, May 12, 1777,” VIII, 956-957

8 NDAR, “Beaumarchais to Vergennes,” IX, 451

9 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Jonathan Williams, Jr.,” X, 981

10 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Jonathan Williams, Jr.,: X, 998

11 NDAR, “Jonathan Williams, Jr. to the American Commissioners in France,” X, 1029-1030

12 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Jonathan Williams, Jr.,” X, 1077; “Jonathan Williams, Jr. to the American Commissioners in France,” X, 1108-1109

13 NDAR, “Jonathan Williams, Jr. to the American Commissioners in France,” X, 1143

14 HCA 32/398/14/1-76


Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com