Tag Archives: Saint Malo

Robert Surcouf

Statue of Robert Surcouf in Saint Malo

Statue of Robert Surcouf in Saint Malo

Robert Surcouf was as close to a born privateer as one was likely to find. Born on December 12, 1773 in Saint Malo, both his mother and father’s families had produced famous privateers among them René Duguay-Trouin.

He was reputed to be a rowdy young man, prone to fighting, and he was packed off to sea in March, 1789, aboard the slaver Aurore. In February, 1789, Aurore with a load of slaves was caught in a tropical cyclone and wrecked in East Africa. The ship was repairable and Surcouf came to the captain’s attention through his energy and perseverance while removing the rapidly decomposing bodies of 400 dead slaves from the hold of the ship so it could be made seaworthy. He was hired on as first mate in that captain’s next ship.  That ship was also wrecked and Surcouf signed onto the French corvette Bienvenue which was bound for Lorient to be paid off. He arrived back in Brittany in January 1792. Continue reading

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Saint Malo: The City of Corsairs

st, maloThe Breton city of Saint Malo was infamous to the British navy and merchantmen as a home of some of the most brazen privateers produced by France. In earlier wars, British merchantmen had paid tribute directly to Saint Malo to allow unhindered passage through the English channel.

Though Dunkirk produced more privateers, Saint Malo figures more prominently in naval fiction. It also produced Robert Surcouf, who’s activities when based out of Mauritius made capturing that island a necessity for the British.

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