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Duguay-Trouin, Rene

DUGUAY-TROUIN, RENE (1673-1736), French sea captain, belonged to a well-known family of merchants and sea captains of St Malo. He was born at St Malo on the 10th of June 1673. He was originally intended for the church, and studied with that view at Rennes and Caen; but on the breaking out of the war with England and Holland in 1689 he went to sea in a privateer owned by his family. During the first three months his courage was tried by a violent tempest, an imminent shipwreck, the boarding of an English ship, and the threatened destruction of his own vessel by fire. The following year, as a volunteer in a vessel of 28 guns, he was present in a bloody combat with an English fleet of five merchant vessels. The courage he then showed was so remarkable that in 1691, at the age of eighteen, his family gave him a corsair of 14 guns; and having been thrown by a tempest on the coast of Ireland, he burned two English ships in the river Limerick. In 1694 his vessel of 40 guns was captured by the English, and, being taken prisoner, he was confined in the castle of Plymouth. He escaped, according to his own account, by the help of a pretty shopwoman and her lover, a French refugee in the English service. He then obtained command of a vessel of 48 guns, and made a capture of English vessels on the Irish coast. In 1696 he made a brilliant capture of Dutch vessels, and the king hearing an account of the affair gave him a commission as capitaine de frégate (commander) in the royal navy. In 1704-1705 he desolated the coasts of England. In 1706 he was raised to the rank of captain of a vessel of the line. In 1707 he was made chevalier of the order of St Louis, and captured off the Lizard the greater part of an English convoy of troops and munitions bound for Portugal. His most glorious action was the capture in 1711 of Rio Janeiro, on which he imposed a heavy contribution. In 1715 he was made chef d'escadre, the rank which in the French navy answered to the English commodore, and in 1728 commander of the order of St Louis and lieutenant général des armées navales. In 1731 he commanded a squadron for the protection of French commerce in the Levant. He died on the 27th of September 1736.

See his own Mémoires (1740); and J. Poulain, Duguay-Trouin (1882).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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