Friday, September 25, 2020

Dumas to Maurepas: The Order to Execute La Buse - 1730


FR-ANOM COL C3/5/002 ff. 120 



Sent to France in 1770
Bales of Coffee, harvested in Bourbon [no pirate mentioned here?]


Notice to the arrest or force of pirate Olivier Le Vasseur or La Buse, our Mr. D'Hermitte.
They had read, the condemnation to his execution.


[Document: FR-ANOM COL C3/5/002 ff. 120-121]
Monseigr. The Count of Maurepas

Mr. Dumas
L'isle de Bourbon this December 20, 1730 [J: 9 Dec 1730]*

My lord

This year we are shipping the vessel La Meduse commanded by Sr. D'Hermitte fully responsible for the 770 bales of coffee amounting to 3166 [.] 00[lt: livre] from the region of this Isle [Bourbon]; and we still have a considerable part of it in the store which has not been taken on board.

Sr. D'Hermitte in the last trip he made to Madagascar, having arrested and caught him there [ca. April 1730] named Olivier Le Vasseur known as La Buze, famous pirate captain, his procedure was made at the request of the Attorney General, and he was condemned by order of council of July 17, In.[instant?: 1730; this was the date of his condemnation and order of execution - still he was hanged on 7 July - might be a typo on the original document with an added "1" and repeated - see next doc]

This man made in 1721 in harbor of this Isle [Bourbon] two captures one of a vessel of King of Portugal [Nossa Senhora do Cabo or Vierge de Cap; then of only 21 guns, but pirates refitted her with 60 guns] of 60 pieces of guns, which he boarded, and the other from a vessel called The Ville d'Ostende [City of Ostend] belonging to the Comp. from the same city - he also took and burnt after taking in the same time the vessel of Comp. of France the Duchess of Noailles commanded by Sr. Grâve of St. Malo [Platel was former captain; Sr. Robert was then in command when she was destroyed, Grâve was the owner], this Buze then mounted the pirate ship the Victorious and to have with him another ship named Defense [at this time, it was Cassandra; Defense was the new name given to the refitted Nossa Senhora do Cabo; Dumas mixed up his info after 9 years] commanded by an Englishman called Taylor.*

Rhubarb [an expression or the plant?] is starting to multiply in Isle Bourbon, there are currently more so-called seedlings, I have the honor with deep respect.


Your humble obedient servant

* It should be noted that Pierre Benoist Dumas had not been present for the piratical events in 1721 when Nossa Senhora do Cabo or Vierge de Cap was captured by LeVasseur et al. He arrived on La Bourbon about 1727, replacing Desforges-Boucher, who in turn replaced Beauvollier, who was the governor who originally offered pardons to LeVasseur, Cleyton, Adam Johnson, and their crews in 1724.


From: Archives Colonials – Bourbon, carton 2 – Letter de M. Dumas, 29 December 1730 [J: 18 Dec 1730]; also Mr. Dumas, Governor of Bourbon, to Minister de Maurepas, December 29, 1730, Centre des Archives dOutre Mer, Aix en Provence, Correspondance générale de Bourbon, t. V, 1727-1731.

According to the deliberation of the Superior Council of Bourbon on 7 July 1730 [J: 26 Jun]:

By advice, the criminal proceedings extraordinarily made and instructed at the request and diligence of the Attorney General of the King [illegible] and accusation against Olivier Levasseur nicknamed “La Bouse” accused of the crime of piracy, prisoner in our prisons, defendant in the affirmation made the 26 of March [J: 15 Mar] and 19 of May [J: 8 May] last at the declaration of Sieur d’Hermitte captain of the ship La Méduse, [showing as evidence] the letter of said Levasseur dated March 25, 1724 [J: 14 Mar] addressed to Monsieur Desforges and signed Olivier La Buse, by him recognized and initialed, nor variation.

[Also offered to the court, the] Letter from the Superior Council to Sieur La Buse for response dated 23 September of the same year granting Amnesty and Surety, [and supported in the] interrogation suffered by the accused on 15 May [J: 4 May] and 20 May 1730 [J: 9 May] and 03 [J: 22 Jun] of this month. First general conclusion of the king of the 04 [July] [J: 23 Jun], [and] preparatory judgment of the same day which orders that it will proceed to the final judgment [to be] awaited [by] the public notoriety.
Final conclusion of the Attorney General of the King of the 06 [July; J: 25 Jun], sudden interrogation in the room of the council [illegible] and all considered the council declared and [illegible] the name “Olivier Levasseur dit la Buse,” native of Calais, hard hit of the knowledge of the crime of piracy for several years, for having ordered several pirate ships to be taken and brought to the roadstead of Bourbon Island, a vessel belonging to king of Portugal and another named the City of Ostend belonging to the company of the same city, but equally participated in the capture, plunder, and firing of the vessel La Duchesse de Noailles belonging to the company of France and other [illegible], for repair of which the council condemned him and ordered to make amends in front of the principal door of the church of this parish, naked in a shirt, the rope at his collar, in hand, a torch of two pounds of pitch for there, to say and declare with high and intelligible voice, that For a long time, he was a reckless and reckless man who became a filibuster [pirate] and asked for forgiveness from God, the king and justice. [note that there is no mention in any primary source of him throwing a cipher on a large piece of parchment in the crowd - where would an essentially naked man hide one, anyway?]

This sentence will be carried out in a public place to be hanged and strangled until death ensues on a gallows erected for this purpose. (He) will be hanged in the usual place his dead body will remain there 24 hours and then exposed to the waters’ edge… his belongings are confiscated for the benefit of the king, and he must also pay a fine of one hundred pounds for the offense done to “the Lord King.” Done and declared in the council chamber on July 17, 1730 [J: 6 Jul; note this is probably a typo]. Dumas.**

*Julian dates are included because French dates were based on the Gregorian calendar and were 11 days later than English who used the Julian.

** This is obviously partly copied into his letter of 20 Dec 1730 to Maurepas. 

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