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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The True Story of La Buse's Grave on the Island of La Réunion

"La véritable histoire de La Buse" from the Office of Western Tourism, Department of the Island of La Réunion at :

 March 04, 2020

The tomb of La Buse, surmounted by a cross marked with a skull and crossed tibias, it is quite a story ...

…. and it is impossible that La Buse could have been buried there [at the marine and slave cemetery of Saint-Paul], the cemetery having been created long after his death [58 years].

 It is the site of a number of popular practices. An affixed plaque tells the story ...

 Here is the real story of this "real / fake grave":

Convicted of piracy crime, Olivier Levasseur [said to have been born in Calais, France where a baptism was recorded at Pas-de-Calais archives, Notre Dame de Calais church (5 MIR 193/30,
p.817) for "Olivier, the son of Olivier and Anne Lensse Vasseur" in 1695], nicknamed "La Buse" was executed in Saint-Paul on July 7, 1730 and his body exposed by the sea [see note below]. The exact place of burial remains unknown and the current cemetery was established only in 1788.

[BCBNote: His body was likely buried in a shallow grave below the high-water mark of the shore. "The Judgement of La Buse," available on Laura Nelson's blog The Whydah Pirates Speak, at states that the body of La Buse "will be planted at the usual place his dead body remained there 24 hours and then exposed to the edge from the sea." Pirates were usually treated in this careless fashion, their souls or "last rights" to eternity having been forfeited by their unrepentant criminal lives. So, it's highly likely that his actual remains have washed out to sea.]

[BCBNote: furthermore, as I argue in Sailing East: West-Indian Pirates at Madagascar, this document and all the writings to and from Dumas, the governor who signed his death warrant, about La Buse state that the former pirate was hung in only a night shirt and could not have hidden a parchment containing any cipher to the location of his treasure - and they also never spoke of any parchment that he supposedly threw out at his hanging - so please stop digging up the beautiful tropical islands of the Indian Ocean looking for it! Dumas and his men took whatever treasure might have been in La Buse's possession in 1730 - Dumas even said so! La Buse's operations on Nosy Mangabe in Antongil Bay were also taken over by the man who captured and took him from there, Capt. Hiacynthe d'Hermitte of La Méduse]

On April 11, 1944, the day after a devastating cyclone and tidal wave, the Saint-Paulois Ignace de Villèle found a stone cross among the devastated walls of the cemetery. Since it bears no indication other than pirate symbols, he moves it here and places it against the enclosure of his family's graves.


It was on this site that in the 1970s that the current funeral monument was erected in memory of La Buse. It attracts so many visitors that it has come to be regarded as the real tomb of the character thus contributing to his fame.

Since 2010, it has been discovered that the tombstone used came from an abandoned burial, that of the former slave Delphine Helod. Having been freed in 1835 by her masters, the Mallac family, she could have been buried in the cemetery of the whites and the free unlike the pirate in 1730. The stone had been turned over.

Its engraved face still bears this inscription:

“In memory of Delphine Hélod, born in Sainte-Marie on August 7, 1809, died on May 13, 1836.
His good behavior, his good feelings, his affection for his masters earned him freedom and this weak testimony of their regrets ”

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