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From: "Bruce McNair" <>
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 05:34:04 +0200

It would seem a number of people believe that their ancestor went to the USA with the French general, La Fayette.

A request for information, which dates back a couple of years, was posted for Lafayette's ship, "La Victoire". According to my information from the Naval Historical Center in Washington and other sources, "La Victoire", a merchant ship, was previously named "La Bonne Mère" before Lafayette changed the name. This ship landed Lafayette at Charleston in 1777, but after loading for a return voyage to France, bilged on the Charleston bar and was lost. It is not known what subsequently happened to the crew.

French merchant ships of that period returned a crew list to the French Admiralty and many are preserved in different archives. This does not apply to passenger lists, it seems. However, Lafayette negociated with the American Continental Agent in Paris, Silas Deane, an agreement concerning a number of people travelling with him on the first voyage, and this agreement, dated 07 December 1776, may be preserved in the USA.

There might be a crew list in French archives under the name "La Bonne Mère" but this list would apply to a previous voyage and there is no evidence that the previous shipowner's crew was still aboard, or not.

La Fayette made a subsequent voyage in a French Navy frigate, "L'Hermoine". For the "Victoire", apart from the 14 or so people named on Silas Deane's list, so far as is known, the only other people aboard were the 30 or so crew. L'Hermoine carried 4 passengers and 8 servants, plus the Navy crew. Some of the Navy crew were wounded in a naval battle and landed in the USA for medical attention, and the frigate ultimately returned to France where she was later wrecked.

A replica of "L'Hermoine" is actually under construction in France.

Bruce McNair.

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