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1795,  3rd September,   Robert Surcouf, the king of corsairs, arrived at Mah, born at St Malo, from a noble family in 1773  an itinerant offspring perhaps of the wild geese of Sarsfield immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his poem the Irish Guards, and of Dugay Trouin the famous once rich corsair who gave most of his fortune in the interest of France, but died impoverished in 1736. Surcouf first studied for the priesthood in a monastry at Dinan, then decided to be a sailor.  He sailed on the Heron at the age of 13 and arrived in Mauritius at the age of sixteen and served on the Aurore a few years later he was in command of the Crole, then the Modeste which was later refitted and renamed the Emilie. He arrived at Mah after being refused the lettres de marque by General Anne Joseph HIppolyte Maurs Comte de Malartic the new governor of Mauritius on the pretext that his 4 gun ship the Emilie was too small to be a successful privateer.  He was then sent on a trip to get a cargo of tortoises from Seychelles. Surcouf arrived at Mah via La Runion where he took some clandestine crew. During his sojourn he made no attempt to look for tortoises or wood, instead he recruited some more crew, provisioning the Emilie for his secret long voyage to hunt down enemy ships in the Bay of Bengal. Soon he left the Seychelles, his first catch was the Penguin his pursuit in the Bay of Bengal was very successful he managed to capture six more enemy ships the Russell, the Sambolasse and a pilot Brig which he took command and renamed the Cartier, he sent the Emilie to Mauritius with the prizes. While on board the Cartier he took two further prizes the Triton and the Kent five of his prizes arrived in Mauritius where large crowds gave him a hero’s welcome. All his prizes where temporally confiscated for defying orders; he went back to France to appeal against the injunction and was allowed only half of the value. His written official declaration of how the Emilie was chased by English ships near Mah and neighbouring islands can not be taken for granted. Firstly there is no British record to suggest that any warships were near Mah at that time and his statement was counter signed mostly by his surreptitious crew and not supported by any of his officers. In 1800 on another visit to Mah this time on the Confiance he lost three men to the great white sharks. A few days later returning from the shore with provisions the long boat with Surcouf on board was attacked by sharks, to move the shark away Surcouf threw an egg in the shark open mouth and amazingly the shark disappeared.  He was reported as saying  “in similar encounter I would give the shark an omelette”.

On 29th January 1801 he left Mauritius in the Confiance and arrived at La Rochelle on 13th April of the same year. He married during the fragile Treaty of Amiens to Catherine Blaize de Maisonneauve, the daughter of a rich ship-owner of St Malo. After the collapse of the Treaty the First Consul General Bonaparte came personally to offer Surcouf the command of two Frigates for the Indian Ocean, which he accepted but refused to be under the command of Admiral Linios the commander of the French Fleet in the East Indies, for that Napoleon refused to accept.  

On 10th June 1807 Surcouf arrived back in Mauritius from France in his specially designed 18-gun Revenant where he was welcomed by the authorities. In agreement (after threatened to challenge Decaen to a dual for taking the Revenant) with Isidore Decaen he set sail three months later to intercept rice vessel between Madras and Bengal and he successively took the following rice ships: The Trafalgar, the Mangles, the Admiral Alpin, the Susannah, and the Hunter and later he took the Success, the Fortune, the New Endeavour, the Colonel Macauley, the William Burroughs, the Oriente and the Jean Labdam most of the ships were sent to Mauritius where Surcouf arrived on 31 January 1808.  He left Mauritius on 20th November 1808 for the last time in the Charles formerly the Smillante (probably renamed by Robert Surcouf in honour of his eldest brother Charles) and arrived at St Malo on 5th February 1809 to retire from the sea. He was perhaps the first Malouin to be made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, he died on 8 July 1827 and his last word was apparently ‘le feu est aux poudres’

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