Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars

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Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars
Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars
Born(1793-08-03)3 August 1793
La Fessardière, near Saumur, France
Died16 March 1864(1864-03-16) (aged 70)
Paris, France
Allegiance France
Service/branchLogo of the French Navy (Marine Nationale).svg French Navy
Years of service1804–1858

Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars (3 August 1793 – 16 March 1864) was a French naval officer important in France's annexation of French Polynesia.

Early life[edit]

He was born at the castle of La Fessardière, near Saumur. His uncle Aristide Aubert Dupetit-Thouars was one of the heroes of the Battle of the Nile. He joined the French Navy in 1804, where he was a cabin boy in the Boulogne fleet.

Naval career[edit]

He was the captain of the Inconstant from 1823 to 1825. He sailed her to Brazil, and remained her captain on station in Brazil. He was promoted to Commander (Capitaine de frégate) in 1824.

Dupetit Thouars frequently travelled to Algeria, and had a decisive role in the conquest of Algiers, where he developed the attack plans. During the battle, he commanded the 20-gun Griffon.

He was later put in charge of the Southern Seas command, in the Pacific Ocean. In 1834 he played a key role in protecting French shipping interests against the Peruvians.

He became "Capitaine de vaisseau" on 6 January 1834, and accomplished a circumnavigation between 1836 and 1839 on the frigate Vénus. Also on board were the hydrographer Urbain Dortet of Tessan, the doctor-naturalist Adolphe Simon Neboux, and the surgeon Charles René Augustin Léclancher. During this voyage the Marquesas were explored. He published an account in 1840 with the title Voyage around the world on the frigate Venus during the years 1836-1839 (French: Voyage autour du monde sur la frégate "la Vénus" pendant les anné 1836-1839); the book contained maps of the ports visited.[1]

Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars taking over Tahiti on 9 September 1842

He was made Rear-Admiral (French: Contre-amiral) on 12 July 1841, in charge of the Pacific Naval Division. His mission was to take possession of the Marquesas Islands. In Tahiti, he confronted Queen Pōmare IV, and the English missionary and Consul George Pritchard (1796–1883). He managed to expel Pritchard and established a French protectorate over Tahiti, and the Marguesas Islands, which continues as of 2018.[2] He was initially denounced for his actions by the French government, which feared a conflict with Great Britain. Relations between France and Great Britain soured considerably during the reign of Louis-Philippe, due to this so-called "Pritchard Affair".

Dupetit Thouars became a Vice-Admiral (French: Vice-amiral) in 1846.

Retirement and death[edit]

Dupetit Thouars retired from the navy in 1858.

He died in Paris in 1864.


He had no children, but adopted the son of his sister, known as Abel Nicolas Bergasse Dupetit Thouars, who also became an Admiral, and played an important role during the Boshin War in Japan.


Admiral Dupetit Thouars was a significant enough botanist to have his name given an official abbreviation. He is denoted by the author abbreviation A.Thouars when citing a botanical name.[3]



  1. ^ http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k63374343 Gallica
  2. ^ Patricia O'Brien “Think of Me as a Woman: Queen Pomare of Tahiti and Anglo-French Imperial Contest in the 1840s Pacific”, Gender and History, Vol. 18 No. 1 April 2006: 108-129 http://www.citeulike.org/article/957356
  3. ^ Brummitt, R. K.; C. E. Powell (1992). Authors of Plant Names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-085-4.

Further reading[edit]

  • (in French) Granier, Hubert, Histoire des marins français 1815–1870: La marche vers la République. Nantes: Marines Éditions, 2002. ISBN 2-909675-72-6

External links[edit]