Pierre-Jacques de Taffanel de La Jonquière
Pierre-Jacques de Taffanel de La Jonquière was born on 18 April 1685, at Lasgraïsses (Tarn) and died on 17 March 1752, in Québec (Canada). Originally from the region of Graulhet (Tarn), and a de Galaup cousin through his great-grandmother, he had a brilliant naval career that took him from Spitzbergen to Chile, from Louisiana to Brazil, and, especially, to French Canada. Once he became squadron chief, he was named governor of “New France” and served from 1749 until his death in Québec in 1752.
Clément de Taffanel de La Jonquière
was born on 13 September 1706 in the region of Graulhet (Tarn) and died on 12 March 1785 in Toulon (Var). Very impressed from a young age by the dazzling career of his cousin Pierre-Jacques, who would leave him his possessions and titles of nobility, he went to sea with his cousin and joined the Navy.
In 1726 (when he was 20), he took part in campaign against the pirates who were overrunning the waters of the Antilles. In 1733, he joined his uncle on board the Rubis off the coast of Québec. He distinguished himself in 1740 during the expedition to Santo Domingo, serving under the marquis d’Antin.
He commanded the Mégère in 1746, under the duc d’Anville. Commanding the frigate Émeraude in naval combat at Cap-Finisterre on 14 May 1747, he rallied the French fleet and received the Croix de Chevalier de Sant-Louis.
In 1749, he commanded the Diane. In 1751 and 1755, he led a campaign off the American coast to defend and resupply Louisbourg.
In 1757, commanding the Célèbre, a ship in Dubois de La Mothe’s squadron headed for Canada, he took on board his young cousin Lapérouse, then 16 years old, for his first sea campaign. He would be Lapérouse’s mentor during his youth, as well as the mentor of another cousin, Armand Philippe Germain de Saint Félix.
Armand Philippe Germain de Saint-Félix de Maurémont was born on 19 September 1737 at the Château de Cajarc (Les Cabannes, Tarn) and died on 12 August 1819 at Les Cabannes; he was buried at Maurémont (Haute-Garonne).
Germain was the fifteenth child of a family in which the grandfather was ruined following a nonproductive opposition to Cardinal Richelieu and in which the father was not able to recover his fortune, compromising the few assets that remained. The future of this child was uncertain. When he completed his early education, by the age of 12, the idea occurred to him to join his eldest brother in Paris, where he would try his luck. His mother consented to let him leave, and he set off with only 12 pounds in his pocket. His father, astonished by the departure of his son, dispatched his couriers and alerted the police in an effort to put an end to this flight.
Along the way, Germain had fortunately made some good contacts, and after arriving in Paris he found his brother. His adventure became well known and was a topic of conversation in the salons. A return to Cajarc was now unthinkable given the emotions raised by the bold initiative this child had taken. Mademoiselle de Charolais, the welcoming and generous daughter of the duc de Bourbon, welcomed Germain among her pages and took charge of his upbringing and education.
But as he grew up, Germain was not a boy suited to life in the salons, and and on 12 December 1755, he boarded the frigate Hermione as a midshipman. Nothing predisposed this “landlubber” to a naval career, which in fact turned out brilliantly. Lapérouse and de Rochegude made similar career choices.
It is a strange coincidence that these three boysfrom the same region, at the same time, and apparently unknowinglymade the same first-rate career choices. Perhaps the extravagant adventure of Saint-Félix set the example. (De Saint-Félix 1737–1819; De Rochegude 1741–1832; La Pérouse 1741–1788).
Saint-Félix had a very active maritime career in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, notably with Suffren, one of his principal associates, and became head of the French fleet assigned in the Indian ocean. He was not much of a supporter of the Revolution when he was in the Mascareignes Islands (Indian Ocean). But he will be rehabilitated by the Restoration and promoted to the rank of three-star admiral before spending his final years on his property at Cordes (Tarn).
Henry de Paschal de Rochegude was born on 8 December 1741 in Albi (Tarn) and died in the same city on 16 March 1834.
Promoted to captain in 1786, he left the Navy in 1787 with the rank of ship’s captain. During the Revolultion he was promoted to rear-admiral as an inspector commissioner of ports and arsenals in 1798. He retired under the Empire regime in 1801.
Made into a political figure by the Revolution, he was seated in the National Assembly from 1790 and participated in the Convention, where he voted against the execution of the king. Acting deputy of the Sénéchaussée de Carcassonne, he was seated on 10 February 1790, replacing the marquis de Badens . He was then elected, on 6 September 1792, deputy of Tarn at the Convention and was seated later (1795) in the assembly of the Cinq-Cents . After his final return to Albi, he participated in city government. During his retirement, he put together an encyclopedic library (13,000 volumes) and gathered during his stays in Paris notes and transcriptions of texts of troubadours collected from the best manuscripts; the result of this effort was his Essai d’un glossaire occitanien pour server l’intelligence des poésies des troubadours.
Having no direct heirs, he left his possessions, including his land, house, and books, to the city of Albi.
(From Les Tarnais: Dictionnaire biographique, Fédération des Societés Intellectuelles du Tarn)