BEDOUT, JACQUES, naval officer; b. 13 Jan. 1751 at Quebec, son of Jean-Antoine Bedout, a merchant and member of the Conseil Supérieur of Quebec, and Françoise Barolet; m. first Marie-Jeanne Daigre, probably in Saint-Domingue (Haiti); m. secondly 31 May 1804 Jeanne Pécholier, née Lafont, in Bordeaux, France; no children were born of these marriages; d. 17 April 1818 in Pauillac, France.
Jacques Bedout began sailing as a cabin-boy on board merchant ships in 1763; by 1776 he had completed 16 voyages to America, England, the West Indies, and France, and along the Guinea coast. In this way he got to know the seas and rose in the merchant marine, becoming second mate in 1768, first mate in 1770, and captain in 1772.
Having arrived in France at the beginning of 1777, Bedout on 25 January received a temporary commission as sub-lieutenant in the royal navy and sailed for the West Indies on the Coursier. In America he joined the rebels; on 30 July 1777 he took command of the privateer Défense, which had been equipped at Boston, Mass., for operation under the American flag, and on 10 August engaged in combat with a British privateer. On 13 December he fitted out at Bordeaux the privateer Congrès, with which he fought two British ships off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay on 14 Feb. 1778. After three hours of combat he had to strike his flag; taken prisoner to New York City, he escaped to embark as second in command on board the American frigate Vengeance, in which he returned to France. Then, at the request of Rear-Admiral the Comte Du Chaffault de Besné, who valued his abilities, Bedout took up service again in the royal navy. He was a supernumerary officer on the Diadème in June 1778, and on the Neptune in the squadron under the Comte d’Orvilliers in October. In March 1779 he helped fit out the Protée, and in April transferred to the Couronne to take part in the Channel campaign. In February 1780 he sailed for the West Indies on the frigate Railleuse and participated in the capture of Tobago. He then took ship at Saint-Domingue, sailed through the Bahamas, and in October 1781 reached Chesapeake Bay; there he fought in the battle in which the Comte de Grasse’s squadron repulsed the British forces under Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves and brought on the capitulation at Yorktown, Va, thus assuring the victory of the rebels and the independence of the American colonies.
In July 1782 Bedout received command of the corvette Saint-Louis, which was to escort convoys bound for the West Indies. After returning to France in December 1782 on the Railleuse, he was transferred the following January to the Andromaque, which was being dispatched to take the peace treaty signed at Versailles to the United States. Promoted lieutenant on 1 May 1786, and thus permanently attached to the navy, Bedout used the leave given at that time to officers of his rank to command the Pourvoyeuse on a trading voyage along the Guinea coast from January 1786 to May 1787.
Bedout was promoted lieutenant-commander on 1 May 1792 and captain on 27 Aug. 1793. He then received command of the Terrible, a 110-gun ship in the squadron at Brest, France, under the Comte de Villaret de Joyeuse. In June 1794 he transferred to the Tigre and took part in the battles off the Île de Groix in which Villaret de Joyeuse tried without success to loosen the blockade of the coasts of Brittany. Wounded four times, with nearly half his crew lost and his ship unable to manœuvre or fight, Bedout had to surrender and was taken prisoner. He was quickly freed; on 22 June 1796 he was acquitted by a court martial and received the armes d’honneur – sabre, sword, pair of pistols, sextant, and telescope – to which the Directory added a gratuity of 18,000 livres. He was immediately given command of the Indomptable in the squadron assigned to escort the expeditionary corps being sent to make a landing in Ireland.
On 12 April 1798 Bedout was promoted rear-admiral, and the following year he commanded the second squadron, with the Républicain as flagship, under Admiral Eustache Bruix. This force sailed from Brest in April 1799, reached Toulon, went on to supply the army of Italy at Genoa, and returned to Brest in July without encountering the enemy. In November Bedout took command of a squadron of five ships of the line and three frigates that sailed from Lorient to Rochefort to protect the region against British attack. When he was relieved of his post by Admiral Denis Decrès, Bedout tendered his resignation, but it was refused.
In October 1802 Napoleon entrusted him with command of a new squadron of five ships of the line, with the Argonaute as flagship, which sailed from Brest in January 1803 for Genoa; there it took on 5,000 Polish soldiers for transport to Saint-Domingue. Bedout carried out this mission and then set sail for Europe. During the return crossing his squadron captured one British privateer and destroyed another. Worn out by illness, Bedout had to land in Spain at El Ferrol (El Ferrol del Caudillo) in November and give up his command. His active career was finished. His name, however, continued to appear on the rolls, and he was not placed on the retired list until 1 Jan. 1816. At his death in 1818 he left an estate consisting solely of two-thirds of a rather small wine-producing property.
Jacques Bedout was always rated highly by his superiors, who constantly praised his talents, ardour, activity, nautical knowledge, and skill in handling ships. He was obviously an excellent officer.
AN, Marine, C1, 159: f.301v.; C7, 147 (dossier Bedout). ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 14 janv. 1751. Louis Nicolas, La puissance navale dans l’histoire (3v., Paris, 1958–60),1. Georges Six, Dictionnaire biographique des généraux et amiraux français de la Révolution et de l’Empire . . . (2v., Paris, 1934), 1: 72. P.-G. Roy, “Le contre-amiral Jacques Bedout,” BRH, 34 (1928): 641–55.
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Cite This Article
Étienne Taillemite, “BEDOUT, JACQUES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 21, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bedout_jacques_5E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Étienne Taillemite|
|Title of Article:||BEDOUT, JACQUES|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1983|
|Year of revision:||1983|
|Access Date:||March 21, 2023|