Charles Latouche MacCarthy’s family, Irish in origin, sought refuge in France around 1690 and gave the army and the Marine a great number of officers. Latouche MacCarthy began sailing in the merchant marine about 1730, and he was probably in command of a merchant ship when he came to Canada. In 1737 he was at Quebec, and there, on 7 October, he married Angélique-Jeanne, daughter of Charles Guillimin*, a councillor of the Conseil Supérieur. On 1 April 1745 Latouche received a commission as a naval lieutenant and was appointed port captain and harbour master at Quebec in succession to the late René Legardeur de Beauvais (the younger), but he was never to occupy that post. In fact, while he was on board the Gironde to sail to Canada, he was ordered to go to Dunkerque to superintend the embarking of the troops who were to cross to England to support the endeavours of Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender.
In 1746 he sailed on the Léopard in the squadron of the Duc d’Anville [La Rochefoucauld] and took part in the ill-starred campaign in Acadia. The following year he received command of the Rubis in the squadron commanded by the Marquis de La Jonquière [Taffanel], which was bound for Canada, and he took part in the combat of 14 May, during which “he conducted himself with very great distinction. . . . The Sieur Macarthy, whose ship carried only 22 guns, fought for 4 hours against 2 and 3 vessels of 50 and 60 guns and surrendered only because his ship was completely disabled, riddled with shots, and had 6 feet of water in the hold.” For this fine action he received on 1 April 1748 the rank of fireship captain, an “intermediate” rank granted officers of the merchant marine who had entered the king’s service. In 1749 he was in command of the Pie, bound for Cayenne.
On 1 March 1751 he was promoted lieutenant-commander and was created a knight of the order of Saint-Louis. That same year he received command of the frigate Fidèle, bound for Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). In 1755 he served on board the Entreprenant in the squadron commanded by Dubois de La Motte [Cahideuc]; it sailed for Canada, but illness prevented MacCarthy from taking part in the campaign. The following year he commanded the frigate Valeur, which was being sent on a new mission to Louisbourg. On 17 April 1757 MacCarthy was promoted captain and commanded the frigate Abénaquise in Dubois de La Motte’s squadron, which had orders to go to the defence of Île Royale. On the return trip the frigate was separated by a squall from the rest of the squadron and had to fight a vessel of 70 guns and a frigate. MacCarthy, wounded in the head, had to surrender and was taken to England, where he remained a prisoner until May 1758.
In 1760 he was given command of the Sirène, Flore, and Valeur, ships that had been fitted out by private individuals with Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola) as their destination. He reached that colony safely, but on the return voyage the three ships were attacked by three English vessels as they sailed out of Cap (Cap Haïtien or Le Cap). The combat lasted two days, and the accidental explosion of a cannon and a fire on board ship forced MacCarthy to surrender. He returned to France on 31 Aug. 1761 and afterwards served at the port of Rochefort.
MacCarthy had two daughters and also a son who served in the Marine and perished in the shipwreck of the Bayonnaise off Martinique in August 1765.
AN, Marine, B3, 549, ff.34–41; B4, 61, 64, 73, 76, 80, 98; C1, 160; 165; 166, p.362; C7, 191; G, 38, p.140. Taillemite, Inventaire analytique, série B, I. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 152. Lacour-Gayet, La marine militaire sous Louis XV (1910), 182, 496. Troude, Batailles navales de la France, I, 344, 347, 423. “Le capitaine Macarty,”BRH, XIV (1908), 61–62.