Admiral François-Joseph Bouvet de PrécourtSecond in command of the navy during the expedition to Ireland of 1796
Born: April 23, 1753
Place of Birth: Lorient, Morbihan, France
Legion of Honor: Commander
Died: July 20, 1832
Place of Death: Brest, France
The son of a captain in the French navy, François-Joseph Bouvet de Précourt first entered the French navy at age eleven in 1765 and served on his father's ship. Over the following years he participated in a voyage to China and later a voyage to Bengal. In 1774 Bouvet was promoted to first lieutenant and then in 1780 he was promoted to ensign of vessel and he served on the ship Ajax commanded by his father. Two years later he served under Admiral Suffren in the Indies where he served at the combat of Negapatam and the action of Trinquemalé. Bouvet was promoted to lieutenant of vessel in 1786 and he served in the Caribbean during the latter half of the 1780s, visiting Martinique and Guadeloupe.
At the onset of the Revolution Bouvet was serving on a voyage to Senegal and back. Once he returned to France, he sailed to Saint-Domingue and then in 1793 he was promoted to captain of vessel and given command of the ship Audacieux. Bouvet went on to serve in the Atlantic Ocean and that November he was promoted to rear admiral. In 1793 he took command of the 2nd squadron of the fleet under Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse and he took part in the combats of May 29th and June 1st of 1794 to protect a vital convoy of grain to France.
Bouvet continued to serve in the Atlantic until late 1796 when he was named commander of the 2nd squadron of the fleet of the expedition to Ireland under Admiral Morard de Galles. He set sail with the expedition aboard the frigate Immortalité and after the fleet was separated by a storm he gathered a number of ships and took command of the fleet when Morard de Galles could not be found. Bouvet eventually arrived at the designated rendezvous of the Bay of Bantry with sixteen ships, but he did not disembark the troops. Without orders from his missing commander, he finally left Bantry Bay on January 1, 1797 and sailed back to Brest where he was not employed again.
Five years later Bouvet returned to a naval command in March of 1802 when he was named commander of the ships tasked with taking General Richepanse to Guadeloupe. He set sail from Brest that April, successfully delivered his charges, and then returned to Brest, arriving in August. Next in 1803 he was named military chief of the port of Brest and then in 1804 he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor. Later in his career he served as maritime prefect of the 3rd arrondissement of Brest and after Napoleon's abdication in 1814 he was named a Knight of Saint Louis.
Updated December 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen