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1 May 1848. — Declaration of Jean des Cars, captain of the Stella del Mare, and of Father Jean Chatelut, Samoa

Based on the document sent, APM ONC 120.

Translated by Mary Williamson, September 2016

Sheet of paper, written on both sides; at the top of the front side is Poupinel’s annotation. The person who has signed the current declaration, “J. D.” the captain of the Stella del mare, is the viscount Jean des Cars, captain of this ship, property of the Sardinian merchant navy, equipped by the efforts and at the expense of the Society of Oceania. [1] For the opinion of Chatelut, see doc. 716, § 7-9.

[p. 1, at the top of the page] [in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Annatom [2] 1st May 1848 / Declaration of the captain of the Stella del Mare.

After having pondered the role that I should take in the current circumstances, where the disasters that befell the mission in New Caledonia last July and the abandoning of the mission that followed, placed the Reverend Marist Fathers, who were destined for that mission on board the Society of Oceania’s Sardinian ship, the Stella del Mare; and considering the impossibility, which the Marists accept, of taking them to the port of Balade, considering the dangers that they would be exposed to; convinced besides of the inadequacy of the information supplied both in the letters received at Valparaiso, which place I am in communication with and in those received by Mr Touchard, agent of the Society in Tahiti, and even in the report addressed by the French consul in Sydney to the Governor of Tahiti; for me to make a prudent decision about transporting the Marists to port Saint Vincent, or even to the port at Annatom in the New Hebrides, which they are very keen to do; understanding that in each of these ports I am convinced that they are not entirely safe and, if not in danger of their lives, at least of losing the large quantity of goods they have with them, the loss of which would be a grave setback for the missions; [3] finally, working out, as my duty demands, the interests of the other passengers on board my ship who are heading for the missions in China and the serious inconvenience that the delays would cause them and that I would be unable to avoid, in the circumstances where the lives or the safety of the missionaries would be endangered, as with the last misfortunes that happened in New Caledonia and on the island of San Cristobal, that would put us in the position of fearing such a happening, not to mention the consequences, that would effect my expedition:
Having finally taken the advice of the people most capable of supplying me with correct information and sound advice and having humbly asked God to enlighten my judgement, I believed, in my position as captain of the ship and in view of all the concerns that weigh on me and for which I am responsible, that I should resist the keen and repeated insistence of the Reverend Marist Fathers, I could almost say their demands, to put them ashore at the port of Annatom with all their belongings. In refusing in a positive manner to take them there in my ship, I decided to put them ashore in Apia on the island of Upolu, in the archipelago of Samoa and from there continue my voyage to China. Nevertheless, wishing to fulfil, as much as possible, my contracted obligations to the Society of Oceania concerning the missionaries and hoping to reconcile as much as I could the interests of the missions, which the Society is very keen to serve, with the wishes of the missionaries who are in my care, I took it upon myself to offer to have the Marist Fathers transported to the port of Annatom aboard the Society’s schooner, la Léocadia, commanded by captain Fleury, without asking them for any payment for the passage between Apia and Annatom.
Nevertheless, the missionaries state that they do not wish to land at Annatom except in the hope of meeting some of their colleagues, or at least gleaning some precise information as to where they are, so as to be able to go and join them; it is understood that if no missionaries are found at Annatom and if no letters or precise information are found destined for his passengers, the captain of la Léocadia will, without delay, set sail to take the missionaries to Sydney, where he will put them ashore with all the goods they have with them. He will demand the sum of two hundred francs for the cost of the voyage for each passenger and the sum of sixty francs per cask of goods carried between Annatom and Sydney.
If, nevertheless, letters were found at Annatom which were precise enough to leave not the least doubt about the presence of missionary Fathers at port Saint Vincent in the South West of New Caledonia and if, in agreement with the most senior of the passengers, the captain of the Léocadia should judge, according to the detail of this information, that he could, without risk, go to this port, either to put the missionaries ashore or, above all, be able to provide them with help should they have need of it; he would be able to do this by asking an extra payment of seventy francs per passenger and twenty francs per barrel of goods; and from what has been said above to then head directly from Annatom to Sydney.
Although asking this price for the passage, the Society would be keeping strictly to the expenses of the ship, without any benefit to themselves and strictly within the costs incurred by the presence of passengers on board, without even calculating the loss that the redirection of ships causes the agencies. Nevertheless, the general management of the Society will always be free to reconsider this arrangement with the Superior of the Marists, if they felt it suitable to modify it somewhat.
Drawn up and agreed to in Apia, island of Upolu, 1st May 1848.
Captain of the Stella del Mare
signed Jean Des Cars
The Superior of the Marist Fathers
embarked on board the Stella del Maris
signed Chatelut.


  1. Cf. Montalembert, p. 78; Jore, t. 2, p. 360.
  2. Poupinel writes “Annatom” but this declaration was made in Apia (cf. § 6 below).
  3. [author’s note at the bottom of the page] The Reverend Father Superior of the Marists will note that he would have consented to the goods being unloaded at Apia to avoid congestion.

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