Admiral Le Pelley

(Important in The Mistaken Wife)

Rear Admiral Georges-René Pléville Le Pelley (1726-1805) already had a distinguished military career when he was appointed Minister of the Navy and the Colonies in July 1797, having seen action in the war of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary War.  His tenure in ministerial office was marked by strict honesty and dedication to duty – rare qualities during the era of the notoriously corrupt Directory.  In April 1798 he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral but dismissed from office as a result of what turned out to be prescient criticism of the expedition to Egypt.  He commanded French naval forces in the Mediterranean for a short period, and then retired to Paris.  Le Pelley had an interesting relationship with England.  He lost his right leg in a battle with English privateers during the War of the Austrian Succession and twice suffered capture and imprisonment.  His treatment on both occasions was very moderate, however, and in 1770 he led the rescue of a British frigate that was in danger of foundering during a storm.  The lords of the Admiralty awarded him a valuable present and letter praising his conduct.  Further tangible proof of the respect with which Le Pelley was held came in 1780, when his son was captured and taken to England.  The Admiralty sent him back without requiring a prisoner-exchange, having authorised him to choose three fellow officers to accompany him.