Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec

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Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec
Jean Michel Huon de Kermadec.jpg
Born (1748-09-12)September 12, 1748
Died May 6, 1793(1793-05-06) (aged 44)
Balade, New Caledonia
Nationality French

Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec (12 September 1748–6 May 1793) was an 18th-century French navigator who participated in exploration voyages in the Pacific Ocean looking for evidence of the lost expedition of Jean-François de La Pérouse.

Early life

Kermadec was born on 12 September 1748 in Bohars, near the city of Brest in France, to Jean-Guillaume Huon de Kermadec and his wife Anne née du Mescaminto.[1] His family had a long seafaring tradition.[2]

Naval career

In 1766, Kermadec joined the French Navy (La Marine Royale), initially as a garde de marine (guard of the Navy). Promoted to enseigne de vaisseau (ensign) in 1773, he served in the American War of Independence, and saw action at the Battle of Ushant in 1778 and the following year was serving aboard the Diadème during the Capture of Grenada and the Siege of Savannah. In 1781, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Order of Saint Louis.[1]

Joining the ship Résolution in 1785, Kermadec was second in command to Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux on an voyage to China. He commanded his own ship, the Rhône in 1789 and later that year joined the Academy of Marine (Académie de la Marine). From 1790 to 1791, he was commander of the Patriote, as part of d'Entrecasteaux's squadron.[1]

In September 1791 he was chosen to command the Espérance on d'Entrecasteaux's expedition to find the lost ships of Jean-François de La Pérouse.[1] Kermandec supervised the preparations for the vessels selected for the expedition, his own Espérance and d'Entrecasteaux's Recherche.[2]

Departing from Brest, Kermadec received a promotion to capitaine de vaisseau (captain) on 29 September 1791. The expedition explored Tasmania, New Caledonia, New Guinea and the Santa Cruz Islands without finding any trace of La Perouse, before returning to Tasmania in January 1793. The expedition then sailed for Tonga and onto New Caledonia, where Kermadec died of tuberculosis on 6 May 1793 at Balade.[1] He was discreetly buried on Poudioué, a nearby islet, to prevent the natives from tampering with the body.[2]


The Kermadec Islands northeast of New Zealand are named for Huon de Kermadec, as are the Kermadec Trench, Kermandie, and the Kermandie River, both in Tasmania,[3] Huonville, the Huon Valley, Huon River also all in Tasmania, and the Huon Peninsula and Huon Gulf of Papua New Guinea.[2]

Several plants also bear his name, including the Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) of Tasmania,[1] the Proteaceae genus Kermadecia of New Caledonia, and the tree Metrosideros kermadecensis of the Kermadec Islands.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Duyker, Edward (2005). "Huon De Kermadec, Jean-Michel (1748–1793)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  2. ^ a b c d Dunmore 1992, pp. 140–141.
  3. ^ "Nomen" (29 July 1911). "Tasmanian Nomenclature: The Placenames of the Island". Mercury. Retrieved 29 September 2018.


  • Dunmore, John (1992). Who's Who in Pacific Navigation. Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84488-X.
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