Sir Gedeon Philippes de Gorrequer
The Philippes de Gorrequer family from Brittany came to Jersey in the mid-18th century. Jacques Guillaume moved to the island from Brest in 1742 and married Anne Syvret of St Ouen.
He would probably never have thought at the time that his grandson Gedeon would serve in the British Army, fight the French, be decorated by the Sultan of Egypt and receive a knighthood.
Their son Gedeon married Susanne Raven of St Brelade; and their son, also Gedeon was born at St Brelade 1781.
His name does not appear in the St Brelade baptism register, but there is a record of the baptism of his elder sister Susanne in 1777.
He entered the Army as Ensign in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment 1797, and a year later was promoted Lieutenant. In 1801 he served with distinction against the French in Egypt, and for "gallant conduct before the enemy" received from the Sultan the Imperial Ottoman Order of the Crescent.
In 1804 he obtained his company in the 18th, and went with his regiment to the West Indies. In 1809 he was aide-de-camp to Major-General Montresor during the occupation of Sicily. In 1814 he was still acting in the same capacity during operations against the French near Genoa. In a dispatch dated 14 April General Montresor wrote:
- "The enemy made an obstinate resistance, but Col Bruce's brigade, having opportunely debarked, was conducted into action by my aide-de-camp, Captain Gorrequer, which decided their defeat".
For work in this campaign Gorrequer was promoted Brevet-Major, and received from the Prince Regent the Knighthood of the Royal Guelphic Order, and from the Kings of Sardinia and the Two Sicilies respectively, the decorations of Knight Commander of the Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus and of the Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit.
When Napoleon was banished to St Helena in 1815, Gorrequer went there as aide-de-camp to Sir Hudson Lowe, the Governor, and became Military Secretary.
He is one of our chief authorities for life in the island, and figures largely in contemporary memoirs. Sir Hudson Lowe wrote:
- "A detailed correspondence addressed to His Majesty's Government reports the occurrences of almost every day during the five years that Napoleon remained under my custody. The greater part of the conversations with Bonaparte or his followers was immediately noted down with an ability and exactness which reflect the highest credit on my Military Secretary. This gentleman was not only a perfect master of the French language, but possessed a memory equally remarkable for accuracy and tenacity, and was therefore eminently qualified to report the conversations at which he was present".
Gorrequer wrote a diary of his time in St Helena, which was published in 1969, edited by James Kemble.
In 1819, while still at St Helena, Gorrequer was promoted Brevet Lieut-Colonel. After Napoleon's death in 1821 he rejoined his regiment, and served in the Ionian Islands. In 1826 he became full Lieut-Colonel on half pay, and settled in London. In 1857 he became Colonel of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment. He retired shortly afterwards.
He died suddenly on 18 July 1841, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. He never married.