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Receveur Tomb : March 2014
Receveur Tomb : March 2014

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams / Lynda Newman

The tomb was erected over the grave in memory of Friar Pere Receveur, a Franciscan scientist with La Perouse expedition who died here in 1788. He was the Chaplain and naturalist with the La Perouse expedition. He was speared in Samoa and died on reaching Australia. He was the first known Frenchman to be buried in the colony of New South Wales.

Hyacinthe de Bougainville commissioned the tomb in 1825 but it wasn’t completed until 1828 under the direction of Captain Piper.   The inscription on the tomb in French says "Here lies L Receveur French Preist of Friars Minor, Scientist in the Voyage Around the World under the leadership of de Laperouse, died February 17th, 1788."

The pilgrim who visits this historic monument tomorrow may easily picture the silent procession of hardy French mariners reverently bearing the mortal remains of a great Franciscan up the slope of Frenchman's Bay to his grave among the tee-trees, geebungs, and wild flowers. It was a simple grave, distinguished only by a common headstone stuck lightly in the loose earth which covered it, and a board with a painted inscription nailed to a nearby tree. This was later removed by the blacks, "who defaced everything."

Governor Phillip then had a copper plate inscribed and affixed to a tree by the grave. This also disappeared, and until 1824 the resting-place of Father Receveur seems to have been neglected. In that same year the first recorded pilgrimage was made by the crew of the French ship Coquille, when the exact place of the priest's grave was pointed out to them by an old soldier-resident. Having removed the bark of an adjacent tree they cut the inscription anew. The portion of the tree which bore this inscription was subsequently removed to Paris, and is now on view at the Musee de Marine.

In 1825 Bougainville visited the grave, which was then marked by stones and surmounted by a rough cross. Four years later, when the two discovery ships, Thetis and Esperance, called at Sydney, their officers dug about the spot and found human bones, over which they caused a proper tomb to be erected. Tradition asserts that this monument fell into disrepair, and was almost wholly restored by Father Woolfrey. The grave was enclosed by railings in 1876 at the expense of the colony, and these were renewed in 1906 by the French Government. In 1930 the old iron cross, which had been badly eaten by rust, was replaced by one of bronze, bearing the arms of the Franciscan Order, of which Father Receveur was such a distinguished member, and the date March 26, 1930, when the Minister for Lands "approved of the Franciscan Fathers being granted authority to care for and embellish the tomb." 
Excerpt from Sydney Morning Herald  (NSW)), 29 April 1933.


Address:ANZAC Parade, La Perouse, 2036
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.988175
Long: 151.232109
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:17-February-1788
Actual Event End Date:17-February-1788


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:Circa 1828
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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