Gran Case
Jean François Hodoul
Arab Tombs

© Guy Van Heygen 2003


Jean François Hodoul

The myth still lives that the pirate Jean François Hodoul buried a treasure on Silhouette.

It is a nice story that makes work your fantasy, but it is very unlikely. First Jean François Hodoul was never a pirate, but was a “corsair” working with the approval of the French government at the end of the 18th century when France lost his influence in the Indian Ocean in favour of the English, due to the difficult years during the French revolution. Pirates worked on their own account; corsairs worked for France. And seen Hodoul arrived in the Indian Ocean in 1790, and only started as corsair a few years later, he never was a pirate. His first years he spent on Ile de France now Mauritius, and in 1792 he started as captain to transport slaves between Africa or Madagascar and Ile Bourbon, now Reunion, or Ile de France, now Mauritius. During this period he often visited Seychelles as it was a transit and refraichement place for slaves on their way to the Mascarenes. Here he fell in love with a young Seychellois, from Mauritian origin, Olivette Jorre de Saint Jorre, and settled on Mahé. It is after his ship “Olivette” was taken by the English in the harbour of Victoria, that he became a corsair. He was the most successful of all French corsairs. Between the 14th of May 1797 an the 10th of November the same year, he captured 7 English vessels and their cargo, consisting of pearls, piasters and gold ecu’s as well as all kind of goods. The total prize money was estimated at 703.479.803 Francs. In 1799 his first son was born, and in 1800 he started again his activities and captured a few more vessels, but here his luck ran out. The 5th of August he mistook and attacked an English frigate, he was put in prison in Calcutta and released in 1802 after the Treaty of Amiens, and settled at Cascade on Mahé. He was a prominent businessman and plantation owner, and had several vessels operating between Mauritius and Seychelles. He built several ships on “Ile Hodoul” in the harbour of Victoria; The island still bears his name. He lived a few months on Silhouette, where he owned land, before moving to Ma Constanze, just North of Victoria. In total he had 12 children with his one and only wife, and died at the age of 69 in 1835 as a wealthy and well respected man. The tradition says one day his horse returned with an empty saddle, they found him dead, killed by a hart attack, or just fallen from his horse. He is buried at Belair, near Victoria, 21 years later his wife Olivette is buried next to him, they rest today alongside at Bel Air cemetery.

I tell all this to say; If Hodoul stopped his corsair activities in 1800, and returned to Seychelles 2 years later, he had 33 years to pick up the treasure he buried on Silhouette, he even lived there for a while, and having 12 children, it is very unlikely he left that treasure on Silhouette.