Receveur was also considered a skilled botanist, geologist, chemist, meteorologist, and philologist and has been described as being as close as one could get to being an ecologist in the 18th century.
In 1785, La Perouse was appointed by Louis XVI and his minister of marine, the Marquis de Castries, to lead an expedition around the world. Receveur was one of two priests on the expedition and was stationed aboard the ship L'Astrolabe; the other was Jean-André Mongez.
At some stage during December 1787 or January 1788, the La Perouse expedition arrived at Tutuila in the Samoan Islands. Those who made land-fall came into conflict with the local indigenous people. Receveur was gravely injured, receiving what was described as a “violent contusion of the eye”.
Arrival in Australia
The expedition continued to Australia where it arrived at Botany Bay six days after the First Fleet. La Perouse erected a camp on shore and established relations with the British, who sailed around from Sydney Cove to visit his camp.
However, Receveur never recovered from his injuries and died on 17 February 1788. He was buried at the camp.
Receveur was the first Catholic priest and the second non-indigenous person to be buried in Australia. His obsequies are considered to have constituted the first Catholic religious ceremony held in Australia.
Abbe Receveur Place in Little Bay, New South Wales was named in his honour.