Gabriel de Clieu

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Gabriel-Mathieu Francois D'ceus de Clieu (region of Dieppe,[1] France, ca. 1687 – Paris, 29 November 1774), naval officer, was the governor of Guadeloupe from 1737 to 1752[2] and the founder of Pointe-à-Pitre.[3] He was awarded the rank of commander of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis.

De Clieu is celebrated for his claim to have introduced coffee to the French colonies of the Western Hemisphere in the 1720s and his support for its cultivation.

Introduction of Coffee to Martinique[edit]

The story of de Clieu's introduction of coffee comes from his account in the Année littéraire of 1774. According to this account, he arranged to transport a coffee plant (or perhaps several) from the greenhouses of the Jardin royal des plantes (which had originally received two plants from Holland in the 1710s) to Martinique in 1720.[4] According to de Clieu's account, water was rationed on the voyage, and he shared his ration with the seedlings. The story is repeated in many histories of coffee.[5][6] However, a recent history points out that though it may well be true that de Clieu brought a seedling to Martinique, and perhaps even that he shared his water ration with it, coffee was already growing in the Western Hemisphere: in the French colony of Saint-Domingue since 1715 and in the Dutch colony of Surinam since 1718.[7][8]


De Clieu's descendants in Dieppe, France are currently working a museum to commemorate the legend of DeClieu.[9]


  1. ^ Michel Claude Guibert, Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de la ville de Dieppe, Dieppe, 1878 full text at Google Books, p. 388; William Harrison Ukers, All about coffee, 1922. full text at Google Books, p. 8, referencing Michaud's Biographie Universelle, gives the more specific Angléqueville-sur-Saane, Seine-Inférieure (modern Seine-Maritime), perhaps Anglesqueville-la-Bras-Long or Anglesqueville-l'Esneval, both near the valley of the Saâne
  2. ^ Auguste Lacour, Histoire de la Guadeloupe, vol. 1 (1635-1789). Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, 1855 full text at Google Books, p. 243ff.
  3. ^ Guibert, loc.cit.
  4. ^ Lacour, p. 235f. Lacour quotes dispatches mentioning de Clieu's "soins...pour la culture du café et pour sa distribution dans la colonie", but not its introduction.
  5. ^ an extensive version can be found in Ukers, p. 6ff
  6. ^ Henri Welter, Essai sur l'histoire du café, Paris, 1868 full text at Google Books, p. 20.
  7. ^ Antony Wild, Coffee: A Dark History, ISBN 0-393-06071-3, p. 124.
  8. ^ Some sources even claim that one of the Dutch seedlings had originally come from Surinam: Jean Benoît Désiré Cochet, Galerie dieppoise: notices biographiques sur les hommes célèbres ou utiles, 1862, p. 178. full text at Google Books
  9. ^ Stewart Lee Allen, The Devil's Cup, New York: Ballantine, 1999, 158.