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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

John Brown - CS Contra Amiral Caubet

Introduction: Kathleen Hay sends information on her great great grandfather, John Brown, who worked on cables in the late 1800s for the French company La Compagnie Française des Câbles Télégraphiques.

--Bill Burns

Captain John Brown.
The photographer is listed on the back of this portrait as Gothards, 45 Plumstead Road [London SE 18].

John Brown, was born in Ireland in 1843. In the 1890s he worked for La Compagnie Française des Câbles Télégraphiques, the French cable company formed in 1896 by the merger of La Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New York and La Société Française de Télégraphes Sous-Marin.

The company owned two cable ships, CS Pouyer-Quertier and CS Contre Amiral Caubet. The Pouyer-Quertier was initially based at Le Havre, but moved to the Caribbean when the Caubet was acquired by the company in 1896 and replaced the Pouyer-Quertier at Le Havre.

According to letters to his daughter, Annie Brown Kelly, John Brown left the harbor of the Seine River (Le Havre) in France in late March of 1897, laying cable to St. Thomas in the Dutch West Indies.

John Brown died of pneumonia on 23 May 1897 at Saint Pierre island while heading a cable-laying crew on the Contre Amiral Caubet. His death is listed in the city hall records on St. Pierre; the Maritime Archive there notes that he was transported by the ship's captain and the assistant mayor of the city of Saint Pierre in a boat to the cemetery.

The city hall records said he was a 54 year old English seaman with no known relatives. The cemetery at St. Pierre has a record of his burial, but no memorial for him can be found, although there was supposed to be one. The graveyard has many unreadable stones, and part of the graveyard has been moved to build a hockey stadium.

Captain John Brown (center) with his crew.
It's not known if this photograph was
taken on the Contre Amiral Caubet

Copyright © 2007 FTL Design

Last revised: 9 May, 2007

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