CLOQUET (Martial)

Cloquet, Martial (Braine l’Alleud, 28 January 1814 – Braine l’Alleud, 30 July 1867), diplomat.

Martial Cloquet, the son of Jean-Joseph Cloquet and Marie-Joseph Derbaix, studiesfirst at the Klein Seminarie in Malines and afterwards at the University of Liège. He earns a PhD in law in 1835 and becomesa trainee with M. Allard in Brussels.

In July 1835 he asksthe government to subsidizehim for a voyage to the Levant, so that he can learn oriental languages. His request for subsidies is denied, but he receives a letter of introduction from the Foreign Affairs Departmentto the British and French ambassadors in Constantinople (Istanbul). With this recommendation in hand, he sails for the Ottoman capital via Algiers, where hefalls seriously ill with meningitis. The governor of Algiers, the French Marshal Clauzel, orders that Cloquet be transferred to the military hospital in Toulon. After his convalescence,he returns to Brussels and, in December 1837, takes up a post as commis-rédacteur in the Home Office’s Department of Industry and Commerce,which is, at that point,temporarily unified with the Foreign Office.He again requests, this time tothe Secretary-General, Baron de T’Serclaes, funding for a journey to the Levant in order to study Arabic. In return for that funding, he proposes to collect commercial information. The Foreign Office – at this point,once again an independent entity – agrees on 2 February 1839to subsidize Cloquet’scommercial mission and studies of Arabic and Turkish.On 12 April 1839, Cloquetis attached as an apprentice dragoman (élève-drogman)to the Constantinople legation. His superior there, resident minister Baron de Behr, appreciates his skills, sees his potential as a possible consul and begins to investigate a consular posting. In April 1841 minister LebeauappointsCloquet to a commercial exploration mission inthe Danube principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. Cloquetis also promised a consular posting in Bucharest or Jassy, but nothing ever comes of it. On 1 February 1842 he is nominated asan honorary attaché to the Foreign Office Department of Commerce.

Shortly thereafter, his consular career is further enhanced by a nomination, on 8 February 1843, as consul in Santo Tomas, Guatemala. Cloquet’sGuatemala postingis not very successful: one of the Belgian colonists actually commitssuicide in the consul’s offices with Cloquet’sown pistol. Nevertheless, on 18 August 1850, heis promoted to consul-general with jurisdiction over the whole of Central America. His period in Santo Tomas comes to an unfortunate end when he is arrested and sent to debtors’ prison. His former superior in Constantinople, Baron de Behr, is dispatched on 26 August 1853 as extraordinary envoy and plenipotentiary minister to the Guatemalan government to get Cloquetout of prison and out Guatemala on the Belgian warship Duc de Brabant.Eventually, the affair is settled at the diplomatic level by Foreign Office minister de Brouckère and his British colleague, Lord Clarendon, who became involved because the majority of Cloquet’s creditors were British.

On 25 November 1856,Cloquet is sent to Sydney as consul-general in Australia, where he makes a number of prospective voyages to the Australian heartland (1857-1858) and Tasmania (1859). He retiresfrom the consular service for health reasons in the summer of 1861 to briefly becomemunicipal councillor of his native Braine l’Alleud.


Dr. Jan Anckaer
Library Federal Parliament
14 mai 2012


Unpublished sources

  • Royal Palace Archives, Brussels, Archives of Leopold I, nr. 213: note by M. Cloquet and G. Carron on a project to establish a ‘Société du Levant’, s.d.
  • Foreign Office Archives, Brussels, Diplomatic personnel files, nr. 420 (Apprenticedragomans) and nr. 1214 (Cloquet).

Published sources

  • Cloquet (M.), Recueil des lois maritimes et commerciales et conventions pour l’abolition des droits d’aubaine, Brussels, Société Nationale, 1840
  • Cloquet (M.), Recueil des lois maritimes et commerciales, d’actes et traités de commerce, Brussels, Ch. J. De Mat, 1840.
  • Cloquet (M.), Etude sur l’industrie, le commerce et la marine de pêche en Belgique, Brussels, Meline et Cans, 1842.
  • Cloquet (M.), Echelles du Levant et de la Mer Noire. Commerce avec la Belgique, Antwerp, 1845.
  • Cloquet (M.), Rapport sur la colonie de Santo-Tomas de Guatemala, s.l., s.d.

Scientific publications

  • Helleputte (N.), Martial Cyrille Cloquet, in Nieuw Biografisch Woordenboek, 5, Brussels, 1972, col. 198-200.
  • Leysbeth (N.), Historique de la colonisation belge à Santo-Tomas, Guatemala, Brussels, Nouvelle Société d’Editions, 1938.
  • Van den Bossche (S.), Een kortstondige kolonie: Santo Tomas de Guatemala, 1843-1854, Tielt, Lannoo, 1997.



Biographical Dictionary of Overseas Belgians