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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 19 January 2011
A Guernseyman's link to Costa Rican life
The Times
The Times was a barquentine on which William Le Lacheur served

William Le Lacheur was born at L'Epinel in the Forest in 1802 into a farming family and started his working life on the land.

However, he soon set out to sea on his grandfather's ship and discovered his true vocation.

In a career spanning more than 40 years he helped establish the economy of Costa Rica using the coffee trade.

He died in London in 1863 and is buried in Highgate Cemetery in the north of the city.

Historian Gillian Lenfesty explained that after learning seamanship with his grandfather Le Lacheur saw the opportunity to rent his own ship to transport cargo from Guernsey to England.

From there Gillian said: "He saw the opportunity to get a bigger boat and began exporting fruit from the Mediterranean to England.

William Le Lacheur crossed the Atlantic many times trading various cargoes

"Then he realised he could make even more profit with an even bigger boat if he went out to the West Indies and brought back sugar and rum."

On one voyage there was no cargo available to bring back to England and so he began travelling around the coast of South America in search of cargo. This led him to Honduras, and on his next voyage to Costa Rica.

He found the country was losing money because of an inefficient deal on its coffee trading and so he proposed to remove the middle men and carry the coffee directly back to London where it made a much larger profit for the country and he returned this in silver sixpences which became the first established currency of Costa Rica.

As well as helping establish the country's economy, a tradition his daughter continued by co-founding the Banco Lyon, a major bank in Costa Rica that still operates today, Le Lacheur also introduced a new religious aspect to Costa Rican culture.

Gillian said: "He was a very firm non-conformist protestant and he found Costa Rica was only Roman Catholic and felt this was part of their problem... so he carried several cargos of protestant bibles in Spanish and distributed them."

His cargoes of more than 3,000 bibles led to the building of the country's first protestant church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, which still remembers William Le Lacheur's influence with a memorial to him.

From humble roots to world fame
18 Jan 11 |  History


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