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This web page was originally constructed to try and locate information about Mr. Duris whose gravesite had been rediscovered on remote sub-antartic Campbell Island (New Zealand) in 1993.
Now after 13 years of research, the following information about Duris has been found in the French Navy Archives :


Born 9 march 1850 in Châteauroux (Indre).
A naval reservist in the French Navy, enlisted in the Brest division, registration number 33398/2.
Twenty four years old when he died 22 September 1874 on Campbell Island, during a French scientific expedition to witness the transit of the planet Venus across the sun.
Duris's mother lived at 46, rue Bouquerie in Châteauroux in 1875.
The new purpose of this web page is to trace Duris's living descendants.

The following is an account of the discovery of the grave.
In 1993, after 18 year's research, Norman Judd rediscovered the gravesite of Paul Duris on lonely Campbell Island. The island is 600 kilometers south of New Zealand. This rediscovery inspired the construction of this website.

Mr Duris was a member of the crew aboard the French ship "Vire" which, in 1874, brought a scientific expedition, initiated by the Paris Académie des Sciences and led by Jacques Anatole Bouquet de la Grye, to Campbell Island. The expedition was to witness the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun. Unfortunately, the typical cloudiness of the island allowed only a small part of the event to be seen.

Duris died of typhoid fever on 21 or 22 September and was buried at a place known as Duris Point.

The following photographs and texts are from Norman's collection.

Campbell Island

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Bull Rock, Campbell Island.

Campbell Island can easily be described like nothing on earth - except perhaps the northern Shetlands. Winds that exceed hurricane force are common and each year only a little over 600 hours of direct sunlight reaches the island's surface. The island, which comes under New Zealand's Department of Conservation, is a Nature Reserve. It is currently uninhabited but when Norman visited the island on 6 occasions, he was able to live at the island's staffed weather station.

Campbell Island north east coastline.

Paul Duris's grave
(Duris Point)



cf : Philosophical Institute of Canterbury


Norman Judd's Story :
"I was leader of a scientific expedition in 1975 to Campbell Island. I had never even heard of the place 'til then. While there I had to map historic sites (sites of occupation and graves of whalers, sealers, castaways- wrecked sailors, and of the crazy people who tried, briefly, to farm the island). One site was the 'Grave of Duris'. Before my 1975 expedition, the Department of Internal Affairs provided a condensed version of the Bouquet de la Grye report. It was easy enough to find the point on which Duris was buried but, unknown to me at the time, his grave's surface stones were covered by at least 350 mm of peat. The island's total soil is peat and very damp. Because the cross had last been seen in 1931, I thought someone might have stolen it. As it later transpired, sea lions had pushed the cross over against a small bank where it became buried by peat. After 1975/76, I visited the island to study all known historic sites in 1981, 1990, and 1993. It wasn't until 1993 that I found the grave. This was 18 years after my first attempt in 1975 ! During that time I researched every possible source of information. I got in touch with 5 surviving farmers who each gave me his version of where each thought the grave was. It turned out later that none were really close.
On every visit to the island I used a photo taken in 1907 which showed 3 converging skylines. Unfortunately, scrubby trees over 3m high covered the area that in the photograph showed only lower growing tussock grasses and so I used a 2.4m stepladder to peer above the high scrub at the skylines in the photograph and those on the real horizon.
I allowed myself only one full day of fine weather on each of my visits to the island to search for the grave this way. Many wasted hours of this very valuable time were spent dragging and climbing the stepladder in the scrub _ much to the annoyance of resident sea lions _ and all to no avail. Finally, in 1993, a full day of rare fine weather and time with which to orientate myself with the skylines in the photograph allowed me to find the grave. As usual my search began at about 200 meters from the Duris Point and, as usual, I climbed the stepladder and viewed the horizons. At the end of the day, after zigzagging with the stepladder and the photograph down to within 5 meters of the coast I realised that my zigs and zags had got smaller and smaller. I knew I was over the grave but as it was getting dark I had to make my way back to the weather station. The next day I returned with a helper from the station and together we probed deeply with rods and found the grave 350mm below the surface and only 3 meters from the base of the stepladder !
The grave surface is now restored to a condition similar to a 1915 photograph taken by one of the early farmers. A small timber fence keeps the sea lions away from the little steel cross which is in surprisingly  good condition. It is the cross that the shipmates of Duris made so lovingly back in 1874. Just before my 1993 visit was due to end, I read a prayer over the grave. The prayer, arranged by the NZ Meteorological Service Chaplain, had been sent by radio to the island. It asked that God give peace to Duris and to look after all souls who dared venture into this dark and stormy region."

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In 'Report On The Archaelogical Survey And Investigation Of Campbell Island - 1993 '. (by N. Judd)

The Grave of M. Duris

With the assistance of Mr Jim Henderson of the weather station, the grave was located by probing under a large Dracophyllum tree - three metres from the last position of the step ladder. The probe first struck the mound’s surface 300mm below ground level.

Turf Lifting

Once the permission was obtained from the Historic Places Trust through the Southland Office of the Department of Conservation, the Dracophyllum was cleared from the site and the soft covering of humus peeled back from the cross with bare hands. In this way the rocks at the head of the grave and the cross were revealed 'in situ'.

The cross, in an exceptionally uncorroded condition, was leaning against the bank behind as if it had been pushed back. The site was then photographed and then covered by protective boughs of scrub and the ladder. The following day and with the assistance of Mr Steven Taylor, also of the weather station, the grave's surface was carefully cleared by hand, measured and photographed. About 1.5 cubic metres of peat was removed from over the tomb. The vertical depth of peat over the mound had measured 350mm at the head of the grave and 300mm at the foot. Careful lifting of the last 100mm of peat failed to locate anything other than the layer of white quartz pebbles laid during the latter farming years, (1920-31) and a fine layer of charcoal and ash around the outside boundaries of the mound. When post holes were dug for the fence another layer of ash was located 1-200mm further down.

After it had been photographed, the cross was removed from the head stones and then cleaned, oiled and replaced. During this operation four thin pieces of rusty metal were discovered under the head stones and these were brought to New Zealand to be analysed. Dr Nigel Pickett believed them to be similar to tin match box segments. Light tin match boxes were evident around the turn of the century. However, there are indications of rivets in this metal.

Protective fence

Mr Taylor helped to build a protective fence prefabricated at the Station the previous day. The following day a stainless steel plaque engraved with the name of Duris and the date of his death, was fastened to one of the top railings.

The Mound

The 'mound', apart from its border, was not completely the shape of a traditional tomb. The grave's surface was dished across its length. This is probably because Hooker Sea Lions (Phocarctos hookeri) used the terrace on which the grave was situated to traverse to the higher ground above. Three sea lions endeavoured to cross over the site while it was in the process of being revealed and restored. A new layer of white beach pebble covers the old ones. Two other important features were found near the grave. These were the track and building platform prepared by the crew of the Frigate VIRE, in 1873, for the 1874 French Transit of Venus Expedition, (B. de la Grye, 1875). These are shown on the map of the area.

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The gravesite in 2003

2012-07-04 Group at cross after the grave side service

2012-07-04 Rotoiti and Taupo IPVs (Inshore Patrol Vessels) at anchor

2012-07-04 IPVs's medallions

2012-07-04 Navy Commander Brett

Venus Cove
and the expedition to witness the transit of the planet Venus.

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Remains of the installations
(Norman's plan)

Plan of installations in Venus Cove
(Anse des Kervenus)1874.

from right to left:
Cabane photographique
Lunette méridienne du Bureau (Hatt)

The main camp buildings in the centre of Venus Cove
(apparently the main building was carried in sections from Bordeaux).

from right to left:
Magasin, cuisine, four
Maison d'habitation
Cabane des pendules, bouteilles
Abri pour les moutons.

The buildings on the east side of the camp.

from right to left:
Equatorial (8 inches)
Lunette méridienne du dépôt.
(Bouquet de La Grye)

The expedition to witness the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun on Campbell Island(1874).


To the latest pieces of information about Duris identity.

Any available information about Mr. Paul Duris or his descendants would be welcome, please contact us