Caron, Or Carron, Franciscus, a Dutch navigator, perished by shipwreck off Lisbon in 1674. He was of a French Protestant family which had taken refuge in the Low Countries. He engaged when very young as assistant cook on board a vessel departing for Japan. During the voyage he applied his leisure to the study of arithmetic, and after his arrival in Japan learned the native language. This acquisition rendered him especially useful to the Dutch East India company, and he became director of their commerce with Japan, and a member of their council. Colbert was at this time striving to give to France some importance in the commerce of the East Indies, and sought among foreigners men capable of seconding his views. In 1666 Caron accepted letters patent appointing him director general of the French commerce in India, other Dutch and French merchants being joined with him with the same title. Caron arrived at Madagascar in 1667; but, finding the French offices at that island in hopeless confusion, it was decided not to remain there. He departed for Surat, and began operations there with good success. Several of his subsequent plans and operations proved unfortunate, and his imperious and avaricious character excited many enemies against him at court.
The minister was constrained to recall him; and, that Caron might not suspect the hostile motive, it was pretended to him that his advice was needed with reference to new enterprises. He embarked for Marseilles, bringing with him a great amount of treasure; but after he had passed the straits of Gibraltar, he was informed by a vessel which he met of the disposition entertained concerning: him at court. He at once turned his ship about and directed his course to Lisbon. He had already anchored in this port, when a heavy sea beat his vessel against a rock, and it went to the bottom with its passengers and cargo, one of his sons alone being saved. He wrote a "Description of Japan," published in 1636.