Charles Hettor Estaing, count d', a French naval officer, born at the chateau of Ruvel, Auvergne, in 1729, executed in Paris, April 28, 1794. He entered the military service, and in 1758 accompanied the count de Lally in his expedition to the East Indies, with the rank of brigadier general. He was taken prisoner at the siege of Madras, but was released on parole, and at once took command of two French men-of-war, and inflicted great damage upon the English in the East. On his return to France, in 1760, he was captured near Lorient, and thrown into prison at Portsmouth, the English asserting that he had resumed active service before he was authorized by the terms of his exchange, but was released, and in 1763 was appointed lieutenant general in the navy. In 1778 he was sent to the United States in command of twelve ships of the line and four frigates. He landed Gerard, the first ambassador from France to the United States, and then came to anchor off New York. An attack upon the city had been projected, but it was abandoned, the pilots thinking that the largest of the French vessels could not be taken over the bar. A joint attack upon Newport by land and sea was next proposed.

D'Estaing sailed for Narragansett bay, entered Newport harbor, and compelled the British to burn or sink six frigates which lay there. A few days afterward the continentals, under Greene and Lafayette, landed on the island, and expected to be joined by 4,000 men from the French fleet. But D'Estaing had put to sea, and engaged Lord Howe, who had come to the relief of Newport. The fleets being separated by a storm, D'Estaing took his shattered vessels to Boston to refit, and the attack upon Newport was given up. In November he sailed for the West Indies, where he attempted without success to take the island of St. Lucia, but took St. Vincent and Grenada. He also forced the British admiral who had come to the relief of Grenada to retire. He then sailed for the coast of Georgia with 22 ships of the line. His troops cooperated with those of the Americans, Oct. 9, 1779, in an attack upon Savannah. Both the American column and the French were repulsed, D'Estaing being wounded and Pulaski killed in the assault. D'Estaing returned to France in 1780. He declared himself in favor of national reforms, and was elected in 1787 to the assembly of notables, appointed commandant of the national guard, and chosen admiral in 1792 by the legislative assembly.

But he cherished a regard for the royal family, and wrote friendly letters to Marie Antoinette which came to the knowledge of the revolutionary authorities; and he was arrested and imprisoned. On the trial of Marie Antoinette in 1793 he testified in her favor. He was himself brought to trial in the following year, and condemned to death. He wrote a poem entitled Le reve, a tragedy, and a book on the colonies.