Posts Tagged ‘Edward Pellew’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Charles Phillip Yorke 4th Earl of Hardwicke
2 April 1799 – 17 September 1873


Charles Yorke

Charles Yorke 4th Earl of Hardwicke was born at Sydney Lodge, in Hamble le Rice, Hardwicke was the eldest son of Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, second son of Charles Yorke, Lord Chancellor, by his second wife, Agneta Johnson. He was a nephew of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke. He was educated at Harrow and at the Royal Naval College, where he was awarded the second medal.

Hardwicke entered the Royal Navy in May 1815 as midshipman on HMS Prince, the flagship at Spithead. Later, he served in the Mediterranean, on HMS Sparrowhawk (18) and HMS Leviathan (74) then subsequently HMS Queen Charlotte (100), the flagship of Lord Exmouth, by whom he was entrusted with the command of a gunboat at the bombardment of Algiers. He later joined HMS Leander (60) under the flag of Sir David Milne, on the North American station, where he was given the command of the Jane, a small vessel carrying dispatches between Halifax and Bermuda. He was then appointed acting lieutenant of HMS Grasshopper (18) and after a few months commissioned in the rank of lieutenant in August 1819. The next October, he joined the frigate HMS Phaeton on the Halifax station, until appointed to the command of HMS Alacrity in 1823 on the Mediterranean station, in this post he was employed, before and after he obtained the rank of captain in 1825, in watching the movements of the Turko-Egyptian forces and in the suppression of piracy.

Between 1828 and 1831, he took command of HMS Alligator (28), on the same station and took an active part in the naval operation in connection with the struggle between Greece and Turkey. Lastly, between 1844 and 1845, for short periods, he assumed command of the steam yacht HMS Black Eagle and HMS St Vincent (120), in which he carried the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas I, to England. He attained flag rank in 1838. In 1849, while commanding HMS Vengeance, he participated in the repression of the republican rebellion of Genoa in support of the forces of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Vengeance also fired on the Hospital of Pammatone, causing 107 civilian casualties. For these actions, he was decorated by the Sardinian King Victor Emmanuel II with two medals he was authorized to accept by Queen Victoria only in 1855. In 1858, he retired from the active list with the rank of rear-admiral, becoming vice-admiral in the same year, and admiral in 1863. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1870.

Hardwicke represented Reigate in the House of Commons between 1831 and 1832 and Cambridgeshire between 1832 and 1834. In 1834, on the death of his uncle, he became the fourth Earl of Hardwicke, and inherited the substantial Wimpole estate in Cambridgeshire. He was a member of Lord Derby’s cabinet in 1852 as Postmaster General and as Lord Privy Seal between 1858 and 1859. In 1852 he was sworn of the Privy Council.

Lord Hardwicke married the Honourable Susan Liddell, sixth daughter of Thomas Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth, in August 1833. They had five sons and three daughters. He died in September 1873, aged 74, and was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, Charles. The Countess of Hardwicke died in November 1886.

He also supposedly fathered an illegitimate child by one Charlotte Pratt, a serving girl at his Wimpole Hall home. Charlotte got married in 1849, and the following was noted in the marriage register:
The year before this marriage, 18-year-old servant girl Charlotte gave birth to a son, James Pratt, who was baptised on 2 April 1848. The father was understood to have been her employer, the 4th Earl of Hardwicke. “Charlotte… was a Pratt; and she was a picture. The handsomest woman that I ever remember to have seen. In harvest time to see her swinging along the road with a bundle of corn balanced on her head, both arms akimbo, was a study in colour, figure and poise”. – A.C.Yorke

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Capitan Robert Corbet
– 13 September 1810

Capitan Robert Corbet was born in Shropshire; otherwise little is known of his childhood and youth. No connection of Corbet’s paternal line has been discovered to the ancient Shropshire armigerous family: his parents were Robert Corbet of Wexford, Ireland, a captain in the Royal Navy and Susannah Woodward; his grandfather was the Rev Francis Corbet, Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin; his great-grandfather was Thomas Corbet, a merchant from Dunganon, Tyrone. In December 1796, he was promoted to lieutenant and in 1801 served in the Egyptian campaign in command of the cutter Fulminante. She was wrecked off the coast of Egypt while under his command.

In 1802 he was promoted to commander and in 1803 took command of the sloop HMS Bittern in the Mediterranean, catching the eye of Lord Horatio Nelson, who was impressed by him and in 1805 promoted him to captain in command of the frigate HMS Amfitrite. Whilst in command of Bittern he chased a French privateer, Hirondelle for 36 hours in a flat calm, with his crew at the sweeps the whole time. Four months later he moved to HMS Seahorse and in 1806 was transferred to the Jamaica station.

In November 1806 Corbet returned to Britain and commissioned HMS Nereide, escorting transport ships to the British invasion of the River Plate. During his time in command of Nereide, Corbet gained a reputation for brutality, inflicting 134 floggings in just 211 days, with an average of 17 lashes each time. Even by the standards of the time, this was a vicious regime. After the collapse of the expedition, Nereide was attached to the squadron at the Cape of Good Hope and in 1808 was sent for refit at Bombay. On arrival Corbet assumed command of the port over the local officers, provoking a strong rebuke from the admiral in command of the Far East station, Sir Edward Pellew. In Bombay his crew, frustrated by the brutal and arbitrary treatment meted out by their captain, issued a complaint against him. In response Corbet requested a formal court martial, but was forced to wait until his ship returned to the Cape of Good Hope due to a shortage of captains of sufficient rank.

Corbet neglected to explain this to the crew and when he ordered them to sail for the Cape they mutinied in the belief that their complaint had been ignored. The mutiny was suppressed by local forces in Bombay and when Nereide did reach the Cape ten men were tried and one hanged for disobedience. At his court martial, Corbet insisted that “Severity must depend upon circumstances, and whenever I have been severe, circumstances have rendered it necessary” and was cleared of unnecessary cruelty, instead being issued with a minor reprimand for beating his men with sticks larger than those required by Admiralty instructions.

In late 1808, Nereide was attached to the squadron under Josias Rowley ordered to blockade the French colonies of Île Bonaparte and Île de France. In the Action of 31 May 1809, French frigate Caroline captured two East Indiamen and took them into Saint Paul on Île Bonaparte. Rowley counterattacked by storming the port and capturing the East Indiamen and Caroline. Corbet and Nereide played an important part of the attack, entering the harbour to engage the French ships from close range. Caroline was renamed HMS Bourbonnaise and Corbet given command, sent back to Britain with despatches.

On arrival in Britain in early 1810, Corbet was transferred to HMS Africaine, which ship was deemed more appropriate for service in the Indian Ocean, to which Corbet was ordered to return. When word that Corbet was to take command arrived on board Africaine, the crew protested to the Admiralty, furious that such a brutal captain had been placed in command of them. They also warned that they would take steps to prevent Corbet from embarking the ship should he attempt to come aboard. Claiming mutiny, Corbet requested support and Admiral Edward Buller was sent aboard to listen to the crews complaints. In addition, the frigate HMS Menelaus pulled alongside and threatened to fire on the mutineers unless they allowed Corbet aboard. Under pressure, the crew relented and Corbet took command.

Returning to the Indian Ocean, Corbet was destined for Madras when he stopped at Rodriguez and discovered that most of Rowley’s squadron had been destroyed at the Battle of Grand Port. Recognising that Rowley needed urgent reinforcement, Corbet immediately sailed to Île de France. Arriving off the island on 11 September, Rowley discovered the small French ship No. 23 sheltering inshore and attacked it with his ship’s boats. The attack was a failure, the boat party suffering heavy casualties and Corbet sailed for Île Bourbon (formerly Île Bonaparte) to land his wounded. There he united with Rowley’s flagship HMS Boadicea and two smaller ships and attacked the French blockading force of the frigates Astrée and Iphigénie under Pierre Bouvet.

During the night of 12 September, Africaine outran her compatriots and attacked both French ships in the darkness. On the second broadside from Astrée, Corbet’s right foot was shot off, the captain collapsing to the deck and being taken below. Although their captain had gone, the crew continued to fight and Astrée hauled off to allow Iphigénie to attack. Two hours later, Africaine surrendered, her casualties mounting and the ship in a battered state. The French took possession but later abandoned the ship when Boadicea arrived. By the time British officers had resumed control of the ship, Corbet was dead. Almost immediately rumours spread that his death had not simply been the result of his wound: Stories were repeated in reputable histories that Corbet had been either murdered by his crew, or committed suicide to avoid the shame of defeat. Although the truth is unknown, Corbet’s crew had displayed an unwillingness to enter action with him in command and once he was dead expressed a desire to pursue the French ships despite their own damage and casualties.

The debate about Corbet’s final action continued for many years: the contemporary historian Basil Hall was the subject of a lawsuit in 1820 over his claim that Corbet’s men had refused to load their cannon and preferred death at the hands of the French to continued service under their brutal captain. The case was proven and Hall forced to make a retraction. Attention has also focused on Corbet’s failure to train his men in the accurate and efficient use of their cannon, preferring to maintain the order and cleanliness of his ship than exercise his gun teams.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Vice Admiral Sir Richard King 2nd Baronet
28 November 1774 – 5 August 1834


Richard King

Vice Admiral Sir Richard King 2nd Baronet was the son of Sir Richard King, 1st Baronet, a wealthy and high-ranking member of the Navy. King was placed on board ship at fourteen thanks to the influence of his father and made Post Captain just six years later, an achievement made possible by his father’s rank of admiral. Normally an officer would be waiting double or triple that time before gaining such a prestigious rank. He was first promoted to Lieutenant on 14 November 1791, Commander in 1793 and Post Captain 14 May 1794. Nonetheless, King was no incompetent, and proved his worth as captain of HMS Sirius, capturing four enemy privateers whilst in command, as well as sitting on the navy board which condemned Richard Parker to death for his part in the Nore mutiny in 1797. At the Action of 24 October 1798, King captured two Dutch ships. In 1801 he captured a French frigate, and was rewarded with command of the large 74 gun ship of the line HMS Achille.

A month before the battle of Trafalgar, sensing that there was glory to be won in the coming operations off Cadiz, King used his influence with his father in law, Admiral Sir John Duckworth, to persuade Nelson to give him a position in the blockading fleet. Since his reputation was good, Nelson endorsed the move and King joined just in time to catch the combined fleet off Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. The seventh ship in Collingwood’s division, Achille was heavily engaged, chasing off the Spanish Montanez and the battling alongside HMS Belleisle with the Argonauta. Whilst chasing this ship through the melee, Achille was cut off by her namesake, the French Achille, with whom she began a savage cannonade until joined by the French ship Berwick, whom Achille turned her attention on. An hour of savage fighting forced the French craft to eventually surrender, but at the cost of 13 dead and 59 wounded, severe losses in comparison with most of the British fleet.

King was, along with the other captains, voted many honours following the battle, and unlike several of his compatriots retained his command at sea, being engaged the following year in the action against a French frigate squadron in an action in which Sir Samuel Hood lost an arm. The same year he inherited his fathers baronetcy and transferred to the Mediterranean, where in 1812 he made the jump to Rear-Admiral of the Blue on August 12th, and second in command to Edward Pellew. He was appointed KCB on 2 January 1815 and served as commander-in-chief on the East Indies Station from 1816. Continuing in service postwar in 1819 as a Vice-Admiral and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, King served as commander in chief in the East Indies and also remarried following his first wife’s death to the daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, Maria Susannah. As Commander-in-Chief, The Nore from 1833 after an eventful life, King continued his successful career past the age many of his contemporaries retired at. Such devotion to duty often has a price, and King died in office in 1834 whilst at Sheerness from a sudden outbreak of cholera. He was buried nearby, survived by twelve children and his second wife.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Rear Admiral Sir George Burlton
– 21 September 1815

Rear Admiral Sir George Burlton was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 15 September 1777 and in 1783 was in command of HMS Camel, 24. He was made Commander on 5 July 1794.

In March 1795 he was acting captain of the 32-gun frigate Lively when she captured the French corvette Tourtourelle, and he was promoted to post captain on 16 March that year into the 74-gun HMS Vengeance. Towards the end of 1796 he travelled to Cape Town. There in November he received command of the Dutch frigate Castor, which the British had captured at the capitulation of Saldanha Bay and renamed HMS Saldanha. Burlton sailed her to Britain where she was paid off.

Subsequent commands included Success, 32; Adamant, 50; and Resolution, 74, the last of which he commanded at the Battle of the Basque Roads in April 1809.

In 1812 Burlton was captain of the 110-gun HMS Ville de Paris and in March 1813 he was given command of HMS Boyne, 98. On 4 December 1813 he was made a Colonel of Marines.

On 13 February 1814 Boyne engaged the French ship-of-the-line Romulus, for which Burlton was commended by Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew. On 4 June 1814 Burlton was raised to flag rank as a Rear-Admiral of the White and on 2 January 1815 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

On 24 December 1814 Sir Samuel Hood died. He had been Commander-in-Chief on the East Indies Station and when the vacancy became known in England Sir George Burlton was appointed to succeed him. He hoisted his flag in HMS Cornwallis, Captain John Bayley, on 10 January 1815. On the voyage out the American sloops-of-war USS Peacock and USS Hornet mistook the 74-gun Cornwallis for a merchant ship. Cornwallis pursued Hornet between 28 and 30 April without success, though Hornet was obliged to jettison all her guns and arms in order to escape. Burlton took over the East Indies command from acting-Commodore George Sayer in June 1815, but died at Madras on 21 September. Sayer resumed command until the arrival of Sir Richard King in 1816.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Rear Admiral Charles John Austen
23 June 1779 – 7 October 1852


Charles John Austen

Charles John Austen was born in 1779 as the sixth and youngest son of the Reverend George Austen. His elder brother, Sir Francis Austen also joined the navy and eventually rose to be Admiral of the Fleet. Their sister was the famous novelist Jane Austen. Charles joined the Royal Naval Academy in July 1791, and by September 1794 he had become midshipman aboard HMS Daedalus. He subsequently served aboard HMS Unicorn and HMS Endymion. While serving aboard the Unicorn Austen assisted in the capture of the 18-gun Dutch brig Comet, the 44-gun French frigate Tribune and the French transport ship Ville de l’Orient.

After transferring to the Endymion he helped in the driving into Hellevoetsluis of the Dutch ship of the line Brutus. As a result of the latter action Austen was promoted to lieutenant on 13 December 1797, and appointed to HMS Scorpion. He was aboard Scorpion long enough to be present at the capture of the Dutch brig Courier, after which he transferred to HMS Tamar. Aboard Tamar Austen was frequently involved in attacks and engagements with gunboats and privateers out of Algeciras. He returned to the Endymion in April 1800. On one occasion he set off in a small boat in a gale with only four other men, and succeeded in boarding and taking possession of the 18-gun Scipio, with 149 men aboard. He kept control of her until the following day when Endymion could complete the capture. After continued good service under Captain Charles Paget, the Admiralty promoted Austen to commander and he took command of the sloop HMS Indian on 10 October 1804.

Austen spent the next five years serving on the North American Station, before his promotion to captain on 10 May 1810 when he was given command of the 74-gun HMS Swiftsure, which was then the flagship of Sir John Borlase Warren. Austen moved again the following September, joining HMS Cleopatra. Between November 1811 and September 1814 Austen served as captain of HMS Namur, based at the Nore and flying the flag of Sir Thomas Williams. He was then given command of the 36-gun frigate HMS Phoenix and after the outbreak of hostilities with France Austen was dispatched in command of a squadron with HMS Undaunted and HMS Garland to hunt a Neapolitan squadron suspected to be at large in the Adriatic. After Naples had surrendered Austen was active in the blockade of Brindisi. Lord Exmouth then sent him on to search of a French squadron, but with the end of the war with France in the intervening period he briefly turned his attention to suppressing piracy in the region. He successfully captured two pirate vessels in the port of Pavos, but disaster struck when the Phoenix was wrecked off Smyrna on 20 February 1816, through the ignorance of her pilots.

Austen was appointed to the 46-gun HMS Aurora on 2 June 1826, and was sent to the Jamaica Station as the second in command. He was active in combating the slave trade and had considerable success, intercepting a number of slave ships. He commanded the Aurora for two and a half years, until she was paid off in December 1828. Sir Edward Griffith Colpoys nominated Austen to become his flag captain aboard HMS Winchester on the North American and West Indies Station. Austen remained here until being forced to be invalided home after a severe accident in December 1830. Austen recovered and returned to service, being appointed to HMS Bellerophon on 14 April 1838. He was awarded a pension on 28 August 1840. He sailed with the Bellerophon to the Mediterranean, and was active at the bombardment of Acre on 3 November 1840. As a result of his good service during the bombardment he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 18 December 1840. Austen and the Bellerophon returned home, where the latter was paid off in June 1841.

Austen was advanced to rear-admiral on 9 November 1846, and was appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies and China Station on 14 January 1850, hoisting his flag the following day. He commanded the British expedition during the Second Anglo-Burmese War but died of cholera at Prome on 7 October 1852, at the age of 73. On 30 April 1852 Austen had been thanked for his services in Burma by the Governor-General of India, The Marquess of Dalhousie, who subsequently also formally recorded his regret for Austen’s death. Austen is buried in Trincomalee.

Austen married Frances Palmer, the youngest daughter of the late Attorney-General of Bermuda, in 1807. The two had three children together. After the death of Frances in 1814, Charles married his late wife’s sister Harriet Palmer in 1820. The couple produced four children, two of them sons, and one of whom followed his father into the navy.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats
16 January 1757 – 5 April 1834


Richard Goodwin Keats

Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats was born at Chalton, Hampshire the son of Rev. Richard Keats, Rector of Bideford and King’s Nympton in Devon and Headmaster of Blundells School, Tiverton, by his wife, Elizabeth. His formal education was brief. At the age of nine, in 1766, he entered New College School and was then admitted briefly to Winchester College in 1768 but lacked scholastic aptitude and determined on a career in the Royal Navy.

Keats entered the navy as a midshipman in 1770 aboard the 74-gun HMS Bellona under Captain John Montagu and followed Montagu when he was promoted rear-admiral, given command of the North American Station and the governorship at Halifax. He served in a number of ships on the Newfoundland station under his patron and his patron’s son Captain James Montagu.

In April 1777 he was promoted to Lieutenant under Captain Robert Digby in HMS Ramillies in which he took part in the First Battle of Ushant on 27 July 1778. As one of Digby’s followers he was moved with him to the second-rate, ninety-gun HMS Prince George. His Royal Highness Prince William Henry, later William IV served aboard the Prince George as a midshipman for almost two years during this time.

In 1780 Keats was in Prince George with Admiral Rodney’s fleet at the Moonlight Battle that culminated in the relief of Gibraltar. Keats was with the fleet once more when it again relieved the beleaguered rock in 1781. In September 1781 Keats returned to the North American station with Digby in HMS Lion.

On 18 January 1782 Keats was put in command of the store ship HMS Rhinoceros which was later fitted out as a floating battery in the defense of New York. By May 1782 he had been transferred to HMS Bonetta sloop in which he was part of the squadron that captured a French squadron including the 38-gun Aigle which was bought into British service. The Bonetta was paid off in 1785 and between that time and 1789 Keats lived in France.

On 24 June 1789 he was promoted to post-captain in HMS Southampton, possibly at the behest of the Duke of Clarence (Prince William Henry) as a royal favour to a friend. Between 1790 and 1793 Keats commanded the HMS Niger frigate on the Channel Station. He commissioned HMS London in 1793 as the newly appointed flag-captain to the Duke of Clarence but was to be disappointed when the Board of Admiralty determined that it would be dangerous for the Prince and recalled him to London.

In 1794 Keats was in Sir John Borlase Warren’s squadron in the Channel in command of the 32-gun frigate HMS Galatea. In her he took part in the running battles along the French, English and Irish coasts that became highly publicized and exemplified the romantic image of naval warfare as it was perceived by the general public. In 1795 Galatea captured La Revolutionnaire.

In the same year the Galatea took part in the failed landing of an invasion force at Quiberon Bay. The invasion force consisted of French Royalist émigré, counter-revolutionary troops in support of the Chouannerie and Vendée Revolt. They were landed by the Royal Navy on 23 June. The aim of the invasion was to raise the whole of western France in revolt, bring an end to the French Revolution and restore the French monarchy. The Landing of the émigrés at Quiberon was finally repulsed on 21 July, dealing a disastrous blow to the royalist cause.

On 23 August 1795 Keats in the Galatea drove the French frigate Andromaque ashore and set her alight to stop the French refloating her.

In May 1797 Galatea was at the Nore anchorage and Keats along with several other captains was put ashore during the fleet mutiny.

Subsequently he commissioned the newly built 40-gun HMS Boadicea. Under Keats she served on the Channel station for several years during which time she captured at least three prizes. The first was the 22-gun Spanish ship Union, which she captured on 14 August 1797. On 9 December 1798 Boadicea captured the 20-gun French privateer L´Invincible General Bonaparte. The Admiralty took this vessel into service as the 18-gun sloop HMS Brazen. On 1 April 1799 Keats also captured L’Utile, a Brig of 16-Guns. During this time Keats was stationed mainly off Brest. He continued there until 1800 when he was reassigned by Earl St. Vincent to Ferrol.

By March 1801 Keats was placed in command of the ship with which he is most associated. HMS Superb was a 74-gun third-rate ship-of-the-line ordered in 1795 and completed in 1798.

In July 1801 she was stationed off Cadiz and took part in the second Battle of Algeciras Bay. During the French and Spanish retreat Admiral Sir James Saumarez hailed the Superb and ordered Keats to catch the allied fleets rear and engage. The Superb was a relatively new ship and had not been long on blockade duty. As a consequence she was the fastest sailing ship-of-the-line in the fleet. As night fell Keats sailed the Superb alongside the 112-gun Real Carlos on her starboard side. Another Spanish ship, the 112-gun San Hermenegildo, was sailing abreast, on the port side, of the Real Carlos. Keats fired into the Real Carlos and some shot passed her and struck the San Hermenegildo. The Real Carlos caught fire and Keats disengaged her to continue up the line. In the darkness the two Spanish ships confused one another for British ships and began a furious duel. With the Real Carlos aflame the captain of the Hermenegildo determined to take advantage and crossed the Real Carlos’ stern in order to deal a fatal broadside that would run the length of the ship through the unprotected stern. A sudden gust of wind brought the two ships together and entangled their rigging. The Hermenegildo also caught fire and the two enormous three-deck ships exploded. The Superb continued on relatively unscathed and engaged the French 74-gun St. Antoine under Commodore Julien le Roy. The St. Antoine struck after a brief exchange of broadsides. The action came to an end with the intervention of Captain Amable Troude aboard the Formidable. Troude placed his ship, which had been damaged in the earlier engagement and could not keep up with the main allied fleet, between the escaping allied fleet and the British. He fought off four ships before escaping into Cadiz.

Both Troude and Keats were highly praised by their commanders and the general public. Troude received an audience with Napoleon. Nelson said of Keats in a letter to the Duke of Clarence: “Our friend Keats is quite well in his own person he is equal in my estimation to an additional Seventy-four; his life is a valuable one to the State, and it is impossible that your Royal Highness could ever have a better choice of a Sea friend, or Counsellor, if you go to the Admiralty.”

After the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 Keats and Superb remained in the Mediterranean under Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton. When Nelson relieved Bickerton and took command of the fleet in the Mediterranean Keats remained with him off Toulon and accompanied the fleet to the West Indies in 1805 in the famous chase of Admiral Villeneuve that culminated in the Battle of Trafalgar. After the fleets return to the European waters Superb was sent to Portsmouth to re-fit. Unfortunately she did not rejoin the fleet off Cadiz until November 1805 missing the Battle of Trafalgar by less than a month.

On 9 November 1805 Keats was made an honorary Colonel of Marines, received the thanks of Parliament and a presentation sword from the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund.

Admiral Duckworth took Superb as his flagship in 1806. Duckworth took the fleet blockading Cadiz and chased Contre-Admiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez to the West Indies. Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues had separated from Willaumez in the Atlantic and made for Santo Domingo to resupply and refit. Duckworth was in the process of resupplying his ships at St. Kitts when he learned of the French squadron anchored in Santo Domingo. Duckworth took his squadron of seven line-of-battle ships and attacked Leissègues’ five ships of the line. The Battle of San Domingo was the last open sea fleet action of the Napoleonic War. During the battle Superb suffered 62 casualties in what became an almost total victory for the Royal Navy. Of the five French line-of-battle ships engaged two were captured and three driven on shore and later destroyed. The British did not lose a single ship.

By 1807 Superb had returned to the Channel and Keats was relieved by Sir Richard Strachan. Keats then took command of HMS Ganges and was promoted commodore with Admiral Gambier’s squadron in the Baltic where between 16 August and 7 September he took part in the Second Battle of Copenhagen. During the battle Keats placed a portrait of Nelson on the mizzen mast. It was later said that the portrait had encouraged and inspired the officers and men aboard.

Keats was promoted rear-admiral on 2 October 1807 and moved into HMS Mars. He led the expedition with Lieutenant General Sir John Moore to the aid of the Swedish at Gothenburg. As a reward for his services he made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

Keats moved his flag to the Superb in early 1808. After convoying the Swedish trade from Gothenburg to England he joined Sir Richard Strachan on his expedition to the Scheldt river. On the Superb’s return to Portsmouth in 1809 she was paid off and Keats was promoted to rear-admiral of the blue squadron.

On 26 December 1809 was given the post of His Majesty’s Commissioner for the Civil Affairs of Malta. In 1810 after a nearly twenty one year’s continuous service took leave ashore.

After only a few months however Keats hoisted his flag in HMS Implacable and took command of naval forces off Cadiz. On 1 August 1811 Keats was promoted vice-admiral and joined Sir Edward Pellew off Toulon.

Keats was forced to haul down his flag in 1812 due to ill health and in recognition of his service on 9 March 1813 he was made Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Newfoundland. During his term as governor the British government agreed for the first time to let Newfoundland settlers lease land for cultivation. Keats granted 110 leases around St. John’s in the first year alone. In 1816 he returned to England and was succeeded as Governor of Newfoundland by Francis Pickmore.

On 7 May 1818 Keats was promoted to the honorary title of Major-General of His Majesty’s Royal Marine Forces. On 12 August 1819 Keats was promoted Admiral of the Blue.

In 1821 he was further honoured by his appointment as governor of Greenwich Hospital and investiture as Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath.

Keats died in Greenwich on 5 April 1834 and his funeral was held at the hospital chapel with the Admiralty Board in attendance. His coffin was borne by six admirals as pall-bearers.

William IV ordered a bust of his friend to be erected in the chapel and it remains there, under the organ loft on the left hand side of the main entrance. The right hand side is occupied by a bust of Sir Thomas Hardy.

In 1816 Keats married Mary, eldest daughter of the late Francis Hurt of Alderwasley in Derbyshire. There were no children from the marriage

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir John Thomas Duckworth 1st Baronet
9 February 1748 – 31 August 1817


John Thomas Duckworth

Sir John Thomas Duckworth 1st Baronet was Born in Leatherhead, Surrey, England, Duckworth was one of five sons of Sarah Johnson and the vicar Henry Duckworth A.M. of Stoke Poges, County of Buckinghamshire. The Duckworths were descended from a landed family, with Henry later being installed as Canon of Windsor. John Duckworth went to Eton College, but began his naval career in 1759 at the suggestion of Edward Boscawen, when he entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman on HMS Namur. Namur later became part of the fleet under Sir Edward Hawke, and Duckworth was present at the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759. On 5 April 1764 he joined the 50-gun HMS Guernsey at Chatham, after leaving HMS Prince of Orange, to serve with Admiral Hugh Palliser, then Governor of Newfoundland. He served aboard HMS Princess Royal, on which he suffered a concussion when he was hit by the head of another sailor, decapitated by a cannonball. He spent some months as an acting lieutenant, and was confirmed in the rank on 14 November 1771. He then spent three years aboard the 74-gun HMS Kent, the Plymouth guardship, under Captain Charles Fielding. Fielding was given command of the frigate HMS Diamond in early 1776, and he took Duckworth with him as his first lieutenant. Duckworth married Anne Wallis in July 1776, with whom he had a son and a daughter.

After some time in North America, where Duckworth became involved in a court-martial after an accident at Rhode Island on 18 January 1777 left several men dead, the Diamond was sent to join Vice-Admiral John Byron’s fleet in the West Indies. Byron transferred him to his own ship, HMS Princess Royal, in March 1779, and Duckworth was present aboard her at the Battle of Grenada on 6 July 1779. Duckworth was promoted to commander ten days after this and given command of the sloop-of-war HMS Rover. After cruising off Martinique for a time, he was promoted to post captain on 16 June 1780 and given command of the 74-gun HMS Terrible. He returned to the Princess Royal as flag-captain to Rear-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley, with whom he went to Jamaica. He was briefly in command of HMS Yarmouth, before moving into HMS Bristol in February 1781, and returned to England with a trade convoy. In the years of peace before the French Revolution he was a captain of the 74-gun HMS Bombay Castle, lying at Plymouth.

Fighting against France, Duckworth distinguished himself both in European waters and in the Caribbean. He was initially in command of the 74-gun HMS Orion from 1793 and served in the Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe. He was in action at the Glorious First of June. Duckworth was one of few commanders specifically mentioned by Howe for their good conduct, and one of eighteen commanders honoured with the Naval Gold Medal, and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. He was appointed to command the 74-gun HMS Leviathan in early 1794, and went out to the West Indies where he served under Rear-Admiral Sir William Parker. He was appointed commodore at Santo Domingo in August 1796. In 1798 Duckworth was in command of a small squadron of four vessels. He sailed for Minorca on 19 October 1798, where he was a joint commander with Sir Charles Stuart, initially landing his 800 troops in the bay of Addaya, and later landing sailors and marines from his ships, which included the frigates HMS Cormorant and HMS Aurora, to support the Army. He was promoted to rear-admiral of the white on 14 February 1799 following Minorca’s capture, and “Minorca” was later inscribed on his coat of arms. In June his squadron of four ships captured Courageux.

In April 1800 was in command of the blockading squadron off Cadiz, and intercepted a large and rich Spanish convoy from Lima off Cadiz, consisting of two frigates (both taken as prizes) and eleven merchant vessels, with his share of the prize money estimated at £75,000. In June 1800 he sailed to take up his post as the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief at Barbados and Leeward Islands, succeeding Lord Hugh Seymour.

Duckworth was nominated a Knight Companion of the most Honourable Military Order of the Bath in 1801 (and installed in 1803), for the capture of the islands of St. Bartholomew, St. Martin, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix and defeat of the Swedish and Danish forces stationed there on 20 March 1801. Lieutenant-General Thomas Trigge commanded the ground troops, which consisted of two brigades under Brigadier-Generals Fuller and Frederick Maitland, of 1,500 and 1,800 troops respectively. These included the 64th Regiment of Foot (Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Pakenham), and the 2nd and 8th West Indies Regiments, two detachments of Royal Artillery, and two companies of sailors, each of about 100 men. The ships involved, in addition to Leviathan, included HMS Andromeda, HMS Unite, HMS Coromandel, HMS Proselyte, HMS Amphitrite, HMS Hornet, the brig HMS Drake, armed brig HMS Fanny, schooner HMS Eclair, and tender HMS Alexandria. Aside from the territory and prisoners taken during the operation, Duckworth’s force took two Swedish merchantmen, a Danish ship (in ballast), three small French vessels, one privateer brig (12-guns), one captured English ship, a merchant-brig, four small schooners, and a sloop.

From 1803 until 1805, Duckworth assumed command as the commander-in-chief of the Jamaica Station, during which time he directed the operations which led to the surrender of General Rochambeau and the French army, following the successful Blockade of Saint-Domingue. Duckworth was promoted to vice-admiral of the blue on 23 April 1804, and he was appointed a Colonel of Marines. He succeeded in capturing numerous enemy vessels and 5,512 French prisoners of war. In recognition of his service, the Legislative Assembly of Jamaica presented Duckworth with a ceremonial sword and a gold scabbard, inscribed with a message of thanks. The merchants of Kingston provided a second gift, an ornamental tea kettle signifying Duckworth’s defence of sugar and tea exports Both sword and kettle were subsequently gifted to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Duckworth remained in Jamaica until 1805, returning to England that April aboard HMS Acasta. On his return to England again, he was called to face court-martial charges brought by Captain James Athol Wood of HMS Acasta, who claimed that Duckworth had transgressed the 18th Article of War; “Taking goods onboard other than for the use of the vessel, except gold & etc.” Duckworth had apparently acquired some goods, and in wishing to transport them home in person reassigned Captain Wood to another vessel on Jamaica station knowing that the vessel was soon to be take under command by another flag officer. Consequently Duckworth was able to take the goods to England as personal luggage, and Wood was forced to sail back as a passenger on his own ship. The court-martial was held on board HMS Gladiator in Portsmouth on 25 April 1805, but the charge was dropped on 7 June 1805.

In 1805 the Admiralty decided that Duckworth should raise his flag aboard HMS Royal George and sail to join Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson off Cadiz. However, the Plymouth Dockyards could not make Royal George ready to sail in time, and Duckworth was directed to raise his flag in HMS Superb, with Captain Richard Keats as his flag-captain. By the time of his arrival on 15 November, the Battle of Trafalgar had been fought. Duckworth was ordered to take command of the West Indies squadron involved in the blockade of Cadiz, with seven sail of the line, consisting of five 74-gun ships, the 80-gun HMS Canopus and the 64-gun HMS Agamemnon, and two frigates.

Although known for a cautious character, he abandoned the blockade and sailed in search of a French squadron under Admiral Zacharie Allemand, which had been reported by a frigate off Madeira on 30 November, on his own initiative. While searching for the French, which eventually eluded him, he came across another French squadron on 25 December, consisting of six sail of the line and a frigate. This was the squadron under Contre-Admiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez, heading for the Cape of Good Hope, and pursued by Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan. Duckworth gave chase, but with his squadron scattered, decided not to risk engaging with his one ship, and gave it up.

Duckworth then set sail for the Leeward Islands to take on water, dispatching the 74-gun HMS Powerful to reinforce the East Indies squadron. There, at Saint Kitts, he was joined on 21 January 1806 by the 74-gun ships HMS Northumberland and HMS Atlas commanded by Sir Alexander Cochrane, and on 1 February a brig Kingfisher commanded by Nathaniel Day Cochrane, which brought news of French at San Domingo. The French had a squadron of five ships: the 120-gun Imperial, two 84-gun and two 74-gun ships and two frigates, under the command of Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues which escaped from Brest and sought to reinforce the French forces at San Domingo with about 1,000 troops. Arriving at San Domingo on 6 February 1806, Duckworth found the French squadron with its transports anchored in the Occa bay. The French commander immediately hurried to sea, forming a line of battle as they went. Duckworth gave the signal to form two columns of four and three ships of the line.

In the Battle of San Domingo, Duckworth’s squadron defeated the squadron of French when
Duckworth at once made the signal to attack and “with a portrait of Nelson suspended from the mizzen stay of the Superb with the band playing ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Nelson of the Nile’, bore down on the leading French ship Alexandre of 84 guns and engaged her at close quarters. After a severe action of two hours, two of the French ships were driven ashore and burnt with three others captured. Only the French frigates escaped.

Despite this, it is thought that Duckworth used his own ship cautiously, and the credit for the victory was due more to the initiative of the individual British captains. Duckworth nearly grounded his own ship as he attempted to board Impérial.

His victory over the French Admiral Leissègues off the coast of Hispaniola on 6 February together with Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s squadron was a fatal blow to French strategy in the Caribbean region, and played a major part in Napoleon’s eventual sale of Louisiana, and withdrawal from the Caribbean. It was judged sufficiently important to have the Tower of London guns fire a salute. San Domingo was added to Duckworth’s coat of arms as words; a British sailor was added to the supporters of the Arms in 1814.
A promotion to vice-admiral of the white in April 1806 followed, along with the presentation of a sword of honour by the House of Assembly of Jamaica, while his naval feats were acknowledged with several honours, including a sword of honour by the corporation of the City of London. A great dinner was also held in his honour as the Mansion House. On his return to England, Duckworth was granted a substantial pension of £1,000 from the House of Commons, and the freedom of the city of London.

Santo Domingo was the last significant fleet action of the Napoleonic Wars which, despite negative claims made about his personality, displayed Duckworth’s understanding of the role of naval strategy in the overall war by securing for Britain mastery of the sea, and thus having sea-oriented mentality having placed a British fleet in the right strategic position. Duckworth also displayed the willingness of accept changing tactics employed by Nelson, and maintained the superiority of British naval gunnery in battle.

Duckworth was appointed second in command of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1805 primarily on consideration by the Admiralty of having a senior officer in the forthcoming operations with the Imperial Russian Navy. Sailing in the 100-gun first-rate HMS Royal George with eight ships of the line and four smaller vessels, he arrived at the island of Tenedos with orders to take possession of the Ottoman fleet at Constantinople, thus supporting Dmitry Senyavin’s fleet in the Dardanelles Operation. Accompanying him were some of the ablest Royal Navy officers such as Sidney Smith, Richard Dacres and Henry Blackwood but he was in doubt of having the capability to breach the shore batteries and reach the anchored Ottoman fleet. Aware of Turkish efforts to reinforce the shore artillery, he nevertheless took no action until 11 February 1807 and spent some time in the strait waiting for a favourable wind. In the evening of the same day Blackwood’s ship, HMS Ajax accidentally caught fire while at anchor off Tenedos, and was destroyed, although her captain and most of the crew were saved and redistributed among the fleet. Finally on 19 February at the Action at Point Pisquies (Nagara Burun), a part of the British force encountered the Ottoman fleet which engaged first. One 64-gun ship of the line, four 36-gun frigates, five 12-gun corvettes, one 8-gun brig, and a gunboat were forced ashore and burnt by the part of the British fleet.

The British fleet consisted of HMS Standard, under Captain Thomas Harvey, HMS Thunderer, under Captain John Talbot, HMS Pompee, under flag captain Richard Dacres, and HMS Repulse, under Captain Arthur Kaye Legge, as well as the frigate HMS Active, under Captain Richard Hussey Mowbray, under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, commanding the rear division. They took one corvette and one gunboat, and the flags of the Turkish Vice-Admiral and Captain Pasha in the process, with adjacent fortifications destroyed by landing parties from HMS Thunderer, HMS Pompée, and HMS Repulse, while its 31 guns were spiked by the marines. The marines were commanded by Captain Nicholls of HMS Standard who had also boarded the Turkish ship of the line. There were eight 32 lb and 24 lb brass guns and the rest firing marble shot weighing upwards of 200 pounds. On 20 February the British squadron under Duckworth, having joined Smith with the second division of ships under command of Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Louis, reached the Ottoman capital, but had to engage in fruitless negotiations with the Sultan’s representatives, advised by Napoleon’s ambassador Sébastiani, and with the accompanying British ambassador Charles Arbuthnot and Russian plenipotentiary Andrey Italinski, the latter being carried aboard on HMS Endymion, under the command of Captain Thomas Bladen Capel, due to the secret instructions that were issued as part of his orders for the mission, and therefore losing more time as the Turks played for time to complete their shore batteries in the hope of trapping the British squadron.

Smith was joined a week later by Duckworth, who observed the four bays of the Dardanelles lined with five hundred cannon and one hundred mortars as his ships passed towards Constantinople. There he found the rest of the Turkish fleet of twelve ships of the line and nine frigates, all apparently ready for action in Constantinople harbour. Exasperated by Turkish intransigence, and not having a significant force to land on the shore, Duckworth decided to withdraw on 1 March after declining to take Smith’s advice to bombard the Turkish Arsenal and gunpowder manufacturing works. The British fleet was subjected to shore artillery fire all the way to the open sea, and sustaining casualties and damage to ships from 26-inch calibre (650 mm) guns firing 300-800 pound marble shot.

Though blamed for indecisiveness, notably by Thomas Grenville, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Duckworth announced that

I must, as an officer, declare to be my decided opinion that, without the cooperation of a body of land forces, it would be a wanton sacrifice of the squadrons to attempt to force the passage

After his departure from Constantinople, he commanded the squadron protecting transports of the Alexandria expedition of 1807, but that was forced to withdraw after five months due to lack of supplies. Duckworth summed up this expedition, in reflection on the service of the year by commenting that

Instead of acting vigorously in either one or the other direction, our cabinet comes to the miserable determination of sending five or six men-of-war, without soldiers, to the Dardanelles, and 5000 soldiers, without a fleet, to Alexandria.

Soon after, he married again, on 14 May 1808 to Susannah Catherine Buller, a daughter of William Buller, the Bishop of Exeter. They had two sons together before his death, she survived him, dying on 27 April 1840.

Duckworth’s career however did not suffer greatly, and in 1808 and 1810 he went on to sail in HMS San Josef and HMS Hibernia, some of the largest first-rates in the Royal Navy, as commander of the Channel Fleet, One of the least pleasant duties in his life was his participation in the court-martial of Admiral Lord Gambier, after the Battle of the Basque Roads.

Probably because he was thought of as irresolute and unimaginative, on 26 March 1810 Duckworth was appointed Governor of Newfoundland and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian squadron’s three frigates and eight smaller vessels. Although this was a minor command in a remote station spanning from Davis Strait to the Gulf of St Lawrence, he also received a promotion to admiral of the blue, flying his flag aboard the 50-gun HMS Antelope.

While serving as Governor he was attacked for his arbitrary powers over the territory, and retaliated against the pamphleteer by disallowing his reappointment as surgeon of the local militia unit, the Loyal Volunteers of St John, which Duckworth renamed the St John’s Volunteer Rangers, and enlarged to 500 officers and militiamen for the War of 1812 with the United States.

Duckworth also took an interest in bettering relationship with the local Beothuk Indians, and sponsored Lieutenant David Buchan’s expedition up the Exploits River in 1810 to explore the region of the Beothuk settlements.

As the governor and station naval commander, Duckworth had to contend with American concerns over the issues of “Free Trade and Sailor’s Rights.” His orders and instructions to captains under his command were therefore directly concerned with fishing rights of US vessels on the Grand Banks, the prohibition of United States trade with British colonials, the searching of ships under US flag for contraband, and the impressment of seamen for service on British vessels. He returned to Portsmouth on 28 November in HMS Antelope after escorting transports from Newfoundland.

On 2 December 1812, soon after arriving in Devon, Duckworth resigned as governor after being offered a parliamentary seat for New Romney on the coast of Kent. At about this time he found out that his oldest son George Henry had been killed in action while serving in the rank of a Colonel with the Duke of Wellington, during the Peninsular War. George Henry had been killed at the Battle of Albuera at the head of the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot. Sir John was created a baronet on 2 November 1813, adopting a motto Disciplina, fide, perseverantia (Discipline, fidelity, perseverance), and in January 1815 was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth 45 miles from his home; a post considered one of semi-retirement by his successor, Lord Exmouth. However, on 26 June that year it became a centre of attention due to the visit by HMS Bellerophon bearing Napoleon to his final exile, with Duckworth being the last senior British officer to speak with him before his departure on board HMS Northumberland.

Duckworth died at his post on the base in 1817 at 1 o’clock, after several months of illness; after a long and distinguished service with the Royal Navy. He was buried on 9 September at the church in Topsham, where he was laid to rest in the family vault, with his coffin covered with crimson velvet studded with 2,500 silvered nails to resemble a ship’s planking.

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