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Posts Tagged ‘Horatio Nelson’

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.

William Marsden (Orientalist)
16 November 1754 – 6 October 1836

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William Marsden

William Marsden was the son of a Dublin merchant. He was born in Verval, County Wicklow, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Upon obtaining a civil service appointment with the East India Company at sixteen years of age, he was sent to Benkulen, Sumatra, in 1771. He was promoted to the position of principal secretary to the government, and acquired a knowledge of the Malay language and the country. After returning to England in 1779, he was awarded the Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by Oxford University in 1780 and published his History of Sumatra in (1783).

Marsden was elected to membership in the Royal Society in 1783. He had been recommended by James Rennell, Edward Whitaker Gray, John Topham, Alexander Dalrymple, and Charles Blagden.

In 1795, Marsden was appointed second secretary to the admiralty, later rising to the position of first secretary with a salary of £4,000 per annum. It was in this capacity in 1805 that he received the news of victory in the Battle of Trafalgar and of the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson in the battle. He retired in 1807 with a lifetime pension of £1,500 per annum which he subsequently relinquished in 1831. In 1812, he published Grammar and Dictionary of the Malay Language. This was followed by a translation of the Travels of Marco Polo in 1818.

Marsden was a member of many learned societies, and treasurer and vice-president of the Royal Society. In 1834 he presented his collection of oriental coins to the British Museum and his library of books and Oriental manuscripts to King’s College London. His other works are Catalogue of Dictionaries, Vocabularies, Grammars and Alphabets (1796), Numismata orientalia (London, 1823–1825), and several papers on Eastern topics in the Philosophical Transactions and the Archaeologia.

He married Elizabeth, the daughter of his friend Sir Charles Wilkins FRS, but there was no issue to this marriage. He died on 6 October 1836 from an apoplexy attack and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. He left his estate to his kinsman Rev. Canon John Howard Marsden. Elizabeth subsequently married Colonel William Leake FRS on 17 September 1838.

  • 1784 — The history of Sumatra: containing an account of the government, laws, customs and manners of the native inhabitants, with a description of the natural productions, and a relation of the ancient political state of that island. London: Printed for the author.
  • 1802 — “Observations on the language of Siwah; in a letter to the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks; by William Marsden, Esq., F.R.S.” in The Journal of Frederick Horneman’s Travels: From Cairo to Mourzouk, the Capital of the Kingdom of Fezzan, in Africa, by Friedrich Hornemann, James Rennell, William Marsden and William Young. London: G. and W. Nicol.
  • 1796 — Catalogue of Dictionaries, Vocabularies, Grammars and Alphabets
  • 1812 — Grammar and Dictionary of the Malay Language single edition, Dutch & French translation of the Grammar (C. P. J. Elout based on Marsden), Dutch-Malay & French-Malay Dictionary (C. P. J. Elout based on Marsden)
  • 1818 — Travels of Marco Polo
  • 1823 — Numismata orientalia
  • 1830 — Memoirs of a Malayan Family by ‘La-uddı̄n Nakhoda Muda (translated by William Marsden). London: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.

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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.

Josceline Percy (Royal Navy Officer)
29 January 1784 – 19 October 1856

Josceline Percy was the fourth son of Algernon Percy, second Baron Lovaine of Alnwick and his wife Isabella Susannah Burrell.

Through his father he was the grandson of Hugh Percy, first duke of Northumberland, and through his mother the grandson of Peter Burrell of Beckenham, Kent. His maternal uncle was Peter, first Baron Gwydyr, and Henry Percy and William Henry Percy were his younger brothers.

Born with a twin brother Hugh, Percy’s first naval service began in February 1797, on Lord Hugh Seymour’s flagship HMS Sans Pareil. Next he served on HMS Amphion from 1801 to 1803 in the Mediterranean and – whilst in that theatre of war – transferred (with Nelson and Hardy) into HMS Victory. From there he was made HMS Medusa’s acting lieutenant (under Captain John Gore, who was later knighted) in August 1803, and his assistance in her capture of Spanish treasure ships on 5 October 1804 led to that commission being confirmed the following 30 April.

He moved to HMS Diadem sometime before 1806, for he was in that ship that year with Sir Home Riggs Popham during Cape Town’s capture and was promoted from it to his first independent command came on 13 January 1806, over the brig HMS Espoir. To reach that ship he was posted to the Dutch ship Bato, then thought to be in Simon’s Bay, but – finding the Bato destroyed and that the Espoir had already sailed back to England – he had no choice but to return to the Diadem. The French 46-gun frigate Volontaire arrived in Table Bay on 4 March (not knowing the British had captured the Cape), and was seized, commissioned into the Royal Navy, and put under Percy’s command, with orders to reach St Helena and head a convoy then returning to England. He also received confirmation of his two promotions of 1806, which were given the dates of 22 January and 25 September 1806 respectively. On arrival in England, he became the Tory Member of Parliament for Beer Alston, Devon (a ‘pocket borough’ of his father’s), a role he held until 1820.

He assisted at the occupation of Madeira by Sir Samuel Hood in 1807 (commanding the 22 gun HMS Comus). To meet the terms of the convention of Cintra, requiring all defeated French forces to be returned to France, he transported the French general Junot from Portugal to La Rochelle in 1808, during his captaincy of the 36 gun HMS Nymphe. He commanded the frigate HMS Hotspur along the coast of France (and later at Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires) from November 1810 to the end of 1815, when he sailed back to England.

Made a Companion of the Bath on 26 September 1831, on 23 November 1841 he was promoted to rear-admiral, acting as the Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope (November 1841-spring 1846) and Commander-in-Chief, Sheerness (June 1851-June 1854), having been promoted to vice admiral on 29 April 1851. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, The Nore in 1851.

On 9 December 1820, he married Sophia Elizabeth Walhouse (died 13 December 1875), daughter of Moreton Walhouse of Hatherton, Staffordshire, and sister of Lord Hatherton. One son and three daughters were born of the marriage. The only son Alan (1825–1845) died young; of the daughters

  • Sophia Louisa Percy (24 December 1821 Hatherton – 7 November 1908), author of Links with the Past married 7 July 1846 Col. Charles Bagot.
  • Emily Percy (12 September 1826 – 17 December 1919) married 17 July 1852, Gen. Sir Charles Lawrence d’Aguilar, G.C.B.
  • Charlotte Alice Percy (17 July 1831 – 26 May 1916) who in 1858 married her first cousin Edward Percy Thompson.

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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.

Rear Admiral Francis Augustus Collier
7 August 1783 – 28 October 1849

Francis Augustus Collier was born in approximately 1783, the son of Admiral Sir George Collier and his wife Elizabeth Fryer. In 1794 he entered the Royal Navy aged 11 and served with the Channel Fleet for several years before being transferred to the Mediterranean to served aboard Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship HMS Vanguard. In 1798, Vanguard and Collier were engaged at the Battle of the Nile, and he subsequently moved with Nelson to HMS Foudroyant, serving aboard until 1802 and the Peace of Amiens.

In 1803 he was promoted to Lieutenant and in 1805 to Commander.

On 12 December 1808, Commander Collier was captain of Circe was in charge of a squadron that included Stork, Epervier and Express. The vessels joined together to attack the French 16-gun brig Cygne and two schooners off Saint-Pierre, Martinique. Circe sent in her boats, which the French repelled, causing 56 casualties, dead, wounded and missing.

That evening Amaranthe, under the command of Captain Edward Pelham Brenton, joined Circe and Stork. The next day fire from Amaranthe compelled the crew of Cygne to abandon her and Amaranthe’s boats boarded and destroyed the French vessel. For her part Amaranthe lost one man killed and five wounded due to fire from batteries on the shore. One schooner was run ashore and destroyed.

Amaranthe’s boats, assisted by boats from the schooner Express, boarded the second schooner and set fire to her too. This expedition cost Amaranthe her sailing master, Joshua Jones, who was severely wounded. The other British vessels that contributed boats also had casualties. Including the losses in the earlier fighting before Amaranthe arrived, the British had lost some 12 men killed, 31 wounded, and 26 missing (drowned or prisoners) for little gain. Brenton was promoted to Post-captain soon after the battle, with the promotion being back dated to 13 December, the date of the battle. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the award of the Naval General Service Medal with the clasp “OFF THE PEARL ROCK 13 DECR. 1808”.

For his part in this action, Collier received a promotion to post captain, with the confirmation back-dating the promotion to 13 December 1808. As a result, he was still a commander in 1809 when as captain of Starr he participated in the invasion of Martinique. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the award of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp “Martinique” to all surviving claimants from the campaign.

Collier served as captain of Cyane from September 1810 until May 1812. In early 1812, a seaman named Oakey struck Collier, was charged, found guilty and sentenced to death. His plea for a stay of execution was denied, and every ship in port sent a boat of seamen to witness the hanging. Oakey came on deck with his arms tied behind him, attended by the Chaplain, and the sentence of the Court Martial was read. Then Captain Hall produced a letter from the Prince Regent that, at Collier’s request, commuted Oakey’s sentence to transportation. The reprieve surprised Oakey, who fell on his knees and wept.

At the end of the war in 1815 Collier was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services, mainly in the West Indies.

In 1818, Collier took command of the fourth rate Liverpool and joined the squadron on the East Indies Station. The following year he was given command of a joint Navy and East India Company squadron including the 20-gun post-ship Eden, the 18-gun brig-sloop Curlew, several East India Company cruisers, and a number of gun and mortar boats. Several vessels belonging to the Sultan of Muscat joined them, while Major General Sir William Keir commanded 3,000 troops in transports.

The squadron’s task was to destroy the pirate bases in the Persian Gulf and simultaneously eliminate the Company’s competition in the region. The operation lasted from 4 to 8 December and was a resounding success for the Royal Navy. The capture and destruction of the fortifications and ships in the pirate capital of Ras al-Khaimah was a massive blow to the local pirates. The Royal Navy suffered no casualties during the action.

In 1820 the pirate states signed a treaty that effectively eliminated them as a threat to British shipping. In 1822 Collier returned to Britain, and between 1826 and 1830 he was the commodore in command of the West African Station. He raised his pennant in Sybille; during the time she was engaged in anti-slavery duties off West Africa, Sybille captured numerous slavers and freed some 3,500 slaves.

For his varied service he was knighted and admitted to the Persian Order of the Lion and the Sun for his service in the Persian Gulf. In 1833 he was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Guelphic Order and in 1841 became the commandant of Woolwich Dockyard, moving in 1846 to command a squadron in the Channel Fleet as a rear-admiral. In April 1848 he was made commander on the East Indies and China Station and took up his position at Hong Kong later in the year.

He died in October 1849 at Hong Kong, and is buried at Hong Kong Cemetery. He was survived by his second wife, Catherine Thistlethwaite, whom he had married in 1831, and their child, Selina Catherine Collier, although few details are known of his family life. He was, however, a well-known figure on the racecourse in the 1830s and early 1840s and won the 1836 Ascot Derby with Lieutenant.

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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

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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.

George Edmund Byron Bettesworth
1785 – 16 May 1808

Captain George Edmund Byron Bettesworth was famous for being wounded 24 times. At an early age he went to sea as midshipman under Captain Robert Barlow, who commanded the frigate HMS Phoebe. While with Phoebe Bettesworth participated in two notable single ship actions. On 21 December 1797 Phoebe captured the French 36-gun frigate Nérëide. Then on 19 February 1801, she captured the 38-gun Africaine, which was crowded with the 400 soldiers she was carrying to Egypt. In the battle, Phoebe had one man killed and 14 wounded. The French had some 200 men killed, and 143 wounded, many of them critically. The high casualty count was due to the soldiers remaining on deck as a point of honor, even though they could not contribute to the battle.

Bettesworth remained with Phoebe until January 1804 when was he was promoted to lieutenant on HMS Centaur. On 4 February 1804 he took part in a cutting out expedition that captured the 16-gun French privateer Curieux at Fort Royal harbour, Martinique. Bettesworth received a slight wound in this engagement. The Royal Navy took Curieux into service as the sloop-of-war HMS Curieux. After her first commander, Robert Carhew Reynolds, died of the wounds he had received during her capture, Bettesworth then became her commander.

While captain of the Curieux, Bettesworth one day took her jolly boat in shore, together with the purser, who played his violin. A local black came out of the undergrowth on shore and held up a pair of fowl, indicating that he sought to sell them. Bettesworth took the bait and had his men row to the shore. The moment the boat touched the beach, a squadron of cavalry burst from the undergrowth. Their gunfire wounded Bettesworth in the thigh, causing substantial loss of blood, and broke the coxswain’s arm. At Bettesworth’s urging, the crew of his boat got it off the beach and rowed back to Curieux. On the way back Bettesworth wanted to open a bottle of champagne, but the purser broke it in his nervousness.

On 8 February 1805, Curieux chased the French 16-gun privateer Dame Ernouf for twelve hours before being able to bring her to action. After forty minutes of hard fighting the Frenchman, which had a larger crew than Curieux, maneuvered to attempt a boarding. Bettesworth turned with the result that the French vessel got stuck in a position where Curieux could rake her deck. Unable to fight back, the Dame Ernouff struck. Curieux suffered five killed and four wounded, including Bettesworth, whom a musket ball had hit in the head. The Frenchman had 30 killed and 40 wounded. The French recaptured Dame Ernouf shortly thereafter, but the British then recaptured her again too.

That same year (1805) he brought home from Antigua despatches from Admiral Nelson, apprising the government of Admiral Villeneuve’s homeward flight from the West Indies. On the way Bettesworth spotted the French fleet and alerted the Admiralty. His information led to Rear Admiral Robert Calder’s interception of the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Finisterre. For his services, Lord Barham promoted Bettesworth to Post-Captain.

In July 1806, he became captain of the 22-gun Banterer class Post-ship HMS Crocodile, on the Guernsey station, and later Halifax, Nova Scotia. While with Crocodile, Bettesworth was involved in an unsuccessful claim for salvage rights to the American vessel Walker. A French privateer had captured Walker, but her crew has subsequently recaptured their ship when Crocodile came on the scene and escorted her to Halifax. For this service, Crocodile claimed salvage rights. The court did not agree.

In October 1807, Bettesworth took command of the 32-gun frigate HMS Tartar. That month his cousin, the poet Lord Byron, wrote:

“Next January … I am going to sea for four or five months with my cousin, Captain Bettesworth, who commands the Tartar, the finest frigate in the navy … We are going probably to the Mediterranean or to the West Indies, or to the devil; and if there is a possibility of taking me to the latter, Bettesworth will do it, for he has received four-and-twenty wounds in different places, and at this moment possesses a letter from the late Lord Nelson stating that Bettesworth is the only officer in the navy who had more wounds than himself.”

The promised voyage never took place and on 16 May 1808 Bettesworth died in the Battle of Alvøen . Tartar was watching some vessels outside Bergen and decided to cut some of them off from the protecting gunboats. However, Tartar became becalmed amid the rocks, which enabled the schooner Odin and five gunboats to attack. Their first shots killed Bettesworth, and in all Tartar lost two dead and seven wounded before she could escape. Tartar did manage to sink one gunboat.

Bettesworth had married Lady Hannah Althea Grey, the second daughter of General Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey and Elizabeth Grey, on 24 August 1807, while he was captain on Crocodile. After Bettesworth’s death, she married Edward Ellice, a merchant, on 30 October 1809. She died on 28 July 1832.

Betteworth’s body was buried at Howick, Northumberland, in the vault of the Grey family, on 27 May 1808. Major Trevanion, “a brother of Captain Bettesworth” and probably his natural brother as he was born John Bettesworth, was chief mourner. (Byron’s grandmother was a Miss Trevanion; John Bettesworth’s paternal grandmother was a Trevanion, through whom he inherited the Caerhays estate.)

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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 the Honorable Sir John Talbot
1769 – 7 July 1851

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John Talbot

Admiral the Honorable Sir John Talbot was born in approximately 1769, the son of Richard and Margaret Talbot, of Malahide near Dublin. His mother would become Baroness Talbot de Malahide in 1831, the title passing to his elder brothers Richard and subsequently James. A younger brother was Thomas Talbot, a Canadian politician of the early nineteenth century.

Talbot entered the Navy in 1784, joining Horatio Nelson’s ship HMS Boreas in the West Indies. In the following years he moved to HMS Barfleur and HMS Victory at Portsmouth and he was promoted lieutenant in 1790 while aboard HMS Triton. At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, Talbot was attached to HMS Windsor Castle under Samuel Hood in the Mediterranean. In the next two years, he moved between HMS Alcide and HMS Astraea and aboard the latter he was involved in the capture of the frigate Gloire in April 1796. Talbot sailed the captured Gloire to Britain, where he was promoted to commander and took over the sloop HMS Helena.

In August Talbot was promoted to post captain in the sixth rate HMS Eurydice in which he remained for four years in the West Indies and English Channel. During this period he captured numerous enemy merchant ships. Eurydice was present at the Saint Marcou Islands for the Battle of the Îles Saint-Marcouf in 1798, although the lack of wind prevented her from engaging the French attackers. In 1801 Talbot transferred to HMS Glenmore in Ireland.

At the resumption of the conflict following the Peace of Amiens in 1804, Talbot took over HMS Leander on the Halifax Station. In February 1805 Leander discovered the French frigate Ville de Milan and the British HMS Cleopatra, which the French ship had captured the day before. Both ships were badly damaged and as a result Leander was able to outrun them and capture them without a fight. For this success, Talbot was moved to the ship of the line HMS Centaur and then HMS Thunderer in which he participated in the Dardanelles Operation under John Thomas Duckworth.

In 1809, Talbot took command of HMS Victorious, in which he would remain for the rest of his career. In February 1812, Victorious was dispatched to the Adriatic Sea, to intercept the French ship of the line Rivoli recently constructed at Venice. Talbot discovered the French ship with a small escort on her maiden voyage on 22 February and immediately engaged. The ensuing five hour duel caused heavy casualties on both ships, including Talbot who was badly wounded in the head by a large splinter. When Rivoli surrendered, she was found to have 400 of her crew, approximately half, killed or wounded. Both battered ships were returned to Britain, where they were repaired and Rivoli rejoined the Royal Navy.

Talbot, recovered from his wound, was presented with a gold medal and in November 1812 took the repaired Victorious to the West Indies and then to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States during the opening months of the War of 1812. For the next two years Talbot cruised off New London, Connecticut, blockading the port and preventing its use by American shipping. In the summer of 1814, Victorious was sent north to defend the whalers of the Davis Strait in the Arctic from American privateers. During this service, Victorious was badly holed by a rock and was forced to return to Britain. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Victorious was paid off.

Talbot never again took an active post in the Navy either at sea or on shore. He retired to his estate at Rhode Hill near Lyme Regis in Dorset and married Maria Julia Everard, daughter of Lord Arundell, with whom he would have two sons and five daughters. In 1815 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and in 1819 was promoted to rear-admiral. For the next thirty years, Talbot lived as a country gentleman, steadily advancing in rank until at his death in 1851 he was a full admiral and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.

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