Posts Tagged ‘John Jervis-1st Earl of St. Vincent’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Rear-Admiral John Maitland
1771 – 20 October 1836


John Maitland

Rear-Admiral John Maitland was born in Scotland in 1771, the third son of Colonel the Honourable Richard Maitland, who was himself the fourth son of Charles Maitland, 6th Earl of Lauderdale. His mother was Mary Maitland, née McAdam, of New York City. John Maitland was born into a substantial naval dynasty. His uncle was Frederick Lewis Maitland, who was a captain in the navy, and his first cousin was Frederick Lewis Maitland, who reached the rank of rear-admiral. John Maitland also entered the navy, and by 1793 was a midshipman aboard John Jervis’s flagship HMS Boyne. Maitland was involved in the attacks on the French colonies of Guadeloupe and Martinique, often serving on shore with landing parties. In the assault on Fort Fleur d’Épée he was the first person over the walls, and came to the rescue of Captain Robert Faulknor when Faulknor was attacked by two Frenchmen. Maitland ran one through with a pike and went on to kill another seven or eight of the garrison. During the attack on Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Maitland took over command of the landing parties as an acting-lieutenant when all of the more senior officers had been killed or incapacitated by wounds or exhaustion.

He received his commission as a lieutenant on 20 July 1794, and returned to serve in home waters, initially aboard the 32-gun frigate HMS Winchelsea, under Lord Garlies. Maitland then followed Garlies into the 32-gun frigate HMS Lively, soon becoming her acting commander and sailing her to join Jervis’s Mediterranean Fleet. He continued to serve with considerable gallantry, capturing the French frigate Touterelle in 1795. An impressed Jervis promoted him to commander on 23 December 1796, appointing him to the sloop HMS Transfer. Maitland was moved to HMS Kingfisher in April 1797, and took her to cruise off Portugal. On 1 August though he was almost the victim of a mutiny. Taking a direct approach he gathered his officers and marines and attacked the mutineers with swords and cutlasses, killing and wounding several. This decisive action quashed the mutiny, and met with Jervis’s approval. He described Maitland’s actions as ‘Doctor Maitland’s recipe’, and advised that it should be adopted in future instances of attempted mutiny. A further promotion for Maitland followed, he was made post-captain on 11 August 1797 and was given command of HMS San Nicolas, one of the prizes captured by Nelson at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.

Maitland sailed the San Nicolas to Britain, where she was paid off at Plymouth on her arrival, and Maitland went ashore. He married Elizabeth Ogilvy on 22 April 1799, and by 1800 had returned to active service aboard the 36-gun HMS Glenmore in the English Channel. He moved to the 38-gun HMS Boadicea in 1803, and on 24 July 1803 he spotted the French 74-gun third-rate Duguay-Trouin and the 38-gun frigate Guerrière sailing off Ferrol, Spain. Maitland decided to test whether the French ships were armed en flûte and were being used as troopships, and closing to within range, opened fire. The French returned fire, revealing they were fully armed and manned, and Maitland broke off. The French pursued, but were unable to catch him. Maitland continued on in the Channel, but while sailing off Brest the Boadicea struck the Bas de Lis rock and was badly holed. She returned to Portsmouth and was back on station eight days later, having spent just three days in dock. He went on to have a successful cruise, capturing the 12-gun French Vanteur, and several merchants. Maitland and the Boadicea spent 1804 enforcing the blockade of Rochefort, followed by a period in the North Sea and off the Irish coast.

On 2 November he came across a squadron of four French ships of the line under Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, that had escaped from the Battle of Trafalgar two weeks previously. Maitland fired rockets to attract a nearby British squadron under Captain Sir Richard Strachan, but subsequently lost the French in fog. Strachan was able to make contact with the French thanks to Maitland, and after engaging them in the battle of Battle of Cape Ortegal, captured all of the French ships. A few days later Maitland spotted and gave chase to a French frigate, eventually breaking off after two days pursuit due to the nearness of the coast. He later learnt that the French frigate had run onto the island of Groix. In the autumn of 1806 Boadicea was employed protecting the whale fishery in the Davis Strait. He escorted a convoy to Britain from Oporto, and followed this with service on the Irish station in 1807, blockading Le Havre. During this time the 14-gun French privateer General Concleux was captured, and Maitland left the Boadicea in 1808. He was appointed to the 98-gun HMS Barfleur in late 1813, spending the rest of the war aboard her in the Mediterranean.

Maitland married for the second time at Bath on 8 January 1820, this time to Dora Bateman. He was promoted to rear-admiral on 19 July 1821 and died at Montagu Square, London on 20 October 1836 at the age of 65.

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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 Charles Henry Knowles
24 August 1754 – 28 November 1831


Charles Henry Knowles

Sir Charles Henry Knowles was born at Kingston, Jamaica on 24 August 1754, the second son of the Governor of Jamaica Admiral Sir Charles Knowles and his wife Maria Magdalena Theresa de Bouget. He received his initial education at Eton College circa 1764–6, and then subsequently at Glasgow and Edinburgh. He joined in navy in 1768 as a midshipman aboard the 36-gun frigate HMS Venus, which was then serving in the English Channel under the command of Captain Samuel Barrington. He was then aboard the Spithead guard ship the 74-gun HMS Lenox under Captain Robert Roddam, before joining the 32-gun HMS Southampton under Captain John MacBride, where he served at Plymouth and in the Channel.

Knowles was appointed as acting-lieutenant without pay aboard the sloop HMS Diligence by Sir George Brydges Rodney in 1773, and Knowles went on to serve in this capacity aboard HMS Princess Amelia, HMS Portland and HMS Guadeloupe under Captain William Cornwallis at Pensacola and from Jamaica. He then moved aboard Captain Collins’s 20-gun HMS Seaford where he served off Cap Francois and Santo Domingo. His next appointment was aboard Rear-Admiral Clark Gayton’s flagship, the 50-gun HMS Antelope at Port Royal from 1774 to May 1776, from which he moved aboard the 20-gun HMS Squirrel under Captain Stair Douglas. Under Douglas Knowles served at Jamaica, the Mosquito Shore and the Bay of Honduras.

Knowles’s commission was confirmed on 28 May 1776 and he was appointed as second lieutenant of the 28-gun HMS Boreas, then under the command of Captain Charles Thompson. He served aboard the Boreas at Port Royal, and later on the North American Station at New York after the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was promoted to first lieutenant and in 1776 moved aboard the 50-gun HMS Chatham, which was at that time the flagship of Vice-Admiral Molyneux Shuldham. He went on to see service on the flat boats at New York and Rhode Island.

Knowles returned to Britain aboard HMS Asia in January 1777 to see his father, who was in declining health. Whilst at home he took the opportunity to prepare his first signal book, A Set of Signals for a Fleet on a Plan Entirely New, for publication, before returning to the Americas in summer 1777. The book, published that year, proposed innovative new ways of flying numbered signals, and the development of tactics whereby the traditional line of battle would be abandoned once the battle began. Knowles claimed to have communicated the work to Lord Howe, and that Howe’s tactics at the Glorious First of June reflected Knowles’s theories on effective naval tactics. The death of his father on 9 December that year and his succession as the second baronet caused Knowles to return to England again.

He returned to active service again during the summer of 1778, and was present with Barrington’s fleet at the Battle of St. Lucia on 15 December 1778, serving aboard Commander James Richard Dacres’s 18-gun HMS Ceres. Two days later the Ceres was chased and captured by a squadron under the comte d’Estaing. He was exchanged and appointed to serve as lieutenant aboard Vice-Admiral Barrington’s flagship, the 74-gun HMS Prince of Wales. In May 1779 he was briefly ordered to be master and commander of the storeship HMS Supply, but had returned to the Prince of Wales by 6 July, when he took part and was wounded in the Battle of Grenada. Knowles returned to England with Barrington in October 1779, and by December had joined Admiral Sir George Rodney’s flagship, the 90-gun HMS Sandwich, as a volunteer for the Relief of Gibraltar.

Rodney appointed him to command the 18-gun xebec HMS Minorca on 26 January 1780, quickly following this with a promotion to post-captain and an appointment to the 24-gun HMS Porcupine on 2 February. Knowles went on to serve in a highly active role in the defence of British trade in the Mediterranean, engaging privateers and escorting convoys. At one point he was briefly blockaded in Minorca, where he fell ill. He was eventually able to escape to sea in January 1781, and was based out of Gibraltar until his return to England in April 1782. On his arrival he was accused of piracy and murder, but was able to clear his name, returning to Gibraltar aboard HMS Britannia to resume command of the Porcupine. He became senior naval officer there on the departure of Sir Roger Curtis, until returning to England once more in command of the 74-gun Spanish prize HMS San Miguel.

The end of the war allowed Knowles to continue with his studies, and he made a tour of France in 1788. The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 led to Knowles returning to active service in command of the 32-gun frigate HMS Daedalus. He was ordered to Halifax, but given permission to move to the Chesapeake, where a French convoy was planning to sail from. Problems with manning his ship meant that Knowles sailed from Portsmouth with a largely inexperienced crew, but Knowles was able to have them fully trained by the time of their arrival at Hampton Roads. Shortly after his arrival, the French escort arrived, and the convoy sailed shortly afterwards, observed by Knowles on the Daedalus. Knowles passed this latest information on to Lord Howe, who moved his Channel fleet to intercept it, setting in motion the events that would lead to the Glorious First of June. Having fulfilled his objective Knowles sailed to Halifax, and from there returned to England. He was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Edgar and served in the North Sea. Once again Knowles was beset by difficulties in manning his ship, the Edgar put to sea from the Nore manned by soldiers from 23 different regiments, and commanded by officers from still other regiments. Typhus and ‘the itch’ were rampant, on the ship’s return to port she had to be scrubbed with lime water and fumigated with vinegar, while 100 men were discharged to the hospital. Knowles suffered a further mishap when the Edgar was dismasted in a storm off the Texel, and had to be towed back to the Nore.

Knowles transferred to the 74-gun HMS Goliath in late 1795, serving under Sir John Jervis at Lisbon. While serving there he ran foul of Jervis, who had him court-martialled in 1796 on a charge of disobeying a verbal order. At the trial Jervis’s captain of the fleet Robert Calder swore that no order had been given, and the lieutenant who was supposed to have transmitted it swore he had not received one. The charge was therefore dismissed, but this appears to have been the start of a personal enmity of Jervis against Knowles.

Knowles was still in Jervis’s fleet in command of Goliath when the Battle of Cape St Vincent was fought on 14 February 1797. During the engagement Jervis ordered his ships to tack in succession whilst in close action with the enemy. Knowles did so, coming under heavy fire and was forced to temporarily drop out of the action while the Goliath‘ knotted and spliced their rigging. On his return to the battle, Knowles observed an opportunity to pass to windward of the Santísima Trinidad and so becalm her. Jervis however signalled Goliath and ordered Knowles to stop the manoeuvre. The following morning both Knowles on the Goliath, and James Whitshed on HMS Namur had observed the vulnerable situation that the Santísima Trinidad was in, and attempted to signal this to Jervis. They received no reply.

The fleet anchored in Lagos Bay the following day, with Knowles placing the Goliath where she could provide flanking cover for the line. On going aboard Jervis’s flagship HMS Victory he was however told by Jervis that the Goliath was vulnerable where she lay. Knowles replied that the Spanish were hardly likely to attack given their condition. While Knowles was dining with Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave that evening, Jervis sent the Victory‘s master to move Goliath, a great insult to Knowles. Jervis also ordered him to swap ships with Thomas Foley and take over HMS Britannia. Knowles soon returned to England after this, citing poor health.

Knowles attended the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on 19 December 1797 for the victories at St Vincent and Camperdown, receiving a Naval Gold Medal, and then largely retired from public life. He spent the rest of his life in study, producing seven books of professional studies and a new code of signals in 1798, based on his 1777 work and incorporating revisions he had made in 1780, 1787 and 1794. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 14 February 1799, two years to the day after the Battle of Cape St Vincent, a Vice-Admiral on 24 April 1804 and a full Admiral on 31 July 1810. He suggested using balloons to observe the French invasion forces at Brest in 1803, and in 1830 he published his largely autobiographical work Observations on Naval Tactics.

He had married Charlotte Johnstone on 10 September 1800, the couple eventually having three sons and four daughters. He was nominated a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 16 May 1820 at the accession of King George IV. Admiral Charles Henry Knowles died on 28 November 1831 at the age of 77. He was succeeded as baronet by his son Francis Charles Knowles.

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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 Thomas Boulden Thompson 1st Baronet
28 February 1766 – 3 March 1828


Thomas Boulden Thompson

Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson 1st Baronet was born in Barham, Kent on 28 February 1766. His uncle, through his mother, was Commodore Edward Thompson, and it was through this relative’s influence that Thomas joined the navy in June 1778, when Edward was appointed to command the sloop HMS Hyaena. He served on the Hyaena with his uncle, spending most of the time in the waters off the British Isles, before accompanying Rodney’s fleet to the Relief of Gibraltar in January 1780. The Hyaena was later entrusted with carrying copies of Rodney’s despatches.

Thompson later moved to the West Indies, being promoted to lieutenant on 14 January 1782. He was given command of a small schooner, with which he captured a larger French privateer. After the end of the American Revolutionary War, Thompson was moved onto his uncle’s flagship, the 50-gun HMS Grampus. He served off the coast of Africa until his uncle’s death in 1786, after which he was given command of the sloop HMS Nautilus. He remained in command for the next twelve months, before returning to Britain where she was paid off. He was promoted to post-captain on 22 November 1790.

He spent a number of years on land without command of a ship until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars provided employment. By late 1796 he had secured command of the fourth rate HMS Leander. He then joined the Mediterranean Fleet under John Jervis, and was assigned to the squadron under Horatio Nelson. Thompson took part in Nelson’s attack on Santa Cruz in July 1797. Thompson was among those leading the landing parties, under the overall direction of Nelson and Thomas Troubridge. The initial attempts to force a landing were hampered by the wind, and when the parties made a successful landing in the evening of 22 July, they came under heavy fire from the Spanish defenders. Thompson’s party were able to advance and spike several of the enemy’s cannon, but the British forces had become dispersed throughout the town, and were forced to negotiate a truce to allow them to withdraw. Thompson himself was wounded in the battle.

Thompson was later given command of a squadron, and carried out cruises in the Mediterranean, intercepting French and Spanish ships. He returned to Gibraltar, but was ordered to sea again in June 1798 to reinforce Nelson’s squadron in their hunt for the French fleet that had earlier escaped from Toulon. He was with Nelson when they located the French fleet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Brueys, moored in Aboukir Bay. In the ensuing engagement Thompson came to the assistance of HMS Culloden, which had run aground on shoals in the entrance to the bay. Finding that there was nothing he could do, Thompson took Leander into the battle, despite his ship being considerably smaller than the French ships of the line. He anchored between the Franklin and Brueys’ flagship the Orient, firing on them in company with HMS Defence and HMS Swiftsure until the Franklin surrendered. Thompson then took the Leander to assist the British attack on the French rear.

After the battle Thompson was joined aboard the Leander by Captain Edward Berry, and sent with Nelson’s despatches to Gibraltar. Whilst sailing there, they were spotted on 18 August by the Généreux, which had escaped the Battle of the Nile. The French pursued the Leander. Being a 60 gun ship to the Généreux′s 78, and still having battle damage and men wounded from the Nile, Thompson attempted to escape, but was eventually forced to come to battle. The two eventually clashed in a long running engagement, which eventually resulted in Leander being disabled and unmanageable. After conferring with Berry, Thompson agreed to surrender. The Généreux had suffered 100 killed and 188 wounded, to the Leander′s 35 killed and 57 wounded. Arriving on board the French ship, Berry and Thompson were almost immediately stripped of their possessions. The French went on to plunder their prize, even going so far as to steal the surgeon’s equipment as he tried to attend to the wounded. When Thompson protested, and reminded the French captain of how French prisoners were treated under Nelson, he received the reply ‘I am sorry for it; but the fact is, that the French are expert at plunder.’

Thompson was later repatriated and brought to court-martial aboard HMS Alexander at Sheerness. He was honourably acquitted for the loss of his ship, the court deciding:

that his gallant and almost unprecedented defence of the Leander, against so superior a force as that of le Généreux, was deserving of every praise his country and the assembled court could give; and that his conduct, with that of the officers and men under his command, reflected not only the highest honour on himself and them, but on their country at large.

Berry was also commended, and whilst being rowed back to shore after his acquittal, Thompson was given three cheers by the crews of the ships moored at Sheerness. He was subsequently knighted and awarded a pension of £200 per annum.

Thompson was appointed to command HMS Bellona in spring 1799, joining the fleet under Lord Bridport, off Brest. He then went to the Mediterranean, sailing with the flying squadron. He was involved in the capture of three frigates and two brigs. He returned to England in autumn, and participated in the blockade of Brest, until being assigned to Sir Hyde Parker’s Baltic expedition in early 1801. He was present at the Battle of Copenhagen, but ran aground on shoals whilst trying to enter the bay. He continued to fire on the enemy’s shore batteries, but being a stationary target was heavily damaged, having 11 killed and 63 wounded. Thompson was amongst the wounded, losing a leg. He shared in the thanks of Parliament after the battle and had his pension increased to £500. He was then appointed to command the yacht HMS Mary.

Thompson was appointed Comptroller of the Navy in November 1806, an office he held until November 1816. He was created a baronet on 11 December 1806. On relinquishing the post of Comptroller he became Treasurer of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, succeeding the late Sir John Colpoys, and also became Director of the Chest. He became Member of Parliament for Rochester in 1807, relinquishing the position in June 1818. He became a Rear-Admiral on 25 October 1809 and a Vice-Admiral on 4 June 1814. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the reorganisation of that order on 2 January 1815, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 14 September 1822, and was formally invested on 21 April 1823. On his death three years later he was buried at the Greenwich Hospital, where his tomb monument is still visible.

Thomas married Anne Raikes on 25 February 1799. They had a total of five children, three boys and two girls. The two girls were named Anne and Mary. Their first son, Thomas Boulden, died young. Their second, Thomas Raikes-Trigge inherited the baronetcy. He followed his father and had a career in the navy. Their third son, Thomas John, died in 1807. Sir Thomas died at the family seat of Hartsbourne, Manor-Place, Hertfordshire on 3 March 1828.

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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 John Orde, 1st Baronet
22 December 1751 – 19 February 1824


John Orde

Sir John Orde was the third son of John Orde, of Morpeth, Northumberland, and the brother of Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton. Remembered as a professional enemy of Nelson, Orde’s quarrel was actually more with Lord St Vincent and he never attacked Nelson personally.

Orde joined the Navy in 1766, gained the rank of Rear-Admiral in 1795, Vice-Admiral in 1799 and eventually Admiral of the Red. In 1805, despite being asked to strike his flag, he was made Admiral of the Blue and Admiral of the White in 1810.

As a Vice Admiral in 1805 he commanded a squadron of six ships of the line off Cadiz, in the flagship HMS Glory.

Orde served as the Governor of Dominica between 1783 and 1793 and was created 1st Baronet Orde, of Morpeth, co. Northumberland on 27 July 1790. From 1807 he served as Member of Parliament for Yarmouth.

Orde joined the Royal Navy in 1766 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1774. He served throughout the American revolutionary war (1775–1783), and was promoted to post captain on 19 May 1778, making him senior to Nelson by less than a month. Orde served as Governor of Dominica from 1783 until 1793 and on 9 August 1790 was made a baronet. He returned to naval service and was promoted Rear Admiral 1795.

In early 1798, Orde was appointed to the Mediterranean fleet as 3rd in command under John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent. In May 1798, acting on his own initiative but with the support of Lord Spencer, the First Lord of the Admiralty; St Vincent gave command of a special squadron to Nelson.

As Nelson’s senior, Orde felt he had been unfairly passed over and complained to St Vincent who, annoyed at his subordinates questioning of his orders, relieved Orde and ordered him home.

Orde requested that he be court-martialled in order that he might have the opportunity to clear his name. The Board refused. Orde then requested that St Vincent be brought before a court-martial.

Again, the Board refused. The Board did go so far as to censure Jervis for not having supported his subordinates. Orde, unhappy with the outcome, challenged the earl to a duel. The challenge became public knowledge and the king ordered Jervis to decline. Before the challenge was formally declined however, Orde wrote to the Board to inform them that he had withdrawn it.

Neither side came out of the situation well. Had Nelson not won such an extraordinary victory at the Battle of the Nile, Jervis may have faced a court martial for not having supported Orde.

Unfortunately for Orde, Nelson’s victory was so complete that any criticism of Nelson or Jervis fell on deaf ears. Nelson naturally took Jervis’s side and regarded Orde as a personal enemy but Orde maintained that it was the principle of the appointment he objected to, not the person who had been chosen.

Things became worse for Orde when St Vincent was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. St Vincent now controlled appointments and Orde found himself left ashore. St Vincent left the Admiralty in 1804 and Orde was offered command of a newly formed squadron off Cadiz. This further angered Nelson who saw it as a deliberate diminution of his authority.

Orde’s squadron of six ships of the line were stationed off Cadiz when Villenueve arrived with the Toulon fleet in April 1805. Orde’s ships, which were busy revictualling at the time, cast off their store ships and hastily formed line of battle. Villenueve however, with his eleven ships of the line and six frigates, made no attempt to engage the squadron. Greatly outnumbered Orde retired, an act that earned him condemnation from some, Nelson included. Villenueve gathered the ships that were ready to sail and put to sea again. Orde believed they were bound for the Channel but in fact Villenueve was on his way to the West Indies. Orde therefore took his squadron north to rendezvous with the Channel Fleet. Although technically correct, Orde’s behaviour was not in accordance with the country’s mood at the time and he was ordered to strike his flag. He never served at sea again.

In 1807 Orde became the member of parliament for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight and served in that capacity until his death on 19 February 1824.

Orde never appeared to reciprocate Nelson’s animosity and was one of the pall-bearers at Nelson’s funeral in January 1806.

Sir John Orde was married twice, to Margaret Emma Stephens in 1781, who died in 1790; and Jane Frere in 1793, with whom he had two children: John Powlett Orde, born 9 June 1803 and Anna Maria Fenn Orde, born 1806.

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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 George Cranfield-Berkeley
10 August 1753 – 25 February 1818


George Cranfield-Berkeley

Admiral Sir George Cranfield-Berkeley was born in 1753, the third son of Augustus Berkeley, 4th Earl of Berkeley and his courtier wife Elizabeth Drax. His father died when George was only two and the title Earl of Berkeley passed to his elder brother Frederick. George was privately educated until nine, when he attended Eton College, gaining a formal education until 1766 when he was attached to the royal yacht Mary commanded by a relative Augustus Keppel. Mary conveyed Princess Caroline Matilda to Denmark, where she was married to Christian VII of Denmark. Berkeley acted as page at her wedding.

In 1767, Berkeley was attached to the squadron under Hugh Palliser based at Newfoundland. Berkeley was there mentored by Joseph Gilbert (who later accompanied James Cook) and John Cartwright (later a prominent political reformer). With these men, Berkeley participated in a survey of Newfoundland, learning seamanship, surveying and numerous other skills in the two-year commission. In 1769, Berkeley was transferred to the Mediterranean and served in the frigate HMS Alarm under John Jervis. For the next five years, Berkeley spent time in the Mediterranean and at home, making lieutenant in 1772 but failing to be elected as MP for Cricklade and then Gloucestershire after a bitter and enormously expensive contest.

Following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Berkeley served on HMS Victory, in which he commanded a gundeck at the First Battle of Ushant. Berkeley became a prominent opponent of Sir Hugh Palliser after the battle, at which Palliser was accused of refusing to obey the orders of his commanding officer, Augustus Keppel. This opposition did not prevent Berkeley gaining his first independent command the same year, when he took over the 8-gun HMS Pluto. The next year he moved to the similarly tiny HMS Firebrand and impressed his commanding officer Lord Shuldham. Shuldham’s recommendation for promotion was turned down however due to his previous involvement in the Palliser affair.

In 1780, Berkeley was appointed to HMS Fairy, a 14-gun brig under his cousin George Keppel and together they captured the American ship Mercury, taking prisoner Henry Laurens who was on a secret mission to loan money from the Dutch government. The information procured from Laurens led to a British declaration of war against the Netherlands. As another consequence, Berkeley was promoted to captain by Admiral Richard Edwards and commanded Fairy during the relief of the Great Siege of Gibraltar and further operations against American shipping from Newfoundland.

In 1781, Berkeley was given command of the frigate HMS Recovery which was placed in the squadron of Samuel Barrington. At the Second Battle of Ushant in 1782, Berkeley’s ship was engaged in the decimation of a French convoy and its escorts. As a reward, Berkeley was given the captured ship of the line HMS Pegase. Whilst aboard her he was approached by a young William Cobbet who wanted to volunteer for the navy. Berkeley dissuaded Cobbet, who later credited Berkeley with saving him from “most toilsome and perilous profession in the world”. In April 1783, Berkeley finally gained a seat in parliament, at the constituency of Gloucestershire. Berkeley would remain MP for the town for the next 27 years and took the position seriously, becoming a very important independent MP. He even attempted to bring William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox into an alliance, although the collapse of the scheme ended with a feud between him and Fox.

The following year, 1784 after the peace, Berkeley married Emilia Charlotte Lennox, daughter of Lord George Lennox. The marriage was a love match and Berkeley’s sister commented that they were “a pattern of domestic happiness scarcely to be equaled”. The couple had three daughters and two sons and remained an unusually tight-knit family, Berkeley using his extensive personal wealth to bring his family with him on long voyages and overseas postings. In 1786 Berkeley commanded HMS Magnificent and remained with her for three years until 1789 when he became surveyor-general of the ordnance. He left the post after the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1793, taking over HMS Marlborough.

Berkeley was still in command of Marlborough when she fought under Lord Howe at the Glorious First of June, fighting as part of Admiral Thomas Pasley’s van division there and at the preceding Atlantic campaign of May 1794. At the First of June, Marlborough was dismasted in close combat with several French ships and Berkeley badly wounded in the head and thigh, having to retire below after a period to staunch the bleeding. He had a long convalescence after the action but was amongst the captains selected for the gold medal commemorating the action, only awarded to those felt to have played a significant part in the victory.

Returning to service in 1795, Berkeley commanded HMS Formidable off Brest, Cadiz, Ireland and the Texel, coming ashore in 1798 to command the Sussex sea fencibles. In 1799, Berkeley was promoted rear-admiral and attached to the Channel Fleet, but the gout which had forced his first retirement returned, and Berkeley was forced to take permanent shore leave in 1800. In 1801, Berkeley increased his political interests to compensate for the loss of his naval career.

Berkeley continued building his political status during the Peace of Amiens and by it’s end Berkeley had been appointed inspector of sea fencibles, a job he undertook with vigour, conducting a fourteen-month survey of Britain’s coastal defences, which greatly improved the island’s defences. In 1806, after a shift in political power, Berkeley fell out of favour somewhat and was dispatched to the North American Station. From there, Berkeley ordered the attack by HMS Leopard on the American frigate USS Chesapeake in retaliation for American recruitment of British deserters. This action, known as the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, helped precipitate the War of 1812.

Having embarrassed the British government with this action, Berkeley was recalled home. However, public opinion supported his orders, so Berkeley was moved to command in Lisbon in the hope he could organise the chaotic supply system for Wellington’s army in the Peninsula War. Berkeley recognised that only a dedicated and organised convoy system could keep the supply of men, food and material regular and consequently set one up. Simultaneously, he reequipped and galvanised the remnants of the Spanish Navy, rescuing several ships from capture by the French as well as used frigates to supply partisan units all along the coast of Portugal and Northern Spain.

By 1810, Wellington could truthfully say of Berkeley that “His activity is unbounded, the whole range of the business of the Country in which he is stationed, civil, military, political, commercial, even ecclesiastical I believe as well as naval are objects of his attention”. He was promoted to full admiral and made Lord High Admiral of the Portuguese Navy by the Portuguese Regent in Brazil. By 1810 he had used sailors to man coastal defences all over Spain, freeing soldiers for Wellington and also formed a squadron of river gunboats to harry French units from major rivers like the Tagus.

Berkely retired from the post in 1812, again laid low by health. He and Wellington remained good friends for the rest of their lives, and Wellington later stated that Berkeley was the best naval commander he had ever cooperated with. Berkeley’s final voyage was to return to Britain aboard HMS Barfleur. Later rewards included being made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1813 which was converted to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1815. He was reportedly disappointed not to have been given a peerage for his long and excellent service.

Berkeley retired to a house in South Audley Street, London, where his gout continued to plague him with severe pain for the rest of his life. He spent some time during this period conversing with lifelong friend Edward Jenner, whose vaccine for smallpox Berkeley had persuaded the government to investigate, particularly with regard for the health of the navy. He was confined to bed as a result of chronic gout, and died in February 1818 at the age of 64, survived by his family.

His eldest son Sir George Berkeley was a general and father of the 7th Earl of Berkeley while his younger son Grenville Berkeley was a politician. His third daughter Mary Caroline (d. 1873) married Henry Fitzroy, 5th Duke of Grafton.

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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.

St. Vincent Beechey
7 August 1806 – 19 August 1899


St. Vincent Beechey

St. Vincent Beechey was born in London the twenty-first child of William Beechey, court painter to King George III and Ann (née Jessup) Beechey. He was also named after his godfather, John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, in recognition of his great naval victory in 1797. St. Vincent Beechey was also brother to Frederick William Beechey the great naval commander and Richard Brydges Beechey, painter and admiral. He was educated in Sidcup under a Mr Knowles and at Caius College, Cambridge.

He married Mary Ann Ommaney in 1836. They had seven children.

  • 1829 – Curate of Aylesford, Kent
  • 1831 – Curate of Hilgay, Norfolk
  • 1841 – Vicar of Fleetwood and Thornton-Cleveleys
  • 1850 – Vicar of Worsley with Ellenbrook
  • 1869 – Honorary Canon of Manchester
  • 1872 – Rector of Hilgay
  • 1876 – Rector of Newton
  • President of the Manchester Photographic Society

St. Vincent was called to a meeting at the North Euston Hotel in 1844 by a young Corsican by the name of Zenon Vantini who was looking to make money through an educational insurance scheme. He had proposed two schools of five-hundred pupils in the Fylde area – one for boys, the other for girls. St. Vincent soon rose to prominence in the scheme when it became apparent that any schools founded would be of Anglican foundation. The idea for a girls’ school was dropped and it was decided that a school of 200 students was to open under the name of the North of England Church of England School – this later became Rossall School.

Beechey had to raise funds for the opening of the new school and got the financial support of Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, Edward Smith Stanley The 13th Earl of Derby as patron, William Cavendish the 6th Duke of Devonshire as vice-president and Archbishop Sumner, then Bishop of Chester and later Archbishop of Canterbury, as visitor. The school opened on 22 August 1844 in the grounds of Hesketh’s Rossall Hall, with a 21 year lease on the aforementioned property and an option to purchase after ten years for £7000. Beechey remained on the board of governors until 1856 at which point his association became a more informal supervisory one. He continued this role until his death in 1899. His views on the early days of the school can be read in his book – Rossall School Its Rise and Progress. There is a memorial to him in St Mark’s churchyard, Worsley, Lancashire.

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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 Peter Puget
1765 – 31 October 1822

Rear Admiral Peter Puget ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV’s persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget’s mother, Esther, with two sons and three daughters. In 1778, twelve-year-old Peter entered the navy as a midshipman and served on the following ships:

  • 1778: HMS Dunkirk, an ageing 60 gun two-decker, Captain John Milligan. Harbour service.
  • December 1779: HMS Syren, frigate, Captain Edmund Dodd. Patrolled North Sea, battling blockade runners.
  • 1780: HMS Lowestoffe, 32, Captain Edmund Dodd, (transferred from Syren); bound for the West Indies squadron. There, Puget served with a small force of naval gunners reinforcing the garrison at St. Kitts, and survived the defence of Brimstone Hill against the vastly superior forces of French Admiral de Grasse (see Battle of St. Kitts). Probably served in Rodney and Hood’s victory of 12 April 1782 at the Battle of the Saintes.
  • November 1782: HMS Thetis, 38, Captain John Blankett; Gibraltar and Mediterranean
  • 1783: HMS Europa, 50, Captain James Vashon, flying the broad pennant of Commodore Alan Gardner; service in Jamaica. Met then-Lieutenant George Vancouver. Paid off in 1787.
  • 1787: Rejoined Captain Dodd on the Lowestoffe, but within two months, that was paid off too.
  • 1788 (?): East Indiaman Prince

Upon returning to England, Puget was assigned to HMS Discovery, temporarily as a master’s mate, and then commissioned as her 3rd lieutenant on 11 June 1790 to assist in its fitting out for an exploration of the South Pacific. During the Nootka Crisis, however, it was used as a depot vessel. When the crisis ended with the Treaty of Nootka Sound, the mission changed; the first priority was to physically accept possession of the Sound from the Spanish. An accurate survey the North American Pacific Coast, and other surveys, were important secondary missions. Because the Admiralty, following the Mutiny on the Bounty incident, had ordered, as a precaution against mutiny, that ships no longer make such long voyages alone, the armed tender HMS Chatham was assigned to the expedition, and HMS Daedalus was to bring supplies a year later.

In 1791, Discovery and Chatham sailed to Cape Town, Australia, Tahiti and the Sandwich Isles before starting a detailed survey of the Pacific North American coast, from the Columbia River to Alaska. Many features were named after friends or persons of influence. When it was hoped that the Georgia Strait and Admiralty Inlet might lead to the Northwest Passage, Vancouver anchored the ships near modern-day Seattle, Washington and sent Puget in command of two rowing craft to survey south (20–27 May 1792). In recognition of Puget’s work, Vancouver named the south end Puget Sound; it is unlikely that either man realized this name would over time encompass the whole region. Puget was also involved in the exploration by small boat of the Columbia River; his name was applied to the tiny Puget Island opposite the Indian village at Cathlamet.

Puget was given command of Chatham when her first captain was murdered in Hawai’i and his replacement was sent with dispatches back to England.

While only a lieutenant-in-command of Chatham, Puget served with distinction for the rest of the survey. He assisted Vancouver in negotiations with the Spanish at Nootka Sound. In 1795, the two-ship squadron returned to England by way of Cape Horn, capturing a Dutch East Indiaman along the way. Once home, Puget was confirmed in the rank of Commander.

In February 1796, Commander Puget was given the tiny Adelphi with which to protect a supply convoy to Gibraltar. To protect the return convoy, he fitted out an armed freighter, the Esther, using his own funds. On the return voyage, he captured a Spanish merchantman and sent it ahead with a prize crew. Then his convoy was attacked by French frigate La Bellona, and Puget interposed his tiny vessel to let the other ships flee. Puget then bribed the French captain (pointing out that he was unlikely to collect much in prize money) and brought his command home. Ironically, the British Admiralty found a way not to pay Puget prize money on the merchantman, although it did cover his expenses, including the bribe.

In 1797, Puget was given command of the sloop-of-war HMS Raven and joined the fleet of Sir John Jervis. Jervis put him in charge of the San Nicholas, a Spanish ship-of-the-line, still crewed by Spaniards; Puget suppressed a mutiny and delivered the crew to Lisbon.

  • 1798: Captain of troopship HMS Van Tromp
  • March, 1799: Flag captain for Admiral James Whitshed on HMS Temeraire, 98.
  • 1800: Captain of ship-of-the-line HMS Monarch, 74; served with the Channel Fleet until she was paid off in 1802, following the Peace of Amiens
  • 1804: Flag captain for Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves on HMS Foudroyant, 80; served in Channel blockade until seriously injured in 1805; sent home to recover.
  • February 1807: Captain of ship-of-the-line HMS Goliath, 74.

In 1807, Puget played a decisive role at the Second Battle of Copenhagen. He led an inshore squadron of shallow-draft vessels (including two bomb ketches) to disable the Danish gunboats and to cover the army’s seaward flank in a manoeuvre similar to Nelson’s action in the First Battle of Copenhagen. However, British public reaction to the second attack was unfavourable, since it was an attack on a neutral country; no fame was attached to Puget’s success.

  • 1809: At the request of Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, Puget planned and assisted in the successful amphibious invasion of the Dutch islands of Walcheren and Vlissingen.
  • 1810-1817: Commissioner of the Navy at Madras. He supervised naval affairs throughout much of India, fought the corruption endemic to supply practices, and developed the new naval base at Trincomalee.

Thereafter, Puget settled into family life, living in Bath for reasons of health. He was gazetted a Companion of the Bath in 1818 and, according to the rules of seniority, he was commissioned Rear Admiral of the Blue on 19 July 1821.

The Bath Chronicle memorialized him:
“Died on Thursday 31 October at his home in Grosvenor Place, after a long and painful illness, Rear Admiral Peter Puget C.B. This lamented officer had sailed round the world with the late Captain Vancouver, had commanded various men-of-war and was many years Commissioner at Madras, the climate of which place greatly contributed to the destruction of his health.”

Peter Puget married Hannah Elrington on 6 February 1797. They had seven sons and four daughters.

Their eldest son, Peter Richard Puget, went to America and became an actor. Other sons served in the British Army or Navy, one of whom (William David) retired as a captain. The daughters all married and it is through one of them, Eleanor Catherine, came the only known descendant of Peter and Hannah Puget.

Hannah Puget never remarried, died on 14 September 1849, and is buried next to Peter, in the churchyard of Woolley, near Bath. The original sarcophagus is heavily weatherworn, and has been supplemented by a bronze plaque donated by the Seattle Historical Society.

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