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 Early History 1799-1816

 Extracts from The Naval Chronicle


These are extracts from the Naval Chronicle which have caught my eye either as curiosities or as accounts of happenings which
have been forgotten for over 180 years.
 
 

Sept. 24 1799(page 443)

Plymouth Report

24. Wind S.W. Cloudy. ..... This morning Mr Whitford, coroner, took an inquest on a poor boy, who was carrying in to the
dockyard his father`s dinner while the bell at the gate was still ringing; the clapper fell off, struck the boy on the head, and
fractured his skull in three places. Verdict, accidental death.
 
 

Vol.IV 1800 (p 444)

                                    Monthly Register of Naval Events

                                            Marriages

Lately the gallant Robert Hope. Esq. Purser of of His Majesty`s ship Puisant, aged fourscore, to the lovely and amiable Miss
Fanny Paul, of Portsmouth aged 13.

                                     EPIGRAM ON THE ABOVE.

                                       Said an ancient Apostle,
                                       Of Faith, Hope and Love,
                                          The Latter by far
                                        Must all ages approve.

                                      But one Angel (Miss Paul)
                                       Acted quite the reverse:
                                        For old Hope above all
                                     She preferr`d - with his purse!
 

Vol.XXX 1813 (page 306)

                                     MASSACRE BY SAVAGES.
                                      [From an American Paper]

The following is an account of the singular and melancholy fate ogf the American ship TONQUIN, the crew of which were
destroyed by savages, while on a trading voyage on the coast north of the River Columbia, on Vancouver`s Island:- A ship arrived
from New York after a passage of near seven months, with merchandise and provisions for the company.

It was here that we learnt with horror, that the story of the TONQUIN`s having been cut-off was but too true. The circumstances
have been related in different ways by the natives but tat which carries the greatest appearance of truth is as follows:- That
vessel, after landinf a cargo intended for Astoria, departed on a trading voyage to the coast of Columbia river, with a company,
including officers of 23 men, and had proceeded about 400 miles along the sea-coast, when they stopped on Vancouver`s island at
a place called Woodt Point, inhabited by a powerful nation called Wake-a-ninishes. These people came on board to barter their
furs for merchandise, and conducted themselves in a most friendly manner during the first day; but the same evening information
was brought on board by by an Indian whom the officers had as an interpreter, that the tribe where they then lay were ill-disposed
and intended attacking the ship the next day.

Capt. Thorn affected to disbelieve this piece of news, and even when the Indians came next morning in great numbers, it was only
at the pressing remonstrance of Mr M`Kay, that he ordered seven aloft to loosen the sails. In the mean time about 50 Indians
were permitted to come on board who exchanged a number of sea-otter skins for blankets and knives. The former they threw into
their canoes, but secreted the knives. Every one, when armed, moved from the quarter-deck to a different part of the vessel in
such a way that three of them opposed every man of the crew. At a given signal they rushed on their prey and, notwithstanding a
brave resistance, they were all butchered in a few minutes. The men aloft, in attempting to descend, lost two of their number,
beside one mortally wounded, who, notwithstanding his weakened condition, made his way with the others into the cabin, where,
finding a quantity of loaded arms, they fired on their assailants through the sky-lights and companion-way, which had the effect of
clearing the ship, and long before night these five intrepid sons of America were again in full possession of her.

Whether from want of abilities or strength, supposing themselves unable to take the vessel back to Columbia, on the following
morning, the four who were left unhurt left her in the long boat, in hopes of regaining the river, wishing to take along with them the
wounded person, who refused their offer, saying he must die before long and was as well in the vessel as elsewhere.

Soon after sunrise she was surrounded by an immense number of Indians in canoes, come for the express purpose of unloading
her; but who, from the warm reception they met with the day before, did not seem forward in boarding. The wounded man
shewed himself over the railing, made signs that he was alone and wanted their assistance; on which some embarked, who finding
what he said was true, spoke to their people who were not any longer slow in getting on board, so that in a fewv secondsthe deck
was considerably thronged and they proceeded to undo the hatches without further ceremony.

No sooner were they completely engaged in this, than the only survivor of the crew descended into the cabin and set fire to the
magazine containing nearly 9000 lbs of gunpowder, which in an instant blew the vessel and everyone on board to atoms. The
nation acknowledge their having lost 100 warriors, beside a vast number of wounded who were in canoes around the ship. The
four men in the long boat were, two or three days after, driven ashore in a gale and massacred by the natives.
 
 

Vol.X 1803 (p 73)

                                            THE TAR.

                                 A Parody of Shakespeare`s Seven Ages.

                       At first the cabin boy, Cleaning the guns, and cleaning out the deck;
                                And then the gallant sailor, with tarr`d jacket,
                              And sun-burn`d face, climbing like the nimble cat
                                  The topmost mast; then in a privateer,
                                 Raging like furnace to pour in a broadside
                              On the rich Spaniard; then heading a press-gang,
                               With bludgeon arm`d, and watching like a pard,
                               He drags with oaths and blows, the pallid victim
                                Aboard the tender; then prepared for signal,
                                 In well mann`d fleets, by modern instances
                                  Of Nile and Baltic, he`s led on to glory,
                               Even in the cannon`s mouth; next rendezvous,
                                   In port, on grand illumination night,
                                   Dollars in pocket, doxies by his side,
                               He scorns to save a doit. The world too scant
                                  For his big spirit, in noisy revels, huzzas,
                              Songs, fiddles, reels, hornpipes and flowing bowls,
                                He drowns his cares: Next day to sea again,
                             Last scene that ends this strange advent`rous history,
                                 Is greewhich pension, mess tobacco, grog,
                             And cheers to good Old England`s wooden walls.
 
 

Vol IX 1803 (p 162)

Portsmouth Report
January 28. Yesterday morning, at 10 o`clock, the Royal Marines were drawn up in the Court of the Barracks to hear the
sentence and attend the punishment of Searjeant Schmitt, of that corps, for desertion and embezzling money with which he had
been entrusted as Pay Serjeant. The proceedings of the court were read by Lieutenant and Adjutant Varlo. The charge being
proved, the prisoner was sentenced for the desertion, to be reduced to the ranks and receive 500 lashes; for the embezzelment of
the money (which was stated to be sixty-seven pounds, eighteen shillings and four and a half pence) to have all sums due to him
for pay etc. applied to the repayment and tro have his future pay stopped, to an ammount not exceeding a half, till the whole
deficiency be made good. The approbation of the sentence and the order to carry it into execution by the Lords of the Admiralty
was then read. The Prisoner, when he was brought out to hear his sentence and while it was reading, carried himself with a firm
but modest air. Before he had received 100 lashes, his body began to writhe excessively, though his countenance was little moved.
After that he moaned and complained at intervals with a low and evidently smothered voice. Once or twice he said, "I cannot bear
it". He appeared to be of a delicate habit. When he had received 300 lashes, the surgeon took his pulse, after which he received 50
more, and was then taken down.
 
 

1807 p74

Dec.1806 retrospective. There was lately driven into the Bay of Donbeg in the county of Clare, (Ireland) the deck of a large
vessel, to which were fastened by ropes five dead bodies. It is supposed that the unfortunate sailors had lashed themselves to the
rings of the deck, during one of the late tremendous storms, and the ship encountering a very heavy sea, was dashed to pieces.
 
 

1805 p83

Jan. 7. The whole of the men in Portsmouth Dockyard, to the full number of 3000 were last week regaled with a pot of strong
beer each; the donor or donors of which have hitherto withheld their names from publicity
 
 

1810 p261

On Monday and Tuesday, the 5th and 6th of February, a court-martial was held on the Hon. Capt. for having, when he was
commander of his Majesty`s ship Recruit, on the 13th of December 1807, caused a seaman, by the name of Robert Jeffery, to be
put on shore on the desert island of Sombrero in the West Indies.
It appeared that in the month of November1807 Jeffery went into the gunner`s cabin and took out a bottle with some rum in it; that
on the day he was sent on shore he had broached a cask of spruce beer which had been brewed for the ship`s company, and that
his general character was that of a skulker.
The Recruit being off the island of Sombrero, Capt. Lake asked the master what island it was and if there were not some thieves
aboard. The master answered "yes, there were two." Capt. Lake then desired him to send Jeffery up to him; the man soon came
up and the captain said that he would not keep such a man in his ship and he ordered Lieut. Mould to land the man and return
immediately.

As soon as Admiral Cochrane heard of the circumstance, he reprimanded the captain and sent him to take the man off the island.
Some of the officers of Recruit landed and explored the island but found nothing on it. It was a barren spot, covered in the middle
with a kind of rough grass weed, with no house or inhabitant. It appeared, however, by American newspapers aftewards received,
that the man had been taken off the island by an Amnerican ship and landed in America.

In his defence Capt. Lake denied that he ever intended putting the man`s life in jeopardy as he thought the island was inhabited.
The court agreed that the charge had been proved and Capt. Lake was dismissed from his Majesty`s service.

Note on the above ----- Sombrero Is. is about 30 miles north of Antigua. Jeffery was taken to Massachusetts from where he was
brought home to England in HMS Thistle to be officially discharged and awarded compensation.
 
 

1802 Vol.VIII p80.

An affecting, and at the same time ludicrous, scene was exhibited a few days since:- A sailor who had been absent from his
country since the commencement of the war, and was supposed dead by his friends, unexpectedly came to town with his pockets
pretty well filled with the fruits of his hard-earned services. He hastened to the spot where he had left his wife and child; but she
had left some years back, and was gone nobody knew where. Still he determined to find her and wandered wherever his fancy
directed in the hopes of gaining some intelligence of her fate. When he had almost given up hope and chancing to pass a street
near the Seven Dials, he heard a woman crying water-cresses. He thought he recognised the voice of his former helpmate; for a
moment he doubted his senses, scarcely believing that his wife could have experienced such a reversal of fortune. He snatched
the basket from her arm, flung the cresses into the street and gave her as complete a hug as honest and robust affection was
capable of performing. The poor woman was no less surprised and burst into tears, which the jolly tar soon dispelled. A thousand
questions were asked and answered as he hauled her into a clothes shop and rigged her from stem to stern; after which he called
a coach, swearing that now he had found his wandering rib, d--n him if Poll and he would have a night of it.
 
 

1800 Vol.III. p514

AMERICA. New York, Feb. 25.
To Benjamin Stoddart, Esq. Sec. of the Navy. Occurences aboard the USS CONSTELLATION, of 38 guns, under my command.

Feb.1. Throughout these 24 hours very unsettled weather; kept on our tacks bearing up under Guadaloupe; and at half past seven
AM, the Road of Basseterre bearing E. five leagues distant, saw a sail in the SE standing for the SW which from her situation I
first took for a large ship from Martinique, and hoisted English colors on giving chase by way of inducement for her to come down
and speak me. Finding she did attempt to alter her course. I examined her more minutely as we approached her, anb discovered
that she was a heavy French frigate mounting at least 54 guns. I immediately gave orders for the yards &c. to be slung with
chains, top-sail sheets &c. stoppered and the ship cleared for action and pulled down the English colors. At noon the wind became
light and I observed that the chace held way with us; but I determined to continue the pursuit.
Passed two schooners standing to the northward. One of them shewed American colors and was a merchant vessel, the other I
supposed the same.

Feb 2. At 1PM the winds being somewhat fresher the prospect of our bringing the enemy to action began again to brighten. Every
inch of canvas being set that could be of service, except the bog-reefs, which I kept in the top-sails in case the chase should haul
on a wind and give us fair battle; but this did not prove to be her commander`s attention. I got within hail of him at 8 PM, hoisted
our ensign, and had the candles in the battle lanthorns all lighted, and the large trumpet in the lee gangway ready to speak him, and
to demand the surrender of his ship to the United States of America; but he at that instant commenced a fire from his stern and
quarter guns directed at our rigging and spars. No parley being then nesessary, I sent Mr Vandyke to the different officers
commanding divisions of the main-battery, to repeat my orders not to throw away a singlre charge of powder but to fire directly
into the hull of the enemy; and load primarily with two round shot and now and then with round shot and a stand of grape. In a few
moments I gained a position on the weather quarter that enabled us to return his salute and thus as close and as sharp an action as
ever was fought between two frigates commenced, and continued to within a few minutes of 1 AM, when the enemy`s fire was
completely silenced and was again sheering off.

It was at this moment I was considering him my prize and was trimming my much shattered sails; when I found that my
main-mast was totally unsupported by rigging, every shroud being shot away, and some of them in several places, that even
stoppers were useless. I gave orders for the men from the gun-deck to endeavour to secure it, but the effort was in vain and it
went over the side a few minutes after, and carried with it the top-men among whom was the amiable young gentlemen who
commanded the main-top, Mr James Jervis of New York. He had been apprised of the mast going by an old seaman but had so
much of the principle of the officer ingrafted on his mind, not to leave his quarters on any account, that he told the man that if the
mast went they must go with it, which was the case, and only one of them was saved.

I much regret his loss as a promising young officer, as well as on account of a long intimacy with his father, but have great
satisfaction in finding that I have lost no other, and only two or three slightly wounded, out of 14 killed and 25 wounded. As soon
as the main-mast went every effort was made to clear the wreckage. It being impossible to pursue the enemy I bore away for
Jamaica for repairs

                                        THOMAS TRUXTON
 
 
 
 

 More Extracts from The Naval Chronicle

These are extracts from the Naval Chronicle which have caught my eye either as curiosities or as accounts of happenings which
have been forgotten for over 180 years.
 
 

Vol. XXIX p. 215
January-February 1813. Correspondence

Mr Editor

Travelling on Thursday 17 December, along the coast, about three miles west of Donaghadee (near Bangor, 15 miles east of
Belfast), I beheld a sight new to me, but I believe not uncommon in this part of the country. A brig from Greenock, bound for
South America, freighted with light goods, was cast on shore on a point of land a short distance from the residence of --- Dunbar,
Esq. The shore was crowded with upwards of 500 persons, men, women and children, many of them up to the middle in water,
others scrtambling over craggy rocks, all of them eagerly engaged in dragging on shore, trunks, boxes, bales, ropes, sails and
whatever came to hand. - Generous people! I exclaimed, as I stood at a distance on the road, thus to expose yourselves to such
danger and fatigue, in order to save the property of strangers.

Scarcely had the words escaped my lips than I was alarmed by the report of Fire-arms; and a ball whistling past at a short
distance; immediately after, a man who is a member of the yeomanry corps, crossed the field carrying a quantity of white cloth
under one arm, a ball having passed through the other. I now learnt with surprise thast the people were assembling, many from
seven miles distance, in order to plunder and carry off what they could. This they attempted, in defiance of a strong guard of
soldiers and Custom-house officers, stationed for the purpose ofprotecting it.

The senior officers appeared to be actuated by a praise-worthy zeal for the preservation of what remained of the cargo,
remonstrating against the impropriety of their conduct before resorting to more severe measures.

I wish it was in my power to say as much for the conduct of the inferior officers. While under the eye of their superiors they
exerted to the utmost, the authority with which they were invested, beating and abusing withot mercy. But I was informed that this
zeal of theirs only manifested itself in the presence of their superiors, or against those wretches from whom they expected to reap
no advantage. Their behaviour was different during the two nights that the wind and waves were wafting the cargo on shore.

Covered with the veil of night, the neighbouring farmers, men of substantial property, who would have been ashamed to appear
during the day, came with their servants and horses, not in order to pilfer a web or two, like the miscreants who appeared in open
day, but in order to carry off unopened boxes, trunks and bales.
Those whose duty it was to protect the property, not only connived at these proceedings but actually sold them the goods; and in
many instances assistied in loading their carts and cars; besides these, they carried off many of the most valuable articles
themselves, and permitted their friends to be sharers in the spoil.

Nor is this all, the most disgraceful part of these transactions remains yet to be told. There were seen engaged in this scene of
plunder, sea-faring men, masters and owners of vessels, some of them rich and hitherto respectable, whose position in life placed
them beyond any temptation to the commission of a crime so mean and detestable and whose real and undoubted interest is to
endeavour to put a stop to such nefarious practices. I have given you this statement, in order to publish if you think it worth your
attention; perhaps it might put some of those concerned to shame. The facts above can be attested by numerous witnesses; and I
have taken down the names of the different persons alluded to in my pocket-book, together with witnesses of their conduct.

I remain, yours,
A TRAVELLER
Donaghadee, December 21, 1812.
 
 

Vol XVI p. 313
1806.

                                          FATAL DUEL

Sunday Morning, 12 October, a duel was fought near the obelisk, Mount Edgecombe, by a Mr Armstrong, Midshipman of His
Majesty`s ship PRINCE OF WALES and a Mr Long of the RESISTANCE frigate, which lately sailed from Plymouth. His
antagonist`s ball entered Mr Long`s right side and it is thought lodged in his left shoulder. This circumstance took place at half past
eight o`clock in the morning, and was not made known until three in the afternoon when the Port Admiral ordered search for the
deceased. He was found lying on his back, his hat on, his pockets turned out, and a cane lying across his arm. His second, Mr
-----, Midshipman of the MONARCH had left him immediately after the fatal ball was fired and returned to Dock with Mr
Armstrong and Mr Wells of the PRINCE OF WALES, his second.

The dispute originated in a common hop in Pembroke Street, where Armstrong wanted to put out the lights while the deceased
was dancing with his girl. High words arose, and they immediately adjourned to an inn where the challenge was settled. Mr Long
was a youth of engaging manners, about 18 years old, and, it is said, related to the Duke of Montrose. A strict search is making
after the parties who, it is supposed, have gone on board their respective ships.

Note. Mount Edgecombe is parkland on the opposite bank of the mouth (The Narrows) of the River Tamar from Plymouth.
Dock is Plymouth Dock, the original name for Devonport.
 
 

Vol XIII. p.85.
1805
                                           OBITUARY

Dec.29 1804. Two young men were found dead in a West Indiaman, outward bound, lying off Woolwich. It is supposed they had
drunk too much spirits and fell asleep, when they became frost-bitten.
The same night two lads belonging to a collier, waiting in a boat for their captain, at Stone-Stairs, Ratcliffe-Cross, were found in
the arms of one another, nearly expiring through the inclemency of the weather. They were taken to a public-house, where, with
much difficulty, they recovered.
 


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