My fourth great uncle Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring (1837-1906) was tenth of the seventeen children of Rowland Mainwaring (1783-1862), eldest of the eight children of Rowland’s third wife Laura Maria Julia Walburga Chevillard (1811-1891). He was born on 4 September 1837 in Mannheim and died on 21 August 1906 at Saint Helier, Jersey.

On 19 September 1856 Karl Mainwaring was taken on as a mate in the Royal Navy—a junior petty officer of rank roughly equivalent to sub-lieutenant. I do not know where he was educated nor where he had served previously. According to his obituary, Karl entered the service in 1850, probably as a midshipman, so it seems likely that mate was his first promotion.

Karl Mainwaring’s younger brother Guy later entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman when he was thirteen. It appears that Guy had followed a similar path, joining the Navy with a very junior apprenticeship, a method of entry common enough for a boy with a little education and a family sufficiently well-connected for patronage to secure an appointment.

Two years later, in 1858, Karl was promoted from mate on HMS Marlborough to lieutenant. He afterwards served on HMS Hibernia, HMS Conqueror, HMS Haughty, and HMS Princess Charlotte.

In 1866 we find him with the China Squadron in Hong Kong. On 18 July, in a widely-reported engagement, HMS Osprey with HMS Opossum commanded by Lieutenant Mainwaring attacked pirate vessels near Hainan Island, destroying 22 junks and 270 cannon. A hundred pirates were killed. (See ‘X is for destruction of a pirate fleet near Xiānggǎng‘.)

Mainwaring was promoted to commander in 1867. From 1868 to 1871 he served on HMS Aboukir, stationed at Jamaica. The Aboukir had been a 90-gun second-rate ship of the line but was now a receiving ship, a harbour-bound hulk used for stores and accommodation in lieu of a permanent shore base. 

Kingston Harbour, Jamaica about 1870

 From 1871 to 1874 Mainwaring was in command of HMS Cameleon in the Pacific. The Cameleon (also spelled “Camelion”, and “Chameleon”) was a 17-gun screwsloop corvette, with a crew of 165.

HMS Camelion. Believed to be at British Columbia, Canada, in the 1860s. Image from the City of Vancouver Archives.

Newspapers reported the activities of Commander Karl Mainwaring and the Cameleon:

  • 22 July 1871 Appointments : “Commander — Karl H. A. Mainwaring from the Aboukir to the command of the Cameleon, vice Commander Josiah Hatchard, invalided.”  
  • The Cameleon, 17, screwsloop, Com. Karl Mainwaring, was at Callao, with orders to leave on the 20th October, for the Coast of Mexico and Mazatlan.
  • The Cameleon, 17, screwsloop, Com. Karl Mainwaring, on the Pacific station, has been caulked and newly coppered at Callao.   
  • The Cameleon, 17, screwsloop, Com. Karl Mainwaring, was at Callao on the 8th of December, having been undocked on the 4th. She has undergone considerable repairs.
  • …arrived at Valparaiso on the 30th December from Callao.
  • …was at  Panama by last accounts.
  • …left Panama on the 8th of August 1872 for Esquimalt.
  • …had received orders to leave Esquimalt for Sandwich and Society Island, returning to Valparaiso.
  • … at Esquimalt, had by last accounts received orders to proceed to Valparaiso.
  • the Cameleon, 17, screwsloop, Com. Karl Mainwaring ; and [several other ships], were in Esquimalt harbour, Vancouver’s Island, on the 1st of November. 
  • … arrived at Honolulu on the 31st of January from Esquimalt.
  • … was at the Sandwich Islands on the 7th February 1873 , whence she was to sail in a day or two for Marquesas, Society Islands, and Valparaiso. 
  • … sailed from Honolulu for the Marquesas Islands on the 16th of February.
  • In July 1873 H.M.S. Chameleon, Karl H.A. Mainwaring, commander, visited Pitcairn Island, where descendants of the Bounty mutineers had established themselves. He found seventy-six inhabitants, noting that that epidemic and endemic diseases were unknown.
  • The Cameleon, 17, screwsloop, Com. Karl Mainwaring, which was refitting at Valparaiso on September 4th had orders to proceed from the coast of Mexico, to cruise for two months, and then proceed to Panama.
  •  … arrived at San Jose on the 1st of October, and awaited orders from Guatemala. She expected to go to La Union and wait for a mail there, then proceed to Mazatlan, and do the usual coast cruise back to Panama. The health of the ship was pretty good.
  • … was at San Jose de Guatemala on the 2d of October. She ordered thither from Coquimbo on account of the unsettled state of political affairs in Guatemala. From San Jose she was able to sail for Mazatlan and Panama.
  • … was at Mazatlan on the 18th of October, and would leave on that day for Guayamas, Gulf of California.

In November 1873 Commander Karl Heinrick Augustus Mainwaring retired, with permission to assume the rank of Retired Captain.

For the next nineteen years, from 1874 to 1893, Captain Karl Mainwaring served as harbour master in Kingston, Jamaica. He also served as a stipendiary magistrate and acted as Inspector General of Police. He was a director and managing director of the Kingston Sailors’ Home.

In 1876, at the age of thirty-nine, he married Florence Foley age 32 at the Church of St Mary Bredin, Canterbury. Florence’s younger sister Edith married Karl’s younger brother Randolph in 1883. Karl and Florence had no children.

Mrs Mainwaring was on the committee of the Lady Musgrave Womens’ Self Help Society founded by Lady Lucinda Musgrave. The society’s aims included:

  • to enable industrious women of all classes to help themselves and others by providing a sale room for all kinds of work
  • to provide occasional employment to distressed needlewomen by executing orders for plain work for ladies and gentlemen and for servants and working people
  • to teach plain needlework, and the cutting out of garments in a more thorough and systematic manner than is usually possible in schools, where so little time can be devoted to that branch. For this purpose, a lady, already a skilled needlewoman, has been so taught at the Shortwood Training College, that her pupils at the Women’s Self Help Society will now be able to compete for certificates, with a view to affilation with the London School of Needlework in England.

In 1893 Karl and his wife retired to St Helier on the Island of Jersey, where he died in 1906. His obituaries mentioned his role in the suppression of piracy and his civil roles in Jamaica.

Obituary in the Army and Navy Gazette 1 September 1906

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Wikitree: Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring (1837 – 1906)