Skelly’s journal has the title “A Journal of two Voyages to North America. In his Majesty’s Ship ye Devonshire, From June 1757 to December 1759. Containing the Expedition against Louisbourgh under the Admirals Holburne and Boscowen; with the Reduction of some places of less note after the Surrender of Louisbourgh in the year 1758. The transactions during the winter at Hallifax in 1759–The arrival of Admiral Saunders with a Fleet against Quebec…to the Surrender of Quebec, and our return to England….“. Skelly recorded the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, also known as the Battle of Quebec, on 13 September 1759. Just outside the walls of Quebec City, “the whole line of the enemy soon gave way, ours pushing on with their bayonets till they took to their heels and were pursued with great slaughter to the walls of the town.”
Gordon Skelly passed his lieutenant’s examination on 5 August 1761 and was commissioned as lieutenant on 1 October 1761. He served on several ships, among them HMS Baltimore, where from 10 October 1762 to 3 December 1762 he kept the Lieutenant’s logbooks.
On 10 January 1771 Skelly was appointed commander of the Royal Navy 10 gun sloop Lynx, stationed at Shields in north-east England. He and seven others were drowned there when the ship’s longboat was overturned by breakers when crossing the harbour bar.
Gordon Skelly married Dorothy Harrison on 6 June 1766 at Yarm, Yorkshire, the ceremony conducted his father the Reverend John Skelly, Vicar of Stockton.
They had three children:
Dorothy 1768–1840, mother of Sophia Mainwaring née Duff
His granddaughter Sophia née Duff (1790 – 1824) married Rowland Mainwaring (1783 – 1862).
Babet was also among the numerous vessels that shared in the proceeds after HMS Dartcaptured the French frigate Desiréefrom Dunkirk harbour on 8 July 1800.
Loss of HMS Babet
In September 1800 HMS Babet left Spithead with orders to convey General John Knox to Jamaica, where he was to take up the position of Governor. On 24 October she arrived at Fort-Royal Bay, Martinique, sailing the next day for Jamaica. HMS Babet was never seen again. It seems likely that she foundered in a storm.
Newspaper reports in early 1801 reported on the probable loss. There were also a few suggestions that she had in fact survived.
Letters concerning the loss of the Babet
“About this time  we got the melancholy account of the loss of the Babet, the ship in which our dear John (General Knox) was gone out as Governor and Commander in Chief to Jamaica. Many, many tears did I shed for him, I loved him as a brother, and never, I believe, was there a man so deserving of the regard and regret everyone expressed for him. We long had hopes that the ship was not lost, as it was not seen to go down, but years have elapsed since, therefore no hope can be indulged, though I am sometimes fool enough to feel some, in spite of my almost conviction that it is impossible they ever should be realised.” [The Honourable Frances Calvert nee Pery at An Irish beauty of the regency page 13 retrieved through archive.org]
The letters of Henry Swinburne concerning the fate of his son who was aide-de-campe to Knox, document the uncertainty of the fate of the Babet.
“London , January 3rd, 1801. … I am uneasy at not hearing yet of Harry’s arrival in Jamaica, though various persons conversant with those seas laugh at my fears . [footnote: He went out as secretary and aide-de-camp to General Knox, commander-in-chief at Jamaica. The ship was never more heard of, and must have foundered between Martinique and Jamaica.]
February 2nd . Another Jamaica mail arrived this morning, which left the island on the 21st of December, at which time no account had been received of General Knox. They are very low at the Admiralty concerning it. I have been all the morning in the city, hunting for information ; but there are so many contradictory reports and conjectures that I returned just as I went, except feeling my spirits depressed by the fatigue. I assure you I keep nothing from you, nor palliate nor exaggerate; spero contra spent . I do all I can to resist the weight of despondency, but, indeed, I am cruelly alarmed, and prepare myself for the worst. I cannot pretend to bid you keep up your spirits, or hope or despond, for I know not what to do or to say. My thoughts are on the rack about your health, and the improbability that your shattered nerves will be able to resist such a blow as this may prove. Colonel Barry sits all day over the fire crying, and is angry if one suggests a hope. He quite kills me. I had got so far when Mr. Higgins came in, who declares upon his honour he would not buoy me up with false hopes, but his opinion is not the least altered by the arrival of this packet, nor will it till we hear from Honduras. There is nothing so common as ships driving past Jamaica and being lost for months; Admiral Parker was so for four months.
February 6th. Barry has quite got up his spirits, but I fancy from no reason but Higgins’s persevering in his opinion, or perhaps from forcing himself out into the fresh air. How often have I admired and felt the force of the Marquis of Ormond’s exclamation about his dead son! Ours, if gone, is gone “with- out a blot upon his fair fame.” How time runs on! — every day sinks so much of my hopes, that I feel myself unmanned by every desponding expression or look of other people.
February 12th. I write to save the last post. We had just dined when a letter came from Colonel Barry, enclosing one just received from the General, the date of which was the 25th of October, from Martinique. They had arrived, after an agreeable passage in a good ship, the day before. They were to re-embark that evening for Jamaica, where the General expected to be landed about the 1st of November. His letter is written in uncommon spirits. He says they were all well, but that he keeps Swinburne so busy he has no time to write, and therefore begs Barry to acquaint his family that he is safe and well. It was almost too much happiness to bear when these tidings came amidst all our anxiety, and we were quite overcome at such unusual ways of digestion.
February 21 st. … Higgins says there is a letter arrived to a Mr. Miller, announcing the safety of all the crew of the Babet. By that I should imagine they have been shipwrecked. I care not, so he is safe.
February 24th Nepean has just written to me in a style you must like: “I am a father, and can therefore participate in your feelings on the news of your son’s safety ; long may he live ! I am sure he will be an honour to his name.”
March 2nd , 1801. Another month begun, and yet no satisfactory accounts of my dear son ! My hopes and fears are exactly what they were, and I wait in silence and sullen patience the accounts from Jamaica.
March 4th. … This strong south-west wind might have blown some ships in from Jamaica. I dare not say I long for their arrival.
March 28th . Every day takes away part of our hopes ; there are letters by the Jamaica mail, and accounts have been received from Honduras and other parts of the island. They have seen nothing of the unfortunate Babet , so that little opening remains but the chances of capture, which I am afraid would have been known before now. The Knox family and Colonel Barry give it up as a lost case. I write illegibly, for my eyes are dim, and every letter appears double.Can it be that the Almighty made my Hariy so good, so perfect, and protected him through so many perils, to take him away so early? I cannot believe it, till compelled by time and circumstances. I will still hope, till hope itself shall turn to despair. Pray look among my papers for all his precious letters, and put them carefully together. Happy is the farmer whose son learns to plough his land, and remains with him till his dying day !” [Secret Memoirs Of The Courts Of Europe Letters Written At The End Of The Eighteenth Century Vol Ii by Henry Swinburne pages 264 to 274 retrieved through archive.org]
Lines on the loss of the Babet by the Poet Laureate
Jemmet Mainwaring’s second cousin Henry James Pye (1745 – 1813) was appointed Poet Laureate in 1790, and held the post for 23 years. (Justly or otherwise Henry Pye is widely regarded as England’s worst Poet Laureate). Among his work is a poem on the loss of HMS Babet and the deaths of Mainwaring and Knox. The poem was reproduced in The Naval Chronicle.
Captain Jemmett Mainwaring’s will was probated in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 1 July 1801. [PROB 11/1360/15] He left the bulk of his estate to Anne Mainwaring, daughter of his cousin William Mainwaring.
In the late eighteenth century midshipmen (‘young gentlemen’ aspiring to become commissioned officers) usually joined the British navy through patronage or ‘interest’: string-pulling. You got your berth under a captain your family had connections with. After six years of notionally voluntary service a midshipman who successfully completed a formal examination could be promoted to lieutenant. There was no system of purchased commission as in the army: this meant that a naval career could be open to boys of less wealthy families and to younger sons of the rich who were destined not to inherit.
Rowland was one of five cousins who joined the navy about this time. With the exception of Jemmett Mainwaring (1763 – 1800), a first cousin of his father, no member of this branch of Mainwaring family had ever followed a naval career.
Jemmett Mainwaring born 1763 was the youngest son of of Benjamin Mainwaring (1719 – 1782) who had three sons who survived to maturity . Jemmett’s oldest brother Edward (1744 – 1803) served as an officer during the first American war. The second brother, John Montague Mainwaring (1761 – 1842), also served in the army rising to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Jemmett seems to have obtained a midshipman’s place no later than 1783. It was a requirement at the time that before being commissioned as a lieutenant, an officer had to serve six years at sea and pass an examination. Jemmett Mainwaring was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1789 when he was 26.
I have found no record of his career before he was lieutenant nor do I know who his patron was. However, Jemmett Mainwaring’s grandmother, Jemima Mainwaring nee Pye (1681 – 1721) had a nephew, Thomas Pye (1708 – 1785), an admiral. Although Jemima was no longer alive to exert any influence on behalf of her grandson, perhaps Jemmett’s father Benjamin appealed to his maternal cousin on his behalf. Jemmett was a younger son, with two surviving older brothers. His father was also a younger son. A naval apprenticeship for Jemmett, with the likelihood of a commission, must have seemed an attractive prospect, potentially very rewarding.
The Royal Navy was expanded rapidly, especially at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars of 1792 – 1801. In 1784 there were 2,230 officers of whom 1,499 were lieutenants. In 1800 there were 3,168 officers of whom 2,120 were lieutenants; increases of over 40%. Moreover, in 1784 only about 25% of officers were serving afloat. In 1800 60% of officers and 68% of lieutenants were serving afloat.
Jemmett Mainwaring’s first placement as a lieutenant, from June 1789, was on HMS Royal George, a 100-gun first rateship of the line, launched at Chatham Dockyard the year before Jemmett Mainwaring joined her. It appears that he served on the Royal George until 1795.
Jemmett Mainwaring may have been on the Royal George at the Glorious First of June, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ushant of 1794. This was the first and largest fleet battle during the French Revolutionary Wars. The French admiral, Rear-Admiral Louis-Thomas Villaret-Joyeuse, had sailed from Brest to intercept a valuable grain fleet from America, urgently needed in famine-stricken France. The English commander-in-chief, Lord Howe, sailed with the Channel Fleet to intercept the convoy; neither the French battle fleet nor the British encountered the convoy, which reached Brest in safety. Instead the two battle fleets made contact on 28 May, some 365 nautical miles (673 km) off Ushant, Brittany.
Only a few British ships managed to pierce the French line and engage closely with the enemy. The Royal George, Admiral Hood‘s flagship, was one of these. It engaged closely with two French ships but lost its foremast and suffered damage to the rigging during the battle.
In June 1795 Jemmett Mainwaring was commissioned with the rank of commander and was appointed to HMS Espiegle, a 16 gun French-built sloop captured by the British in 1793. When the Royal Navy took her into service they retained her name. Six months later in December 1795 Mainwaring was transferred to the command of HMS Victorieuse.
Victorieuse was a brig of the French Navy, launched at Honfleur in 1794. The British captured her in August 1795 and took her into service as HMS Victorieuse. She was fitted out at Portsmouth dockyard at a cost of £890. On 22 February 1796 she sailed for the Leeward Islands, a group of islands colonised by the British and situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. Victorieuse was at the attack on St. Lucia on 24 May 1796 and was one of the vessels covering the landing of troops at Choc Bay. She shared in the prize money paid in June 1800.
In July 1796 Jemmett Mainwaring was promoted to Captain, with command of HMS Aimable, a 32 gun French frigate built in 1776 and captured by the British in 1782. The Aimable had a complement of 192.
On the evening of 22 July 1796, shortly after taking command, Mainwaring in the Aimable engaged the French frigate Pensee (44 guns and 400 men; Seine class frigate originally named La Spartiate) off Guadeloupe. Although the Pensee was a significantly more powerful vessel, the men of the Aimable were, so it is reported, more than willing to take her on, crying “To glory or to death!” when Mainwaring pointed out the superior force of their opponent. Mainwaring himself said that he would lead them into action against their republican foe with sincere pleasure.
In the exchange the Pensee suffered losses of 28 men killed and 36 wounded. The Aimable had two men wounded. The next morning the Aimable was preparing to capture the Pensee, making preparations to lash the Pensee’s bowsprit to the Aimable’s main mast when the French commander and his crew greeted the British frigate by pulling off their hats and waving them. The British sailors returned this chivalrous salute but then the Pensee sailed away and escaped. Three days later the Aimable arrived at the island of St Thomas, then a Danish colony, and found the Pensee there undergoing repairs. The British and French commanders subsequently dined together with the Danish Governor.
In other engagements under the command of Jemmett Mainwaring the Aimable captured the French Privateer L’Iris (6 guns) in September 1796 and in April 1797 took the Privateer Le Chasseur (6 guns).
…TO BE CONTINUED.
UK, Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815 retrieved through ancestry.com
Marshall, John (1825). Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Superannuated rear-admirals. Retired captains. Post-Captains. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. Volume II Part II pp. 600–5. [Biography of John Wight Esq who was lieutenant on the Aimable in July 1796.]
James, William (1826). The Naval History of Great Britain from the Declaration of War by France, in February 1793 to the Accession of George IV in January 1820. Harding, Lepard, and Company. pp. 484–6.
In May 1795, at the age of twelve, Rowland Mainwaring (1782 – 1862), my fourth great grandfather, joined the Royal Navy as a ‘young gentleman’, an aspiring officer. He was under the patronage of Admiral Sir John Laforey. His first ship was the Jupiter, a 50-gun fourth-rateship of the line commanded by Captain William Lechmere.
In the same year he became a midshipman on the Scipio, a 64-gun third rater, serving on the West Indies Station. He also served for a short while on the Beaulieu, a 40-gun fifth-ratefrigate, and on the Ganges a 74 gun third-rater. In just over a year Mainwaring had served in four ships, ranging in size from 40 to 74 guns. The Beaulieu had a notional complement of 320 officers and men and the Ganges 590 (naval vessels of the period were usually short-handed).
HMS Majestic under Westcott then joined the Channel Fleet, and was present at the Spithead Mutiny in April and May 1797. The mutiny at Spithead (an anchorage near Portsmouth) lasted from 16 April to 15 May 1797. It was one of two major mutinies in 1797. Sailors on 16 ships in the Channel Fleet protested against the living conditions aboard Royal Navy vessels and demanded a pay rise, better victualling, increased shore leave, and compensation for sickness and injury. During the mutiny the mutineers maintained regular naval routine and discipline aboard their ships (mostly with their regular officers), allowed some ships to leave for convoy escort duty or patrols, and promised to suspend the mutiny and go to sea immediately if French ships were spotted heading for English shores. Because of mistrust, especially over pardons for the mutineers, the negotiations broke down, and minor incidents broke out, with several unpopular officers sent to shore and others treated with signs of deliberate disrespect.
The mutiny ended with an agreement that saw a royal pardon for all crews, reassignment of some of the unpopular officers, a pay raise and abolition of the purser’s pound. Afterwards, the mutiny was to become nicknamed the “breeze at Spithead”.
The Battle of the Nile was fought from 1 to 3 August 1798 at Aboukir Bay, on the Nile Delta, 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Alexandria. The British fleet, led by Nelson, decisively defeated the French under Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d’Aigalliers.
At this time Rowland Mainwaring was 15 years old. He never forgot the experience and frequently mentioned the anniversary in his diary entries. In later years he commissioned the marine artist Thomas Luny to paint the battle, himself sketching what he remembered of the scene, in particular the terrible moment when the flagship of the French Navy, L’Orient, was hit by a cannonball in her gunpowder magazine and exploded. The painting by Luny showing the battle at 10 p.m. on 1 August 1798 still hangs in Whitmore Hall.
Although it was late afternoon and the British fleet had no accurate charts of the bay, Nelson ordered an immediate attack on the French who were unprepared and unable to manoeuvre as the British split into two divisions and sailed down either side of the French line, capturing all five ships of the vanguard and engaging the French 120-gun flagship Orient in the centre. At 21:00, Orient caught fire and exploded, killing most of the crew and ending the main combat. Sporadic fighting continued for the next two days, until all of the French ships had been captured, destroyed or had fled; eleven French ships of the line and two frigates were eliminated.
Majestic was towards the rear of the British line, and did not come into action until late in the battle. Together with HMS Bellerophon, Majestic, passed by the melee and advanced on the so far unengaged French centre. In the darkness and smoke Majestic collided with the French ship Heureux and became entangled in her rigging. Majestic then came under heavy fire from the French ship Tonnant. Unable to stop in time, Westcott’s jib boom became entangled with Tonnant‘sshroud. Trapped for several minutes, Majestic suffered heavy casualties. The captain of the Majestic, George Westcott was hit by a musket ball in the throat and killed. Lieutenant Robert Cuthbert took command and was confirmed as acting captain by Nelson the day after the battle.
The Battle of the Nile was a great defeat for the French. The Royal Navy lost 218 killed and 677 wounded; the French losses were 2,000–5,000 killed and wounded, 3,000–3,900 captured, 9 ships of the line captured, and two ships of the line and two frigates destroyed.
The strategic situation between the two nations’ forces in the Mediterranean was reversed, and the Royal Navy gained a dominant position that it retained for the rest of the war.
A medal was issued for those who took part in the Battle of the Nile. Rowland Mainwaring claimed his medal only in 1847 and received it in 1850 with a medal for the Siege of Copenhagen. I am not sure why he left it so late to claim these honours.
In 1826 the English poetess Mrs Felicia Hemans wrote her well-known ‘Casabianca‘, which begins:
The boy stood on the burning deck Whence all but him had fled; The flame that lit the battle's wreck Shone round him o'er the dead.
The poem commemorates the young son of the commander of the French ship L’Orient who refused to desert his post without orders from his father.
(I will write separately about the rest of Rowland Mainwaring’s career.)
Parallels with the fictional Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey
Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey are fictional Royal Navy officers of the Napoleonic war years. Hornblower is the protagonist of a series of novels and stories by C. S. Forester published 1937 to 1967; Jack Aubrey is a fictional character in the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brian published 1969 to 2004. Hornblower and Aubrey are both a little older than Rowland Mainwaring.
In Forester’s novel ‘Mr. Midshipman Hornblower‘ his hero has that rank between 1794 and 1799. In his fictional career Hornblower served under the famous admiral Sir Edward Pellew; Mainwaring also served under Pellew, evidently with respect and admiration, for he christened his second son ‘Edward Pellew’.
In ‘Master and Commander‘ O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, at the time lieutenant on HMS Leander, earns a silver Nile medal. The medal is mentioned every time Aubrey puts on his dress uniform.
Sources and notes
O’Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, Inclusive. 1849. Page 711. Retrieved through archive.org.
Marshall, John. Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Captains. Commanders. 1832. Pages 126 – 130. Retrieved through Google Books.
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon. The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations. 1934. Pages 104, 114, and 115. Retrieved through archive.org
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Page 82.
Note: Although the birthdate of my fourth great grandfather Rowland Mainwaring is usually given as 31 December 1783, he was baptised at St George, Hanover Square London on 18 January 1783 and thus his date of birth is actually 31 December 1782. [City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: SJSS/PR/5/16 retrieved through ancestry.com]
Every Friday the genealogy website FindMyPast lists records newly added to its collection. On 1 September they added several volumes of English marriage licences.
Commissary Court of Surrey Marriage Licences 1673-1770 , title page
In the Commissary Court of Surrey Marriage Licences 1673-1770 I was pleased to find a record, dated 19 April 1765, which gives licence details for my 6th great aunt, Anne Champion Crespigny.
Anne was the sixth of seven children of Philip Champion de Crespigny (1704-1765) and his wife Anne née Fonnereau (1704-1782). She was born 10 October 1739 and was baptised 30 October 1739 at the Church of St Benet’s, Paul’s Wharf, London. Anne’s father Philip died 11 February 1765. He had had a successful career as a lawyer including holding the position of Marshall of the Court of Admiralty.
The Commissary Court of Surrey Marriage Licences lists Anne as a spinster of Camberwell, 21, licensed to marry Bonouvrier Glover of Camberwell, abode 4 weeks, Esq. signs, bachelor 21. Claud Crespigny, surrogate. (page 547).
The index of licences says she was 21 but actually she was 26 and thus of full age, that is over 21. Bonouvrier was also 26. He had apparently only recently moved to Camberwell.
Bonouvrier Glover, the son of Richard and Hannah, was born 22 November 1739 and baptised 18 December 1739 at St Lawrence Pountney, London. Richard Glover was noted poet and also a parliamentarian. Bonouvrier’s younger brother, Richard Glover (1750-1822), also was a parliamentarian. In 1756 Bonouvrier’s father, Richard Glover senior, sued his wife for divorce. At this time divorce was very rare. The divorce of Richard Glover was the only divorce in 1756 and one of only sixteen in the decade 1751-1760. (Great Britain. Parliament. An act to dissolve the marriage of Richard Glover, with Hannah Nunn his now Wife, and to enable him to marry again; and for other Purposes therein mentioned. S.n., . Eighteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/5A8RA2. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017. Victorian Divorce by Allen Horstmen page 16 retrieved from Google Books)
Anne’s brother Claude Champion de Crespigny (1734-1818),
Claude’s wife and Anne’s sister-in-law, Mary Crespigny (1747-1812), and
Henry Reveley (1737-1798), husband of Anne’s sister Jane (1742-1829). (index to marriage retrieved through the genealogist.co.uk)
James Gladell’s uncle Lord Shipbrook died in October 1783 and James Gladell received an inheritance in the will, written 29 May 1781 and probated 7 November 1783. (Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills PROB11/1110)
In May 1784, after his uncle’s death, James Gladell changed his surname to Vernon.
In 1788 James and his wife Anne were involved in an insurance case in 1788 (Description: Insured: James Gladell Vernon, Esq. and Ann Gladell Vernon, his wife, Hereford Street, Oxford Street and James Mansfield Chadwick, Piccadilly, Esq. Other property or occupiers: Finch Lane, Cornhill (Seagood and Collins, printers) Date: 24 June 1788 Reference: MS 11936/353/545158 Held by the London Metropolitan Archives)
Anne died 2 June 1797.
Died: Friday, Mrs. Vernon, wife of James Gladell Vernon, Esq. of Hereford-Street. (“News.” St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, June 3, 1797 – June 6, 1797. 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/5A77y2. Accessed 1 Sept. 2017.)
Anne had no children. James Gladell Vernon married again in 1802. He died in 1819.
My fourth great uncle Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring was the 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).
On 19 September 1856 Karl Mainwaring appointed as lieutenant in the Royal Navy. From 1874 to 1893 Karl Mainwaring was harbour master in Kingston, Jamaica. He retired from the navy with the rank of captain.
HMS Princess Charlottewas a 104-gun first-rate ship launched in 1825. Once the the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, from 1858 until she was sold in 1875 the Princess Charlotte was used as a receiving ship, a harbour-bound hulk used for stores and accommodation in lieu of a permanent shore base.
In July 1866 Lieutenant Mainwaring was given charge of HMS Opossum.
In 1865 HMS Opossum had been engaged in attacks on Chinese pirates in co-operation with the fleet of the Manchu Qing government. The attacks were reported in The Illustrated London News of 23 October 1865.
‘Expedition against the Chinese Pirates’ from The Illustrated London News of 23 October 1865 page 409 with illustration: Fleet of Chinese junks, with HMS Opossum, preparing to attack pirates at How-Chow. Retrieved from thegenealogist.co.uk
On 18 July 1866 HMS Opossum, commanded by Lieutenant Mainwaring, together with HMS Osprey attacked pirate vessels in Sama Bay, now known as Sanya Bay on Hainan Island, 250 miles south-west of Hong Kong. The British destroyed 22 Junks and 270 cannon and killed about 100 men.
Guy Mainwaring (1847-1909), my 4th great uncle, was the 15th of the 17 children of Rowland Mainwaring (1783-1862), sixth of the eight children of Rowland’s third wife Laura Maria Julia Walburga Chevillard (1811-1891).
Mainwaring joined the navy on 11 September 1860 at the age of 13. On the 1861 census he is recorded as a naval cadet on the training ship HMS Brittania in Portsmouth Harbour in the south of England.
In 1878 Mainwaring, by then a Lieutenant, was serving in the the cadet training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth, Devon. (A different ship of the same name, the renamed HMS Prince of Wales built in 1860.)
A picture of Lieutenant Mainwaring (standing towards the stern) with cadets from HMS Britannia, including the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York, from The Story of the “Britannia”, by E. P. Statham, 1903. Project Gutenberg has this book.
also from The Story of “Brittannia”
One of the lieutenants wrote:
‘There did not seem much for the three Lieutenants to do. We took alternate day duty, and on those heard and dealt with minor offences. We attended at meals, looked round the seamanship classes, saw to the boys going and returning from recreation, received any applications and went rounds.’
In his book on the Britannia pack, Sir James Eberle suggests Guy Mainwaring may have been a little bored and just wanted to have a little local sport and founded a hunting pack. Jim was a terrier belonging to Mr Evans, the First Lieutenant of HMS Britannia. Jim with his son Jimson and about six other dogs formed the first pack with Lieutenant Mainwaring as master. They would hunt anything that could be found including a drag which was a rabbits skin soaked in herring oil. Other dogs in the pack may have been named Flirt, Rummager, Magpie, Bird, Beauty, Countess and Rattler. In 1879 Lucy, the first hound was purchased from a Mr Cartlich of Staffordshire. In 1880 Homeless, a beagle, was acquired from the Battersea lost dogs home.
In 1881 Lieutenant Mainwaring left HMS Britannia. He was succeeded as master of the pack by Lieutenant Furlonger.
Jim, the founding member of the pack, died in 1886. His grave is in the grounds of the Royal Naval College.
Claude joined the Royal Navy, probably at about the age of 15 in 1844. He served as a midshipman on HMS Daedalus which was based in the Pacific Station from 1845 and in 1848 the Daedalus was involved in a survey of Borneo.
On 12 March 1851 Claude was promoted to Mate, and 11 January 1854 was promoted to Lieutenant. That year, during the Crimean War, he was recorded as commanding the Snap, a screw-driven wooden gunboat of 232 tons and three guns.
In 1856 Claude was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
In November 1856 Lieutenant C.A.C. de Crespigny R.N., F.R.G.S. submitted a proposal to the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain for a more thorough exploration of Borneo, Claude arguing that he should command since he had been involved in a survey of the north-west coast in 1848 and had that time learned the Malay language and had become acquainted with the native people and their customs.
Claude continued his connection with Borneo. A History of Sarawak under Its Two White Rajahs 1839-1908 by S. (Sabine) Baring-Gould and C. A. Bampfylde states the late Mr C.A.C. de Crespigny was formerly of the Royal Navy, and summarises his career in the Colonial service in Borneo and Malaysia as being firstly with the Labuan Civil Service, and from 1871 with the Sarawak Civil Service. In Sarawak, Claude was Resident at Mukah, and subsequently Divisional Resident of the 3rd Division.
Claude spoke several times to London societies about Borneo. In 1872, for example, Lieutenant de Crespigny gave a lecture at the Victoria Institute on his “Journey to the Murut Country in Northern Borneo”. In February 1875 Claude spoke at the Anthropological Institute about the “Milan’s of Borneo”.
On 31 July 1882, while Resident of Baram, Claude referred to oil in his diary. A Malaysian blogger writes about Claude’s observations:
… Mr. C.C. (Claude Champion) de Crespigny, then the Resident of Baram, who was the first to record the presence of oil in Sarawak. The entry in his diary, dated 31st July 1882, refers to oil discovered in some 18 wells dug by hand by the local inhabitants. ‘Earth Oil’ (Minyak Tanah) was their name for it. Ever since this strange substance appeared in seepages, its possibilities had begun to be realised. They used the oil mixed with resin for chaulking boats. They also tried to use it for lighting, employing an open wick, but it invariably caught fire, usually with disastrous results to their homes. ‘Earth Oil’ soon earned a reputation of being possessed by a ‘hantu’ (ghost/spirit) with an inconvenient and insatiable desire to burn down houses.
In 1883 a fort was built at Marudi (now officially known as Claudetown), a spot on the river-bank some sixty miles from the sea, the first spot at which in ascending the river a high bank suitable for a settlement is encountered. Here Mr. Claude de Crespigny, assisted by two junior officers, a squad of some thirty rangers, and a few native police, began the task of introducing law and order into these 10,000 square miles of dense jungles, rushing rivers, and high mountains, the scene for unknown ages of the hard perpetual struggle of savage man with nature, and of the fierce conflict of man with man. At first the interior tribes remained aloof, and the little outpost of civilisation was frequently threatened by them with extermination. But after some few years the Kayans of the lower villages became reconciled to the new state of affairs, recognised the authority of the Rajah and of the Resident, and consented to pay the small annual door-tax amounting to two dollars per family or door.
Claude never married. He died 28 December 1884. The will of Claude Champion de Crespigny formerly of Sarawak but late of Crowcombe Villa, an officer in the Service of Rajah Brooke, was proved by his brother Eyre Nicholas Champion de Crespigny.
In 1883 the fort built at Marudi, Sarawak, was named Claudetown in Claude de Crespigny’s honour.
Augustus James Champion de Crespigny (1791-1825), my second cousin five times removed, died of yellow fever on board HMS Scylla. and was buried at Port Royal, Jamaica. Augustus was the third son of the second baronet, Sir William Champion de Crespigny (1765-189) and his wife Lady Sarah née Windsor (1763-1825).
Augustus James Champion de Crespigny, portrait in the collection of Kelmarsh Hall. Published on artuk.org
The monumental inscription at the Port Royal Parish Church in Jamaica reads:
Sacred to the memory of Augustus James DE CRESPIGNY, 3d son of Sir W. Chn & Lady Sarah De Crespigny, who died on board H.M.Ship ‘Scylla’, Oct. 24, 1825. Capt De Crespigny went first to sea under the patronage of Ld. St Vincent & served under the flag of Nelson, at Trafalgar. From thence he was taken under the patronage of Ld. Collingwood, who made him study the duties of a seaman, under his particular care. The above gallant officer saved no less than sixteen lives of his fellow creatures during his naval career for which he was presented with a service of Plate from his Ship’s crew, as well as a medal from the R.H.S. in the annual report of which society an account is given, the last paragraph is as follows: These are to certify to the principal officers of the Royal Humane Society that Lieutenant Augustus C. De Crespigny served with me as a volunteer midshipman from His Majesty’s Ship ‘Tonnant’ in the gunboat service in Cadiz in 1810, during which time I had opportunities of seeing his noble conduct on three very particular occasions. First, in jumping from a boat in a very strong tide way and saving a Marine, Second, a boy in the same way, and thirdly, in taking to a small boat & pulling into the very muzzles of the enemy’s guns, and evidently saving five men that were near drowning, by the ‘Achilles’ barge being sunk: his conduct on the last occasion was so truly noble that he not only gained the admiration of the whole flotilla but the envy of the French Commanding Officer, who at last ordered his men to cease firing on him. Given under my hand, this 12th Day of July 1815, West Cowes. This tribute to a father’s memory was erected by his eldest son, Sir Claude Chn. De Crespigny, BT 1841. (from findagrave.com )
Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease, transmitted primarily by mosquitoes. It is called ‘yellow fever’, from the French ‘jaune’, ‘yellow’, because the infected person’s skin takes on a characteristic yellowish colour.
According to the caption of a photograph of the church at Port Royal taken by the International Mission Photography Archive (IMPA), the church has numerous plaques commemorating men lost in gales, killed in action or by the sinking of their ships, but more numerous than the others put together, are those commemorating men struck down by yellow fever.
Photograph of the Church of England Parish Church, Port Royal. The church is a stone built building with a red tiled roof. A number of parishioners can be seen approaching the building. The church was rebuilt 1725-1726.; Memorial tablets cover the interior walls of the church commemorating men lost in gales, killed in action or by the sinking of their ships, but more numerous than all the others put together are those commemorating those struck down by yellow fever. From the International Mission Photography Archive (IMPA) – http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll123/id/64458, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30916044
Augustus was born 6 March 1791 at Nice in the south of France. He had two older brothers and seven younger siblings:
William Other Robert 1789-1816
Patience Anne 1795-1831
Emma Honoria Dorothy 1800-1883
Herbert Joseph 1805-1881
Mary Catherine 1810-1858
Augustus and his brother Claude entered the Royal Navy in the war against France.
Their grandfather, Claude Champion de Crespigny (1734-1818), was Receiver-General of the droits of Admiralty, traditional rights or perquisites of the Crown, which included proceeds from the sale of enemy ships seized in time of war. With this connection it is perhaps not surprising that two of his grandsons were enlisted in the Navy.
Augustus first went to sea at the age of 14 under the patronage of John Jarvis, First Lord of the Admiralty, later Earl of St Vincent, who was then First Lord of the Admiralty. In October 1805 Augustus was at the Battle of Trafalgar on board HMS Spartiate.
He was later a volunteer midshipman on HMS Tonnantin the gunboat service in 1810 at Cadiz. While serving on the Tonnant he rescued drowning sailors on three separate occasions.
Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Part 1, 1816, page 609: Review of New Publications – Annual Report of the Royal Humane Society for the recovery of Persons Apparently Dead 1816. Retrieved from Google Books https://books.google.com.au/books?id=wc9KAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA609 (click on image to zoom in)
Augustus de Crespigny became a Lieutenant on 1 April 1811. (The Commissioned Sea Officers Of The Royal Navy 1660-1815 Volume 1 viewed on ancestry.com)
Augustus’s brother Claude died of dysentery in July 1813 on board the HMS Gorgonoff Palermo. The HMS Gorgon was serving as the flagship for Vice Admiral Francis Pickmore. Commander Claude de Crespigny replaced Commander Rowland Mainwaring at Port Mahon, Menorca, in 1813. Coincidentally Rowland Mainwaring (1783-1862) is my fourth great grandfather on another branch of my tree.
Augustus’s second oldest brother William, was a lawyer and called to the bar in 1814. He served with the Surrey local militia promoted to lieutenant on 9 July 1813. He died of illness in January 1816.
Neither Claude nor William had married.
On 29 May 1817 Augustus James Champion de Crespigny, bachelor of Kensington, married Caroline Smyth, spinster, by licence, in the parish of St George Hanover Square. They had three children:
Claude William (1818-1868) – he succeeded his grandfather as the third baronet
Augustus-James, Capt. R.N., gallant officer, who served under Nelson and Collingwood, and whom the latter took under his especial care. On board the Ocean, he saved no less than Gorgon, nine of his fellow subjects from a watery grave, at the imminent risk of his own life, for which he received a medal from the Royal Humane Society, and a service of plate from his ship’s crew. His last gallant feat, was his taking to a small boat, and pulling into the very muzzles of the enemy’s guns, whereby he saved five men who were near drowning by the Achilles Barge being sunk. His conduct on this last occasion was so truly noble, that he not only gained the admiration of the whole Flotilla, but the envy of the French commanding officer, who at last ordered his men to cease firing on him. Capt. de Crespigny, d. on board H. M. S. Scythe, off Port Royal, Jamaica, 24 Oct. 1825.
After my great great grandmother Ellen Jane Cavenagh-Mainwaring, formerly Cavenagh, née Mainwaring, inherited the family property of Whitmore in Staffordshire in 1891, the Cavenagh-Mainwaring family sailed for England in 1892 on the SS Ballaarat to take possession of the inheritance. The family surname had been changed in 1891 to assume the name and arms of Mainwaring in addition to Cavenagh in acknowledgement of the inheritance. Of the nine surviving children, the six daughters and the youngest son, Hugh, travelled with their parents. The oldest daughter, Eva, was 24. The youngest, Gertrude, known as Kiddie, was 10.
The Ballaarat arrived in London on 8 June 1892. Mr and Mrs Cavenagh-Mainwaring and their children were on the passenger list. The ages on the list are mostly wrong.
from Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA). Series BT26. Class: BT26; Piece: 32; Item: 17 Month: 06. Retrieved through ancestry.com.au.
Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring was born in 1822. On arrival he was 69 not 43 as stated. His wife, born in 1845, was 46 not 39. Eva was 24 not 19. May (Mabel) was 23 not 15. Kathleen, my great grandmother, was 18 not 14.
On 4 October 1892 the eldest Cavenagh-Mainwaring daughter, Eva, married Herbert James Gedge, a naval officer.
Eva Gedge née Cavenagh (1867 – 1941) in about 1907
The wedding was reported in Australian newspapers, including the Adelaide Advertiser of 7 November 1892, the South Australian Chronicle of 12 November 1892, and 26 November 1892, the Melbourne Punch of 17 November 1892, the Adelaide Express and Telegraph of 19 November 1892, Melbourne’s Table Talk of 25 November 1892, and the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser of 10 December 1892.
Herbert James Gedge (1859-1913), the son of a clergyman, entered the navy at the age of 12. He graduated from the Royal Naval College in 1879. On 15 February 1882 Gedge was promoted to Lieutenant. In the mid 1880s Gedge was posted to the Australia Station, the British naval command responsible for waters around the Australian colonies. TheSydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser in their report of the 1892 wedding mentioned that Lieutenant Gedge had been on the Australian Station for five or six years, serving as Lieutenant of HMS Nelson and Dart.
I think for most of his posting Lieutenant Gedge was stationed in Sydney. I checked the passenger list of the Ballaarat for his name. He was a passenger from Sydney together with five other Lieutenants in the Royal Navy, two naval doctors, and two other naval officers.
from Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA). Series BT26. Class: BT26; Piece: 32; Item: 17 Month: 06. Retrieved through ancestry.com.au.
I assume Herbert Gedge and Eva Cavenagh-Mainwaring met aboard the Ballaarat on the trip to England in 1892. I have found no evidence their paths crossed earlier.