Monday, March 31

Mr. Midshipman Bushby

BUSHBY.
Acasta Midshipman, under Capt. Beaver, c.1805-08

Thomas Bushby is brother of the late Capt. John Bushby, R.N.

This officer entered the Navy, 14 July, 1804, as Midshipman, on board the Spy 18, commanded by his brother, Capt. J. Bushby, under whom we find him for many months in continual collision with the Boulogne batteries and flotilla. From Oct. 1805, until Sept. 1808, he next served, on the Home and West and East India stations, in the Obeeon 16, Capt. J. Bushby, Trusty 50, Capt. Brian Hodgson, ACASTA 38, Capt. Philip Beaver, Wasp 18, Capt. John Haswell, and Monmouth 64, flag-ship of Rear-Admiral Wm. O'Brien Drury, with the latter of whom he appears to have been present at the surrender of Tranquebar in 1808.

Source: 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. Compiled from Authentic and Family Documents. BY WILLIAM E. O'BYRNE, ESQ.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, PUBLISHER TO THE ADMIRALTY. 1849.

Thursday, March 27

Captain James Wood

Capt. of Acasta, April 1802 - February 1805
WOOD, James Athol (1756-1829), of Albany, Piccadilly, Mdx.

Constituency GATTON, Dates 1806 - 1807

Offices Held
Able seaman RN 1774, master’s mate 1776, acting lt. 1778, lt. 1778, cdr. 1795, capt. 1797, r.-dm. 1821.

Vendue master, CuraƧao 1812-15.

Biography

Wood’s elder brothers Mark and George having entered the East India Company’s service, he began his career at sea in the East India merchant service (1772), but subsequently entered the navy and saw action in the American war, in which he was severely wounded. After the peace he was two years in France; then in the merchant navy, in the East Indian (1788-9) and West Indian spheres. He was at Barbados in 1794 when Adm. Jervis appointed him to the Boyne, to convey French prisoners from Martinique. On putting in at St. Malo he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris by order of the committee of public safety, 1 June 1794, remaining there until April 1795, when he was released and exerted himself on behalf of other English prisoners.

J. T. Duckworth
He next saw active service in the West Indies and after his part in the capture of Trinidad was posted captain (1797). He survived shipwreck off Madagascar (1798) and after returning to England was appointed to escort a convoy to the West Indies in the Acasta, November 1804. On arrival at Port Royal, February 1805, Sir John Thomas Duckworth*, the recalled commander-in-chief of the Jamaica station, commandeered his vessel, appointing his own captain, and, according to Wood, who was obliged to return as a passenger, loaded a cargo of merchandise, contrary to the 18th article of war, 22 Geo. II c. 33. Wood applied for a court martial against Duckworth, but it decided in the latter’s favour and his brother Mark’s attempt to have the minutes of the court martial laid before Parliament was ‘loudly negatived’, 7 June 1805. Wood’s memorial to the Admiralty board at least inspired a regulation aimed to prevent any repetition of Duckworth’s behaviour and he was found another ship.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
From the History of Parliament website: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org

Wednesday, March 26

Young Sea Officer's Assistant

It is my understanding that Mr. Midshipman Edward Stewart has, in his free time, been making efforts to study for his Lieutenant's exam. He has been spotted all over the ship with his worn copy of the 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' in his hands or tucked in his pocket. The pages are nearly gray with wear and age.

Young Mr. Hanmer, who is a Master's-Mate and fancies himself the 'King' of the gunroom, tho' he is the same age as most of the fellows there, has made great sport of poor Stewart. Mr. Stewart's family sent him an older copy of the 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' from '73 I believe, and Hanmer has not allowed Stewart to forget it.

This morning, Hanmer approached Stewart and clapped him on the shoulder and says, "Edward, I'm certain you'll make a fine Lieutenant... during the American Revolution!"

You may have a look through Mr. Stewart's poor old copy of 'Young Sea Officer's Assistant' HERE.

Monday, March 24

Acting Lt. Bromley, aged 19 years

Today continues the weekly series wherein we introduce to you some of the REAL Acastas, the men who served aboard at some point between the period from her launch in 1797 to her final year in service to the Crown in 1815. Stop back every Monday to meet an all-new and REAL Acasta!
 
BROMLEY.
Acasta Acting-Lieutenant, under Capt. Lane, 1797, aged 19 years

Sir Robert Howe Bromley, born 28 Nov. 1778, is only son of the late Sir Geo. Bromley, Bart., whom he succeeded in Aug. 1808, by the Hon. Esther Curzon, eldest daughter of Ashton, late Viscount Curzon, and aunt of the present Earl Howe.

This officer entered the Navy, 26 Dec. 1791, as Captain's Servant, on board the Lapwing 28, Capt. Hon. Henry Curzon, on the Mediterranean station; joined next the Lion 64, Capt. Sir Erasmus Gower, under whom he accompanied Lord Macartney's embassy to China; removed as Midshipman, in 1794, into the Triumph 74, lying at Spithead ; afterwards served in the Channel and off the Western Islands on board the Queen Charlotte 100, flag-ship of Earl Howe, Melampus 36, Capt. Sir Rich. John Strachan, and Latona 38, Capt. Hon. Arthur Kaye Legge, from 1795 to 1797 ; was then appointed Acting-Lieutenant of the ACASTA 40, Capt. Rich. Lane, employed in the North Sea; and, on 22 Jan. 1798, was there confirmed into the Inspector 16, Capt. Chas. Lock. Mr. Bromley was subsequently employed, on the Home and West India stations, in L'Aimable 32, Capt. Henry Raper, Pelican 18, Capt. John Thicknesse, and Doris 36, Capt. John Halliday.

Source: 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. Compiled from Authentic and Family Documents. BY WILLIAM E. O'BYRNE, ESQ.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, PUBLISHER TO THE ADMIRALTY. 1849.

Wednesday, March 19

Mail Packet for Jane Austen Fest


Open Call to ALL Reenactors, 
Historians and Creative Writers!

The Royal Navy reenacting group that represents HMS Acasta will be attending the Jane Austen Festival in July of this year. One of the things that I'd like to be able to do is deliver a 'mail packet' full of letters to the various Acasta members. This is a project that I have undertaken in the past with other groups with awesome results.

This is where YOU come in!

Anyone who would like to submit a period correct letter to add to the packet is encouraged to do so! We'd love to have your contribution, however large or small! Anything added to the packet will help to enhance the historical experience for not only the Acastas who receive them, but for the public who will attend the Festival as well.



At last year's event, the Mail Packet was a huge hit with the Acastas and the public alike. Mr. Midshipman Raley delivered the packet to the Captain about mid-day on Saturday and the letters were passed out.

Some examples of things that we got as part of the project:

The Doctor got a secret coded message from Sir Joseph Blaine with the Admiralty. Obviously from a Patrick O'Brian fan.

Lt. Tumbusch got a notice from the Dutch East India Company letting him know that his stock was now worthless.

Rev. Mr. Griswold got a letter letting him know of the death of one of his parishioners.

Mr. Raley got a letter from his 'mother' back home written a professional author of nautical historical fiction.

A letter arrived for the Purser from a mysterious wife and children he claimed to know nothing of.

Capt. Freymann got a letter from a father in England looking for news of the location of his two sons.

Need some ideas for what to write? Try one of these:

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from 'family' this year if you please, last year we had to leave a letter out because Mr. Raley got TWO letters from his 'mother')
A bill or request for payment.
An overdue payment of debt.
A letter carrying news of the war(s)

Or, use the link below to see some other types of period letters:

The Complete Letter Writer...

Wondering what a period letter looks like? Here are some beautiful examples:

http://www.bathpostalmuseum.co.uk/john-palmer/

Contact me to find out where to send your finished letter… or questions, or for any other additional information.

Finshed letters will need to be to ME by the end of June so that they can find their way into the Mail Packet!

Don't know WHO to write to? Here's the lot of Acastas who are usually to be found at the festival:

So pick up your pen and paper and get writing, and HAVE FUN!

Monday, March 17

Lt. Arthur Farquhar


Today continues the weekly series wherein we introduce to you some of the REAL Acastas, the men who served aboard at some point between the period from her launch in 1797 to her final year in service to the Crown in 1815. Stop back every Monday to meet an all-new and REAL Acasta!

Arthur Farquhar, Esq.
Acasta Lieutenant under Capt. Lane, c. 1798, aged approx. 26 years.

A Companion of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath; Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order; and Knight of the Swedish Order of the Sword.

This officer is the sixth son of the late Robert Farquhar, of Kincardineshire, N. B. Esq.-by Agnes, daughter of James Morison, of Elsich, Esq. who was Provost of Aberdeen in the memorable year 1745, and who particularly distinguished himself at that trying period, by his firm attachment to the illustrious House of Brunswick.

Mr. Arthur Farquhar was born at Newhall, a small paternal estate in the above county, and educated there under a private family tutor. He commenced his naval career in Oct. 1787, and served his time as a Midshipman on board the Lowestoffe frigate, Hyeana of 24 guns, and Alcide 74; the two former employed as cruisers on the Channel, Mediterranean, Milford, and Irish stations ; the latter a guard-ship at Portsmouth, commanded by his earliest and principal professional patron, the late Sir Andrew Snape Douglas.

After passing the usual examination for a Lieutenant, Mr. Farquhar was induced to quit the royal navy, and proceed to the East Indies as a free mariner; but he had scarcely arrived there when a war broke out between Great Britain and the French Republic, which caused him to change his plans, and seek an opportunity of returning to the King’s service : it was some time, however, before he succeeded in accomplishing his intention.

The first man of war which Mr. Farquhar joined in India was the Hobart, a ship-sloop, commanded by Captain B. W. Page; from which he was soon removed into the Suffolk 74, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Rainier, commander-in-chief on that station. in the early part of 1796, we find him assisting at the capture of the Harlingen, Dutch national brig, of 14 guns and 45 men; also at the reduction of Amboyna and Banda, on which latter service he held the rank of Lieutenant, in a Dutch armed vessel under his command.

Mr. Farquhar subsequently served as a supernumerary Lieutenant on board the above mentioned brig, which had been purchased for government, named the Amboyna, and commissioned by Lieutenant Dobbie. His good conduct a commanding officer of that vessel, when attacked by a large party of Ladrones, near Macao, will be noticed in the memoir already referred to. He was afterwards appointed in succession to the Swift sloop of war, and Carysfort and Heroine frigates, in which latter ship he returned home, as first Lieutenant, under the command of the Hon. John Murray, in July 1798.

From this period, Lieutenant Farquhar appears to have been actively employed in the Superb 74, Aeolus 32, and Acasta 40, on the Channel, Mediterranean, Baltic, and North Sea stations, until advanced to the rank of Commander, April 29, 1802.

Captain Farquhar’s first appointment after this promotion was, Jan. 16, 1804, to the Acheron bomb, in which vessel he made a most heroic defence against an enemy of overwhelming superiority, on the 4th Feb. 1805, as will be seen by reference to our memoir of his gallant colleague, Captain Richard Budd Vincent…

Source: "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"
by John Marshall
Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1825

Thursday, March 13

Hoisting the Blue Peter

Captain Freymann had Mr. Midshipman Raley go up on deck this morning to hoist the Blue Peter, and it is my understanding that the Captain wishes to depart Bermuda with the next tide. The winter is nearly over and the Captain and Master are of the opinion that the American ships will begin attempting to slip out of port again, if they have not already begun to do so.

There are but a few liberty men remaining ashore, and once word gets round the island that the ships in Castle Harbour have begun to fly the Blue Peter, I imagine the sailors will begin returning in great numbers.

The men ashore from the Acasta are of the more trust-worthy sort, else they would not have been allowed off the ship.  And, Bermuda is such a small island, there are not many places a sailor could hide away and not be discover'd.

We return to our blockade of the port of Baltimore. I must finish my letters and get them ashore before we depart!
BLUE PETER. A flag, "blue pierced with white," was used in the British Navy from 1777 as a general recall flag. In a quarter of a century the term "blue peter" was used by all to designate this flag. Civilians knew its significance, for merchant ships and convoys in the French wars would not sail until the escorting man-of-war hoisted the blue peter for passengers to come aboard.

Source:
Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions 4th Ed. by William P. Mack and Royal W. Connell.


Wednesday, March 12

Meet Captain Kerr

ALEXANDER ROBERT KERR, Esq.

A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.

Son of Lieutenant Robert Kerr, R. N. who died at the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, in 1805.

The subject of this memoir entered the naval service as a Midshipman on board the Endymion 44, commanded by Captain (now Lord) Gambier, in Nov. 1781; and served in that ship, the Nemesis, Alarm, and Boreas frigates; Rattler sloop of war, Orion 74, Narcissus 20, and Boyne 98; under Captains Edward Tyrrel Smith, Charles Cotton, Horatio Nelson, James Wallace, Sir Hyde Parker, Philip d'Auvergne, John Salusbury, Paul Minchin, and George Bowyer; on the Leeward Islands, North American, Jamaica, and Channel stations; till his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, at the conclusion of the Spanish armament. His first commission bears date, Nov. 22, 1790.

In April 1791, Mr. Kerr was appointed senior Lieutenant of the Narcissus, then commanded by Captain Minchin, with whom he continued until paid off in Oct. following. Previous to the commencement of the French revolutionary war, we find him joining the Boston 32, Captain George W. A. Courtenay, in which ship he lost the sight of his right eye by splinters, and received a grape-shot wound in the shoulder, whilst engaged with l'Ambuscade, a republican frigate of superior force, near New York, Aug. 1, 1793. The following account of that action, and of the circumstances which led to it, has been forwarded to us, by an officer who belonged to the Boston, since the publication of the memoir in which we first noticed it.

"We sailed from Newfoundland in consequence of a letter addressed to Captain Courtenay, by the late Sir Rupert George, then commanding the Hussar, at Halifax,, stating that l'Ambuscade French frigate had arrived on the coast of America, and that there was not a British man of War on that station, of sufficient force to protect our commerce; the Hussar being about to depart for the West Indies, with a fleet of transports under her convoy.

'After calling off Halifax harbour to procure pilots, the Boston proceeded towards Sandy Hook, where she arrived on the 26th July, 1793f. Two days afterwards she captured a French schooner privateer of 5 guns and 34 men.

"This prize was manned as a tender, and placed under the command of Mr; Hayes, acting Lieutenant, who was sent into New York, with despatches for the British Consul, apprising him, on the authority of the prisoners, that a French squadron lad arrived in the Chesapeake, from Port-au-Prince, St. Domingo, and that the enemy might shortly be expected to appear off the Hook. Mr. Hayes was likewise directed to reconnoitre l'Ambuscade, to obtain information respecting the strength of her crew, to ascertain, if possible, when she would be ready for sea, and above all to endeavour to get some volunteers for the Boston, she being short of complement, and six of her men unable to leave their hammocks.

"Mr. Hayes parted company with the Boston, at 4-30 P. M. on the 28th July, taking with him our purser, one midshipman, a pilot, and eight men. On the 30th, two officers and thirteen men, belonging to l'Ambuseade, were taken prisoners in the way you have mentioned at p. 674, of your late publication.

"On his arrival at the entrance of the North River, (July 29th, 4 P. M.) Mr. Hayes observed l'Ambuseade at anchor off the town of New York, with top-gallant-masts pointed, and her crew in the act of bending sails. On his nearer approach he clearly ascertained that she mounted 26 long guns on the main-deck, 8 on the quarter-deck, and 2 on the forecastle.

"Soon after the tender had anchored, she was boarded by a French officer, supposed to have been Mons. Bompard himself, who asked her commander if he had seen an English frigate off the Hook; upon which Mr. Hayes informed him that he had the honor to be one of her lieutenants, that he had lately left her there, that she had come from Newfoundland, purposely to meet l'Ambuseade; that her officers would be happy to see the French frigate outside the Hook, and that if Mons. Bompard had the smallest inclination to meet Captain Courtenay, he might depend on finding him about 3 or 4 leagues from the above mentioned point. To this the Frenchman replied that the Boston should certainly be favored with a meeting, and that l'Ambuseade would sail the next morning: he then took leave of Mr. Hayes, and returned on board his frigatet.

"The Boston's real character was first discovered by the master of an American revenue cruiser, who was heard to say, as he passed almost touching her, that * that ship, and those boats (alluding to two which were towing astern), never came from a French port.' In consequence of this remark, and by the desire of his gallant commander, Lieutenant Kerr went out on the bowsprit, and hailing the vessel, said 'this is the Boston frigate, Captain Courtenay; if l'Ambuseade will come out we shall be glad to sec her.' 'I dare say you will,' answered the American; 'I shall be happy to see you meet, and I will take care to let her know it.' This was the only challenge given by Captain Courtenay's directions.

"Finding from the report of 1'Ambuscade's officers, that Mons. Bompard was getting ready to sail, and that he would soon be at sea, Captain Courtenay immediately despatched a midshipman (the late Captain Daniel Oliver Guion) in a fishing boat to recall the tender ;but on that gentleman approaching New York he met Mr. Hayes and his party coming down the river in a small hired vessel, the French Consul having taken measures to cause the schooner's detention, and thereby prevented him from fulfilling the principal object of his mission.

"On the same day, July 30, Captain Courtenay gave chase to a 6trange vessel off the Long Island shore; and on the 31st, when returning to the spot where he expected to meet with his tender, he was himself pursued for several hours by the above mentioned squadron, consisting of two 74gun ships, five frigates, and several corvettes. In the mean time, Mr. Hayes had pushed out to sea, but not finding the Boston, and observing VAmbuscade under weigh, he was obliged to tack and stand in shore again, by which means alone he could possibly hope to save his people from being captured.

"The Boston resumed her station, off Sandy Hook, just before midnight; and on the first of August, between 2 and 3 A. M., a large ship was seen to windward; at day-light she was discovered to be a frigate, distant about 3 miles.

"The stranger now hoisted a blue flag, with a white cross at the mizen peak, and both ships set their courses, jibs, and spankers ; but kept three reefs in their top-sails, the wind blowing strong, with a smooth sea. In less than an hour the Boston fore-reached on the other frigate, tacked, and passed to leeward off her. At 5 o'clock, being then on her lee-quarter, we again hove in stays, when she hauled her courses up, wore round, hoisted French colours, and steered for our larboard or weather bow. The Boston's first fire did but little execution, and it was quickly returned by the enemy's ship, as she ranged close past us to windward, backing her main-top-sail on the starboard tack.

"Having thus commenced the action, Captain Courtenay directed the helm to be put down, intending to tack under 1'Ambuscade's stern; unfortunately, however, our cross-jack-yard had been shot away, which caused us to miss stays, and we were consequently obliged to wear short round in order to close with her. From this time, 5-10 A. M., the Boston's maintop-sail was kept to the mast, and we continued warmly engaged for an hour and three-quarters, during which period the enemy made three attempts to board us, and the colours of each ship were repeatedly shot away.

"After being in action more than an hour, the Boston's main-top-mast fell on the lee-quarter of the main-yard, and caused it to top an end; the enemy's cross-jack-yard was also gone, and her fore-top-sail-yard was lying on the cap.

"About a quarter of an hour before the firing ceased, an unlucky shot struck the foremost hammock stauncheon on the quarter-deck, which occasioned the death of Captain Courtenay, and the marine officer, who were then walking together. At this time the first and second Lieutenants were below getting their wounds dressed•; but the senior, Mr. John Edwards, who had been much hurt by a splinter striking him on the head, was no sooner informed of his Captain's fall than he went upon deck and assumed the command.

• Lieutenant Kerr, "with the temporary loss of sight in one, and with total blindness in, the other, of his eyes."—James's Nav. Hist, 2nd., edit. vol. i, p. 145.

•• The Boston had hitherto maintained a position close under the enemy's lee; but was now fore-reaching, and falling to leeward for want of after-sail, the gaff being shot away, and the mizen-stay-sail literally cut to pieces, no less than 25 large shot, besides an immense number of musketballs, having passed through it. The main-top-sail was hanging over the lee-gangway, so that it was absolutely necessary to clear the wreck before the larboard guns could be fired with safety; and when about to wear, for the purpose of bringing them to bear on I'Ambuscade, several strange sail suddenly appeared to windward. This alone induced Lieutenant Edwards to put before the wind, and Mons. Bompard, although encouraged by the sight of his supposed countrymen, did not make any attempt to follow the Boston until she had increased her distance to about 2 miles. The last shot fired by either party was at about 7 A. M.•

"The Boston's damages, in addition to those I have mentioned, were as follow:—the cap of the bowsprit shot away ; fore-top-mast, and fore and main-yards badly wounded; mizen-mast wounded and sprung; the whole of the mizen-rigging on both sides, and the standing and spring, stays shot away; only two main shrouds on one side, and one on the other left standing; the, fore-rigging much injured; the main-spring-stay and both bob-stays cut in two ; every brace and bowline gone ; the ship hulled, in many places, and two of the main-deck-guns dismounted. The loss we sustained has been correctly stated by youf, and that it was not greater is truly astonishing, as the musket-balls afterwards picked up on our quarterdeck alone amounted to an almost incredible number.

"Our opponent mounted 26 long twelves, 10 long sixes, and 2 heavy carronades; the Boston had the same number of long twelves, but only 6 sixes, and not a single carronade, either 'monkey-tailed,' or of any other description. Lieutenant Hayes, Mr. Guion, &c. having been prevented from joining the ship, the total number of effective officers, men, and boys on board in the action was only 189; and a few of these were necessarily stationed as sentries over the 49 French prisoners. L'Ambuscade, notwithstanding the absence of two officers and a boat's crew, had many mea above her established complement; indeed it was afterwards strongly reported that the numerical strength of her crew, including American volunteers, exceeded 400; but this is a point that I will not pretend to determine. That she had an unusually large proportion of small-arm-men cannot be disputed.

"After losing sight of L'Ambuscade, we steered for the Delaware, in order to repair our damages; but when about to enter that river the next morning, a pilot-boat informed us that two French frigates had gone in at day-light; it was therefore thought prudent to haul off and steer for Newfoundland, where we arrived in safety on the 19th of the same month. I should here mention, that a letter, written purposely to deceive the enemy, was addressed to the British Consul at Philadelphia, stating that we were going to refit at Jamaica, which letter was carried to the French frigates according to our expectation."

The official letter respecting this hard-fought action, written by Lieutenant Edwards, was never published, probably because he mentioned in it, that a number of men, on seeing Captain Courtenay fall, had run from the Boston's quarterdeck guns, and seated themselves round the fore-brace-bitts, from whence he could not immediately get them back to their quarters. We know that such were the reasons assigned by Lieutenant Edwards for his own precipitate conduct in ordering the body of his gallant Captain to be thrown overboard without surgical examination; and although it might have been impolitic to publish such facts at the commencement of the French revolutionary war, we see no reason why they should be concealed at this distant period.

The Boston returned to England in 1795, under the command of Captain (now Sir James N.) Morris; and we subsequently find Mr. Kerr serving on board the Repulse of 64 guns. About April, 1796, he was appointed first Lieutenant of the Clyde 46, commanded by the present Commissioner Cunningham, whose high opinion of him was thus publicly expressed in a letter to Lord Keith, reporting the capture of la Vestale French frigate, Aug. 20, 1799:

"The Clyde's officers and men conducted themselves much to my satisfaction; and I received that support from Lieutenant Kerr which I was prepared to expect by his animated conduct in former critical and more trying situations."

Mr. James, in his second edition, after giving an account of the Clyde's action, says, w since the capture of the Reunion by the Crescent, and of the Unite" by the Revolutionnaire*, it had not been customary to knight the Captains of 18-pounder frigates for their success over the 12-pounder frigates of the enemy. Hence Captain Cunningham was not so rewarded; but the Clyde's first Lieutenant, Alexander Robert Kerr, was made a Commander f." Our contemporary "must excuse us" for reminding him that la Vestale was captured on the 20th Aug. 1799, and that Lieutenant Kerr was not promoted until April 29, 1802. The manner in which the Clyde was employed during the six years that Mr. Kerr served under Captain Cunningham, and her well-managed escape from the mutinous fleet at the Nore, have been described in our memoir of the latter officer, Vol. II. Part I, p. TJ. et seq.

From June, 1802, till February, 1806, Captain Kerr commanded the Diligence and Combatant sloops of war, both employed watching the enemy's flotilla at Boulogne. In the latter vessel he assisted at the capture of a lugger privateer, near Cape Grisnez. His post commission is dated Jan. 22d, 1806.
We now lose sight of Captain Kerr until Aug. 1808, between which period and the month of June 1809, he was successively appointed, pro temp,, to the Tigre, Valiant, and Revenge, third rates, employed off Brest, l'Orient, and Rochefort.

The Revenge was the only two-decker of Lord Gambier's fleet that sustained any loss in Aix Roads on the memorable 12th April, 1809. By reference to his lordship's official letter, which is inserted at p. 818 of our first volume, it will be seen that she then formed part of the advanced squadron under the orders of Captain (now Rear-Admiral) John Bligh, by whom it is stated that she anchored about three cables' length within Lord Cochrane's ship, and drew the fire of the batteries of Isle d'Aix from the frigates and smaller vessels to herself. This statement was made at the trial of Lord Gambier, on which occasion the following questions were put to Captain Bligh:

1st, " What number of guns appeared to command the anchorage of Aix Reads from the batteries of the island?" 
A. " When at anchor in the road of Aix, I counted 50 guns; there may have been more, but I am certain there were not less." 

2nd, " Did the enemy throw shells from the island ?" 
A. " They did." 

3rd, "What is your opinion of the position taken by Captain Kerr, of the Revenge; was it judicious ?" 
A. "/ think it impossible a ship could be better placed than the Revenge; and indeed the general conduct of the Revenge on that day reflects the highest credit on the Zealand bravery of her Captain."

From the evidence given by Captain Kerr at the same trial, we find that the Revenge's bowsprit was very much injured, great part of the running rigging and sails were cut to pieces, five planks of the quarter-deck cut through, and one of the beams was entirely carried away. She had also a number of large shot in different parts of the hull; and her loss consisted of 3 men killed and 15 wounded, 2 of whom mortally. On the following day, when returning to Basque Roads, she was struck between wind and water, under the main-chains, by a shot from Isle d'Aix, the shells from Oleron at the same time passing over her.

Captain Kerr's next appointment was to the Ganymede of 26 guns, but he does not appear to have ever sailed in that ship. The Unicorn 32, to which frigate he was removed in Aug. 1809, captured, whilst under his command, le Gascon French privateer, of 16 guns and 113 men; and l'Esperance (formerly H. M. 22-gun ship Laurel) armed en flute, with a valuable cargo "of East India produce.

In April, 1811, Captain Kerr assumed the command of a most desirable frigate, the Acasta, mounting 48 guns, with a complement of 300 men. During his continuance in her he captured the American brig privateer Curlew, of 16 guns (pierced for 20) and 172 men; Highflyer, schooner privateer, 5 guns and 75 men ; Herald letter of marque, 10 guns (pierced for 18) and 60 men, from Bourdeaux, bound to Baltimore *; and several unarmed merchantmen. He abo assisted at the capture of the Snapper schooner privateer, of 10 guns and 90 men; and the Porcupine letter of marque, with a valuable cargo, from Bayonne bound to Boston; likewise at the recapture of a British 20>-gun ship, and many trading vessels, which had been taken by the Constitution and other American cruisers.

The Acasta returned to England in July, 1815; and Captain Kerr was about the same time nominated a C. B. as a reward for his long and arduous services. The following letter was addressed by him to the author of this work, shortly after the publication of Sir George Collier's memoir:

"Great King Street, Edinburgh, Oct. 6, 1825,
"Sir,—I have just seen in the fourth part of your Naval Biography, a note attached to the memoir of the late Sir George Collier, which induces me to explain why I did not make a signal to the Leander of the force of the American squadron off Porto Praya, on the 11th Mar. 1815.

"Perhaps you are not aware that, at the time the Acasta's log states the force of the enemy, the Leander was nearly as close to them as the Acasta; and as the water-lines of the enemy's ships were distinctly seen from her, I could not suppose that any difference of opinion could possibly exist respecting their force. I therefore considered the senior officer fully able to judge for himself, and that it would be presumption in me to make that signal, or to suppose they could not make out the force of the enemy on board the Leander as clearly as we did in the Acasta. 
I am, &c.
(Signed) "A. R. Kerr."
"To Lieut. John Marshall, R. N."

ANSWER.

"London, Oct. 10th, 1825. 
"Sir,—I have been favoured with your letter of the 6th inst., and I shall feel much pleasure in giving publicity to the explanation therein contained; but I must confess that nothing less than such an avowal, coming from an officer of high reputation and indisputable veracity, could possibly have staggered my belief as to the state of the weather, and the position of the Acasta, on the unfortunate 11th Mar. 1815. The former, judging from the documents which were sent to me soon after a late melancholy event, I certainly supposed to be so very thick and hazy, as to render it impossible for the Leander to make out, what you appear to have so promptly and correctly done, the real force of the enemy; particularly as it is stated by Captain M'Dougall, whose letter I have incorporated with the memoir of his lamented friend, that the Levant was not discovered to be only " a corvette or 20-gun ship" until the Leander's fire was opened upon her: and the log of the senior British officer describes that as having been done only ten minutes previous to the enemy rounding the eastern point of Porto Praya bay, when on her return to the anchorage she had so lately left; and not more than twenty minutes before the Leander was obliged to shorten sail in consequence of finding herself close to the rocks off Quail island. 

The following extract from the log of the Leander will corroborate what I have just written:

"3-15 P. M., opened our fire on the chace, who hoisted American colours,—saw the land a-head.'

"' 3-25,' {ten minutes after gaining- sightof the land)'' saw chace rounding the easternmost point of the harbour.'

"' 3-35,' (only ten minutes later) ' up main-sail, being close to the rocks off Quail island.'

"From an entry in the Newcastle's log, the only one that mentions how the British ships bore from each other when they had all tacked to the eastward, at 1 P. M., I could do no otherwise than suppose that you were more than a mile nearer to the enemy than Sir George Collier was, and nearly in a line between him and them •. You have been kind enough to undeceive me, and I return you my best thanks for doing so. I am, &c. 
(Signed) "John Marshal!."

"To Captain Alex. R. Kerr, R. N. C. B."
The subject of this memoir married, in Jan. 1805, Charlotte, youngest daughter of Dr. Charles Maule, formerly a physician in India, and by that lady he has seven children. His eldest son is a Midshipman, R. N.

Agent.—A. C. Marsh, Esq. >

Text taken from: "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:"

by John Marshall
Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1827

Monday, March 10

Meet Mr. Brigstocke

Today begins a prolong'd weekly series wherein we introduce to you some of the REAL Acastas, the men who served aboard at some point between the period from her launch in 1797 to her final year in service to the Crown in 1815. Stop back every Monday to meet an all-new and REAL Acasta!


BRIGSTOCKE.
Acasta Midshipman under Captain Kerr, May 1811

Thomas Robert Brigstocke entered the Navy, 8 Oct. 1807, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Marlborough 74, Capt. Graham Moore, in which ship, after escorting the Royal family of Portugal to the Brazils, he attended, as Midshipman, the expedition to Flushing, and was employed, on the evacuation of Walcheren, in destroying the basin, arsenal, and seadefences. He removed, in May, 1811, to the Acasta 40, Capt. Alex. Robt. Kerr, employed in the Bay of Biscay, Channel, and off St. Helena; rejoined Capt. Moore in the Chatham 74, on the North Sea station, in June, 1812...

Source: 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. Compiled from Authentic and Family Documents. BY WILLIAM E. O'BYRNE, ESQ.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, PUBLISHER TO THE ADMIRALTY. 1849.

Friday, March 7

Know Your Nelson 5

Wanted to take a minute to share this video from Acasta surgeon's mate, Tony Gerard.
In this video, he's tackling a real-life problem.

Wednesday, March 5

Note to the Captain


Dear Captain Freymann, 

Your man caught up with me today and, he was quite rude! I hope that he merely misunderstood your meaning and misquoted your message. What I am led to believe is that you wish me aboard today and that with all my dunnage! Sir, I am not nearly ready to embark what with all my navigational instruments currently on loan to an associate of mine. I was in fact, in discussion with business associates in a tavern about the return of my instruments when your man approached me (nay accosted would be more accurate!). I must say, he was very impertinent! He, in fact, made suggestion that I was under the effects of drink! If he were not one of yours, I would protest officially, Sir. As it is, it is quite impossible for me to report aboard today, and I shall require some men to assist in the transport of my trunks and sea chests, perhaps Thursday afternoon, if you would be so kind? I thank you and again wish to state how much I am looking forward to this cruise. 

Your Humble Servant, 
J.D. MacLachlan, 
Sailing Master.

Tuesday, March 4

Acasta's Captains

1797/03/14 - 1799/11 Captain Richard Lane

1799/11 - 1802/05 Captain Edward Fellowes

1802/05 - 1803/04 Captain James Athol Wood

1803/04 - 1803/06 Captain James Oswald

1803/06 - 1805/05 Captain James Athol Wood

1805/05 - 1806/09 Captain Richard Dalling Dunn

PORTRAIT OF CAPTAIN PHILIP BEAVER R.N
(1766 - 1813) in naval full dress uniform, looking to the left.
c. 1805. Oil on canvas. Size 30 x 25
by John Opie
1806/09 - 1810 Captain Philip Beaver

1811/03 - 1815/09/12 Captain Alexander Robert Kerr

From: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863
Design, Construction, Careers & Fates
by Rif Winfield


Monday, March 3

From the Acasta's new Sailing Master

Dear Captain Freymann-

I am quite pleased to be ordered to the Acasta, although I trust that the master's accommodations on board will be adequate to my needs. I was quite satisfied with my cabin aboard HMS Majestic and would prefer not to be forced into a smaller space. I believe that it may compromise my delicate constitution.

As I may be delayed a few days while I deal with affairs ashore, I ask that the storage of some casks and barrels of spirits be kept separate from those to be stored in the spirit locker as I have found them to be lighter than those of water and salt beef and when stowing the hold for trim, it is well to have a variety of weights available to hand.

I expect to report aboard no later than Friday in the first watch and I look forward to sailing together. I hope that we will pass many evenings together, playing whist over port or brandy.
Until then, I remain,

Your Most Humble Servant,
John Duncan MacLachlan,
Sailing Master.