The Right Honourable

Edward Pellew

Edward Pellew, Viscount and Baron Exmouth

Viscount and Baron Exmouth

A Baronet ; Admiral of the White; Knight Grand Croat of the Bath; Knight of the Spanish Order of Charles III ; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Ferdinand and Merit. of Naples. and of the Order of Wilhelm of the Netherlands . Knight of the Royal Sardinian Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. and Knight of the Sardinian Order of Annunciation ; President of the Lirerpool Seaman's Friend Society, and Bethel Union ; a Vice-President of the Nary Charitable ; and of the Naval and Military Bible Societies.

(9th April, 1757 – 23rd January, 1833)

THE chronicles of our country afford many a glorious record, but certainly the page devoted to her naval annals is the one to which an Englishman may refer with most unchequered satisfacfaction. Our maritime history, from its earliest victory to its last, presents a series of heroic actions, merit making its own way, and gallant exertions followed by success, such as are unrivalled by those of any other kingdom in the world. Were we to endeavour, by an individual example, to illustrate the general spirit of our navy, we know few that would furnish a better specimen than the subject of our present memoir.

Lord Exmouth has gallantly fought his way upward, and, both by a life of service and danger, crowned by useful as well as brilliant victories, arduously and honourably earned both name and rank.—EDWARD PELLEW was born 1757. at Dover, where the earlier years of his life were spent. His father, George Pellew, of Flushing, near Falmouth, was a Cornish gentleman, and in that county his son finished his education. He entered the navy before he was fourteen, and his first cruise was in the Juno, Capt. Stott, who was sent to take possession of the Falkland Islands. He next went with the same officer, in the Alarm, to the Mediterranean, where, in consequence of some dispute between his captain, himself, and another junior officer, he and the other midshipman were sent on shore at Marseilles, to find their way home as they could. He next sailed in the Blonde frigate ; then in the Carlton schooner, where he had his first opportunity of distinguishing himself; and his conduct in the battle on Lake Champlain, gave earnest of his future career.

On his return to England, after the convention of Saratoga, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. From the Licorne he joined the Apollo frigate, Captain Pownall, then off the Flushing coast. In an engagement with one of the enemy's cruisers, his captain was killed by his side. The command thus devolving on Mr. Pellew, he continued the attack with unabated spirit, till the cruiser took refuge under the batteries of Ostend, then a neutral port, whose coasts our officers were strictly ordered to respect. On this occasion, the young Lieutenant was made Commander of the Hazard sloop. In 1782 he obtained his commission as Post-Captain, and from the Dictator, his first ship, was transferred to the Salisbury, off the coast of Newfoundland. We must pause, on this less active station, to record a double instance of daring humanity: twice did Captain Pellew save the life of a fellow-creature, by jumping overboard while at sea, and rescuing the unfortunate object. The last time deserves especial mention, for he was suffering under, and weakened by, severe illness.

The war now broke out with revolutionary France, and his action with the Cleopatra, when in command of the Nymphe, was one of the most desperate ever fought. - The ships were engaged yard-arm and yard-arm throughout ; the French cry of Five la Nation was as distinct as the English shout of Long live King George. Captain Pellew's putting on his hat was the signal for battle. The whole war records no conflict more terrible ; the rigging of each vessel was so entangled, that the crew of the Nymphe actually sprung from their own yards on to those of the Cleopatra, to cut down their opponents. A shot from the British frigate carried away the Frenchman's mizzen-mast, and another her wheel, thus, rendering the ship quite ungovernable. The confusion occasioned by her falling on board, for a moment led Captain Pellew to imagine that the enemy were attempting to board him : the mistake was soon discovered ; his crew threw themselves into the Cleopatra, and the French colours were hauled down.

Captain Pellew now received the honor of knighthood, and was soon after appointed to the command of the Arethusa. It is needless to enter into the details of his coast service, which was equally arduous and active ; suffice it to say, that in 1795 the squadron he commanded had taken and destroyed fifteen out of five-and-twenty sail of coasters, while the remainder were driven for refuge among the rocks of the Penmarks.

We have again the pleasure of pausing among our more warlike details, to record an act of signal humanity and courage. A 'severe stress of weather had driven the Dutton East Indiaman into Plymouth. The drifting of the buoy. indicating the reef off Mount Batten. during the late storms, and of which the pilots were not aware, led to the ship's losing her rudder in the shoal. She grounded under the citadel, the sea breaking over her, and with one roll all her masts went overboard. The most able got safe to land, but the greater part of the seamen, the soldiers, and their wives, remained behind. Sir Edward Pellew was on shore, and immediately offered any reward to whoever would accompany him to the devoted vessel. A single rope was all their communication with the coast. At spring-tide destruction was inevitable, and the gale was every moment increasing. The danger was so great, and the hope of rendering assistance so slight, that oat of the whole crowd of bystanders, only one individual, Mr. Edsell, the Port Admiral's signal-midshipman, was found bold enough to accompany him. They were fastened to the rope, and hauled on board. The risk of the undertaking was greatly increased, as they dared not make the rope quite fast to the shore, lest it should be broken by the rolling of the ship. At times the adventurers were buried in the water, and at others high above it. At length they reached the vessel and. Captain Pellew's presence restoring order and courage, they contrived to send a hawser on shore—to this, travellers and hauling lines were affixed, and the whole crew were rescued from what had seemed inevitable death. Sir Edward and Mr. Edsell were the last who left the ship, which almost immediately went to pieces. The corporation of Plymouth testified their sense of his noble conduct by presenting him with their freedom.

Sir Edward Pellew was soon afterwards advanced to the dignity of a baronet, and appointed to the command of the Indefatigable. It is mere repetition to enumerate every individual occasion on which he did honor to the colours he carried ; but we may briefly observe, that from the channel service he went on the West India expedition with General Maitland, during which nothing decisive occurred. He next served on the expedition against Ferrol; and in 1802 the Impetueux, which he then commanded, was dismantled. About this time Sir Edward was nominated a Colonel of the Marines, and in the same year returned member for Barnstaple. In the House he distinguished himself by his warm and manly defence of Earl St. Vincent. On the renewal of the war, he was appointed to the Tonnant; promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral ; and, finally, named to the important office of commander-in-chief in India, a situation which he filled with his usual zeal and activity. On his departure for England, he received an address from the merchants, ship-owners, &c. of Bombay, expressing, their acknowledgment of the protection he had afforded their trade. Sir Edward Pellew was next employed on the blockade of Flushing, and then appointed commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean &ning the remainder of the war. In 1814 he was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Exmouth of Canonteign, in the county of Devon; immediately after, he became  Admiral of the Blue; and in 1815 was made a K. C. B. On the return of Napoleon from Elba, his Lordship proceeded to his command in the Mediterranean ; assisted in the restoration of Joachim, King of Naples ; in reducing the rebellious Toulonese ; and concluded treaties with Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, for the abolition of Christian slavery. On his return to England, he found that the Algerines had violated the treaty in the most flagrant manner. Government deeming it necessary to inflict signal chastisement on the refractory Dey and his nest of pirates, his Lordship embarked on board the Queen Charlotte for Algiers, where it was soon found that to intimidate, threats must be carried into execution.

A more striking proof that every body's business is nobody's, could not be found than in the fact, that such a state as Alders had been permitted to exist by the European governments. Not only were their subjects yearly carried into slavery, but into slavery of the most barbarous kind: the captives were first stripped of all property, then loaded with chains—of a hundred pounds weight for a grown man, sixty for one aged, and thirty for the more youthful: these fetters were never taken off, and the iron in a short time made black furrows in the flesh, hardened almost like bone. Every ten slaves were bound together, and at night they all slept in a stable. Their allowance of food, which was miserably scanty, consisted of eight or ten ounces of black bread, made of beans and barley, one handful of peas, and a small measure of oil, not equal to a large tea spoonful : on Fridays they were forced to fast. Such was the pitiable condition to which Christians and Europeans were reduced. almost within sight of their native countries.—The Dey,. in the first instance. greatly undervalued his formidable antagonists. When told of the approach of the British fleet by a Danish captain, who enlarged on the damage that would be done by their shells, he said," Let them come; when they send me their shells, I shall hang them up in my rooms like these melons." (* The Algerines preserve their water melons, of which they have great quantities, from one year to another, by suspending them from the tops of their apartments.) The English consul was imprisoned, his wife and daughter made their escape in the disguise of midshipmen, while not only was all reparation refused, but the boat was fired upon which contained the flag of truce.

The plan of the attack was most daring, the Queen Charlotte sailed within the mole, and anchored about eighty yards from the principal batteries. A tremendous fire was now opened on both sides, till the Algerine fleet was entirely destroyed. The action was hotly contested; for the old gunner, Mr. Stair, who was seventy years of age, and had been in upwards of twenty engagements, said he had never known or heard of an action which had consumed so great a quantity of powder. The scene after the battle was terrific; the ships of the Alzerines, and the storehouses within the mole, were wrapt in flames. the vessels drifting to all parts of the bay, while the whole coast was illuminated by the blaze. When, after the action, the Dutch Admiral, Van Cappellan, came on board, he warmly congratulated the British commander, and eulogized the gallant and judicious position of the Queen Charlotte, saying it had been the safety of at least five hundred men of his squadron. Lord Exmouth was slightly wounded in the leg and the cheek ; his coat did not escape so well, it was cut to pieces by grape and musket balls. We remember hearing a
young officer describe the appearance of the veteran during the battle. With a telescope in his hand, and a white handkerchief tied round his middle, he moved about with all the vigour and alacrity of youth ; while his coat tails had been pierced with shot, till they seemed as if any one had taken a penknife and cut them into stripes. Salame, the interpreter, gives an amusing account of the impression produced on him by the English Admiral's demeanour, when he returned from Algiers, after the fruitless attempt at negociation. " I was quite surprised to see how his Lordship was altered from the morning when I left him; for I knew his manner was in general very mild, and now he seemed to me all-fightful, as a fierce lion which had been chained in its cage, and then set at liberty; though he only observed, " Never mind, we shall see now." The Dey's lesson had been sufficiently severe; he made his submission, and liberated the captives. Upwards of a thousand slaves were set free, and the gratitude of these poor creatures is described as one of the most affecting spectacles ever witnessed. Christian slavery was henceforth to be abolished, a compact which, the sequel has shown, is but ill observed. Lord Exmouth's conduct and bravery were rewarded by the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, and he was raised to the rank of Viscount. After Sir Thomas Duckworth's demise, he was appointed to the chief command at Plymouth; but since the year 1821, he has retired from public service. His Lordship married Susan, daughter of James. Frowde, Esq. of Knowle, Wiltshire; by her he has had five children; two sons are captains in the royal navy, one is a clergyman ; and two daughters, one married to Vice-Admiral Sir L. W. Halsted, and another to Captain R. Harward, R. N.

Among the voluntary honors conferred by his countrymen, we must mention that the City of London presented him with a sword, on which occasion he dined with the Ironmonger's Company ; a very appropriate compliment to the conqueror of Algiers, as they are the trustees of an estate of £2,000 per annum, bequeathed many years since by one of their members, a Mr. Bet-ton, for the ransom of British captives, who may be enslaved by the Barbary states. Mr. Belton had himself been taken by these ruthless pirates. Twice the officers under his command have marked their esteem by presenting him with pieces of plate ; first, the flag officers and captains in the Mediterranean, and afterwards those of Algiers. The sum subscribed in the latter instance exceeding the cost of the plate, the surplus was handed over to that excellent institution, the Naval Charitable Society. The plate came to 1,400 guineas, and was made by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge. But of all the glory he has reaped, and all the tributes which have been accorded to him, Lord Exmouth will perhaps value most the fame which has been derived from his constant exertions to improve the morals, and promote the religions instruction, of British seamen. and the still voice of approbation of his own conscience. In his own person he has shown that the Christian and the Hero are compatible : and he has been indefatigable in his endeavours to impart the same character to his fellow sailors.

Such is a brief outline of Lord Exmouth's career; it is one that does equal credit to himself and to his country ; to himself, for he has fought every step of his way; and to his country, that has awarded to arduous service, and daring courage, the justice of appreciation and recompense. We must conclude with an act of liberality. Madame Rovere, wife of one of the French deputies banished to Cayenne, was taken prisoner while on her voyage to join her husband, to effect which she had sold their whole property in France; she had with her about £3,000. Lord Exmouth returned her the money; and paid the sailors their share out of his own purse. Brave, humane, and generous, this fine old veteran is an example to his successors ; truly with men like these may 

"England's navies put
A girdle round the world"

Having referred to Salame's interesting account of the Battle of Algiers, a few additional passages from that work cannot fail to prove acceptable.

" At a few minutes before three, the Algerines, from the eastern battery, fired the first shot at the Impregnable, which, with the Superb and the Albion, was astern of the other ships, to prevent them from coming in ; then Lord Exmouth, having seen only the smoke of the gun before the sound reached him, said, with great alacrity, " That will do; fire, my fine fellows!" and I am sure, that before his Lordship had finished these words, our broadside was given, with great cheering, which was fired three times within five
or six minutes ; and at the same instant the other ships did the same.—This first fire was so terrible, that they say more than five hundred persons were killed and wounded by it. And I believe this, because there was a great crowd of people in every part, many of whom, after the first discharge, I saw running away, under the walls, like dogs, walking upon their feet and hands.

" After the attack took place on both sides in this horrible manner, immediately the sky was darkened by the smoke, the sun completely eclipsed, and the horizon became dreary."  

" I observed, with great astonishment, that during all the time of the battle, not one seaman appeared tired, not one lamented the dreadful continuation of the fight ; but, on the contrary, the longer it lasted, the more cheerfulness and pleasure were amongst them; notwithstanding, during the greater part of the battle, the firing was most tremendous on our side, particularly from this ship, (the Queen Charlotte,) the fire of which was kept up with equal fury, and never ceased, though his Lordship in several instances wished to cease firing for a short time, to make his observations, and it was with great difficulty that he could make the seamen stop for a few minutes.

" Several of the guns were hot that they could not use them again ; some of them, being heated to such a degree, that when they fired them, they recoiled with their carriages. and fixed the wheels by making boles in the planks of the deck ; and some of them were thrown out of their carriages, and so rendered quite useless.

"At eleven o'clock, P. M. his Lordship having observed the destruction of the whole Algerine navy, and the strongest parts of their batteries, with the city, made signal to the fleet to move out of the line of the batteries ; and then, with a favourable breeze, we cut our cables, as well as the whole of the squadron, and made sail, when our firing ceased at about half past eleven."