Acton, Edward (DNB00)

ACTON, EDWARD (d. 1707), captain in the navy, presumably a grandson of Sir Edward Acton, the first baronet, attained that rank in October 1694, and continued in active service through the war that was then raging. In 1702 he went out to the West Indies in command of the Bristol, and in the following spring was sent home with the three captains, Kirkby, Wade, and Constable, the two former of whom had been sentenced to death for their misconduct towards Vice-Admiral Benbow. Orders in anticipation had been sent down to the several ports that the sentence was to be carried into execution without delay; and the two culprits were accordingly shot on board the Bristol on 18 April 1703, two days after her arrival in Plymouth Sound. In 1704 Acton commanded the Kingston of sixty guns, and took part in the capture of Gibraltar and the battle of Malaga [see Rooke, Sir George]. On this last occasion, having expended the whole of his ammunition, he drew out of the line, for doing which he was afterwards tried but fully acquitted, and the following year commanded the Grafton in the Mediterranean under Sir Cloudesley Shovel. Towards the end of 1706 he returned to England, and his ship having been refitted he joined the squadron under Captain Clements in the Hampton Court, which sailed from the Downs on 1 May 1707 with the Lisbon and West India trade in convoy. On the next day off Dungeness they fell in with a numerically superior French squadron of frigates and privateers, commanded by the Count Forbin. Of the three English ships the Grafton and Hampton Court were boarded by several of the enemy, and carried by force of numbers, Captain Acton being killed, and Captain Clements mortally wounded, shot through a port by Forbin himself. The Royal Oak made good her escape in an almost sinking condition; but several of the merchant ships were captured.

[Official letters, &c., in the Public Record Office; Mémoires du Comte de Forbin (1729), ii. 231.]

J. K. L.