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Ballard, Samuel James (DNB00)


BALLARD, SAMUEL JAMES (1764?–1829), vice-admiral, was the son of Samuel Ballard, a subordinate officer in the navy, who had retired without promotion after the peace of 1763 and had engaged in business at Portsmouth. Young Ballard entered the navy in December 1776, under the patronage of the Hon. Leveson-Gower, the captain of the Valiant, which ship formed part of the grand fleet under the command of Admiral Keppel during the summer of 1778. In October 1779 the youth was transferred to the Shrewsbury, Captain Mark Robinson, and in her was present when Sir George Rodney annihilated the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent, 16 Jan. 1780. In the following July the Shrewsbury rejoined Rodney's flag in the West Indies, was present off Martinique on 29 April 1781, and led the van in the action off the Chesapeake on 5 Sept. 1781. On this fatal day the brunt of the fight fell on the Shrewsbury, which had fourteen killed and fifty-two wounded, including Captain Robinson, who lost a leg. The ship afterwards returned to the West Indies with Sir Samuel Hood, and was with him in the operations at St. Kitts in January 1782, after which she had to be sent to Jamaica for repairs. On 10 Feb. 1783, whilst still at Jamaica, Ballard was made a lieutenant by Admiral Rowley, and was actively employed in different ships during the ten years of peace. When war again broke out he was a lieutenant of the Queen, which carried Rear-admiral Gardiner's flag through the last days of May and 1 June 1794. This great victory won for Ballard his commander's rank (5 July), and on 1 Aug. 1795 he was further advanced to the rank of post-captain. Early in 1795 he was appointed to the Pearl frigate, and during the next two years was continuously and happily employed in convoying the trade for the Baltic or for Newfoundland and Quebec. In March 1798 he accompanied Commodore Cornwallis to the coast of Africa and to Barbadoes, from which station he returned in June of the following year. In October he carried out General Fox to Minorca, and remained attached to the Mediterranean fleet for the next two years. The Pearl was paid off on 14 March 1802, after a commission of upwards of six years, during which time she had taken, destroyed, or recaptured about eighty vessels, privateers and merchantmen. Captain Ballard was now kept with no more active command than a district of sea fencibles for more than seven years; it was not till October 1809 that he was appointed to the Sceptre, of 74 guns, and sailed shortly afterwards for the West Indies. Here he flew a commodore's broad pennant, and on 18 Dec. 1809 commanded the squadron which captured the two heavily armed French frigates Loire and Seine, and destroyed the protecting batteries at Anse-la-Barque of Guadeloupe. At the reduction of Guadeloupe in January and February 1810 he escorted one division of the army, and commanded the naval brigade, which, however, was not engaged. Commodore Ballard returned to England with the Sceptre in the following September, and was for the next two years attached to the fleet in the Channel and Bay of Biscay, but without being engaged in any active operations. His service at sea closed with the paying off of the Sceptre in January 1813, although in course of seniority he attained the rank of rear-admiral, 4 June 1814, and of vice-admiral, 27 May 1825. He died at Bath, where he had for several years resided, on 11 Oct. 1829. He was twice married, and had by the first wife several children, of whom only three survived him.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. ii. (vol. i. part ii.), 876; Gent. Mag. xcix. ii. 639.]

J. K. L.