Open main menu

Bartholomew, David Ewen (DNB00)


BARTHOLOMEW, DAVID EWEN (d. 1821), captain in the royal navy, a native of Linlithgowshire, was pressed out of a merchant ship in 1794. He appears to have had a superior education for his rank of life, and was shortly after his impressment rated as a midshipman. He served in the West Indies, on the coast of Ireland, in the North Sea, and with Sir Home Popham in the Romney on the East India station. When the Romney was paid off, in 1803, he found himself 'a passed midshipman adrift upon the wide world,' and wrote to Lord St. Vincent, then first lord of the admiralty, stating his services and asking for advancement. Lord St. Vincent was not likely to consider with favour the claims of any one who might be supposed to be a protégé of Sir Home Popham, and took no notice of his letter. Bartholomew continued writing, and at the eighth letter St. Vincent, wearied of his importunity, ordered him to be pressed. He was sent down to the Inflexible at the Nore, but was soon afterwards again placed on the quarter-deck. The case was brought before parliament and was referred to a select committee, which reported, by implication, that the impressment of Bartholomew was a violation of the usage of the navy, an arbitrary and violent act which must disgust all young men who have nothing but their merits to recommend them, and likely, therefore, to be injurious to the service.

It was probably in consequence of this report that he was promoted to be a lieutenant, 20 July 1805, in which rank he served throughout the greater part of the war, till in February 1812, whilst in command of the Richmond brig, on the south coast of Spain, he drove on shore and destroyed the French privateer Intrépide. For this gallant service he was made commander, 21 March 1812; and after some little time on half-pay he had command of the Erebus rocket-ship on the coast of North America. This formed one of the small squadron which, under Captain James Alexander Gordon, went up the Potomac, received the capitulation of Alexandria, 28 Aug., and forced its way back after an arduous and brilliant campaign of twenty-three days (James, Naval History (ed. 1860), v. 180). He was next engaged on the coast of Georgia, and on 22 Feb. 1815 in the boat expedition, under Captain Phillott, up the St. Mark's river (ibid. v. 236). His conduct on these occasions won for him his post rank, which he received on 13 June, as well as the companionship of the Bath. In 1818 he was appointed to the Leven, a small frigate, for surveying service, in which he was engaged for nearly three years. He had surveyed the Azores, part of the west coast of Africa, and was employed amongst the Cape Verde Islands, when he sickened and died at Porto Praya in the island of St. Iago, 19 Feb. 1821.

[Rose, New Gen. Biog. Dict.]

J. K. L.