Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Cumming, Arthur
CUMMING, Sir ARTHUR (1817–1893), admiral, son of General Sir Henry Cumming, K.C.B., was born at Nancy in France on 6 May 1817. He entered the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth in January 1831, and having passed through the course was discharged, 8 Aug. 1832, to the Rover sloop in the Mediterranean. He afterwards served on the Lisbon and on the North American stations; passed his examination in 1837, and in 1840 was a mate of the Cyclops steamer on the coast of Syria, where he repeatedly distinguished himself, especially at the storming of Sidon on 26 Sept.; his promotion to lieutenant was dated on the 28th. He was shortly after appointed to the Frolic brig on the coast of South America, and in September 1843 was cruising to the southward of Rio Janeiro in command of the Frolic's pinnace, when, on the 6th, off Santos, he fell in with the piratical slaver Vincedora, a large brigantine with a crew of thirty men. Finding the pinnace in a position to intercept her retreat, the brigantine attempted to run it down. At the last moment the slavers' hearts failed them, and the helm was put hard over. At the critical moment Gumming shot their captain, and in the consequent confusion got alongside of the brigantine and sprang on board, followed by a marine and six men. No more could get on board at the time; but Cumming with his seven men held the whole crew at bay, cowed them, drove them below, and put the hatches on. When the rest of his men got on board, he had the prisoners shackled to the chain cable, and took the prize to Rio. Two other slavers in company with the Vincedora might have put Cumming in a very awkward position, but they seemed to think themselves well off in being permitted to escape. Considering the very exceptional nature of the affair, and how easily, without great daring and coolness, it might have ended in disaster, Gumming always felt aggrieved in its being reported to the admiralty as the commonplace capture of a slaver with a cargo of slaves. He had hoped for promotion; all that he got was a severe attack of smallpox, which was raging on board the prize, and for which he was invalided.
He was promoted to be commander on 9 Nov. 1846; and from 1849 to 1851 commanded the Rattler on the west coast of Africa. On 19 April 1854 he was promoted to be captain of the Conflict, in which he rendered good service in the Baltic, especially at Libau and Riga. In the spring of 1855 he was appointed to the Glatton floating battery, which he took out to the Black Sea, and brought home again in the spring of 1856. From 1859 to 1863 he commanded the Emerald in the Channel fleet. He was nominated a C.B. on 13 May 1867; on 27 Feb. 1870 he was promoted to be rear-admiral, and from 1872 to 1875 was commander-in-chief in the East Indies. On 22 March 1876 he was made vice-admiral; admiral on 9 Jan. 1880; and K.C.B. on the occasion of the queen's jubilee, 21 June 1887. On 6 May 1882 he was put on the retired list, after which he lived for the most part at his seat, Foston Hall, near Derby. He died in London on 17 Feb. 1893. He married in 1853 Adelaide, daughter of Charles Stuart, and left issue.
[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict. (2nd edit.); Army and Navy Gazette, 18 Dec. 1886, 25 Feb. 1893; Annual Register, 1893, pt. ii. 151; certificates of Servitude in the Public Record Office; Navy Lists; private information. The capture of the Vincedora is told in Hobart Pasha's 'Sketches of my Life,' and attributed to himself [see Hobart-Hampden, Augustus Charles]. Hobart was at the time in the Dolphin in latitude 42° 55′ N., long. 13° 18′ W. (Dolphin's log).]