Denis, Peter (DNB00)


DENIS, Sir PETER (d. 1778), vice-admiral, son of a protestant minister expelled from France, consequent on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and younger brother of Charles Denis [q. v.], was promoted to be a lieutenant in the navy on 12 Nov. 1739; and was serving in one of the ships which left England under Commodore Anson, when, on 2 Nov. 1740, he was moved by the commodore into the Centurion, in which ship he continued during the rest of the voyage; and on her return home and Anson's being called to a seat at the admiralty, was promoted to be post-captain 9 Feb. 1744–5. In 1746 he commanded the Windsor of 60 guns, and in 1747 his old ship, the Centurion, with a reduced armament of 50 guns. In her he took part in Anson's action with De la Jonquière, and afterwards carried home Anson's despatches. In the autumn, he joined the fleet under Hawke, but not till after the defeat of L'Etenduère. In 1754 he was returned to parliament for the borough of Hedon in Yorkshire, and early in 1755 was appointed to command the Medway of 60 guns. In her he continued on the home station during 1756, and sat as a member of the court-martial which tried and condemned Admiral John Byng. In 1757 he had command of the 90-gun ship Namur, which formed part of the fleet under Sir Edward Hawke in the unsuccessful expedition against Rochefort. In 1758 he commanded the Dorsetshire of 70 guns, in which ship he captured, after a sharp action, the French 64-gun ship Raisonnable on 19 April, and the following year shared in the great victory in Quiberon Bay. In March 1760 he was moved into the Thunderer, and in August 1761 commanded the Charlotte yacht, as flag-captain to Lord Anson, on the occasion of bringing over George III's bride, the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg. He continued to command the yacht until 18 Oct. 1770, when he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, having already been made a baronet, 19 Sept. 1767. In the spring of 1771 he was commander-in-chief of the Medway, and in the summer went out to the Mediterranean, with his flag in the Trident. His command there was uneventful. After his return he was advanced to be vice-admiral of the blue, 31 March 1775; and died vice-admiral of the red, on 12 June 1778. He married, on 2 Sept. 1750, Miss Pappet, natural daughter of John James Heidegger [q. v.] She died in 1765, without issue.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. v. 369.]

J. K. L.