Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rowley, Josias

ROWLEY, Sir JOSIAS (1765–1842), admiral, born in 1765, and grandson of Sir William Rowley [q. v.], was second son of Clotworthy Rowley, a barrister and second son of Sir William Rowley [q. v.], by his wife Letitia, daughter and coheiress of Samuel Campbell of Mount Campbell, co. Leitrim. He was borne on the books of the Monarch, then commanded by his uncle, Sir Joshua Rowley [q. v.], from November 1777 to December 1778, though it is doubtful if he actually served in her. In December 1778 he joined the Suffolk, with his uncle, and went in her to the West Indies. In 1780 he was a midshipman of the Alexander, in the Channel, with Lord Longford, and in 1781 of the Agamemnon, with Captain Caldwell. He was promoted lieutenant on 25 Dec. 1783, and, after service in the West Indies and the North Sea, was, on 14 March 1794, promoted to command the Lark in the North Sea, and was advanced to post rank on 6 April 1795. In April 1797 he was appointed to the Braave at the Cape of Good Hope, and in January 1799 was moved into the Impérieuse, in which he went to the East Indies, and returned to England in June 1802. In April 1805 he commissioned the Raisonnable, in which he took part in the action off Cape Finisterre on 22 July 1805 [see Calder, Sir Robert], and at the end of the year went to the Cape of Good Hope, under the command of Sir Home Riggs Popham [q. v.], with whom he afterwards went to Buenos Ayres and Monte Video, taking an active part in the operations there, under Popham and his successors, Rear-admirals Stirling and George Murray. After the failure of the expedition the Raisonnable returned to the Cape of Good Hope.

In September 1809, still in the Raisonnable, Rowley was senior officer of the little squadron in the neighbourhood of Mauritius, and concerted with the commandant of the troops at Rodriques a plan for silencing the batteries and capturing the shipping at St. Paul's in the island of Bourbon, operations carried into effect with trifling loss on 21 Sept. In March 1810 Rowley moved into the Boadicea, and in July the squadron under his command carried over a strong force of soldiers, which was landed on Bourbon on the 7th and 8th. The island was unable to offer any effective resistance, and the capitulation was signed on the 9th. Rowley was still at Bourbon when on 22 Aug. he received news from Captain Samuel Pym [q. v.] of his projected attack on the French frigates in Grand Port of Mauritius. He sailed at once to co-operate in this, but did not arrive till the 29th, too late to prevent the disaster which overwhelmed Pym's force. He returned to Bourbon, and was still there on 12 Sept., when the Africaine arrived off the island. The Boadicea put to sea to join her, but was still several miles distant when the Africaine engaged, and was captured by the French frigates Iphigénie and Astrée [see Corber, Robert] in the early morning of the 13th.

In company with two sloops the Boadicea recaptured the Africaine the same afternoon, and took her to St. Paul's, followed at some distance by the two French frigates, which Rowley, in the weakened state of his squadron, did not consider it would be prudent to engage, while on their part the French frigates conceived the English too strong for them to attack with advantage. They accordingly retired to Port Louis, thus permitting the Boadicea to put to sea on the morning of the 18th, and capture the French frigate Venus, which with her prize, the Ceylon (now recaptured), appeared off the port. Rowley's force was shortly afterwards strengthened by the arrival of several frigates, and from the middle of October he was able to institute a close blockade of Port Louis, which was continued till the arrival of the expedition under Vice-admiral Albemarle Bertie [q. v.] on 29 Nov., and the surrender of the island on 3 Dec. Rowley was then sent home with the despatches, and on his arrival in England was appointed to the America, which he commanded in the Mediterranean till October 1814. He had meanwhile been created a baronet on 2 Nov. 1813, and promoted to be rear-admiral on 4 June 1814, though he did not receive the grade till his return to England in October. On 2 Jan. 1815 he was nominated a K.C.B. During the summer of 1815 he was again in the Mediterranean with his flag in the Impregnable, under the command of Lord Exmouth, but returned at the end of the war, after the surrender of Napoleon. From 1818 to 1821 he was commander-in-chief on the coast of Ireland; on 27 May 1825 he was made a vice-admiral; was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean from December 1833 to February 1837, a command which then carried with it the G.C.M.G., which he received on 22 Feb. 1834; was made a G.C.B. on 4 July 1840, and died unmarried at Mount Campbell on 10 Jan. 1842, when the title became extinct.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biogr. ii. (vol. i. pt. ii.) 622; Gent. Mag. 1842, i. 325; James's Naval Hist.; Troude's Batailles navales de la France, iv. 83, 89, 105.]

J. K. L.