Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sulivan, Thomas Ball

SULIVAN, THOMAS BALL (1780–1857), rear-admiral, born on 5 Jan. 1780, was entered on the books of the Triumph, flagship of Lord Hood at Portsmouth in 1786. He was afterwards borne on the books of different ships on the home station till the outbreak of the war of 1793, when he went out to the Mediterranean, and was a midshipman of the Southampton when she captured the Utile on 9 June 1796. He was afterwards in the Royal George, the flagship in the Channel, and on 26 April 1797 was promoted to be a lieutenant of the Queen Charlotte. In March 1798 he was appointed to the Kite, brig, in which he continued for seven years in the North Sea, Baltic, and Channel. In May 1798 he was in Sir Home Riggs Popham's expedition to destroy the locks on the Bruges canal [see Popham, Sir Home Riggs], and in September 1803 was at the bombardment of Granville. In May 1805 he was appointed to the Brisk, and on 26 Dec. to the Anson, frigate, with Captain Charles Lydiard, on the Jamaica station. In the Anson he took part in the capture of the Spanish frigate Pomona on 23 Aug. 1806 [see Brisbane, Sir Charles], and again in the engagement with the Foudroyant, bearing the flag of Rear-admiral Willaumez, on 15 Sept. (James, iv. 113–15). On 1 Jan. 1807 the Anson was one of the four frigates with Captain Charles Brisbane at the capture of Curaçoa, and for his services on this occasion Sulivan was promoted to be commander on 23 Feb. 1807. He came home in the Anson, and was in her as a volunteer when she was lost, with Captain Lydiard and sixty men, in Mount's Bay on 27 Dec. 1807. In January 1809 he was appointed chief agent of transports, and sailed for the Peninsula with reinforcements. In November he was appointed to the Eclipse for a few months, and in February 1813 to the Woolwich, in which he escorted Sir James Lucas Yeo [q. v.] with troops and supplies to Canada for service on the Lakes. On 6 Nov. 1813 the ship was wrecked in a hurricane on the north end of Barbuda, but without loss of life. Sulivan was honourably acquitted by the subsequent court-martial, and in the following February was appointed to the Weser, troopship, employed on the American coast, and commanded a division of boats at the destruction of the United States flotilla in the Patuxent on 22 Aug. 1814 (James, vi. 168–76). At the battle of Bladensburg [see Cockburn, Sir George, (1772–1853); and Ross, Robert] he commanded a division of seamen, and for his services in the expedition against New Orleans was advanced to post rank on 19 Oct. 1814. On 4 June 1815 he was nominated a C.B. After being on half-pay for many years he was appointed in March 1836 to the Talavera at Portsmouth, and in November to the Stag, in which he served as commodore on the South American station till the spring of 1841. On 1 Oct. 1846 he was placed on the retired list, and died at Flushing, near Falmouth, on 17 Nov. 1857. On 19 March 1808 Sulivan married Henrietta, daughter of Rear-admiral Bartholomew James [q. v.], and by her had fourteen children, four of whom entered the navy. The eldest son, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan [q. v.], is noticed separately.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; James's Nav. Hist.; H. N. Sulivan's Life and Letters of Sir B. J. Sulivan, chap. i.; information from Sulivan's youngest son, Admiral George Lydiard Sulivan.]

J. K. L.