Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Forrest, Arthur

FORREST, ARTHUR (d. 1770), commodore, served as lieutenant in the expedition against Carthagena in 1741; is said to have specially distinguished himself under Boscawen in the attack on the Baradera battery; and on 25 May 1741 was promoted by Vernon to the command of the Alderney bomb. In November 1742 he was appointed to the Hawk sloop, in which, and afterwards in the Success, he was employed on the home station and in convoy service to America. In 1745 he was posted to the command of the Wager, in which he took out a large convoy to Newfoundland. In November he was at Boston, where, by pressing some seamen contrary to colonial custom, he got into a troublesome dispute, ending in a serious fray, in which two men were killed. The boatswain of the Wager was arrested on a charge of murder, was convicted, and sentenced to death ; the sentence, however, does not appear to have been carried out. Forrest afterwards went to the West Indies, where, in the following year, he captured a Spanish privateer of much superior force. In 1755 he commanded the Rye, in which he was again sent to the West Indies, and in 1757 was moved into +he Augusta of 60 guns. In October he was detached, with two other ships Dreadnought and Edinburgh under his command, to cruise off Cape François; and on the 21st fell in with a powerful French squadron of four ships of the line and three heavy frigates accompanying the large convoy for which he was on the look-out. After a short conference with his colleagues said to have lasted just half a minute Forrest determined on attempting to carry out his orders, and bore down on the enemy. It was gallantly done, but the odds against him were too great to permit him to achieve any success ; and after a sharp combat for upwards of two hours, the two squadrons parted, each disabled. The French returned to the Cape, where they refitted and then proceeded on their voyage, while Forrest went back to Jamaica. On 24 Dec., being detached singly off Petit Guave, he cleverly bagged the whole of a fleet of eight merchant ships, capturing in the night the sloop of war which was escorting them, and using her as a tender against her own convoy. In August 1759 he took the Augusta to England, and on paying her off, in April 1760, commissioned the Centaur, one of the ships taken by Boscawen off Lagos in the preceding year. After a few months with the grand fleet in the Bay of Biscay, he went out to Jamaica, where, by the death of Rear-admiral Holmes in November 1761, he was left senior officer. On this he moved into the Cambridge, hoisted a broad pennant, and took on himself both the duties and privileges of commander-in-chief, till Sir James Douglas [q. v.], coming from the Leeward Islands in April 1762, summarily dispossessed him. He returned to England, passenger in a merchant ship, when, on reporting himself to the admiralty, he was told that his conduct in constituting himself commodore was ‘most irregular and unjustifiable;’ and that the officers whom he had promoted would not be confirmed. This led to a long correspondence, in which the admiralty so far yielded as to order him to be reimbursed for the expenses he had incurred, though without sanctioning the higher rate of pay. In 1769, however, he was sent out to the same station as commander-in-chief, with his broad pennant in the Dunkirk. He enjoyed the appointment but a short time, dying at Jamaica within the twelvemonth, on 26 May 1770. He married a daughter of Colonel Lynch of Jamaica, by whom he had a large family. Mrs. Forrest survived her husband many years, and died in 1804 at the age of eighty-two.

[Naval Chronicle, xxv. 441 (with a portrait); Charnock's Biog. Navalis, v. 380; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; official letters and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.