Laforey, John (DNB00)

LAFOREY, Sir JOHN (1729?–1796), admiral, was the second son of Lieutenant-colonel John Laforey (d. 1753), one of the French Huguenot family La Forêt which settled in England in the time of William III. On 12 April 1748 he was promoted to be lieutenant; and to be commander of the Ontario by Commodore Keppel on 24 May 1755, while serving on the coast of North America. Continuing on that station, he was moved in 1756 into the Hunter, which he commanded off Louisbourg, under Admiral Holburne, in 1757, and at the capture of Louisbourg by Admiral Boscawen in 1758. On 25 July he commanded a division of the boats which burnt the Prudent and took the Bienfaisant in the harbour of Louisbourg, and was posted to the Echo frigate by Boscawen on the following day, 26 July 1758. In the following year the Echo was attached to the fleet under Sir Charles Saunders, during the operations in the St. Lawrence, culminating in the capture of Quebec, and was afterwards sent to the West Indies in the squadron under Sir James Douglas and at the reduction of Martinique by Sir George Rodney in February 1762. Laforey was then moved into the Levant frigate, in which he returned to England towards the end of 1763. He had married, at Antigua, Eleanor, daughter of Colonel Francis Farley of the artillery, and his eldest daughter was born in London in March 1764. As his only son was born in Virginia in December 1767, it appears probable that he was at that time in America on his private affairs; he had no naval appointment till 1770, when he commanded the Pallas frigate for a few months. In September 1776 he commissioned the Ocean of 90 guns, and in her took part in the action off Ushant on 27 July 1778; and at the subsequent court-martial gave evidence strongly in favour of Admiral Keppel. In November 1779 he was appointed commissioner of the navy at Barbadoes and the Leeward islands, with instructions to reside at Antigua and to act as commander-in-chief in the absence of a flag officer or senior captain.

In February 1783 he was moved to Plymouth, and was still there on 24 Sept. 1787, when a promotion of flag officers was made, extending below him. He, however, was passed over on the grounds that he had accepted a civil appointment. He disputed the justice of this decision, and eventually, on 10 Nov. 1789, was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red, with seniority of 24 Sept. 1787, in the place on the list which he would have held if promoted in due course. He was at the same time (3 Nov.) created a baronet; and a few days later went out as commander-in-chief at the Leeward islands. He was still there when war with France broke out in February 1793, and on the news reaching him led an expedition to Tobago, which surrendered on 15 April. He was shortly afterwards relieved by Rear-admiral Gardner and returned to England in July. He had been promoted to be vice-admiral on 1 Feb. 1793. He was reappointed commander-in-chief at the Leeward islands, and sailed on 9 May 1795 in the Amiable frigate, commanded by his son. He became admiral on 1 June 1795. During the year of his command a serious revolt of the negroes in St. Vincent, Grenada, and Dominica was suppressed, and Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice were captured. He soon after resigned the command to Sir Hugh Christian, and sailed for England in the Majestic. He died of yellow fever on the passage, 14 June 1796, two days before the ship made the land. He was buried at Portsea on 21 June.

Laforey's son, Sir Francis Laforey (1767–1835), who succeeded to the baronetcy, commanded the Spartiate in the battle of Trafalgar; was commander-in-chief at the Leeward islands 1811–14; was made K.C.B. in 1815; and died, admiral of the blue, 17 June 1835, when the baronetcy became extinct.

[Naval Chronicle, xxv. 177; Charnock's Biog. Nav. vi. 319; Ralfe's Naval Biog. i. 231; commission and warrant-books in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.