Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/362

This page has been validated.
Jervis 356 Jervis

lieutenant of the Royal George, and on 11 March was moved into the Nottingham, one of the fleet which went to North America with Boscawen [see Boscawen, Edward; Howe, Richard, Earl]. On 31 March 1756 he was appointed to the Devonshire, and on 22 June to the Prince, going out to the Mediterranean. In October Rear-admiral (afterwards Sir Charles) Saunders [q. v.] hoisted his flag on board, and on moving into the Culloden in November, took young Jervis with him. In the following January Jervis was lent to the Experiment during the illness of her captain, and commanded her, 16 March, in a severe but indecisive engagement with a large French privateer, off Cape Gata (Log of Experiment, 17 March; Saunders to Clevland, 20 March 1757). A few days later he returned to the Culloden, and on 1 June followed Saunders to the St. George. In May 1758, on Saunders being superseded, Jervis was appointed to the Foudroyant prize, and in her he returned to England.

On 15 Jan. 1759 he joined the Neptune, in which Saunders went out to North America as commander-in-chief. On 4 July he was appointed acting commander of the Porcupine, and in her had the difficult duty of leading the advanced squadron in charge of the transports past Quebec. General James Wolfe [q. v.], who accompanied him in the Porcupine, was, it is said, much struck by Jervis's prompt decision, and entrusted him with his last message to the lady to whom he was engaged, which Jervis probably delivered in person (Tucker, i. 19). This has been doubted (Wright, Life of Wolfe, p. 574 n.); but he certainly had the opportunity, for he had been promoted, on a death vacancy of 15 May, to the command of the Scorpion, and on joining her, on 25 Sept., was sent to England with the despatches. He was ordered to return immediately with important letters to General Amherst; and the Scorpion springing a leak on her passage from Portsmouth, he was directed by the commodore at Plymouth to proceed in the Albany, which he joined on the evening of 12 Jan. 1760, and in which he sailed on the morning of the 13th. The story told by Tucker (i. 20) of the mutiny on board is not referred to in Jervis's letter to Clevland of the 13th, and is contradicted in all its details by the Albany's log (Army and Navy Gazette, 22 Nov. 1890). He arrived at Sandy Hook on 21 Feb., and returning to England in May, was for a short time attached to the squadron in the Channel under Rear-admiral Rodney, till, on 13 Oct., he was posted to the Gosport of 44 guns. During the following year he was employed in the North Sea, and on 11 May 1762, being in charge of the convoy to North America, in company with the East and West India trade under the escort of Captain (afterwards Sir Joshua) Rowley [q. v.], in the Superb, fell in with and repelled the French squadron under M. de Ternay, then on its way to capture Newfoundland. In September, having joined Lord Colvill, the commander-in-chief in North America, the Gosport took part in the operations which ended in the escape of De Ternay and the recovery of Newfoundland; after which she returned to England, and was paid off in the spring of 1763.

In February 1769 Jervis was appointed to the Alarm of 32 guns, commonly said to have been the first copper-sheathed frigate in the English navy, though, in reality, the Dolphin discovery-ship had been coppered five years earlier [see Byron, John, 1723–1786]. In May he sailed for the Mediterranean, and on 7 Sept. arrived at Genoa with a freight of two hundred thousand dollars for the merchants. On the 9th two Turkish slaves belonging to a galley in the Mole made their escape, and took refuge in the Alarm's boat, from which they were forcibly taken by the guard. Jervis instantly desired the consul to remonstrate in the strongest terms, and to ‘insist on the two slaves being immediately delivered up, and exemplary punishment inflicted on the persons who had thus dared to insult the British flag.’ On the 10th he informed the doge and senate that ‘if ample satisfaction was not made in the course of the next day, he would consider himself in a state of hostility with the republic, and act accordingly.’ The slaves were accordingly delivered up on the 11th, the government at the same time expressing their disapproval of the conduct of the guard. Jervis was not satisfied, and demanded that the men should be sent on board the Alarm to beg pardon for their offence. As a compromise, they were arrested on the 15th and thrown into prison, and there the matter seems to have ended (Jervis to Hollford, 9, 10, 11 Sept.; Jervis to Stephens, 11, 16 Sept.; Hollford to Lord Weymouth, 16 Sept. 1769), the Alarm sailing the next day for Leghorn. In March 1770 she was at Marseilles, when, on the evening of the 30th, in a violent gale, she parted her cables and was driven on the rocks. Throughout the night her total loss seemed imminent, but by great exertions, and the assistance of the French officials, she was first secured, then got afloat, hove down and repaired, and by 11 May was again ready for sea. The admiralty expressed their satisfaction and approval both publicly and privately. ‘A glorious action in the midst of a war,’ Jervis wrote to his father, ‘could not