Royal Naval Biography/Arabin, Septimus
SEPTIMIUS ARABIN, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1823.]
Jean D’Arabin, a branch of one of the oldest families in Provence, was born about the year 1600. His grandson, Bartholomew, fled from France at the revocation of the edict of Nantz, in 1685; came over to England, with King William III., in 1688; and commanded a troop of horse, under Colonel Robert Monckton (father of the first Viscount Galway), in 1690. The said Bartholomew was grandfather of John Arabin, who married Judith Daniell, daughter of General De Grangues (aide-de-camp to the Duke of Schomberg at the battle of the Boyne), and by that lady had two sons, Henry and John Daniell; the latter a lieutenant-general in the royal Irish artillery. Henry married Ann Grant, of the family of Grant of Ballendallack, and had issue nine sons, four of whom were devoted to the military and naval services, – viz. George, who died a captain in H.M. 54th regiment; Septimius, the subject of the following sketch; Frederick, a captain in the royal artillery; and Augustus, a lieutenant in the navy; – these gentlemen arc grand-nephews to General William John Arabin, many years a lieutenant-colonel of the 2d regiment of foot-guards.
Mr. Septimius Arabin entered the navy in April, 1799; and served the greater part of his time as midshipman, under Sir W. Sidney Smith, in the Tigre 80, and Antelope 50; the former ship employed in co-operation with the Turkish forces on the coasts of Syria and Egypt, where she remained until the peace of Amiens; the latter in watching the ports of Helvoetsluys, Flushing, Ostend, and Boulogne, subsequent to the renewal of hostilities, in 1803. At this period, Mr. Arabin was often in close action with vessels destined to form a part of the flotilla collecting for the invasion of England; and his conduct on every occasion appears to have met with the unqualified approbation of his superiors. On the 24th March, 1801, he was publicly thanked by Sir W. Sidney Smith, for the gallant and judicious manner in which he conducted the boats of the Antelope, after every officer senior to himself was wounded, in an attack on a Dutch armed schuyt, moored at the entrance of the East Scheldt, and in every way prepared for an obstinate resistance. The capture of this vessel was effected by boarding, but not until the boats had been exposed, in consequence of a strong lee tide, to a heavy fire for 45 minutes, by which many men were killed and wounded.
In Jan. 1800, we find Mr. Arabin, who had previously passed his examination, serving as master’s-mate on board the Pompée 74, bearing the flag of Sir W. Sidney Smith, and about to sail for the Mediterranean, in consequence of the lamented Nelson having selected his chivalrous compeer to protect Sicily from a threatened invasion. Shortly after the arrival of the Pompée at Palermo, Mr. Arabin was appointed by his patron to command a Sicilian armed vessel, in which he conveyed the first supply of ammunition to Gaeta, at that time a post of the greatest importance, besieged by the French army, and resolutely defended by the Prince of Hesse-Philipsthal: he also assisted in disarming the coasts of Naples and Calabria, from the gulf of Salerno to Scylla; and was present at the capture of the latter fortress.
On the 1st August, 1806, Mr. Arabin was appointed acting lieutenant of the Pompée, in which capacity he passed and re-passed the Dardanelles, with the squadron under Sir John T. Duckworth, Feb. 19th and March 3d, 1807. On the first of these days, after assisting at the destruction of a Turkish 64, four frigates, and five smaller vessels, lying within the inner castles, he was sent to cut out a gun-boat, and ordered to employ her in covering the party despatched under Lieutenant (now Captain) William Fairbrother Carroll, to complete the demolition of a 31-gun battery, situated on Point Pesquies. For his conduct in the performance of this service he again received the public thanks of Sir W. Sidney Smith, and likewise had the distinguished honor of being one of the only two naval lieutenants named in Sir John T. Duckworth’s first official despatch.
Having thus contributed to the securing of an anchorage for the British squadron, on its return from Constantinople, Mr. Arabin followed the Pompée into the sea of Marmora; but having no pilot, and his prize being almost unmanageable, from the loss of rigging and other damages, added to the exhausted state of the few British seamen on board, who were quite destitute of provisions, he unavoidably got aground within a short distance of the beach near Gallipoli, where he lay exposed, for upwards of two hours, to the fire of numerous troops and two row-gallies, the latter of which continued to pursue and harass him until he arrived almost under the guns of his ship, by that time anchored near the Prince’s Islands.
We have before had occasion to mention, that the Pompée bore the flag of Vice-Admiral the Hon. Henry Edwin Stanhope, in the subsequent expedition against Copenhagen, under Admiral Gambier and Lord Cathcart; and we have now to remark, that Mr. Arabin, still acting as lieutenant of that ship, was selected to command a division of boats at the debarkation of the British army. During the siege, he was often warmly engaged with the Danish flotilla and batteries; and his conduct in every affair so fully met the approbation of the Vice-Admiral, as to induce that officer personally to present him to the naval commander-in-chief, with the strongest recommendation for advancement. In the mean time, however, the Admiralty had promoted him to the rank of lieutenant, by commission dated August 4th, 1807, and consequently no reward for his services off Zealand could then be expected.
Subsequent to the surrender of the Danish navy. Sir W. Sidney Smith applied for Mr. Arabin to be appointed a lieutenant of the ship destined to bear his flag on the South American station, and he was consequently ordered to join the Foudroyant 80, at Brazil, from whence he returned home with his admiral, in August, 1809. His next appointment was, about Mar. 1810, to the Theseus 74, Captain William Prowse, under whom he served, off Flushing and the Texel, until the summer of 1812. He then became flag-lieutenant to Sir W. Sidney Smith, and proceeded with him to the Mediterranean, where he continued during the remainder of the war, in the Hibernia 110. His advancement to the rank of commander took place August 27th, 1814.
After making several unsuccessful applications for an appointment on the peace establishment, and it having been intimated to him, by high authority, that the being so employed could not be considered as giving an officer any additional claim to promotion, Captain Arabin at length resolved to travel on the continent, with the view of gaining such local knowledge and information as would further qualify him for his country’s service, in the event of another war. He accordingly visited the most considerable parts of France and Italy, acquiring a practical knowledge of the languages of those countries, and passing his time with as much advantage, in a professional point of view, as if he had been serving in a sloop of war. Previous to his obtaining a command, he presented a statement of his services to Viscount Melville, accompanied by the following document:–
“In certifying the above statement of the meritorious and distinguished services of Captain Arabin, for the most part under my own direction and observation, I feel it but justice to him to remark, that his being constantly selected for services of difficulty and danger, where zeal and ability were required, and the development of those qualities having ensured the success of the operation, the best possible earnest for the future is afforded, and the acquirements consequent of such experience, with close application and study in the higher branches of professional knowledge, being proportionate thereto, I do not hesitate to say, that his promotion to the rank which can alone afford the probability of his rising to that of flag-officer, during the active time of life, promises advantage to the service, as well as to the individual whom I have it much at heart to see in his place in the profession to which he has devoted his youth so unremittingly.
(Signed)“W. Sidney Smith, Vice-Admiral.”
On the 2d July, 1821, Captain Arabin was appointed to the Argus 18, intended for the Halifax station, where he received a post commission, from England, dated March 20th, 1823. His last appointment was, Dec. 23, 1825, to the North Star 28, fitting out for the African station, where he captured several slave vessels crowded with victims to the cupidity of Brazilian and Spanish traders. Previous to his return home, he visited Rio de Janeiro, and there received on board Viscount Strangford, late H.M. Envoy[errata 1] Extraordinary to the Court of Brazil, whom he landed at Portsmouth, June 29, 1829. The North Star was soon afterwards put out of commission.
Captain Arabin married a daughter of the late Sir George Berriman Rumbold, Bart, formerly British Consul-General at Hamburgh, whose widow was afterwards united to Sir W. Sidney Smith, and died at Paris, in May, 1826,
Agent.– J. Hinxman, Esq.
- Original: Envoy was amended to late H.M. Envoy