Royal Naval Biography/Askey, James
JAMES ASKEY, Esq.
Was born in 1775; and first went to sea, in the merchant service, in 1786. During the Russian armament, in 1791, he entered the royal navy, as a foremast lad, on board the Rattlesnake sloop, Captain Joseph Sydney Yorke; under whom he continued to serve, in that vessel, the Circe 28 Stag 32, Jason 36, and Canada 74, until May 1802; at which period he had been doing duty on the quarter-deck as midshipman and master’s-mate, for about twelve months. During the peace of Amiens, he commanded a merchant-vessel; and on the renewal of hostilities, in 1803, rejoined Captain Yorke then commanding the Prince George 98. In Sept. 1804, he passed his examination; and on the 15th July, 1806, after acting as lieutenant of two line-of-battle ships (the Polyphemus and Illustrious) was promoted from the Hibernia 110, bearing the flag of Earl St. Vincent, into the Donegal 74, Captain Pulteney Malcolm, under whom we find him serving for a period of four years. From documents before us, it appears that he was beach-master at the debarkation of the armies under Sir Arthur Wellesley (in Mondego bay) and Sir John Moore (at the back of Vimiera) in 1808; that on the former occasion, he superintended the landing of the artillery and ordnance stores; and that, on the latter, he saved four soldiers from a watery grave, at the hazard of his own life. He also commanded the larboard division of boats, sent from the fleet under Lord Gambler, to protect the fire-vessels in Aix roads, on the memorable night of April 11th, 1809.
Lieutenant Askey’s subsequent appointments were, in 1810, to the command of the hired cutter Active, on the Downs station, and Charger mortar brig, employed in the defence of Cadiz, where he continued until the raising of the siege. He obtained the rank of commander on the 15th June, 1814; and received the following testimonial from his first patron, Sir Joseph S. Yorke, in Dec. 1823:
“My dear Sir,– I received your letter of the 18th ultimo, in which you state your intention to apply for employment, and request such testimony of your conduct, whilst under my command, as may strengthen the claims you have to the attention of the Board of Admiralty.
“It appears by a record that I have, that you began your naval life with me, when I commanded the Rattlesnake, fitting at Chatham, in Mar. 1791; and I well remember that, though a boy, you exerted yourself to rig the ship when hands were very scarce, and thereby acquired considerable claim to my regard and attention, for such active and smart conduct in so mere a youth.
“You followed me, at the commencement of the war, 1793, into the Circe; and afterwards into the Stag, Jason, and Canada; when I promoted you, for your excellent and faithful conduct, through the different grades of the profession, viz. captain of a top, quarter-master, gunner’s-mate, and captain’s-coxswain; in which capacity you proved yourself highly worthy of confidence, more particularly during the great mutiny of the fleet. After the truce of Amiens, you embarked with me in the Prince George, as master’s-mate, and by your continued good conduct, promoted yourself, I may say, to the rank of lieutenant, and from that to commander, as your other testimonials you allude to, by Sir Arthur Legge and Sir Pulteney Malcolm, will abundantly testify. Indeed, I may say, there are few men who, by a regular line of good, strait-forward, sober, and honest conduct, have, with so little interest, done so much for themselves; and I can safely assure you, nothing would give me more gratification, than to learn that my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were disposed to listen to your wishes for employment.
“With every sentiment of good will towards you, believe me very faithfully yours,
(Signed)“J. S. Yorke, Vice-Admiral.”
Commander Askey died at Bruges, in Flanders, Oct. 31st, 1824.