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Royal Naval Biography/Bartholemew, David Ewen


DAVID EWEN BARTHOLOMEW, Esq.
A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1822.]

This officer was a native of Linlithgowshire, N.B. He first went to sea in the Baltic trade; next embarked in the Greenland fishery; and was ultimately impressed on his return to London from the West Indies, early in Jan. 1795, at which time he was in expectation of obtaining the command of a merchant vessel. From this period he served as able seaman on board the Scipio 64, successively commanded by Captains Robert M‘Douall, Francis Laforey, and Charles Sydney Davers, until Sept. 19, 1797. In that ship he was present at the capture of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, in April and May, 1796; also at the reduction of Trinidad, Feb. 17, 1797. We subsequently find him serving as a petty officer under Captains Thomas Revell Shivers, and John Griffin Saville, in the Standard 64, and Experiment 44, armed en flûte, on the North Sea, Channel, Irish, and Baltic stations, for a period of two years. In Sept. 1798, he was discharged from the latter ship at the Helder, by order of Vice-Admiral Andrew Mitchell, to serve in the flotilla on the Dutch canals, commanded by Sir Home Popham, to whom he had been recommended as “a person very well worthy of protection and notice.”

After Sir Home Popham’s departure from Holland with H.R.H. the Duke of York, Mr, Bartholomew remained there in the command of a detachment of hired seamen, under the orders of Captain John Lawford of the Romney 50; and assisted in the embarkation of the Anglo-Russian army, the flanks of which had been admirably protected by the gun-vessels on the lake of Alkmaar, during the advance of the Gallo-Batavian forces. His services in that country appear to have terminated Nov. 21, 1799.

Early in Aug. 1800, Sir Home Popham was appointed to the command of the Romney; and Mr. Bartholomew having joined him as a volunteer, was immediately rated master’s-mate of that ship, in which capacity he served until her return home from the Red Sea and India, in April, 1803[1]. During that time, says Sir Home, “he was very active, very intelligent, and very deserving; he performed every duty to my entire satisfaction.”

The Romney was paid off, at Chatham, June 2, 1803; and Mr. Bartholomew remained on shore from that period until Dec. 17, in the same year, when he obtained considerable notoriety, not only in the naval service, but throughout the country, from the circumstance of his impressment in the hall of the Admiralty Office, by the directions of Earl St. Vincent, to whom he had previously addressed the following letters soliciting employment and promotion:

“9, Prince’s Row, Pimlico, June 16, 1803.

“My Lord, – Permit me with all humility to represent to your lordship, that I have been in the naval service since 1794, in which period have been entrusted with command on shore as well as on board; nay, volunteered myself in the West India islands, as well in the Irish rebellion[2]; served also in the expedition to Holland, by which sustained loss of time, and have, for two years past served in the Red Sea, from which have but recently returned; have passed for lieutenant abroad us well as at home; consider myself skilled in astronomy, and not a stranger to chronometers: with those qualifications, I tender myself on any service your lordship may approve, persuaded that promotion from your lordship’s hand must flow from merit, and not the hacknied channel of recommendation; I therefore, throw myself on your lordship’s clemency, and have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)D. E. Bartholomew.”

No. 5, Whitaker’s Row, New Road, Chatham, July 26, 1803.

“My Lord, – Enclosed I have the honor to submit for your lordship’s inspection, two letters received by me from Captains Shivers and Saville, expressive of their readiness to serve me, had they influence ; other testimonials from Admiral M‘Douall and Sir Home Popham I could produce, but am aware it would be trespassing on your lordship’s patience and time; I therefore (having stated my services in a former letter) throw myself on your lordship’s clemency, and have the honor to be,

“My Lord,
Your lordship’s very respectful servant,
(Signed)D. E. Bartholomew.”

(enclosures.)

Wickham, Fareham, Hants, July 13, 1803.

“Sir,– I have received your letter of the 10th, and am glad to find you have passed your examination for lieutenant. It would give me great pleasure to be instrumental in procuring you a commission, if it were in my power, but I have no interest at present, as you may see, by my being unemployed; however, you may depend on my services whenever an opportunity may offer, being very truly your well-wisher. I should recommend your endeavouring to get into a flag-ship, as the best way of getting forward, circumstanced as you are. I am. Sir, Yours very truly,

(Signed)T.R. Shivers.”

To Mr. Bartholomew.

Chalk, near Gravesend, 14th July, 1803.

“Sir,– In reply to your letter of the 10th instant, I am sorry to inform you, that it is utterly out of my power at present to promote your interest in the manner you point out, having no influence with the Admiralty; but rest assured, that I shall at all times feel a great deal of pleasure in being instrumental to your promotion.

“I was so well satisfied with your conduct and zeal for the service during the time that you served under my command, that if I had a ship, I would use my endeavours to get you appointed as lieutenant of her.

“I conceive that your claims on the service are such, that if you represent them to the Right Hon. Earl St. Vincent, I have little doubt but his lordship (who seldom suffers merit to go unrewarded) will promote you, &c.”

(Signed)J. G. Saville.”

To Mr. Bartholomew.

In reply to the foregoing letters, Mr. Bartholomew was informed, that Earl St. Vincent recommended him to offer his services “to the captain of one of the ships fitting for sea;” and that, there could “be no promotion while there were 1500 Lieutenants seeking employment.” On the 9th Sept., he again addressed his lordship, as follows:

“My Lord, – I acknowledge to have been honored with two letters by your lordship’s directions, in answer to my application for preferment. In reply thereto, beg leave to state to your lordship, am ready to serve my country at a moment most wanted, without pay or other emolument, trusting, should my conduct meet approval, to receive rank from the date of my passing for Lieutenant. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)D. E. Bartholomew.”

The reply to this offer was, “His Lordship cannot enter into any engagement of the nature pointed out by your letter, of the 9th.” After an interval of two months he thus renewed his applications.

New Road, Chatham, Nov. 9, 1803.

“My Lord, – I some time since stated my servitude, sent testimonials of my character and abilities to your lordship, and solicited your patronage; knowing there were none who could distinguish merit sooner, nor one more able and willing to reward it, than your lordship.

“As an Englishman, at this crisis, I wish to render my Country all the aid in my power, and therefore have presumed to request your lordship to take my case into consideration; and I have the honor to be,

“My Lord,
Your Lordship’s very devoted humble servant,
(Signed)D. E. Bartholomew.”

New Road, Chatham, Nov. 20, 1803.

“My Lord, – I was honored with your answer of the 10th instant[3], and I hope your lordship will not consider one iota in all my applications presumptuous.

“My different letters were written unreserved, expressing the anxiety of a zealous officer to serve his country, and who would he happy on all occasions, and especially at this critical moment, to prove himself worthy your patronage.

“My letter of date 9th September last, evinced that I made not the service a convenience; and your lordship would perceive from the testimonies laid before you, that I did not arrogate your protection.

“My service in the Marine precludes my aid to the Country in other departments; and I need not describe to your Lordship my feelings in being at this juncture necessitated to embark in another line than the service of the Nation.

“No consideration could have induced me to have thus troubled your Lordship, but a sense of duty to my Country; and I trust your Lordship’s



  1. See Suppl. Part. I. p. 56.
  2. He appears to have assisted at the capture of Martinique in 1794, previous to his first impressment.
  3. Only an acknowledgment that his letter of the preceding day had been received.