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Royal Naval Biography/Bingham, Joseph

Rear-Admiral of the White.

This officer was born about the year 1769, and entered the naval service in 1781 as a Midshipman, on board the Dublin, of 74 guns, commanded by the late Sir Archibald Dickson, which ship formed part of Lord Howe’s fleet at the relief of Gibraltar, and in the partial action with the combined fleets of France and Spain, off Cape Spartel, Oct. 20, 1782[1]. He afterwards served successively in the Ariadne, Proselyte, Druid, and Solebay frigates, on the coasts of Ireland and Newfoundland, in the British Channel, and at the Leeward Islands. On the latter station he joined the Jupiter, of 50 guns, bearing the broad pendant of the late Sir William Parker, by whom he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

At the commencement of the war with France, in 1793, we find Mr. Bingham serving as third Lieutenant of the Ganges, 74, Captain A. I. P. Molloy. In that ship he had the good fortune to share in the capture of the General Dumourier French Privateer and her prize the St. Iago, a Spanish galleon of immense value[2]. He was subsequently appointed to the Caesar, of 84 guns.

In the partial action between Earl Howe’s fleet and that of the French republic, on the evening of May 28, 1794[3], Mr. Bingham was senior Lieutenant of the Audacious, of 74 guns, which ship, it will be remembered, engaged Revolutionnaire, a three-decker, in the most spirited manner, and fairly beat her out of the enemy’s line.

The Audacious received so much damage in this unequal conflict, as to be under the necessity of returning to port to refit; and was thereby prevented sharing in the glorious triumph obtained over the enemy on the 1st of the following month. Lieutenant Bingham, however, whose good conduct in the foregoing gallant affair had been duly represented to the Admiralty, was soon after advanced to the rank of Commander, and appointed to the Cormorant sloop, in which vessel he proceeded to the Jamaica station, where he captured l’Alerte, of 14 guns, and several other armed vessels. His post commission bears date April 20, 1796.

In the ensuing autumn, Captain Bingham, after commanding for a short time the Hannibal and Sampson, ships of the line, and Jamaica of 26 guns, was removed into the Leviathan, 74, bearing the broad pendant of his friend Commodore Duckworth; with whom he continued until an eighth attack of the yellow fever obliged him to invalid, and return to England in a packet.

Captain Bingham’s next appointment was in 1798, to the Prince George, a second rate, bearing the flag of Sir William Parker, on the coast of Spain. He afterwards accompanied that officer, in the America, of 64 guns, to Halifax, and from thence proceeded to the West Indies.

On the 13th Dec. 1800, the America struck upon the Formigas rocks, and received so much damage as to render her unfit for any other service than that of a prison-ship, into which she was subsequently converted.

On the 27th of the same month, a court-martial, assembled in Port Royal harbour to try Captain Bingham for getting his ship on the Formigas, delivered the following sentence:–

“The Court is of opinion, that the sole cause of the above accident is the great errors in the charts on board the ship, particularly a French chart of 1787, and that published by Hamilton Moore in the year 1784.

“And it appears to the Court, that Captain Bingham was proceeding perfectly consistent with the order produced, and under which he was acting; and that the courses steered were such as would have, taken the America a considerable way to the northward of the Formigas, had that shoal been situated nearly as laid down in the charts above mentioned.

“And the Court is of opinion, that no blame is to be attached to Captain Bingham, his officers, and ship’s company, for the said accident; and that after the America struck, every possible exertion was made by Captain Bingham, &c. &c, for her preservation.

“And it has fully appeared to the Court, that the conduct of Captain Bingham, &c &c, of the America, after her striking upon the shoal, both with respect to the most arduous exertions, and the most firm and orderly behaviour, has been eminently praiseworthy and meritorious throughout, and deserving of the highest commendation.

“The Court doth therefore adjudge, that Captain Bingham, the officers, and ship’s company of the America, be acquitted in the fullest manner from any blame on account of that ship striking on the Formigas, and with the warmest commendation of the Court for their subsequent conduct.”

Our officer returned to England as a passenger in the Hind frigate, April 25, 1801; and in the spring of the following year was appointed to the St. Fiorenzo, of 40 guns, in which ship he was ordered to the East Indies, where he captured la Fleche French corvette, and the Passe par Tout, a vessel that had been fitted for the purpose of landing three French officers on the Malabar coast, to endeavour to stir up the Mahratta chieftains to war. Captain Bingham, as soon as he found what business they had been upon, with his usual activity and zeal in the service, sent off expresses in various directions, by which means the three officers and their despatches were taken at Poonah.

From the St. Fiorenzo, Captain Bingham was removed, in 1804, to the Sceptre, of 74 guns, in which ship he continued on the same station till 1808, when he returned to England, accompanied by two homeward bound Danish East Indiamen, captured by him off the Cape of Good Hope.

The Sceptre was paid off soon after her arrival; but after undergoing the necessary repairs, was again commissioned by Captain Bingham, and in the summer of 1809 accompanied the expedition sent to the Scheldt under Sir R. J. Strachan and the Earl of Chatham. Whilst on that service, our officer caught the Walcheren fever, of which he afterwards had such violent and repeated attacks as to be under the necessity of resigning his command, and coming on shore for the recovery of his health. He was not again employed until 1811, when he obtained the command of the Egmont, another third-rate; and in her, after serving for some time on the coast of America and in the North Sea, proceeded with the flag of Sir George Hope to the Baltic, from whence he returned home, in company with the fleet confided to the care of this country by the Emperor Alexander of Russia.

The Egmont was subsequently employed off the coast of France; and bore the flag of Rear-Admiral Penrose when that officer led his squadron into and forced the passage of the Gironde[4]. She was paid off in the month of Aug. 1814.

Captain Bingham was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral, Aug. 12, 1819. He married Sarah, second daughter of his old friend and patron, Admiral Sir William Parker, Bart.[5]

Residence.– Grove House, near Lymington, Hants.

  1. See p. 107.
  2. See Rear-Admiral John Cochet.
  3. See note at p. 75.
  4. See p. 579 of this volume, and Memoirs of Captains Harris, O’Reilly, &c. in our next.

    Errata: for p. 579 of this volume, &c. &c. read Suppl. Part II. pp. 287–293.

  5. Sir William Parker died Dec. 31, 1802.