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Royal Naval Biography/Bishop, Henry William


Obtained his first commission on the let Nov. 1806; and served, during the latter part of the war with France, under Captain (now Rear-Admiral) John Maitland, in the Barfleur 98, on the Mediterranean station. He was appointed to the Royal Sovereign yacht. Captain Sir Edward Berry, July 28th, 1814; to the Lacedemonian and Niger, frigates, commanded by Captain Samuel Jackson, in 1815[1]; and to be senior lieutenant of the Tribune 42, Captain (now Sir Nisbet J.) Willoughby, Oct. 19th, 1819[2]. We next find him commanding the Manly sloop, on the Halifax station; and sent, in July 1829, by Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Ogle, to look for and determine the position of the Virgin Rocks, lying in the direct track to Cape Race, Newfoundland, the point which vessels bound to Quebec generally endeavour to make. He was accompanied on this service by Mr. Edward Rose, master in the royal navy, commanding the Inspector tender.

That the situation of the Virgin Rocks should have remained uncertain, and even that their existence should have been doubted, to a very recent period, affords an instance of one among the many difficulties with which hydrographers have to contend in the construction of charts. Although repeatedly sought for, they were known only to a few fishermen, who frequent the Banks of Newfoundland, until the enlightened views of Sir Charles Ogle, for the safety of our North American traders, led to their complete discovery. They are situated in lat. 46° 26' 15" N., long. 50° 66' 35" W.; and described as extending in an irregular chain, or cluster, 800 yards in the direction of N.E.b.E. and S.W.b.W., their breadth varying from 200 to 300 yards. They were distinctly seen under water, particularly a large white mass of rock, in 41/2 fathoms, having from 5 to 61/2 fathoms round it. The shoal was traced in 7 fathoms, on detached rocks, near the edge of it, having deeper water between them. On the southern edge of the shoal, from S.E. to W., the depth increases gradually to 30 fathoms, at the distance of half-a-mile from the shoalest part. The same depth was found to the N.W. and N.E. of the shoal, at the distance of one-third of a mile, and also between N.E. and S.E. at the distance of one mile. In an easterly gale, which would he attended with the whole swell of the Atlantic Ocean, no vessel could pass over these rocks.

This officer’s promotion to the rank of commander took place on the 22d July, 1830.