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Royal Naval Biography/Collard, Valentine

[Post-Captain of 1807.]

Is a nephew to Admiral Sampson Edwards, and to the late Captain Valentine Edwards, who unfortunately perished in the Sceptre 64, at the Cape of Good Hope, Nov. 5, 1799[1]. Mr. Collard entered the naval service as a midshipman on board the Shark sloop of war, commanded by his uncle Valentine, in which vessel he served on the N.E. coast of Scotland, from May 22, 1783, until Dec. 11, 1787; when he joined the Champion a 24-gun ship, under the command of Captain Sampson Edwards, with whom he continued upwards of three years.

During the remainder of the peace, we find Mr. Collard serving as master’s mate of the Iphigenia frigate. Captain Patrick Sinclair; and on the 16th Mar. 1703, he appears to have been removed into the St. George 98, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral John Gell, under whom he shortly afterwards sailed for the Mediterranean. The recapture of a Spanish galleon by that officer’s squadron, April 14, 1793, has been described at p. 757 of our first volume.

The St. George formed part of Lord Hood’s fleet at the occupation of Toulon, in Aug. 1793; and was almost constantly engaged with the republican batteries from the 19th until the 24th of the following month, she being then stationed in the N.W. arm of the inner road, to defend the head of the harbour, and to cover the fort of Malbousquet on the side next to the water.

In Oct., same year, Mr. Collard assisted at the capture of a French frigate and two armed tartans, which had broken the neutrality of Genoa, in direct opposition to the remonstrances of the senate and government[2]. On his return from that service, he was appointed by Lord Hood to command one of the latter vessels, manned as a tender, and sent in her to Sardinia, with despatches for Commodore Linzee. He also received his first commission from the same source, bearing date Nov. 17, 1793, and appointing him junior Lieutenant of the Tartar frigate.

Early in the ensuing year, we find Mr. Collard commanding the Petite Boston schooner, in which vessel he was actively employed during the sieges of St. Fiorenzo and Bastia[3]. From July 5, 1794, until Dec. 10, 1796, he served in l’Eclair of 20 guns, on the Mediterranean station; and at the latter period he was removed into the Britannia, a first rate, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson, of which ship he became senior Lieutenant previous to the defeat of the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent, Feb. 14, 1797[4]. His promotion to the rank of Commander took place on the 8th of the following month.

Captain Collard was very soon afterwards appointed to the Fortune sloop of war, which vessel he had the misfortune to lose, near Oporto, July 19, 1797; and from that period we lose sight of him until his appointment to the Vestal frigate, armed en flute Feb. 6, 1800.

In that ship. Captain Collard assisted at the reduction of Genoa[5]; and subsequently accompanied the expedition to Egypt, where he served with great credit until the termination of the campaign, when he received a gold medal from the Turkish government, in common with numerous other officers. The Vestal was paid off April 26, 1802.

Early in July 1804, Captain Collard obtained the command of the Railleur sloop, and was again placed under the orders of Lord Keith, who entrusted him with the charge of the St. Vincent, one of the principal explosion vessels attached to the catamaran expedition, of which we have made mention at p, 45, et seq. of this volume. On the 24th April, 1805, he assisted at the capture of seven schuyts, carrying, altogether, 8 twenty-four-pounders, 1 twelve, 9 sixes, 1 brass howitzer, and 168 men[6].

Captain Collard conducted the naval operations in the river Weser during the occupation of Hanover by an Anglo-Russian army, under Lord Cathcart and General Bensingen, in 1805-6; he also superintended the re-embarkation of the British troops, and convoyed the last division of transports to the Downs, where they arrived in the month of February. His zealous exertions whilst holding that arduous command, obtained him the public thanks of Lord Cathcart, and led to his subsequent promotion[7].

From May 1806, until the close of the same year. Captain Collard commanded a small squadron of sloops and gun-brigs, employed affording protection to the trade passing up and down the Baltic. Early in 1807, he returned to the same station, and continued there as senior officer until the arrival of Admiral Gambier; to whose fleet he was attached during the operations against Copenhagen. His post commission bears date Oct. 13, 1807.

Captain Collard’s subsequent appointments were, Nov. 19, 1807, to the Majestic 74, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral T. M. Russell, commander-in-chief on the North Sea station; June 14, 1809, to the Gibraltar of 80 guns, during the absence of Captain Henry L. Ball, who was then attending Lord Gambier’s court-martial; Oct. 21, following, to the Cyane, 22, vice Captain (now Sir Thomas) Staines; and Jan. 9, 1810, to the Dreadnought 98, flag-ship of Rear-Admiral Sotheby, with whom he continued on Channel service until Sept. 13, 1810, since which period he has not held any command.

Since writing the above we have been informed that Captain Collard, when a youngster on board the Shark, and endeavouring to outstrip other aspirants in the art of climbing, missed his hold of the main futtock-shrouds, fell overboard, and was saved by a marine jumping after him: two similar acts of humanity appear to have been performed by himself, when commanding the Vestal and Railleur, under circumstances of considerable difficulty and peril; his successful exertions on those occasions procured him the appellation of “the animated life-boat,” and would doubtless have obtained him the gold medal of the Royal Humane Society, had he thought proper to have made a timely application for that mark of distinction.

Captain Collard’s first lady died at Teddington, co. Middlesex, June 5, 1821; he married, 2dly, Sept. 25, 1823, Mary Ann, daughter of George Kempster, Esq. Two of his brothers lost their lives in the naval service, viz. James, a master’s-mate of the Terpsichore, died about 1794; and Sampson, a Lieutenant, perished in the York 64, on the North Sea station, about Jan. 1804.

  1. The Sceptre was driven on shore in Table bay, and totally wrecked, during a violent gale of wind; by which disaster her Captain, 2 Lieutenants, the Master, 4 Midshipmen (one of whom was the Captain’s son), 2 warrant officers, and about 2S0 men lost their lives. Most of the other officers were then at a ball, and thereby preserved from the same melancholy fate. The following is a list of those gentlemen who were either saved from the wreck, or were on shore when the dreadful accident took place:–

    Lieutenants James Pengelly, Thomas Tudor Tucker*, and the Hon. Alex. Jones*; supernumerary Lieutenants Nisbet Josiah Willoughby*, William Dredge, and Robert Smart; Messrs. John Douglas and Benjamin W. M‘Gibbon, marine officers; James Shaw, master’s-mate; James Spink, T. H. Buddie, Stephen Popham*, James Pettet, Charles William Chalmers†, and John Thompson, midshipmen; John Bury, surgeon; John Dredge, purser; and the Rev. Thomas Tringham, chaplain. The carpenter and about 109 men were also saved.

    * Now Captains.

    † Now Commander Sir C. W. Chalmers, Bart.

  2. See Vol. II, Part I., p. 77.
  3. See Vol. I., pp. 250–252.
  4. See id. p. 21, et seq.
  5. See id. p. 53, and note at ditto.
  6. See Vol. II. Part I., p. 180.
  7. A treaty of alliance between Great Britain and Russia was signed at St. Petersburgh, April 11, 1805. In the following autumn, Lord Cathcart was ordered to that capital as Ambassador; but after much intercourse with Mr. Pitt, he was finally sent to take the command of the British army in Hanover. His lordship accordingly proceeded to the Weser, acquired an entire ascendancy over the senate of Bremen, and obtained all that was necessary to the establishment of his head-quarters in that city. The battle of Austerlitz, however, changed the aspect of affairs, and that event was soon followed by the death of Mr. Pitt; the new administration determined to recal the army, and so great were Captain Collard’s exertions in providing the means of embarkation, that the whole of the troops, artillery, stores, &c., were shipped on the thirteenth day, although fifteen days was stated to be the shortest space of time in which that service could possibly be performed.