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Royal Naval Biography/Croker, Charles


Son of Edward Croker, Esq. of Ballyngninch, near Limerick, Ireland, by Margaret Ann Hare, sister to the present Earl of Listowell.

This officer entered the navy in Aug. 1805; and when very young we find him serving as a volunteer in the boats of the Alceste frigate, under the orders of Lieutenant Allan Stewart, at the capture of seven Spanish tartans, under the batteries of Rota[1]. In May 1809, he assisted at the destruction of several armed vessels and martello towers on the coast of Italy, likewise in bringing off a large quantity of timber from a dépôt at Terracina. In June following, he was present at the capture of the islands of Ischia and Procida[2]. In May 1810, a party from the Alceste stormed a two-gun battery near Frejus, and her boats captured and destroyed six French vessels in the bay of Agaye. In the following month, a three-gun battery in the island of Corsica was taken, and two vessels lying under its protection brought out, by detachments from the Alceste and Topaze. On the 5th May, 1811, a French national brig of 18 guns, lying in the harbour of Parenza, coast of Istria, was destroyed by the former ship in company with la Belle Poule[3]. On the 29th Nov. following, Mr. Croker participated in a severe action with two French frigates, near the island of Augusta, the result of which was the capture of la Pomone, mounting 44 guns with a complement of 322 men[4]. He returned home and joined the Clarence 74, Captain Henry Vansittart, in the autumn of 1812.

The subject of this sketch was made a lieutenant in Dec. 1814, at which period, we believe, he was serving on the Lakes of Canada. In Aug. 1818, he was appointed to the Redwing 18, Captain Frederick Hunn, fitting out for the St. Helena station; and, in Sept. 1821, to the Carnation 18, Captain J. E. Walcott, destined to the West Indies; where he appears to have been successively removed into the Gloucester 74, Commodore Sir Edward W. C. R. Owen, and Icarus 10, Captain John George Graham.

On the 20th Aug. 1824, the boats of the Icarus, despatched from Havannah, under the orders of Lieutenant Croker, captured, in a creek within Cayo Blanco, a large piratical schooner, called the Diableto, mounting six guns, and manned with about fifty men, who, after firing a few shot without effect, abandoned the vessel on the near approach of the British. Some of them made their escape to the shore in four large boats, which were afterwards taken by Lieutenant Croker; others having jumped overboard, and got amongst some mangrove bushes, five of them were killed by musketry and several appeared wounded, but from the nature of the marsh they could not be secured. On boarding the schooner, Lieutenant Croker had the satisfaction to release the master and crew (nine persons) of an American brig, the Henry, of Hartford, which bad been taken seven days before by the pirate. They had been treated in the most inhuman manner, and were to have been put to death on the following morning, their lives having been spared so long only for the purpose of their assisting in removing the brig’s cargo. The Henry was found in the creek, a mile above the schooner, but in a state which rendered it impracticable to remove her to Havannah, and she was therefore burnt, with what remained in her. A deserted sloop, having on board part of the Henry’s cargo, was also discovered and brought away. Sir Lawrence W. Halsted, commander-in-chief on the Jamaica station, in reporting the performance of this service to the Admiralty, highly praised “the judicious and spirited manner in which it was conducted, as well as the zeal and gallantry shown by Lieutenant Croker and the Officers and men under his orders.”

Commander Croker obtained his present rank on the 4th Oct. 1825. Three of his brothers are in holy orders, and possess valuable livings, viz:– Edward, rector of Croom; Robert, rector of Athlacca; and Thomas, vicar of Adare; all in county Limerick, and in the gift of the Croker family. His brother Albert died first lieutenant of the Cambrian frigate, in Jan. 1826; his other brothers, Richard and William, are majors in the army: one of his sisters, Margaret, is married to the Dean of Clogher; and another, Sally, to Major George Gough, formerly in the 28th foot.