Royal Naval Biography/Dixon, Manley Hall

[Post-Captain of 1811.]

Eldest surviving child of Admiral Sir Manley Dixon, K.C.B. by Miss Christiana Hall, of Jamaica.

This officer was born in the parish of Stoke Damarell, co. Devon, June 8, 1786; and he entered the navy in June, 1794, under the immediate protection of his father, with whom he served as midshipman, master’s mate, and acting Lieutenant, in the Porcupine of 24 guns, l’Espion 40, the Lion 64, and le Généreux 74; on the Channel, North Sea, Irish, and Mediterranean stations, until Captain Dixon’s removal to the Alexander 74, about June 1801.

In l’Espion, Mr. Dixon witnessed the capture of le Buonaparte French privateer, of 17 guns and 110 men, Feb. 14, 1797: the important services performed by the Lion have been fully described at pp. 375–378 of Vol. I. Part I. Le Genéréux, while employed in the blockade of Malta, assisted at the capture of la Diane French frigate, mounting 42 guns, but with only 114 men on board, the remainder having been landed at la Valette, to assist at the defence of that garrison[1].

In Aug. 1801, Mr. Dixon was appointed acting Lieutenant of the Alexander, in which ship he continued, under the command of his father, until she was paid off at Portsmouth, in Aug. 1802. His first commission bears date April 18, 1802. Lieutenant Dixon’s next appointment was, Oct. 1803, to be third of the Terrible 74, Captain Lord Henry Paulet, then employed in the blockade of the enemy’s ports, but subsequently forming part of the squadron under Sir R. J. Strachan, despatched to St. Helena in quest of an equal number of French line-of-battle-ships, one of which was commanded by Jerome, brother to Napoleon Buonaparte.

On the 19th May, 1806, Sir Richard J. Strachan again sailed from Plymouth in pursuit of the same French squadron; and on this occasion he was likewise accompanied by the Terrible. After cruising for some time off Madeira and the Canary islands, he proceeded to Barbadoes, where he received so good information, that the night of Aug. 18th fell upon both squadrons nearly in the same latitude, and within a degree of the same longitude; the British experiencing a tremendous hurricane in lat. 21° 25' N. long. 62° W. the enemy, in lat. 22° N. long. 63° W. The accidental circumstance of a day’s earlier departure from Carlisle bay, might have enabled Sir Richard to have crossed the path of the French Admiral, Mons. Villaumez, as the latter was returning to his cruising ground from the eastward, after unsuccessfully seeking for Jerome Buonaparte, who had unceremoniously quitted his protection, eighteen days before.

In the above hurricane, which continued with unabated violence for 36 hours, the Terrible was totally dismasted, and had all her boats either blown or washed away; her tiller broke, and the spare one was scarcely shipped before it did the same:– in this alarming situation, and left to the fury of the storm, without a vessel of any description in sight, one of her lower-deck guns nearly got adrift, but, providentially, through the active exertions of her officers and crew, the imminent danger that at this instant seemed to threaten every one on board was speedily averted. In 48 hours after the hurricane subsided, the Terrible was completely jury-rigged, and ready to set studding sails if wanted!!

Lieutenant Dixon quitted the Terrible, at Plymouth, in Nov. 1806; and remained upon half pay till June 4, 1807, when he was appointed second of the Horatio frigate. Captain George Scott.

In Sept. following, the Horatio sailed from Portsmouth for Quebec, with Sir James Craig, the newly-appointed Governor-General of Canada. She was subsequently employed on the North American and West India stations. In 1808, Lieutenant Dixon became first of the Horatio; and on the 10th Feb. 1809, he was badly wounded by a musket-ball (which entered his left groin and passed through the thigh), while engaging la Junon French frigate, – the capture of which ship has been described at p. 147 et seq. of Vol. II. Part I. For his gallant conduct on this occasion, he was promoted to the rank of Commander, and his commission as such dated back to the day of the action. He returned to England, as a passenger on board the Hussar frigate, in the month of June following.

In the summer of 1810, we find Captain Dixon serving as a volunteer under his father, on the Baltic station. Towards the latter end of the same year, he obtained the command of the Fly brig, in which vessel he continued until his advancement to post rank, June 28, 1811. From that period he served as flag-captain to Rear Admiral Dixon, in the Vigo and Montague, 74’s, on the Baltic and South American stations, until July 1813, when he exchanged with Captain Peter Heywood into the Nereus 42.

After accompanying the homeward bound trade to the northward as far as the equator. Captain Dixon returned to Rio de Janeiro, from whence he was sent to assume the command of a small squadron stationed in the Rio de la Plata, where he continued until relieved by Captain Sir Edward Tucker, in Aug. 1814. The Nereus was paid off in Jan. 1815.

Captain Dixon enjoys a pension of 250l. per annum for the wound he received Feb. 10, 1809. He married, April 18, 1815, Harriet, second daughter of William Foot, of Devonport, Esq. His only surviving brother, Mathew Charles Dixon, Esq. is a captain in the royal engineers.

  1. La Diane struck to the squadron under Captain George Martin, after a chaae of some hours and a running fight with the Success frigate, Captain Shuldham Peard.