Royal Naval Biography/Dougal, George
GEORGE DOUGAL, Esq.
Is the son of a London merchant, who, after his retirement from business, in 1788, resided for many years at Sunderland. His grandfather was a clergyman of the Scotch church.
This officer appears to have been born at London, on the 24 Oct. 1778; and, when fourteen years of age, placed in the office of the Comptroller of the Customs; but having imbibed an ardent predilection for a sea life, he was soon afterwards bound apprentice to the owners of a ship employed in the coal trade. After making a few voyages between Shields and the river Thames, he embarked on board a brig, and visited Archangel, Riga, and other Russian ports. In Dec. 1706, he became midshipman of the Hon. East India Company’s ship Hindostan; and on his return home, after a trip to Bombay and China, (during which he was, together with twelve other persons, struck down by lightning,) engaged as third mate on board the Experiment, a large West Indiaman; from which ship he was pressed on board the Brunswick 74, Captain William Gordon Rutherford, June 27th, 1709. The yellow fever was then raging at Jamaica; many of the Brunswick’s officers and crew had fallen victims to it; and as she had but few midshipmen left, Mr. Dougal was at once placed on her quarter-deck. In Mar. 1800, he followed Captain Rutherford into the Decade frigate; from which ship we find him paid off, at Portsmouth, Oct. 7th, 1802. Previous to this he had witnessed the surrender of Curaçoa, assisted in cutting out several vessels on the coast of the Spanish Main, and been, on one occasion, no less than fifteen days in an open boat, endeavouring to regain his ship, which had suddenly left her station off Porto Cabello. During this time, provisions running short, he was obliged to go on shore at various places to procure some, and once obliged to fight his way to the beach, having been surprised by a party of cavalry.
Being soon tired of an idle life, Mr. Dougal next embarked on board the Trusty, a frigate-built Guineaman, which ship, alter seven months’ service on the African coast, proceeded with 400 slaves to Jamaica, where her cargo, the original cost of which was about £5,000., sold for no less than £26,000. the late Dr. M‘Leod, surgeon of the Alceste frigate, during Lord Amherst’s embassy to China, was then one of Mr. Dougal’s fellow voyagers.
After his arrival at Kingston, the subject of this memoir, being second mate of the Trusty, was employed for about six months, in the command of a droger, bringing rum and sugar from various parts of Jamaica. When the ship was loaded and ready to return home, she anchored at Port Royal, to wait for convoy. Her commander there associated with a number of naval officers, and, one night, returning on board in a state of inebriety, was so very abusive to Mr. Dougal that he could not avoid resenting it. In the heat of passion, the skipper ordered a boat to be manned, went on board the Theseus 74, and asserted that he was in danger of being murdered. His unoffending officer was consequently sent for, and next morning questioned as to the nature of the quarrel which had taken place; his ungarbled version of the affair received credit, and he was immediately ordered to do duty as master’s-mate. A few days afterwards, he lost the sight of his right eye, occasioned by one of the marines firing a musket close to him, whilst he was in the act of preventing drunken man from falling over the gangway.
The Theseus, successively commanded by Captains John Bligh, Edward Hawker, Francis Temple, and B. Dacres, was paid off, at Chatham, Sept. 22d, 1805. A narrative of her proceedings, while bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral J. R. Dacres, during a hurricane, in which she was dismasted and obliged to throw many guns overboard, is given in the Naval Chronicle, vol. xii. p. 477 et seq. Shortly after her return in that state to Port Royal, she lost at least 100 men by yellow fever.
From the Theseus, Mr. Dougal was removed into the Powerful 74, Captain Robert Plampin, with whom, however, he did not go to sea. We afterwards find him serving as master’s-mate of the Sampson and Diadem 64’s, successively bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Stirling, by whom he was appointed, April 22d, 1807, to the command of the Dolores schooner, recently captured at Monte Video, which vessel he gallantly and successfully defended against two others of the same description and force, sent from Buenos Ayres purposely to attack him. He was subsequently employed in battering the sea defences of that city; and after the failure of the attack thereon, by Lieutenant-General Whitelocke, ordered on board the Princessa, an old Manilla galleon, selected to convey 400 men of the 71st regiment, with their wives and children, to England. That ship sailed from the Rio de la Plata on the 13th Sept. 1807, and on the 24th was abandoned, in consequence of her being in a sinking condition.
During the next four months, Mr. Dougal was a supernumerary on board the Africa 64, Captain (now Sir Henry W.) Bayntun. On his arrival in England, he received intimation that he was at liberty to go where he pleased; nor could he recover one farthing of pay for the time he had served in the Princessa and Africa:– the Navy Board said they had nothing to do with the former ship, she being a transport; the Transport Board would not recognize her as ever having been one.
Once more at his own disposal, Mr. Dougal thought of again entering into the merchant service; but, on due consideration, thought it right to make an effort to obtain a lieutenant’s commission; and, although he had previously passed underwent a second examination at Somerset House. He then memorialized the Admiralty, and, in about three months afterwards, was promoted into the Sarpen sloop, by commission, dated June 8th, 1808. This vessel, successively commanded by Captains James Gifford and J. Sanderson Gibson, was attached to the Walcheren expedition, afterwards employed in the North Sea and Baltic, and paid off Dec. 22d, 1809.
Lieutenant Dougal’s subsequent appointments were, April 0th, 1810, to be first of the Apelles sloop, Captain Thomas Oliver; and Jan. 15th, 1813, to the Espiegle, Captain John Taylor. The former vessel, while under the command of Captain Frederick Hoffman, ran on shore under the batteries to the westward of Boulogne, May 3d, 1812, on which occasion Lieutenant Dougal and several of her crew were wounded. The latter sloop was employed on the West India station, from whence she returned home in Mar. 1814.
The subject of this memoir was made a commander on the 13th June, 1815; since which he has not been able to obtain employment.