Royal Naval Biography/Douglas, John Erskine

Rear-Admiral of the Red.

This officer was made a Commander in 1794, and obtained post rank, June 10, 1795. From that period he commanded the Garland, a small frigate, employed in the North Sea, until the commencement of 1798, when he removed into the Boston, of 32 guns, stationed off the coast of France. In the following year he proceeded to North America, where he captured and destroyed several of the enemy’s ships, and for several months blockaded the Similante, a French frigate, of far superior force to the Boston, preserving his station, often within range of the enemy, during the heaviest gales and thickest fogs.

About the period of the temporary suspension of hostilities, in 1801, we find the Boston at the Leeward Islands, from whence she returned to Halifax, and continued to be actively employed on that station till the latter end of 1804, when Captain Douglas returned to England after an absence of nearly six years.

Soon after his arrival, our officer was apointed to the Impetueux, of 80 guns, forming part of the Channel fleet. From her he exchanged, early in the following year, into the Bellona, 74, and was again ordered to America, where he assisted at the destruction of the French ship, Impetueux, of 74 guns and 670 men, near Cape Henry[1].

In the summer of 1807, Captain Douglas was entrusted with the command of a squadron stationed in the Chesapeake river. Whilst so employed, he had occasion to enter into a spirited correspondence with the Mayor of the town of Norfolk, in consequence of one of the ships under his orders having searched an American frigate for British seamen who had deserted to her. The particulars of this event will be given under the head of Captain S. P. Humphreys, in our next volume.

On the Bellona’s return to Europe, she was attached to the Channel fleet, and formed part of the force under Lord Gambier at the destruction of the enemy’s ships in Aix Roads, in the month of April, 1809. She was afterwards employed in the North Sea; and, on the 18th Dec. 1810, captured the French privateer, le Heros du Nord, of 14 guns and 44 men. Captain Douglas’s next appointment was in the spring of 1812, to the Prince of Wales, a second rate, in which he served on the Mediterranean station during the remainder of the war. His advancement to the rank of Rear-Admiral took place June 4, 1814; and at the latter end of 1815, he was nominated Commander-in-Chief at Jamaica, where he continued during the usual period of three years.