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Royal Naval Biography/Doyle, Bentinck Cavendish

[Post-Captain of 1811.]

Obtained the rank of Lieutenant Aug. 29, 1799; and was first of the St. Fiorenzo frigate at the capture of la Psyché, on the East India station, Feb. 14, 1805; – the following is a copy of the official letter written by his Captain on that occasion:–

St. Fiorenzo, Kedgeree, Feb. 17, 1805.

“Sir,– I have the honor to inform you of my arrival this day off the Sand Heads, after having proceeded to the southward, in consequence of a letter received the 8th instant from the chief secretary of government, acquainting me of a suspicious vessel having appeared off Vizagapatam, supposed to be the French national frigate Psyché, and requesting, in the name of his Excellency the Governor-General in Council, that I would either proceed towards that place, or otherwise, as I might consider most expedient to the advantage of the public service: I therefore thought that I should not be exceeding the limits of your orders by pursuing such a course as I conceived most probable for intercepting the said vessel, should she be bound to the northward and eastward.

“On the 13th, at 6 A.M., in lat. 19° 35' N., long. 86° 25' E., I had the satisfaction to discover three sail at anchor under the land, who shortly after weighed and made sail to the southward. I plainly observed that one was a frigate, and the other two apparently merchant ships. I continued the chase until half-past 7 P.M. the following day, when coming up with the sternmost vessel, she proved to be the Thetis country ship, prize to the French frigate Pysché, of 36 guns and 240 men[1], under the command of Captain Bergeret, then a-head at a short distance. Finding he enemy had abandoned the Thetis, I left a midshipman in charge, and continued to pursue the frigate, which was making off under all sail. At 10 minutes past 8, we commenced close action, at the distance of about half a cable’s length, and continued so until half-past 11 , at which time, finding all our running rigging very much cut up, we hauled off to repair the same. At midnight, bore up to renew the conflict; but, just as we were about to recommence our fire, an officer from the enemy came on board to inform me that Captain Bergeret, from humanity’s sake for the remaining survivors, had struck, though he might have borne the contest longer. During the action we were occasionally annoyed by the fire of l’Equivoque privateer, of 10 guns and 40 men, commanded by a Lieutenant. She proved to be the late Pigeon country ship, fitted out by Captain Bergeret as a privateer; which vessel, from sailing very well, I am concerned to acquaint you, effected her escape in the course of the night.

“I beg leave to observe, from the able support which I received from them during the action. Lieutenants Doyle, Dawson, Collier, and Davies, Mr. Findlayson the master, and Lieutenant Ashmore of the marines, as well as the whole of the ship’s company, who displayed the most gallant and spirited conduct on the occasion, merit my warmest encomiums. I also feel it a duty incumbent on me to recommend Mr. Doyle, my first lieutenant, to your attention, from his meritorious and exemplary behaviour throughout the contest. I am grieved to relate that Lieutenant Dawson was dangerously wounded in the breast with a pike, while in the act of boarding[2].

“Inclosed I transmit a list of the killed and wounded of H.M. ship under my command, also of the late French national frigate la Psyché. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)Henry Lambert.”

To Vice-Admiral Rainier, &c. &c. &c.

The loss of men on both sides in this action was very great, the St. Fiorenzo having 12 killed and 36 wounded; la Psyché 57 slain and 70 wounded. It adds much to the honor and credit of Captain Lambert, his officers, and crew, that the character of Mons. Bergeret stood very high in the French navy, he being the same officer who commanded la Virginie, when captured by Sir Edward Pellew in the Indefatigable[3]; to which may be added the support given him by the armed ship, mentioned in the foregoing letter. All the trading part of H.M. subjects throughout India rejoiced on the occasion of his capture, as being more apprehensive of depredations on their property from his abilities and activity than from the whole remaining force of the French navy on that station.

Captain Doyle’s commission as a commander bears date Sept. 18, 1805. We subsequently find him commanding the Lightning sloop of war, in which vessel he continued after his promotion to post rank, April 3, 1811. His last appointment was, Mar. 21, 1821, to the Glasgow of 50 guns. In that ship he conveyed the remains of the late Queen from Harwich to Cuxhaven; Sir Edward Paget and family from Portsmouth to the East Indies; and the Marquis of Hastings from Calcutta to Gibraltar.

The Glasgow was paid off in 1824; and Captain Doyle received the honor of knighthood, April 20, 1825.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.

  1. The St. Fiorenzo mounted 26 long 18-pounders, 2 long nines, and 14 carronades, 32-pounders: she had on board 253 officers men, and boys. La Psyché mounted 24 long French 12-pounders, 2 sixes, and 10 carronades, 18-pounders.
  2. In the middle of the action, la Psyché fell on board the St. Fiorenzo, when Lieutenant William Dawson instantly jumped on board the enemy, but owing to the confusion of a night action, the ships separated again before a sufficient force could follow him.
  3. See Vol. I. Part I, p. 217.