Royal Naval Biography/Evans, Robert
ROBERT EVANS, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1810.]
Youngest son of the late Meredith Evans, Esq. by Mary, daughter of Benjamin Beat, Esq., a gentleman possessed of considerable property at Bridgewater, co. Devon, a staunch adherent of the unfortunate Charles I, and father of Captain Heal, who served as first Lieutenant of the Ludlow Castle frigate, at the siege of Carthagena, in 1741. This officer’s uncle, Evan Evans, Esq., married the first cousin to Miss Vernon, of Hanbury, co. Worcester, wife of Henry Cecil, Esq., afterwards Marquis of Exeter, whose marriage was dissolved by Act of Parliament, in June, 1791.
The above mentioned Meredith Evans, Esq., was the 16th in descent from Madoc, one of the sons of Ririd Vlaidd, Lord of Penllyn, Pennant, and Bryn, extensive districts in the county of Merioneth, which were eventually divided and sub-divided by the law of Gavel, among his progeny.
Ririd Vlaidd lived in 1070, and acquired great reputation by his distinguished intrepidity in many conflicts, in which he defended his country. He was also Lord of the Eleven Towns, in Shropshire; but his favorite residences were Rhiwaedog, Neuaddau, Gleision, &c., all in the vicinity of Bala, co. Merioneth. From this chieftain was descended David Lloyd, Esq., whose son married the only daughter and heiress of Sir Alexander Myddleton, constable of Montgomery castle, from which marriage are descended the Myddlelons of Gwaenunog, near Denbigh; and of that house was the enterprising and patriotic Sir Hugh Myddleton, who brought the New River to London:– his brother. Sir Thomas Myddleton, founded the branch of Chirk Castle, and was also Lord Mayor of the British metropolis:– from the same origin sprung another David, son of Griffith, of Pen-y-ralt, who married Lowry, daughter of Howel Vaughan, of Glan-y-Lynn Tegid, and took the name of Vaughan.
In 1672, Edward Vaughan of Glan-y-Lynn Tegid, son of another Howel Vaughan, married Mary, daughter of John Purcell, of Llangedwynn. In Nov. 1715, Ann, co-heiress of the said Edward Vaughan, married Watkin Williams Wynn, Esq., eldest son of Sir William Williams, Bart.
Thomas Evans, cousin to Edward Vaughan, married the only daughter of Edward Eyton, of Wynnstay, Esq. The Lloyds are connected by marriage with the Wynnes of Hazlewood, co. Sligo. Ririd’s coat armorial will be found among the quarterings of the most respectable families in North Wales.
Captain Evans, whose services we are about to notice, is the 13th in descent from Jeaun Vlaidd, whose tomb is in the church of Llanuwchlyn, and thereon his figure in armour, having a conic helmet, &c. &c. The patrimony of this branch is Pen’r allt, in the parish of Llanvawr. The cognomen of Evans was first borne by Evan, son of Evan Lloyd, grandfather of Meredith Evans, and nephew to Robert Price, Baron of the Exchequer, who made a distinguished figure, both as a senator and a judge, in the reign of William III. The said Evan Evans fought, as an officer of cavalry, at the battle of Dumblain, in 1715.
The subject of this memoir commenced his naval career, under the patronage of Lord Dudley and Ward, uncle to the present peer. He first embarked in 1782, as a midshipman, on board the Blenheim 98, Captain (afterwards Lord) Duncan; which ship formed part of Earl Howe’s fleet at the relief of Gibraltar, and was his Lordship’s second in the subsequent action off Cape Spartel: her loss on the latter occasion consisted of 2 men killed and 3 wounded.
On the return of peace, Mr. Evans joined the Trusty 50, fitting for the flag of Sir John Lindsay, Bart.; and during the winter of 1783, we find him in the Orestes sloop, Captain James Ellis, employed on Channel service.
After assisting at the capture of several large and powerfully armed smuggling vessels, one of which defended herself until several men were killed and wounded on both sides, Mr. Evans proceeded to Newfoundland, as a passenger on board the Merlin sloop, and from thence, in the Thisbe frigate, to Halifax, where he joined the Assistance 50, flag-ship of Sir Charles Douglas, then commanding on the American station.
In 1786, Mr. Evans returned home, and was removed into the Astraea frigate. Captain Peter Rainier, with whom he proceeded to Ferrol, Madeira, and the West Indies, where he remained for a period of three years, during which the Astraea visited all the British islands, and most of the French and Spanish colonies.
Whilst off St. Domingo, our young officer appears to have had a very narrow escape, a boat in which he was going to Isabella Bay, having upset in a squall, and remained bottom upwards for more than three hours before she was discovered, and then only by accident. On this occasion, Mr. Evans saved the lives of two men who could not swim, by giving each of them an oar, after they had let go their hold of the boat, in consequence of the alarm excited by another midshipman speaking about sharks, several of which monsters were in fact seen immediately after the launch of the frigate had arrived to their assistance.
In 1789, having then completed his time as a midshipman, Mr. Evans returned to England, in charge of a large and valuable merchant ship, which had lost both her master and chief mate. On his arrival in England, he passed the usual examination, and immediately afterwards joined the Director 64, Captain Thomas West, under whom he served until his promotion into the Repulse 64; at the close of the Spanish armament.
In April, 1791, Mr. Evans received an appointment to the Racehorse sloop, Captain David Mackey; and on that vessel being paid off and re-commissioned, after the Russian armament, he was appointed first Lieutenant of her, at the particular request of the same commander.
From this period. Lieutenant Evans served in the Racehorse, under Captains Mackey, George Hope, and James Leakey, until the commencement of the French revolutionary war, when he was removed into la Concorde frigate. Captain Thomas Wells.
The following anecdote of a British sailor, appears to us worthy of being here recorded:–
Shortly after Lieutenant Evans joined la Concorde, he was sent with a boat’s crew to innpress men from the homeward bound Baltic fleet. The first ship he boarded was searched for a considerable time before any of the crew, who had concealed themselves, could be discovered; but at length, ten prime sailors were found stowed away in the run: one of them was immediately recognised by Lieutenant Evans, with whom he had formerly served in the Racehorse; and on his saying “I am very glad to see you, William Search,” the poor fellow surlily replied, “I am very sorry to see you though!” After a little conversation, however, he became more good humoured, and consented to enter for the frigate:– “Then,” continued Lieutenant Evans, “as I know you to be a good man, you shall go with your shipmates in my boat, board the next ship, and get all you can for me.” – “That’s what I will,” said the tar, “come along my boys:” – away they went, and the boat soon returned with seven other men. From that moment, William Search constantly served in the same ships with Lieutenant Evans, until, through his recommendation, he was at once promoted from Rear-Admiral Rainier’s flag-ship, to be boatswain of a 64, on the East India station.
In one of her cruises, la Concorde encountered a heavy gale of wind, and the ship laboured so exceedingly, that only the quarter-masters and gunner’s crew would venture to go aloft: seeing this, Mr. Evans, then junior Lieutenant, took the lead, followed by a single midshipman, for the purpose of handing the main-top-sail, but scarcely had the party got above the top when the mast went, by which accident the midshipmen and four men perished: Lieutenant Evans and the remainder of his followers, fortunately saved themselves by clinging to the wreck, from whence they were extricated without sustaining any material injury.
The part home by la Concorde in an action with a French squadron, near Guernsey, April 23, 1794, has already been described in our memoir of Sir Richard J. Strachan, by whom she was then commanded: the following is an extract of that officer’s official letter, reporting the capture of l’Engageante frigate:–
“The zealous, cool, and steady conduct of the officers and ship’s company, was highly meritorious in the action; and their efforts in refitting the ship, after the fatigue they had experienced, exceeded any exertion I ever saw before. As the first Lieutenant, Charles Apthorp, was mostly with me, I had an opportunity of observing the spirit of enterprise which pervaded his conduct; and am convinced also of the good conduct of Lieutenants Boys and Evans, who commanded on the main-deck.”
During the spirited action to which we have alluded. Lieutenant Evans was wounded by a splinter, and his hearing much injured by the unexpected discharge of a gun on which he was resting, as he looked through the port, to ascertain the enemy’s exact position, the smoke being then so very thick, that, although but a few yards distant, she could not be distinguished. It is worthy of remark, that the only person killed outright on board la Concorde, was a youth who had run away from Westminster school, and entered as a common sailor under a fictitious name. Another poor fellow who had been confined to his hammock, but insisted upon going to his quarters, was shot through the head whilst speaking to Lieutenant Evans.
From this period, we find no particular mention of la Concorde until March 1795 when she was commanded by Captain Anthony Hunt, and employed under the orders of Sir Edward Pellew, who, having received information that a convoy was about to leave Brest, placed his squadron as near the Penmarks as possible, and at day-light on the 7th, saw twenty-five sail close among the rocks, protected by one small armed ship: fifteen of this number were taken and destroyed; the remainder ran between the rocks, in such a manner as rendered any attempt to pursue them fruitless. Out of eight brought off, two were laden with ship-timber, one with bale goods, and one partly with sugar, indigo, and linen. Several of those destroyed were set on fire by Lieutenant Evans, who, on entering the cabin of one, found a slow match burning, and a train laid from it to a barrel full of powder: when about to quit another, he was surprised to see twelve well-armed Frenchmen come up from the hold, where they had secreted themselves in hopes of being able to recover possession of their vessel.
In June, 1795, la Concorde accompanied the expedition under Sir John B. Warren, to Quiberon Bay, and Lieutenant Evans was entrusted with the command of the seamen and marines, landed from her to assist at the reduction of fort Penthievre, a strong work commanding the peninsula, of which possession was obtained on the 3d of the following month. He subsequently commanded a division of boats in an expedition up the Morbihan river, under the orders of Captain Albemarle Bertie, whose thanks he received for his gallant conduct in boarding, near Vannes, a 24-gun corvette, a cutter of 10 guns, and an armed lugger, the whole of which vessels were carried and destroyed.
Several merchantmen being captured on the same occasion. Lieutenant Evans took charge of a large brig, which he brought out under a tremendous fire of musketry, from at least 600 republican troops, then posted at every point of the river. We should here observe, that in the course of the above service, he was accidentally but severely wounded by a pike, and that his conduct throughout the whole affair was very highly approved by the commander of the expedition.
La Concorde was subsequently sent to Isle Dieu, with a brig under her protection, the latter having on board arms, ammunition, and military stores, for the use of the royalists in la Vendée: the landing of this cargo was entrusted to the superintendence of Lieutenant Evans, the Greyhound cutter being at the same time ordered to convey him in shore, and to remain there for his support until the service was effected.
The transport being anchored in a convenient station near the main land. Lieutenant Evans immediately went on shore with 4000 ball cartridges, and was making arrangements for the debarkation and security of the whole cargo, when a large republican force marched out from St. Gilles, cut off his retreat to the boat, and reduced him and two of his crew to the necessity of swimming for their lives. Fortunately Lieutenant Wilkinson, of the Greyhound, was keeping a good look out; the cutter immediately stood in, opened a heavy fire, and succeeded in rescuing them; but not before Lieutenant Evans had received a ball in the fleshy part of his arm: his escape under such circumstances, however, may be considered miraculous, as he was the whole time exposed to a continual fire of at least 1500 muskets. The enemy were shortly afterwards attacked, and defeated with immense loss, by the royalists, under General Charette, whose force greatly exceeded what the enemy had expected, but with only six rounds each man, including the supply received from Lieutenant Evans; who, immediately resuming his task, had the pleasure of seeing the whole cargo landed, and cleared away from the beach, in less than three hours. On his return to la Concorde, he received Captain Hunt’s hearty congratulations on his safety, and warmest thanks for his zealous conduct, which was afterwards reported in the most flattering terms to Sir John B. Warren.
We next find this officer serving on shore at the occupation of Isle Dieu, and subsequently assisting at the capture of l’Eveillé, French national brig, mounting 18 guns, with a complement of 100 men.
La Concorde continued to be actively employed in cooperation with the French royalists until Nov. 1795. In Jan. following, Lieutenant Evans again signalized himself by his intrepid and humane endeavours to succour the crew of the Hon.E.I.C. ship Dutton, when driven on shore under the citadel of Plymouth, in a tremendous gale of wind. The manner in which the crew and passengers were saved, after every attempt made by the boats of the fleet had proved abortive, has been described at p. 215, of our first volume. On the 9th April, 1796, la Concorde assisted at the capture of about twenty-five French merchantmen, and also at the destruction of la Volage, a national ship, mounting 26 guns. In the course of the same month, she likewise contributed to the capture of two fine frigates – l’Unité, 38 guns, 255 men; and la Virginie, of 44 guns and 340 men.
During this cruise, Lieutenant Evans had two more narrow escapes:– the first was, when setting fire to one of the captured merchant vessels, a random shot from la Concorde cut a rope which he had accidentally laid hold off; the second, when employed landing arms, &c. by night, between l’Orient and Quiberon, the weather very dark and tempestuous, his flat-bottomed boat dragged her grapnel, drifted into a heavy surf, and capsized over him, by which means he was kept under water until some of the royalists, commanded by General Georges, providentially came to his assistance. Another miraculous escape, which he experienced about the same period, is also worthy of notice:
Cruising off Brest, in a heavy gale of wind, la Concorde brought to a large French ship, which Captain Hunt resolved to take possession of, although he was told that no boat could live in such a sea as was then running: the boat being lowered, the crew descended into her, and were immediately followed by Lieutenant Evans, who had scarcely done so when she swamped, by which accident, every one of the poor men met with a watery grave; but fortunately he himself succeeded in reaching a rope, and thereby escaped a similar fate.
Shortly after the capture of la Virginie, Captain Hunt was removed to that frigate, on which occasion he invited Mr. Evans to become his first Lieutenant, expressing himself briefly as follows:
“Dear Sir,– We have been some time together, and I hope we may not separate: I am appointed to la Virginie, and shall be happy to apply for you to be my first Lieutenant. Direct to me at Sir T. Rogers, M.P. Yours truly,
Having accepted this flattering and totally unexpected offer. Lieutenant Evans was immediately appointed to la Virginie, then just out of dock, with a clear hold, and only 25 seamen on board ; with which small number, assisted by about 30 marines, he not only rigged the ship, but stowed the hold, and got her completely ready for sea, in sixteen days after his removal from la Concorde: his Captain absent during all that period. The following short statement will shew, that she was shortly afterwards saved from destruction, through his timely interference, judicious advice, and seaman-like exertions.
La Virginie sailed on her first cruise in company with the Jason frigate. Captain Charles Stirling. After touching at Falmouth and Cork, both ships proceeded along the Irish coast to the northward, but were separated in a gale, when not far from Carlingford. The weather at this period was very thick, and la Virginie on a lee shore, with her fore-top-mast gone, which induced Lieutenant Evans to recommend that she should be kept close hauled until day-light, particularly as Captain Hunt was then ill in his cot. After seeing every thing made snug, and the wreck lashed to the ship’s side, in hopes of saving the spars and rigging. Lieutenant Evans, having been on deck the whole of the night, went below at 4 A.M., in order to put on dry apparel; but he had scarcely reached his cabin, when the officer of the watch came to inform him that the master, an ignorant old man, had prevailed upon the Captain to bear up, thereby exposing the ship to imminent peril. Surprised at this intelligence, Lieutenant Evans hastened to Captain Hunt, explained the dangerous situation of the frigate, and obtained permission to act according to his own discretion. At day-light, land was seen both a-head and a-stern, and rocks with tremendous breakers appeared at no great distance on the lee-bow. The wreck was now necessarily cut away, and as much sail set as the ship could possibly bear; but, owing to the heavy sea then running, her safety was long doubtful.
Subsequent to this narrow escape, la Virginie proceeded to Carrickfergus roads, and Lieutenant Evans was sent to Belfast, for the purpose of obtaining a spare top-mast: returning from thence in a post-chaise, he was fired at by some miscreant, whose ball passed through the windows of the vehicle, but luckily did him no harm.
Having rejoined the Jason at Lough Swilly, la Virginie returned with her along the west coast of Ireland, and when off Cape Clear gave chase to a large ship, which proved to be a French transport, having on board between 500 and 600 cavalry, 20 field pieces, 3000 stand of arms, 50 tons of gunpowder, and a large quantity of military stores.
After securing this very valuable prize, the Jason and Virginie stood to the westward, the Frenchmen having informed Captain Hunt, previous to his consort coming up, that they had sailed from Brest as part of a formidable expedition, destined to assist the Irish rebels. At midnight the enemy’s fleet was discovered, and the British frigates ran close under the stern of a ship bearing an Admiral’s light: no notice being taken of them, they then ran a short distance to leeward, and there hove to; but at day light nothing was to be seen, although the wind was then blowing hard from the eastward. Captain Stirling thereupon determined to make the best of his way to Spithead, where, shortly after the arrival of the two frigates. Captain Hunt received orders to prepare for the reception of the Marquis Cornwallis, who was then preparing to assume the government of India.
La Virginie was quite ready for sea, and the whole of his lordship’s effects were embarked on board her, when the destination of both was changed, in consequence of the mutiny at Spithead, and other circumstances of a political nature. Unsuspicious of such an event as the former being about to take place, Captain Hunt was on shore attending to his private business, and preparing to receive the Marquis, when the general cheering took place, at Spithead, and the flag of Lord Bridport was lowered by his officers, under a sense of shame to see it accompanied by the symbol of mutiny, which the delegates had hoisted on visiting the Royal George.
During the conferences that took place between the Board of Admiralty and the ringleaders, the greater part of la Virginie’s crew were obedient and respectful to Lieutenant Evans, with whom many of them had sailed in other ships previous to their being drafted into that frigate. Their conduct after the renewal of the mutiny was also deserving of the highest praise; for on being directed to follow the fleet to St. Helen’s, they requested him to give his orders as usual, promising that every thing should be carried on according to his wishes, and expressing their regret that they durst not disobey the mandate of the delegates (as to la Virginie’s removal from Spithead) there being about 25 or 30 disaffected fellows on board, who reported everything to them, and possessed sufficient influence to get any man taken out of the ship and flogged who should venture to declare his principles different to their own. As a proof of the sincerity of those loyal but overawed men, one or other of them regularly reported to Lieutenant Evans, before 4 A.M., the whole of what had passed at the seditious meeting of the preceding night. This exemplary behaviour on their part was greatly promoted by the conduct of a gunner’s mate, whose life Lieutenant Evans had saved by jumping overboard after him, for which humane action the poor fellow was ever afterwards grateful; and as he happened to be a great favorite with his shipmates in general, his counsel was always listened to with very great attention. Of the few insubordinate characters on board la Virginie, we shall have occasion to speak hereafter but merely for the purpose of proving that they were the very scum of her crew. The following verbatim copy of a curious document, now lying before us, will tend to corroborate part of what we have just stated:
“To the Ship’s Company of H.M. Ship Virginie.
“Whereas you are fitted for Foreign Service, and your coming to St. Helen’s has happened through Mistake.
“You are hereby required to obey the Orders of your officers in every respect. You have had no part in the present Differences, nor is any blame to fall on you for what has happened.
“Given under our Hands this 9th Day of May, 1797.
(Signed)“The Delegates of the Fleet.”
Notwithstanding this order, la Virginie, when returning to Spithead, was hailed by the Defiance 74, and threatened with a broadside if she did not immediately anchor. Perceiving that the mutinous crew were preparing to carry their menace into execution, and knowing that some time must elapse before they could open a fire from the stem. Lieutenant Evans pretended to obey them by giving orders to shorten sail and bring the ship to an anchor; but no sooner had he passed the 74’s quarter than he directed her three masts to be kept in one, by which adroit manoeuvre la Virginie was enabled to get out of range before a single gun could be brought to bear upon her.
The only man of war then lying at Spithead was the Latona frigate. Scarcely had Lieutenant Evans anchored there, when the delegates from that ship came on board la Virginie, harangued her crew from the forecastle, and endeavoured, both by persuasions and threats, to prevail upon them to cheer, – this, however, they unanimously refused to do; and they even requested Lieutenant Evans to lay them alongside the Latona, assuring him that if he would stand by them, neither her nor any other frigate should induce them to repeat an act so repugnant to their true feelings.
Captain Hunt now occasionally came on board, and was always well received, the men being much attached to him, and indeed to all their officers. At length the baggage belonging to the Marquis Cornwallis was landed, and la Virginie received orders from the Admiralty to convey the present Queen of Wirtemberg from Harwich to Cuxhaven. When passing through the Downs, she was cheered by the flag-ship and a frigate; but still her crew continued steady, and only one solitary symptom of insubordination ever afterwards appeared amongst them.
On the evening after the royal passenger was landed at Cuxhaven, two men were put in irons for disorderly conduct, and the following morning Captain Hunt was proceeding to punish them, when, at the very first lash, a fellow standing behind him called out “Stop!” Lieutenant Evans instantly turned round, dragged him forward by the collar, and the punishment proceeded. It is almost needless to add, that the audacious offender was in his turn tied up. – by which prompt measure good order was permanently restored.
During la Virginie’s passage to the Elbe; Lieutenant Evans had the honor of being kindly noticed by his monarch’s eldest daughter, but although that Princess condescended to recommend him to the favorable consideration of thee Admiralty, the first Lieutenant of the senior officer’s ship alone obtained promotion.
On her return to the Downs, la Virginie assisted in quelling a mutiny on board the Beaulieu frigate, by warping close alongside of her, with the band playing “God save the King,” and every thing prepared for action, whilst 30 marines went on board and enabled the officers to disarm and secure the crew, who had already opened a fire upon them.
After this affair, la Virginie was sent to cruise between the Kentish Knock and the North Foreland, for the purpose of intercepting such of the delegates of the North Sea fleet as might attempt to escape from the Nore. We subsequently find Lieutenant Evans making a very judicious selection of persons to assist at the execution of several mutineers, by manning two boats with those who bad been in the habit of holding nightly consultations at Spithead; and not allowing any others to be disgraced by accompanying them: strange as it may appear, not one of those fellows could even row an oar, and it was actually found necessary to send other boats to tow them back when the executions were over.
At the latter end of 1797, la Virginie received orders to convey Sir Hugh C. Christian to the Cape of Good Hope, and the Earl of Mornington to Bengal. After touching at Madras, she proceeded to Diamond harbour; and Captain Hunt accompanied the Governor-General to Calcutta, from whence that meritorious young officer was destined never to return. In a very few days subsequent to his departure, 120 of the frigate’s officers and crew were reported sick, 75 of whom, including the surgeon, died before she left the Ganges, at which period 100 men were confined to their hammocks, and 30 more unfit for duty. The cause of Captain Hunt’s decease is stated in a letter from the Governor-General to Earl Spencer, of which the following is a copy:
“Fort William, Aug. 24, 1798.
“My Lord,– It is with the greatest concern I communicate to your Lordship the melancholy event of the death of Captain Hunt, of la Virginie frigate: he died in Fort William, after a short illness, occasioned by his own unfortunate imprudence, in exposing himself to the sun in the heat of the day. It is my duty to acquaint your Lordship, that Captain Hunt’s attention to me during my passage was in every respect perfectly satisfactory to me. His character was so amiable, and his manners so pleasing, that his loss has been a subject of real grief to me and to all his acquaintance at this place.
“La Virginie proceeded to Madras on the 22nd of this month, and from thence to join Admiral Rainier’s squadron. Mr. Evans the first Lieutenant has been entrusted with the charge of the ship, by Captain Edward Cooke, now commanding in this river. I take the liberty of recommending Mr. Evans to your Lordship’s protection and favor: it would give me great pleasure if your Lordship should find it compatible with the public service to forward his promotion. I have the honor to be, &c.
Having obtained 50 or 60 men from the Hon. Company’s ships, to assist in navigating his own. Lieutenant Evans proceeded to Madras, and continued to command la Virginie untill superseded by Captain George Astle, who had been sent from England on promotion. With that officer he went to Malacca and China, for the purpose of affording protection to the homeward bound trade, the whole of which was escorted clear of the bay of Bengal by the Intrepid, Arrogant, and Virginie, without receiving any molestation from a very superior French and Spanish force which appeared in sight just as the British merchantmen were leaving the Canton river. Whilst on this service la Virginie lost her mizen-mast, in a typhone, off the Pelew islands.
On his return from China, Lieutenant Evans was appointed first of Rear-Admiral Rainier’s flag-ship, the Suffolk 74; and in 1799, he was ordered by the same officer to act as captain of the Orpheus 32, which frigate he took from Madras to Bombay, by the southern passage, under circumstances of the most trying nature, the weather being very tempestuous during the whole voyage, and the ship exceedingly shattered and leaky, consequently requiring the pumps to be kept in continual motion for a period of seven weeks.
On approaching Bombay island the Orpheus was crossed by a water-spout, which burst immediately over the forecastle, split the fore-top-sail, and shook the ship very much, filling the fore part of her with water, whilst all abaft remained perfectly dry. On this occasion, the watch below rushed upon deck in their shirts, and those officers and men already there fell down motionless: amongst the latter number was Captain Evans, who had just before directed the top-gallant sails to be taken in, and a gun to be fired at the approaching black column, the suction of which, however, prevented the gunner’s mate from obeying the latter order.
The wind still continuing to blow with much violence, and it being impossible to procure a pilot under such circumstances. Captain Evans instantly decided upon running into the harbour; trusting entirely to his own slender knowledge thereof, acquired during the short time he served on board the Suffolk. In this he succeeded without the least accident occurring; but to his great mortification, he soon found that it was impossible to allow his almost worn-out crew any rest, as owing to the state of the tides the ship could not be docked until the following springs, unless dismantled and cleared of all her stores in less than 48 hours.
No time was to be lost; Captain Evans therefore assembled his people on the quarter deck, proposed to them to work watch and watch by night, and all hands by day, as the only means of bringing their labours to a speedy termination, and had the satisfaction of being answered with three hearty cheers: lighters were immediately sent for, one of which was swamped, with a number of guns in her, when proceeding to the shore; but notwithstanding the unfavorable state of the weather, the work was completed without a murmur, and the ship safely docked within the time appointed, the crew thereby saving themselves from the task of constant pumping for at least another fortnight.
Never did any ship enter the dock in a worse state than the Orpheus – every one wondered how she could have been kept afloat so long: the first and second futtocks might have been dug out with shovels; – when the planks of the main-deck were taken up, the bolts across the ends of the beams were visible; – every part of her was quite rotten, and consequently every thing had to be replaced.
Having seen the Orpheus rebuilt with teak, prepared new rigging, and made every arrangement for speedily rendering her again effective, Captain Evans once more had the mortification to be superseded by an officer sent from England; but, although thus deprived of the command of a frigate, he was immediately appointed by Vice-Admiral Rainier to the Hobart sloop, then employed in the Eastern Seas. His commission as a commander, however, was not confirmed until April 29, 1802.
On joining the Hobart at Amboyna, Captain Evans found that that ship was also in a very rotten state, and making two feet water an hour whilst lying at anchor. From thence he sailed for Ternate, and after beating for some time between Batyang and the rocks and shoals to the westward, without being able to find any anchorage, he was at length drifted in an irresistible manner towards a passage, or rather a waterfall, between two small islands near Gillolo, so narrow, that if the Hobart had been carried broadside on, she would have nearly touched the opposite shores at the same moment, and in the event of her grounding, every one of the crew must have perished, as the current was then running at the rate of ten knots, and nothing could have prevented her from falling over. To avoid this catastrophe, and being then in soundings. Captain Evans let go an anchor, which fortunately brought her head to the rapid stream; and then, by heaving at the capstan occasionally, so as to allow the flukes to trail the ground, he succeeded in keeping her stern to the narrow opening, until she drifted through, and thus escaped the threatened danger. This tedious operation occupied more than two hours: the anxiety felt by all on board, during that awful period of suspense, can only be conceived by those who have been in situations of equally imminent peril.
The passage through which Captain Evans thus skilfully conducted his vessel, was afterwards accurately surveyed by him, and hia chart lodged in the Hydrographical Office, for the benefit of his Majesty’s service: charts of many other surveys which he had made during a continuance of two years in the Eastern Seas, were at the same time deposited there. From Ternate, Captain Evans proceeded to the Celebes, and working up Goonongtalla river, against a very strong current, moored the Hobart head and stern within 30 yards of the eastern bank, he then, having obtained leave for that purpose from the Sultaun, landed the marines, carpenters, and blacksmiths; pitched tents, mounted two 6-pounders on a commanding height, set up the armourer’s forge, and commenced felling trees, in order to construct a launch; all his boats except one, and she of little service, having been lost in a recent gale. Owing to the total want of iron, bolts were driven out of the ship’s sides to make nails; but notwithstanding every disadvantage, a capacious boat was completed, and 84 large bullocks collected, ready for embarkation, in the short space of 10 days.
During this period, the Hobart was visited by the Sultaun, whom Captain Evans received with an appropriate salute, and entertained as sumptuously as his means would admit. In return for this friendly reception, all the British officers were invited up to Goonongtalla, which town they found to be most delightfully situated.
Knowing the treacherous character of these people, and having nearly accomplished the object of his visit to the Celebes, Captain Evans would now have felt no regret in taking his final leave of the Sultaun; but as the latter expressed a wish to see the boat launched, he considered it prudent not to object thereto, whilst so completely in his power, at the same time, resolving to have every thing brought off from the shore, and the Hobart riding by her anchor in the stream, before the hour fixed upon for the ceremony to take place. We should here observe, that several of the chiefs had cast a longing eye towards the boat, and had even been heard to say, that she would be of great service to their Sultaun. Captain Evans also bore in mind the fate of Lieutenant Oakes, commander of a tender, who had put into the same river, and was basely attacked in the dead of the night by a party of the natives, whom he was then sheltering from the fury of the weather.
After saying that the boat should be put afloat about noon the next day, and that he should be happy to give the Sultaun, his son, and principal courtiers another feast, after their curiosity had been gratified. Captain Evans returned on board, and made every arrangement for baffling any sinister design which they might have conceived. Before 6 o’clock the following morning, every thing except the boat was removed from the shore, and his suspicions were soon afterwards strengthened by the appearance of a royal canoe, which had evidently been sent to reconnoitre, as she came out from a place well calculated for concealment, and paddled with great swiftness up the river. Scarcely was the boat launched and hoisted in, the ship released from the trees to which she had been secured, and her bower cable fairly taut, when about 1000 Malays were discovered marching over the hills, and nearly 200 canoes dropping down the river.
The surprise of the Sultaun was doubtless very great, particularly when, on his nearer approach, he observed a number of armed men stationed in each of the Hobart’s tops: after a short pause, however, he ventured alongside, and was received as before, with every mark of friendship and respect; nor was it until the Hobart had weighed, and got more than two miles into the offing, that he could be prevailed upon to depart, although continually urged to do so by several of those about him, who, probably fearing that some treacherous intention of their own had been discovered, appeared particularly anxious to regain the river. On leaving the Hobart, and being again saluted, the Sultaun gave three good cheers, an example which was followed by nearly 100 canoes, then lying on their paddles; and it is but reasonable to suppose, that this parting ceremony was returned by the English crew, with at least equal good will and sincerity.
From the Celebes, we find Captain Evans returning to Amboyna, where he took charge of the Princess Charlotte, an East Indiaman, laden with spices; which ship he escorted clear of Coupang, in the island of Timor.
After encountering numerous difficulties, and escaping many dangers, in the execution of the services assigned to him in the Eastern Seas, the Hobart daily becoming more and more defective, and all his officers being sick, himself and the gunner keeping watch and watch. Captain Evans ran through the straits of Lumbuck, the adjacent seas, the straits of Banca and Drion, to Malacca, and from thence to Prince of Wales’s island, where the sloop was repaired, as well as circumstances would allow. From thence she sailed for Madras; but in crossing the bay of Bengal, her leaks increased to six feet per hour; which induced Captain Evans to return, and forward a letter to the commander-in-chief, informing him of his distresses, and that it was his intention to heave the Hobart down, in hopes that he should still be able to patch her up sufficiently for the voyage.
Not having heard of him for a very considerable period, Vice-Admiral Rainier had already expressed great anxiety for his safety; and on the receipt of the above despatch, he immediately sent Captain Evans directions to sell the Hobart, if he found, on examination of her bottom, that she was unfit to proceed to sea, under the escort of another vessel appropriated to that service.
The laborious task of heaving the ship down, was performed by her crew alone, according to Captain Evans’s expressed intentions; and although it was scarcely prudent to commit himself in such a defective vessel, yet, finding that government would sustain a very great loss by the sale of her hull, stores, &c., at Prince of Wales’s island, he resolved to sail from thence in company with the Victor sloop, which vessel had been sent to escort him across the bay.
Previous to his final departure from that island. Captain Evans discovered that the Americans were carrying on a smuggling trade, by loading at Madras or Bengal, clearing out for America, and, instead of proceeding thither, disposing of their cargoes, under various fraudulent pretexts, at Pulo Penang, a settlement then in its infancy. Ever anxious to maintain the interests of his country. Captain Evans immediately resolved to put a stop to this illegal traffic, and he accordingly seized a brig named the Roebuck, commanded by Mr. James Bishop, who had arrived there on the 8th Sept. 1802, broke bulk (without first obtaining permission) on the 9th, sold part of his cargo for 6820 dollars on the 11th and 12th, and completed the clandestine landing of the whole on the 19th of the same month; thereby infringing the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, concluded between Great Britain and the United States, in 1783. The condemnation of the Roebuck, after much litigation, and consequent anxiety on the part of Captain Evans, led to the formation of a government at Prince of Wales’s Island, similar to those of Madras and Bombay.
Having crossed the bay of Bengal without any accident. Captain Evans joined the commander-in-chief, and accompanied him to Point de Galle, from whence he proceeded to the Malabar coast, unattended by any vessel whatever. While on her way thither, the Hobart again made six feet water an hour, and the leak was gaining fast upon the pumps, when the Sheerness 44, Captain J. S. Garden, providentially fell in with, and towed her to Bombay.
After the Hobart had been examined by the dock-yard people, her safety was every where spoken of as quite a miracle; for it was found that, in addition to the frame of the vessel being generally much decayed, the white ant had been so busily at work that, but for her copper, she must have foundered. Many of the main-deck beams were crumbled to dust, and literally held together by the paint that covered them!
On the occasion of the great fire at Bombay, in Feb. 1803, Captain Evans particularly distinguished himself; having persevered in his endeavours to pull down some buildings until they were literally surrounded with the flames, which left him no other chance of escape than that of leaping from the top of a house already on fire, and afterwards making his way through them. The very great exertions of the navy during that awful conflagration were thus officially acknowledged:
“H.M.S. Trident, Bombay Harbour, Feb. 28, 1803.
“Sir,– The Honorable the Governor in Council at this Presidency having by letter of the 26th instant, expressed to me the great importance of the vigorous exertions of yourself, officers, and crew, in opposing and finally terminating the progress of the dreadful and destructive fire that lately broke out in this capital, ’tis with much satisfaction I herewith transmit, at their request, a copy of their letter to me on this occasion, and I desire you will be pleased to cause the same to be read to the officers and men of the ship you command. I remain. Sir, &c.
“To Captain Robert Evans.”
“Public Department, Bombay Castle, 26 Feb. 1803.
“Sir,– It is a duty which we owe to your Excellency, to express the very high sense we entertain of the particular and must useful assistance derived from the presence of your Excellency on the occasion of the calamitous event of the 17th instant, and of the captains, officers, and men of his Majesty’s squadron under your Excellency’s command; from whose active interposition, and uncommon exertions, every practicable opposition was made to the extension of the conflagration; but for which we might have had to lament far greater devastation, than what has unhappily occurred.
“Under the most grateful impressions from the zeal and cordiality of the aid thus experienced, we have the honor to offer to your Excellency personally, our most heartfelt acknowledgments of the advantage thus derived to our capital by your presence in it, at the season of this disaster; and to request that your Excellency will be pleased to convey to the commanders, officers, and men, who exerted themselves so meritoriously on this awful occasion, our sincerest thanks for the great fatigue they so cheerfully underwent, the memory of which must be coeval, in this settlement, with its duration as a British possession. We have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“J. W. Cherry.
“To H.E. Vice-Admiral Rainier.”
The Hobart was shortly afterwards sold out of the service: and as all the ships of war, that were ordered home, in consequence of the peace, had sailed for Europe, Captain Evans proceeded to Madras, where he embarked as a passenger on board the United Kingdom Indiaman, then on the point of departing for England.
Soon after his arrival at St. Helena, he heard of the renewal of hostilities; and as the Hon. Company’s ships were directed to wait there for convoy, he agreed with his fellow passengers, Major-General Baird and seven others, to remove into a whaler, the master of which undertook to run them home for 1000l. sterling; each paying an equal proportion. This ship was captured off Cape Clear, by le Vaillant French privateer, of 30 guns and 240 men, commanded by Mons. Etienne, who generously allowed the passengers to remain in her, as prisoners of war, on their parole, his own ship not affording suitable accommodation for so many gentlemen of rank.
After beating about for 21 days, the French prize-crew came aft one night, confessed that they did not know in what quarter the land lay, and requested Captain Evans to take charge of the navigation. This being approved of by Major General Baird and the other prisoners, he complied with their wishes, directed them how to steer, and at day-light next morning pointed out the coast of Spain, near Cape Finisterre.
Owing to the light and variable winds, 24 hours more elapsed before the ship arrived near Corunna; and when stretching off in order to fetch that port, a frigate was discovered, which Captain Evans very soon made out to be British. He then advised the prize-master, as escape was impossible, to hoist the English colours, union downwards; but whilst the Frenchman was deliberating, a shot from the stranger passed through the gangway netting, not more than a foot from the heads of the British, (who happened to be assembled there) and went out through the breastwork on the opposite side. The frigate proved to be the Sirius, commanded by Captain William Prowse, and attached to the squadron employed off Ferrol, under the orders of Sir Edward Pellew, who immediately granted Major-General Baird and his companions a cutter for their conveyance to Falmouth, where they were all landed in safety, at the commencement of Nov. 1803.
In April, 1804, the twelve judges having decided that the commander of a privateer had no right to take the parole of his prisoners, Captain Evans was appointed to a command in the Donegal district of Sea Fencibles, whicb he continued to hold, being unable to obtain more active employment, for a period of four years.
In April, 1808, through the kind interference of Sir Arthur Wellesley, now Duke of Wellington, Captain Evans was appointed to the Leveret brig, employed on the Baltic station. Whilst in that sloop, he convoyed a fleet of nearly 300 sail to Carlscrona, and returned from thence with an equal number under his protection, passing through the Belt each time without losing a single vessel, although constantly watched and harassed by numerous Danish gun-boats.
His next appointment was to the Satellite, of 16 guns; in which brig, after serving for some time off Flushing, he assisted in escorting about 400 sail of merchantmen from Spithead to Barbadoes; and was then ordered to afford protection to 120 of the same fleet, bound to St. Vincent’s, Grenada, Curaçoa, and Jamaica; on which latter station we find him very actively employed, under the orders of Vice-Admiral B. S. Rowley, who had been directed by Lord Mulgrave to place him at the head of the Admiralty list for promotion. Early in May, 1809, a merchant ship arrived at Port Royal, with intelligence of several French privateers having committed great depredations on the south side of St. Domingo, and afterwards taken shelter within the islands of Beata and de Vache. On the preceding day, (Thursday) the Satellite had returned from a four months’ cruise, during which she had sprung her main-mast so badly as to require it to be replaced. There being no other man of war then in port, the Vice-Admiral enquired by telegraph when she could be got ready for sea. and was told in reply, that every thing depended upon the dock-yard. On that and the ensuing day, the decks were caulked, the shipwrights’ and carpenters’ work completed, the new main-mast taken in, and three months’ provisions and stores, received and stowed away: on Sunday morning she went out of harbour, with her men on the yards bending sails; and on Wednesday following the enemy, seven in number, were discovered in their nest, between Beata and the main.
On seeing the Satellite working up towards them, two of the largest privateers came out to engage her, but fled after receiving a few broadsides, effecting their escape through the passage between Altavella and Beata. Two others were captured by Captain Evans; but the remainder were enabled to get off, owing to his brig’s inferior sailing. He had the satisfaction, however, of knowing that this formidable force was dispersed through his exertions, and that the trade of St. Domingo was never again molested whilst he continued on the coast.
During the very short period that elapsed between the Satellite’s departure from Port Royal and her arrival off Altavella, Captain Evans had to regret the loss of his first Lieutenant, Master, Purser, and several men, all of whom fell sick, and died, in consequence of the excessive fatigue and great exposure to which the emergency of the service had subjected them: the rest of his officers and crew were also very sickly.
Towards the latter end of the same year. Captain Evans had the mortification to find that, notwithstanding Lord Mulgrave’s directions, the commander-in-chief had put one of his own followers into an Admiralty vacancy; and unfortunately for him, a letter of complaint which he felt it his duty to write on the occasion, did not reach home until after that nobleman had retired from the Board. In 1810, he was ordered to convoy the trade from the bay of Honduras to England, which vexatious arrangement deprived him of the hope he had still cherished, of being promoted abroad, and thereby kept in active employment.
On entering Bellize bay, in charge of a pilot, the Satellite took the ground, but was not supposed to have received any damage until her arrival in the gulf of Florida, when it was discovered that she did not answer her helm as formerly, which induced him to put into the Havannah; and on lightening the brig, he found that two gudgeons and two pintles were knocked off. This took place on a Sunday; the rudder had to be landed at the dock-yard, and after it was hung, nearly the whole of the stores, water, and provisions were to be hoisted in, notwithstanding which the Satellite was again at sea on Monday afternoon.
The remainder of the voyage to England was very tempestuous; and the Satellite suffered so much during the first gale as to render it necessary for part of her guns to be put below, a measure that was scarcely adopted when a second storm commenced, which it is impossible she could have weathered, had not so much dead weight been removed from aloft.
Captain Evans arrived at Spithead in Nov. 1810, and found that he had been promoted to post-rank on the 21st of the preceding month. He was there superseded in the command of the Satellite, by the Hon. Willoughby Bertie, who perished, with all his officers and crew, on the very night that he first went to sea in her!
Since that period Captain Evans has applied for employment regularly every year, and has often been strongly recommended by persons of high consideration, but hitherto without effect. The following is a copy of a letter, which he received from Lord Amelius Beauclerk, in Jan. 1812:–
“My dear Sir,– I should have been very happy to have shaken you by the hand when you was in town, after so long an absence. I hope, should you come to this part, you will do me the favor of a call. I must return you my sincere thanks for your offer of service, and feel myself much flattered by the same; a previous engagement obliges me to decline it, otherwise I should have been happy to comply with your wishes. I remain, my dear Sir, yours very sincerely.
Among the many distinguished characters who have exerted themselves in favor of Captain Evans, no one has more strongly supported his claims for employment, than the nobleman whose signature is attached to the letter, we are now about to transcribe:–
“London, May 18, 1820.
“Sir,– May I request to be permitted the liberty of recommending to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, for his approbation. Captain Evans of the royal navy, to command the yacht. I should not presume to lay Captain Evans’s name before his Excellency, were I not informed Captain Saurin’s appointment had not taken place. Captain Robert Evans’s name is well known at the Admiralty, as a good officer – and, he is a perfect gentleman – I therefore cannot resist his solicitation in applying in his favor, which must plead my apology for troubling you with this letter. I have the honor to be, &c.
“Right Hon. Charles Grant, &c. &c. &c.”
In Feb. 1823, the same nobleman applied in Captain Evans’s favor to Viscount Melville, who returned the following answer:–
“Admiralty, 28th Feb. 1823.
“My dear Lord,– I have received your Lordship’s letter of the 18th instant, and shall not fail to note your application in favor of Captain Robert Evans, to be brought under consideration whenever a proper opportunity may offer. I return Captain Evans’s letter, and I have the honor to be, my dear Lord, your Lordship’s very faithful, &c.
“To the Marquis Conyngham.”
Having now concluded our account of Captain Evans’s professional services, we must return back to Dec. 27, 1807, on which day he addressed a letter to Lord Mulgrave, pointing out the impossibility of a continued intercourse between the Malay traders and Prince of Wales’s island, should ever Malacca be alienated from the British Crown; and therefore recommending the formation of a settlement at Dilha, in the island of Timor, to which port they would at all times be able to resort for commercial purposes, without running any risk of being intercepted and enslaved by the Dutch. In the same letter he also recommends the establishment of a British settlement between Malacca and the China seas, and mentions Sincapore as very eligibly situated with relation to the whole Eastern archipelago, to China, and to India, for an extended commerce, if held as a free port under British protection. For this, and a second communication respecting Dilha, he received his Lordship’s thanks, in two letters, dated Jan. 9, and Mar. 18, 1808; and had he addressed himself to the Board of Controul, instead of to the Admiralty, we have no doubt that Sincapore would have been taken possession of long before the year 1819; and that the wild project of colonizing Melville island, in the gulf of Carpentaria, as a place well situated “for the encouraging of trade and communications with the Malays,” would never have been entertained.
The population of Sincapore, previous to its occupation by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Feb. 29, 1819, did not amount to more than 200 souls; but in less than two years from that date it exceeded 10,000. During this short period, not less than 2889 vessels are stated to have entered the port, of which 383 were owned and commanded by Europeans, and 2506 by natives. Their united tonnage exceeded 200,000. The value of its commerce in the first two years was estimated at five millions of dollars. In the year 1822, it had augmented to 8,568,171 dollars; and in 1823, to 13,268,397 dollars. The natives of all the neighbouring states resorted to it in abundance with goods or bullion, and many of them have erected large warehouses on the island, together with suitable habitations for themselves.
The advantages to be obtained by establishing a settlement at Dilha, are set forth in a letter from Captain Evans to one of his Majesty’s late ministers, dated June 24, 1 824, of which the following is an extract:
“In the year 1807, I recommended to the English government, to form a settlement to the east of Malacca, in order to have a place for the Malays to trade, when Malacca and the Dutch Islands were given up; for I observed the situation was such, that it would be impossible for the prows to pass through the Straits to Prince of Wales’s Island. I was aware at the time of the terms on which we held Malacca and all the Dutch Islands, and therefore, thought it highly necessary to form a port to the eastward, and also another port cast of the Straits of Seylere. I mentioned Dilha on the island of Timor. In consequence of the hatred and revengeful disposition of the Dutch, the poor Malays, when Malacca and the islands were given up, would not be able to trade: now things are changed relative to Malacca. Sincapore is allowed to be a good place for China ships to stop at, going and returning; and in time of war, a small fort in the straits of Drion, would secure the straits of Malacca from enemy’s cruisers. Sincapore, however, will only be of service to a few Malay prows from the west roast of Borneo and the straits of Drion; and these may be prevented by the Dutch cruizers. Not a Malay will be able to pass from the straits of Macassar to Sincapore; – this is well known to the Dutch government.
On examining the charts, it will be seen that it is in the power of the Dutch to prevent Malays from going to Sincapore. The Malay trade should be protected: by encouraging these poor people, you would bring all the eastern trade to your port.
What I proposed in the year 1807, and what I would now recommend, is, to get possession of the east end of Timor from the Portuguese, and to establish a settlement at the port of Dilha: this would secure the whole of the Malay trade in the Malacca seas. You might have had, and may yet, if not too late, the west end of Timor (belonging to the Dutch,) for Bencoolen. Your having Sincapore, Malacca would have been deserted. Timor is of no value to the Portuguese, and may be of some consequence to us. Sincapore rendered Malacca of no value to any one. Bencoolen should have been given (if it was to be parted with,) for the west end of Timor. The port of Dilha on the N.E. side of Timor, a most excellent harbour, easy of access, may be fortified at a trifling expense, and defended from any surprise by a small force. The Malays in those seas have not a place to trade with, and dread leaving their creeks and rivers, through fear of the Dutch. I found them much inclined to trade, and considered they would in a short time be rendered fully independent of the Dutch, provided we had the port of Dilha, in the island of Timor. All the Malays who are taken by the Dutch, are reduced to slavery. The port of Dilha would embrace the Straits of Macassar, Seylere, Gilolo, east end of the island of Borneo, Celebes, Amboyna, Ceram, Banda, and all to the eastward of Java, would be opened to your trade in a short time. Two-thirds of the spices would centre at the port of Dilha, and it would not be in the power of the Dutch to prevent them. In the N.W. and S.E monsoons, the Malay prows could reach Dilha, and return in the space of two or three weeks, exchange spices for opium and Bengal goods, or British manufactures. You would have sufficient in a short time to supply England, even South America. India ships trading to New Holland would call there; also Americans and Spaniards, if allowed, may go there: – the island abounds with ship timber. * * * * * * *. The winds will not allow the Malays to go to Melville Island; and as the distance is very great, the Dutch may have a favourable opportunity of taking them.”
To this statement the following answer was returned, July 30, 1824:–
“Dear Sir,– I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th June, stating the advantages which would result from a British settlement in the port of Dilha, on the Island of Timor, and to return you my thanks for the suggestions which it contains. I do not, however, think, that as our negociation with the government of the Netherlands is now brought to a close, it would be desirable to re-open if, and it seems to me that most of the benefits which would be likely to result from it, will arise from the settlement now forming at Port Essington, on the north point of New South Wales. I remain, dear Sir, most faithfully yours,
(Signed)“C. W. Williams Wynn.”
“I am sorry to find that a settlement is about to be formed on Melville Island, in Carpentaria Bay:– you may depend it will not succeed, and ihe expense will be great. It will not answer any one purpose:– the Malays will not be able to go there to trade, it is too far for them – during the S.E. winds it will be impossible for them to go, and the N.W. winds will prevent them from returning. Sir Thomas Raffles could not have known much about the place, when he recommended it for such a purpose.”
In another letter, dated Aug. 24, 1824, Captain Evans says:
“The monsoons are different to what you find iu the China seas and bay of Bengal. You have strong S. E. winds when the S.W. winds prevail in the bay, and N.W. winds when the N.E. monsoons blow in the China seas and bay. It would take the Malays a whole monsoon to make a voyage to Port Essington, even should they escape the Dutch; and slavery would be their portion if taken.
“The port of Dilha may be reached in one night, (at least the east end of Timor) from any one of the Spice Islands; every week or ten days in each monsoon a voyage may be made, and that without any danger from the Dutch. The Malays have active minds, are fond of trade, and when treated kindly are much attached to you.”
Captain Evans married Isabella, daughter of George Nesbitt, of Woodhill, co. Donegal, Esq. and sister to Major Nesbitt, who commanded the militia of that county, his Colonel being absent, at the time when the French effected a landing in Bantry Bay. By that amiable and accomplished lady, he has one son living.
Agents.– Messrs. Evans and Eyton.
- See Vol. I, Part I, pp. 17, 106–108.
- See Vol. I, p. 286, et seq.
- On arriving at a certain point of the Morbihan, Lieutenant Evans found himself obliged to go so close to the shore, that every person on board the prize would inevitably have been picked off by the enemy, had not the Pelter gun-vessel promptly anchored, brought her broadside to bear, and kept up a heavy fire uutil the brig was clear of danger. We mention this circumstance in justice to Lieutenant (now Captain) Nicholas Tomlinson, who then commanded the Pelter.
- L’Eveillé was taken by Sir J. B. Warren’s squadron, Oct. 15, 1795.
- See Vol. I, p. 216, et seq.
- La Revolutionnaire conveyed the Duke of Wirtemberg to Cuxhaven, sailing in company with la Virginie, and the Melampus. The former frigate was commanded by Captain Francis Cole, the latter by Captain (now Sir Graham) Moore.
- The Hobart waa a ship of about 700 tons, originally an English West Indiaman; she had been captured by the Dutch, and sent with a cargo to Java, where she was retaken by the Arrogant and Orpheus.
- Lieutenant Oakes was mortally wounded; but his assassin met with condign punishment, a quarter-master who had charge of the deck having cut off his sword-arm with one stroke of a cutlass, and cleaved his skull with another. The remainder of the Malays were overpowered after a desperate struggle.
- Among the officers who particularly distinguished themselves on the above occasion was Captain J. S. Carden. See Vol. II, Part II, p. 1009.
- Captain Evans’s passage from Madras to England cost him altogether 600l., the whole of which was a dead loss to him, as the Admiralty refused to grant him any remuneration.
- See Vol. II, Part I, p. 392.
- As another instance of the vicissitudes of fortune, we cannot refrain from stating that Dr. Coley, now an eminent physician at Cheltenham, was surgeon of the whaler in which Captain Evans sailed from St. Helena; and that on their being recaptured by the Sirius he begged him to speak to Sir Edward Pellew in his favor. This request Captain Evans complied with; the young man was instantly received on board the Tonnant, and in little more than a year he became a full naval surgeon.
- See memoir of Captain James J. G. Bremer, C.B.