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Royal Naval Biography/Ferguson, John MacPherson

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JOHN MACPHERSON FERGUSON, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1817.]

A younger son of the late celebrated Dr. Adam Ferguson, Professor of Mora! Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, by Miss Burnet, of Aberdeenshire, niece to Dr. Joseph Black, Chemical Professor in the same national establishment. The Fergusons are said to have sprung from the family of Dunfallandy, seated in one of the mountainous districts of Perthshire.

This officer was made commander, July 13, 1808; and appointed to the Pandora brig, about Oct. 1810. On the last day of that year, he captured the French privateer cutter Chasseur, of 16 guns and 36 men. The following particulars of the loss of the Pandora, are copied from a letter, addressed to T. Aldridge, Esq., of North Yarmouth:

“On the night of the 13th Feb. 1811, the Pandora struck on the Scaw reef, off the coast of Jutland. In less than five minutes, she lost her rudder; and in an hour’s time, she was nearly filled with water; previously to which, her masts were cut away in order to lighten her. The wind being extremely high, the sea broke over her with great fury, and every moment threatened her crew with destruction. The wind was piercingly cold, and the officers and men had no other prospect before them than that of being either washed overboard or frozen to death. Twenty-nine did perish from the inclemency of the weather. Next morning, some of the survivors contrived to cut a hole in the weather-side of the deck, which was above water, and by that they were enabled to get down below, one by one, for shelter. About three, p.m., some boats were observed coming off from the shore to their assistance; but the sea still running very high, they durst not approach the wreck. The surviving crew were so reduced in strength as to be unable to launch their own boats, which were covered with ice, and bore the appearance of marble of immense thickness. In the course of the night, however, the wind abated, and the morning of the 15th being quite calm, a number of Danes came off, and took every one from the wreck. The officers and men were of course made prisoners, but the enemy treated them with all possible kindness and hospitality.”

Captain Ferguson’s next appointment was, Aug. 27, 1815, to the Nimrod sloop. He obtained post rank, Jan. 1, 1817; and has since commanded the Mersey 20, on the South American station. A memoir of his father is given in the first volume of the “Annual Biography and Obituary,” published in 1818.

Agent.– Sir F. M. Ommanney.