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Royal Naval Biography/Gill, Charles

A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1809.]

This officer was second Lieutenant of the Superb 74, Captain Richard G. Keats, on the memorable 13th July, 1801; and first of the same ship in Sir John T. Duckworth’s action, off St. Domingo, Feb. 6, 1806[1]. His commission as a Commander bears date April 2, 1806.

In the autumn of 1808, Captain Gill was appointed to the Onyx, a new brig, mounting 8 eighteen-pounder carronades and 2 long sixes, with a complement of 76 officers, men, and boys. The exploit for which he was deservedly advanced to post rank, is thus described by himself in an official letter, dated Jan. 10, 1809:

“On the morning of the 1st instant, at day-light, when in lat.53° 30' N. long. 30° E., we discovered a strange brig on the lee-bow, standing to the southward, upon which we made the private signal. She immediately shewed Dutch colours, and hove to, as if prepared for battle. We kept our wind until eight o’clock, when, being perfectly ready, we bore down and brought her to close action. The enemy attempted several times to rake us, but, from our superior sailing, we were enabled to foil every attempt. At 10-30 she struck her colours, being much cut up in her sails and rigging, and having most of her guns disabled by the superior fire kept up from the Onyx, which, considering the very heavy sea, displayed a cool and steady conduct, far beyond any thing I could expect from so young a ship’s company, and merits my warmest commendations. She proved to be the Dutch national brig Manly, formerly British, and captured by the Dutch in the river Ems. She mounts 12 eighteen-pounder carronades, and 4 long brass 6-pounders, with a complement of 94 men. I am happy to say, our loss is much more trifling than might be expected from so long and close a conflict, which can only be accounted for by the heavy sea running the whole of the time, having only 3 wounded” (one mortally, one badly, and one slightly), “and the enemy 6 killed and 6 wounded.

“I feel more pleasure in announcing her capture, as she sailed from the Texel, in company with another brig, for the sole purpose of annoying and intercepting our trade with Heligoland.

“I beg leave to recommend to their Lordships’ notice my first Lieutenant, Mr. Edward William Garrett, who is an old and very deserving officer, and to whose advice and assistance I feel much indebted; also Mr. William Trewren , the second Lieutenant, who is likewise a deserving good officer, to whose zeal and activity the service stands much indebted[2]. I cannot pass over in silence the assistance I received from Mr. G. D. Louis, acting master, whose exertions in manoeuvring the brig, so as to completely foil the enemy’s schemes to rake, evinced great professional skill, and whose conduct the whole of the time was highly meritorious; as well as that ef Mr. Z. Webb, the purser, who volunteered his services in the direction of the small-arm men and marines.”

Captain Gill and his first Lieutenant were both promoted in consequence of this action, their respective commissions bearing date Jan. 16, 1809. We next find the former officer commanding the St. Domingo 74, which ship bore the flag of Sir Richard J. Strachan, at the reduction of Flushing, in the month of August following.

Captain Gill’s last appointment was, Dec. 20, 1812, to the Cleopatra, 32, then on the Halifax station; which frigate he paid off about July 1814. He married, Mar. 28, 1822, Harriet, second daughter of the late Captain W. White, R.N., whose widow is a matron of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.

  1. See p. 271 of this volume, and p. 346 of Vol. I. Part I.
  2. Lieutenant Trewren died Dec. 24, 1812, aged 23.