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Royal Naval Biography/Gore, John

Vice-Admiral of the Blue,
and Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.

This officer is the second son of the late Colonel John Gore, who served many years in the 33d regiment, and retired from the command of that corps, in 1776, upon being appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Tower of London, where he died in 1794, leaving three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Ralph, was then a captain in the 33d, and his youngest, Arthur, a lieutenant in the 73d regiment: the latter gentleman attained the rank of Major-General, and was slain on the walls of Bergen-op-Zoom, Mar. 9, 1814. The Gores are distantly related to the noble Irish family of Arran.

The subject of this memoir entered the navy as a midshipman on board the Monarca of 70 guns, Captain John Gell; but he first went to sea in the Canada 74, commanded by the Hon. William Cornwallis, with whom he sailed for North America, in Aug. 1781.

The Canada formed part of the fleet under Rear-Admiral Graves, when that officer proceeded from Sandy Hook to the Chesapeake, for the purpose of extricating Earl Cornwallis from his perilous situation at York Town[1]. She subsequently accompanied Sir Samuel Hood to the West Indies, and bore a very conspicuous share in his brilliant actions at St. Christopher’s[2]; as well as in the battles between Rodney and de Grasse, April 9 and 12, 1782; on which latter day she sustained a loss of 12 men killed and 23 wounded.

As there are many officers still alive who were eye witnesses of that glorious combat, they will recollect, in the latter part of the day, when the smoke cleared up a little, and there was a short interval of repose, what was the appearance of the Canada; – she had been almost entirely unrigged in the action, her fore and main top-sail-ties were shot away, and the yards lying on the caps; – with scarcely any canvas to set, but a fore-top-gallant-sail, sheeted home as well as the situation of the top-sail-yard would admit, she was going large; and, as if impelled by the spirit of her commander, she kept way with the French ships, hanging on the quarter of la Ville de Paris until Count de Grasse was intercepted by the rear division of the British fleet. Having then set as much sail as circumstances would permit, she went in pursuit of the flying enemy, and was among the ships whose fire gilded the horizon after the close of that ever memorable day.

On her arrival at Jamaica, the Canada was surveyed, and found to be in such a very rotten state, that Sir George B. Rodney determined upon sending her home in company with the prizes, and a large convoy under Rear-Admiral Graves. Previous to her departure from Port Royal, she was caulked between wind and water, and coppered higher up, to which Captain Cornwallis attributed her escape from the same melancholy fate that befel the Centaur, Ville de Paris, &c. &c.[3] The Canada was paid off soon after her return to England, on which occasion Mr. Gore followed his gallant captain into the Dragon 74. In Mar. 1783, he joined the Iphigenia frigate. Captain James Cornwallis, under whom he served in the West Indies till Oct. 1786.

His health being now much impaired by that climate, Mr. Gore was discharged into the Royal Charlotte yacht, the command of which vessel had been conferred upon the Hon. William Cornwallis, at the close of the American war. We next find him in the Robust 74, with the same officer, during the Dutch armament; and subsequently in the Hebe frigate. Captain Edward Thornbrough, with whom he continued until Oct. 1788.

At this latter period Mr. Gore rejoined his distinguished patron, who had hoisted a broad pendant in the Crown 64, and was then about to sail from England for the purpose of assuming the chief command on the East India station. Commodore Cornwallis there promoted his elève into the Perseverance frigate, Nov. 29, 1789.

From thence Lieutenant Gore returned home in the Crown (1791); and his health having suffered extremely, he did not go afloat again till the commencement of the French revolutionary war, when he was appointed to the Lowestoffe 32, Captain William Wolseley, then fitting at Plymouth. In that frigate he accompanied the fleet under Lord Hood, to the Mediterranean, where he was removed to the Britannia, a first rate, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Hotham, previous to the occupation of Toulon. While belonging to that ship, Lieutenant Gore frequently landed with a detachment of seamen under his command, and was often engaged with the enemy, both on shore and when employed in floating batteries. After distinguishing himself by his gallantry on various occasions. Lieutenant Gore was removed to Lord Hood’s flagship, the Victory of 100 guns, and ordered to land at the head of a body of sailors, selected to serve as artillerymen in fort Mulgrave, an important post, against which the enemy were then bringing forward heavy guns and mortars, their repeated attempts to take it by storm having proved unsuccessful. During the bombardment that ensued, he received a severe wound in the head, which obliged him to return on board for surgical assistance.

On the morning previous to the evacuation of Toulon, Lieutenant Gore was ordered by Lord Hood to visit the arsenal, and ascertain if any thing effective could be done by means of fire-vessels. In consequence of his report, he was directed to tow the Vulcan thither, to place her in a proper position, and then to put himself and his boats under the orders of Sir W. Sidney Smith.

After taking the Vulcan to her station, and when in the act of receiving some combustible materials from her, for the purpose of setting fire to the French ships in the southern basin. Lieutenant Gore was blown out of his boat by a premature explosion, of which the following notice is taken in Sir W. Sidney Smith’s official letter to Lord Hood, dated Dec. 18, 1793:–

“I was sorry to find myself deprived of the further services of Captain Hare: he had performed that of placing his fire-ship to admiration, but was blown into the water, and much scorched, by the explosion of her priming, when in the act of putting the match to it. Lieutenant Gore was also much burnt, and I was consequently deprived of him also; which I regretted the more, from the recollection of his bravery and activity in the warm service of Fort Mulgrave.”

We next find Lieutenant Gore commanding a detachment of seamen, landed to co-operate with the small British army in Corsica, under Lieutenant-General David Dundas. The following are extracts of that officer’s official despatches, detailing the operations against St. Fiorenzo:–

“As the enemy, besides the town, possessed several heights and points, commanding the anchorage on the west side of the gulph, it was necessary to dislodge them before the squadron could anchor in security: these points in succession, on entering the gulph, were the tower of Mortella, the redoubt and batteries of the Convention, and the tower of Fornelli, with two considerable sea-batteries dependent upon it.

“Expecting little opposition from Mortella tower, and trusting from intelligence that we could approach near enough to that of Fornelli to attack it with light artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Moore was detached on the 8th (Feb. 1794), with the royal and 51st regiments, a small howitzer, and a 6-pounder, to effect this purpose; but after a march of 7 or 8 miles, through a rocky, desert, and mountainous country, destitute of roads, and where the artillery was carried by a detachment of sailors, under Captain Cooke, he arrived on the heights immediately above Fornelli, and then found that the distance was too great to hope for any effect from his small guns. The same day we began from a commanding height, within 150 yards, to batter the tower of Mortella; but it was not till the 10th, after the attack made by the Fortitude and Juno[4], and after establishing an 18-pounder, two 9-pounders, and a carronade against it, that we were enabled to reduce it, and take an officer and 34 men prisoners[5].

“During this time, having been enabled to examine the mountains that skirted the western part of the gulph, and which overlooked the enemy’s posts, it appeared, that if heavy cannon could be established on points where the enemy had deemed it impossible to place them, their works might be ruined, and then attacked to advantage.”

This operation. Captain Edward Cooke and Lieutenant Gore cheerfully undertook to perform; each having 300 seamen under his command, and all the aid that the squadron could afford. “By the most surprising exertions of science and labour, from the 12th to the 16th, they placed four 18-pounders, a large howitzer, and a 10-inch mortar in battery, on ground elevated at least 700 feet above the sea, and where every difficulty of ascent and surface had opposed the undertaking.” The first shot fired by the enemy at Lieutenant Gore’s battery dismounted one of his guns; but another was very soon mounted in its stead.

“On the 16th,” continues the Lieutenant-General, “we opened with two batteries of three pieces of artillery each. One of these, at the distance of 1000 yards, enfiladed the redoubt of the Convention; and the other; at the distance of 800 yards, took it in reverse. The redoubt itself was of a long narrow form, occupying the summit of a detached height, and about 250 feet above the sea.

“Our fire was heavy and unremitting during the 16th and 17th; and, notwithstanding the gallantry of the enemy, both in serving their guns and in repairing their works, their fire was nearly overpowered. On the evening of the 17th, a fifth 18-pounder was brought up by the seamen, and a sixth was also placed on an advanced point near the shore, to prevent the two French frigates in the bay from placing themselves in a situation to enfilade our proposed attack.

“On the 17th, measures having been concerted, the 2d battalion of the royals, 25th, 50th, and 51st regiments, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, were destined for the attempt, while the 11th, 30th, and 69th remained in reserve. The troops marched in three columns, and having nearly equal distances to go over, moved at the same hour (8-30 P.M.) in order to arrive at the enemy’s works a little after the rising of the moon. Lieutenant-Colonel Moore on the right, with the 2d battalion of the royals, commanded by Captain M‘Kenzie, and the 51st regiment, came down on the advanced point of the redoubt; Lieutenant-Colonel Wauchope, with the 50th, advanced towards its centre; and Captain Stewart, with the 25th, keeping close to the sea-shore, was directed to enter on the left and most commanding part of the work.

“Notwithstanding the whole of the ground over which the troops marched was rocky, rough, and covered with thick myrtle-bushes, they approached the redoubt without the enemy being certain of their progress, and, under a very heavy fire, they arrived nearly at the same time at their points, rushed into their works, prevented more than two or three discharges of cannon being given, and with their bayonets drove the enemy down the steep hill which formed the rear of the work.[6]

“The judicious fire kept up from our batteries till the very moment of the attack, facilitated much the approach of the troops; and a false attack made by the Corsicans on Lieutenant-Colonel Moore’s right, served also to engage and distract the attention of the enemy, who were not aware of the extent of their danger[7]. The loss of the enemy, on the 16th and 17th, amount to upwards of 100 men killed and wounded, and 10 officers, including the commandant, and 60 men made prisoners, out of 550 that occupied the work[8].

“The enemy being now reduced to their last posts on the height of Fornelli, at about 400 yards distance, from which we were separated by a deep ravine, and fearing that their retreat would be cut off, abandoned them about midnight, crossed over to St. Fiorenzo, hauled off their frigates, and left us in possession of the tower and batteries of Fornelli, against which we otherwise must have placed cannon, and, in a delay of two or three days, probably have lost a number of men.”

Fornelli was taken possession of by the detachment of seamen under Lieutenant Gore.

“On the 19th, after taking measures for the march of the troops to the other side of the town, in order to cut off the enemy’s communication with Bastia, a summons was sent to St. Fiorenzo. In the afternoon, a negative answer was received; but, during the day, strong symptoms of a speedy evacuation were perceived.”

Lieutenant Gore had not been long in possession of Fornelli, when he discovered that the enemy were about to set their frigates on fire. He immediately sent off a report to Lord Hood, and succeeded in drawing the spike of an 18-pounder, with which gun he played upon the nearest ship until she sunk: the other was observed in flames about 4 P.M., when a boat went off to the squadron to announce that the enemy had fled from St. Fiorenzo: the seamen and marines were then ordered to embnrk. Their conduct on shore is thus noticed by Lieutenant-General Dundas:–

“The perseverance, spirit, and gallantry, of the officers and men of every denomination, merit the highest praise. Unprovided, as we are, with many necessary articles of preparation, the service, at this season of the year, has been severe, but undergone with the greatest cheerfulness and good-will. * * * * Success has crowned the joint endeavours of the British arms. From the navy we have received the most effectual and essential assistance; their exertions have been wonderful, and unparalleled. Commodore Linzee afforded us every support[9]; and to the Captains Dickson, Young, Wolseley, Hood, Woodley, and Cooke, and to the officers and men who so zealously acted under their command, we feel every sense of their efficacious aid.”

In the town of St. Fiorenzo, there were found mounted 2 long brass 32-pounders, 7 iron 24-pounders, 2 eighteens, 6 twelves, 2 sixes, 3 brass 12-inch mortars, 2 field pieces, and 7 other light guns.

The capture of Bastia has been recorded at p. 251, of Vol. I. Part I. The following is an extract of the official letter written by Lord Hood on that occasion:–

“Captain Nelson, of H.M.S. Agamemnon, who had the command and direction of the seamen, in landing the guns, mortars, and stores; and Captain Hunt, who commanded at the batteries, very ably assisted by Captains Buller and Serecold, and the Lieutenants Gore, Hotham, Stiles, Andrews, and Brisbane, have an equal claim to my gratitude, as the seamen under their management worked the guns with great judgment and alacrity. Never was a higher spirit, or greater perseverance, exhibited; and I am happy to say, that no other contention was at any time known, than who should be most forward and indefatigable for promoting his Majesty’s service; for, although the difficulties they had to struggle with were many and various, the perfect harmony and good humour that universally prevailed throughout the siege overcame them all.”

During that siege, the subject of this memoir received two severe contusions, notwithstanding which he continued to command a party of seamen on shore until the surrender of Bastia, May 22, 1794, when he was immediately promoted into la Fleche, a corvette found lying in the harbour. After fitting her out, he proceeded to Malta and negociated with Rhoan, the Grand Master, for a supply of seamen, stores, &c. His promotion to post-rank took place Nov. 12, 1704; on which occasion Lord Hood’s successor appointed him to command the Windsor Castle 98, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Robert Linzee. In her he assisted at the capture of two French line-of-battle ships, by the fleet under Vice-Admiral Hotham, Mar. 14, 1795[10]: the Windsor Castle’s loss on that day amounted to 6 killed and 31 wounded.

Captain Gore’s next appointment was to le Censeur 74, one of the above-mentioned prizes. The recapture of that ship by a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Richery, has been noticed at p. 610, of Vol. I. Part II., and is thus officially described in a letter from Captain Thomas Taylor, of H.M.S. Fortitude, to the Secretary of the Admiralty, dated Oct. 12, 1795:–

“Sir,– Be pleased to acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that I left Gibraltar on the 24th Sept. taking the first spirt of an easterly wind after my letter of the 21st, when the wind was westerly.

“In coming through the gut in the night, H.M. ships Argo and Juno, with some of the merchantmen, parted company, and, I conclude, by steering more to the northward than myself with the other men-of-war and the body of the convoy, it being near dusk in the evening before many of them got out of the bay, though the Fortitude was under weigh with the much greater part by 10 A.M. but, on the whole, their separation has turned out a most fortunate circumstance; for, with great regret, I am to inform their lordships, that on the 7th instant. Cape St. Vincent, by account, bearing S. 83° E. 48 leagues, the wind N. by W. standing on the larboard tack, I discovered nine sail of the enemy’s ships, six of the line, two of which I judged to be of 80 guns, and three large frigates, who directly gave chase to H.M. squadron under my command under a press of sail. I made every possible disposition for the better security of the convoy by divers signals, through which, had many of them been punctually obeyed, a much greater number would have escaped. I then formed the line, with the Bedford, Censeur, and Fortitude, determined, if practicable, to give them battle, and save as many of the convoy as I possibly could.

“Just as the ships under my command had formed, the Censeur rolled away her fore-top-mast; by which, having only a frigate’s main-mast, she was rendered useless. The van line-of-battle ship of the enemy being then but long gun-shot off, and the rest coming fast up, I judged it proper, with the general opinion of my officers, coinciding with that of Captain Montgomery of the Bedford, to bear up, keeping very near together for our mutual support, and cutting down every part of the stern for the chase-guns. I ordered the Lutine frigate directly to take the Censeur in tow; but, from the very heavy fire from the enemy’s van ship, it could not be effected.

“Captain Gore, who commanded the Censeur, though his ship was in so disabled a state, not half manned, and with but very little powder, made the most gallant defence; but being at length overpowered, by two sail more of the enemy’s line coming up, I had the mortification to see him strike his colours about half-past two o’clock.”

On his return home. Captain Gore was tried by a court-martial, and most honourably acquitted, with a very flattering compliment from the president, Rear-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis. He was afterwards successively appointed to act as captain of the Robust 74, and Alcmene frigate.

In Sept. 1796, Captain Gore obtained the command of the Triton 32: and from that period we find him actively employed on Channel service until the escape of the French fleet from Brest, April 25, 1799, when he was despatched with the important information to Earl St. Vincent, commander-in-Chief on the Mediterranean station.

After communicating with Lord Keith, the second in command. Captain Gore proceeded, with two frigates under his orders, to reconnoitre the coasts of France and Spain, from Toulon to Cadiz; in which latter port he at length discovered the enemies’ combined fleets, amounting to thirty-eight sail of the line, with a suitable train of frigates, corvettes, &c.

This very formidable force sailed from Cadiz, July 21, 1799, and Captain Gore closely watched them until they all bore up round Cape St. Vincent, and made sail to the northward: he then pushed past them for England, and arrived at Plymouth, with the intelligence of their junction and movements, five days before they reached Brest.

Captain Gore was subsequently sent, with a squadron of frigates under his command, to observe the enemies’ movements; and while thus employed he deterred five Spanish line-of-battle ships and two frigates from entering the port of their ally through the Passage du Raz. The Triton afterwards accompanied Sir John B. Warren in pursuit of this Spanish squadron, the commander of which had very wisely returned to Ferrol, where his ships were lying dismantled when the British arrived in sight of them.

After Sir John B. Warren’s return to the Channel fleet, Captain Gore continued cruising in the vicinity of Ferrol, where he had the good fortune to assist at the capture of the Santa Brigida, Spanish treasure ship, an event thus described by the senior officer present on that occasion.

Naiad, off Cape Finisterre, Oct. 19, 1799.

“My Lord,– I have great pleasure in being able to acquaint you, that the ships named in the margin,[11] which your lordship has done me the honour to put under my orders, captured yesterday morning the Spanish frigate Santa Brigida, of 36 guns, and having on board 300 men, commanded by Don Antonio Pillou. This frigate, my Lord, in company with another called the Thetis, left Vera Cruz on the 21st August last, and I had the good fortune to fall in with them both, on the evening of the 16th instant, in lat. 44° 1' N. long. 12° 35' W. the Naiad then a single ship, and to which I immediately gave chase. Before midnight, I discovered them to be vessels belonging to the enemy, and was joined by the Ethalion; when the day broke, I was also joined by the Alcmene, and the Triton was discovered far astern: still, owing to the superior sailing of the latter ship, after a chase which lasted 32 hours, I set myself down as indebted for a most valuable capture. The two frigates, at 7 A.M., perceiving themselves not in a state to withstand our united force, took different routes, upon which I made the Ethalion’s signals to pass the sternmost ship of the enemy, as she at that time took the lead in point of sailing, and stand for and engage the headmost frigate; which was obeyed with such alacrity by Captain Young, that I make no doubt but she has experienced a similar fate to her companion[12]; but as the Santa Brigida made a determinate push on the southern course, a separation of course took place. The latter frigate of the enemy having rounded Cape Finisterre on the morning of the 18th, her commander shoved so very close to the rocks of Monte Lora, that the Triton, then first in pursuit. Captain Gore, being regardless of every thing but closing with the enemy, struck upon them, going seven knots at the time: I fear her damage is considerable. However, she was soon off again, and commenced an animated fire on the enemy, as did Captain Digby, with an officer-like presence of mind, keeping in that direction to cut off the entrance of Port de Vidre. At 8 A.M. our three frigates closed with the enemy amidst the rocks of Commarurto, at the entrance of Muros, when the Spanish colours were hauled down, and we found ourselves all in foul ground together. A fortunate breeze sprung up from the shore, and we were enabled to put the ships’ heads to the sea, and had begun to shift prisoners, when an enemy’s squadron, consisting of four large ships, one with a broad pendant, came out of Vigo, with an intention, I suppose, of rescuing the prize. This being the opinion of Captains Gore and Digby also, every exertion was made to secure the prisoners, and get the ships under my command ready to receive them; but on their perceiving my determination they bore up and ran into Vigo. Light and variable winds have kept me still in sight of the Spanish coast, which, to day, is one continued blaze. Aware of another squadron being in Corunna, I have thought it my duty to keep altogether for the protection of the prize, which is of immense value, having on board 1,400,000 dollars, independent of a cargo of equal estimation. My companions in chase, Captains Gore and Digby, make the most favourable report of the zeal and perseverance of their respective officers and crews; and in justice to the officers and ship’s company I have the honor to command, I can only say, that their anxiety to get alongside the enemy’s frigates, whilst alone, was equal to what it was afterwards, when my force became superior; and on that, as on all former occasions, I profited by the able assistance of Mr. John Houltoun Marshall, my first lieutenant, to whom I have given charge of the prize. I enclose a list of killed and wounded on this occasion, either by shot or casualties.[13] I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)W. Pierrepoint.”

Right Hon. Lord Bridport, K.B. &c. &c. &c.

Captain Gore’s share of prize-money for the cargoes of the Santa Brigida and her consort, exclusive of their hulls, stores, &c. amounted to 40,730l. 18s.!

In Feb. 1801, a melancholy accident happened on board the Triton. She was firing at a French cutter which had been driven upon the Penmark rocks, when one of the main-deck guns burst, killed the second lieutenant and 2 men, and wounded 22 other persons, one of whom was Captain Gore, who received a violent contusion in the back.

On her return to port, the Triton was taken into dock, and Captain Gore felt himself under the necessity of requesting leave of absence. This, the Admiralty would not grant; but, upon his reporting himself ready for service again, he was immediately appointed to the Medusa, a 32-gun frigate, mounting 18-pounders on the main-deck, recently launched at Woolwich. Whilst in the Triton, he captured the following French armed vessels:–

La Jeune Emelie[14], brig p
16 guns, 90 men, Feb. 11, 1797.
Le Recovery[14] cutter 16 46
Le Difficile ship 18 206 12,
La Furet[14] schooner 4 50 Oct. 14,
La Helene brig 16 160
Name unknown ship 20 200 1798.
L’Arraigne schooner 5 38 Sep. 28, 1798.
La Rosée[14] brig 14 70 Dec.
L’Impromptu brig 14 64
L’Aimable Victor brig 18 87 Jan. 30, 1799.
Le St. Jacques national lugger, 6 30 Sept. 13,
La Videtta brig 14 90 Feb. 10, 1800.

Captain Gore likewise destroyed la Bayonaise, a ship of 20 guns and 200 men, and le Petit Diable cutter of 12 guns and 60 men. He also chased a cutter privateer, of 16 guns, under the butteries at Guernsey, where she was brought-to and captured by the garrison of that island, Jan. 29, 1799.

During the summer of 1801, government received intelligence that the invasion of Great Britain by France might be certainly expected. Every preparation was immediately made, with that energy and deliberate resolution which have always marked our national character; and the. general wish of the nation, that Lord Nelson should be the guardian of that part of its southern coast, where it was expected the enemy would make the attempt, was gratified by his lordship being appointed commander-in-chief of all the naval force employed on both shores, from Orfordness to Beachy Head, inclusive. Captain Gore had been previously ordered to assume the command of a light squadron employed in watching Boulogne, and the Medusa was now selected to bear the flag of Nelson.

On the 3d Aug. 1301, Captain Gore was directed by our great hero to place three bomb-vessels in a situation to throw shells amongst the enemy’s flotilla; and on the following day three or four large gun-vessels were destroyed. On the 15th, he was ordered to arrange an attack upon thirty-six sail lying in the mouth of the harbour. The result of this enterprise has been stated in the note † at p. 611 et seq, of Vol. I. Part II.

We subsequently find the flag of Lord Nelson flying on board the Amazon frigate, and Captain Gore commanding a squadron stationed under Dungeness, to protect that part of the coast, and occasionally to menace Boulogne. From Oct. 1801 until Feb. 12, 1802, the Medusa was employed in cruising against the smugglers, between the Start and the Isle of Wight. At the latter period she was sent with despatches to the Mediterranean.

On his arrival there, Captain Gore was ordered to visit all the French and Spanish ports within the limits of that station; and he subsequently commanded a squadron sent to escort King Ferdinand IV. from Palermo to his continental capital. Early in 1803, he conveyed H.M. ambassador, the Right Hon. William Drummond, from Naples to Constantinople.

While lying at the entrance of the Black Sea, Captain Gore received intelligence that led him to believe it would not be long before another war took place between Great Britain and France. Aware that his Admiral would, in such a case, require the services of the Medusa, he immediately resolved to overlook his instructions, and hasten to rejoin the flag of Sir Richard Bickerton, by whom his conduct on this occasion was very highly approved.

Captain Gore was senior officer of the inshore squadron when Nelson arrived off Toulon, and assumed the chief command. From thence he was sent, with three frigates and four sloops under his orders, to cruise in the vicinity of Gibraltar, as his lordship’s “advanced guard off the Straits;” and, whilst there, he had the happiness to obtain his immortal chieftain’s most flattering approbation.

After cruising for three months outside of the Gut, Captain Gore returned to Gibraltar for the purpose of completing his stores, provisions, and water. Whilst thus employed, he observed a cutter coming from the westward, in action with two large French feluccas. Nearly the whole of his officers and men were then on shore, at the Dock-yard. Victualling Office, &c. He immediately recalled them, slipped his cable, and stretched across to Cabritta point unobserved by the enemy, who were about to board the cutter. On perceiving the Medusa they both hauled off from their intended prey and stood away on different tacks; but Captain Gore soon ran along side one of them[15], put his first lieutenant on board her, and continued in chase of the other. This latter vessel[16] succeeded in regaining the Spanish shore, but in so shattered a state, from the Medusa’s shot, that she never again floated. The cutter thus rescued was the British Fair, charged with despatches of the utmost importance: 2 of her crew were killed, and 6 wounded. Each of the feluccas had 2 long 12-pounders, 2 sixes, and 70 men.

The capture and destruction of these, and three other French feluccas, by the Medusa, brought on Sir Thomas Trigge, Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar, a long correspondence with the Marquis Solano, Captain-General of Andalusia, and General Castanos, Governor of Algeziras, which being referred to Captain Gore, he replied as follows:–

“Sir,– I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s letters and their enclosures from the high Spanish authorities, and in reply I have to request you will be pleased to inform those officers that so long as they countenance the French privateers lying in Tariffa and other ports, and sallying from thence to seize upon the unprotected trade of his Majesty’s subjects, thereby transgressing the laws of neutrality, I shall be equally heedless of them; and after the instance they so strongly dwell upon, I shall feel it my duty to pursue the French privateers into Spanish ports, and destroy them when I can, and I shall instruct the captains of his Majesty’s ships placed under my orders to do so likewise. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)John Gore.”

Shortly afterwards, the Medusa chased a French schooner privateer so close to Cadiz light-house that her shot went into the town. On the following morning, the Marquis Solano sent off his aide-de-camp to acknowledge the honor of the salute, and to request that the next time Captain Gore gave him one he would not shot his guns. The Spanish officer also handed to him a note requesting his company at dinner, and inviting the officers of the frigate to a bull fight in the evening: these invitations were accepted, and the Medusa immediately entered the harbour, where she anchored not far from l’Aigle French 74, and two ship corvettes, which Captain Gore had been for some time watching, in order to prevent them from pouncing upon a fleet of merchantmen then expected from England. We should here observe, that Captain Gore had lived on terms of intimacy with the Marquis during his detention at Cadiz, after the capture of le Censeur.

On the 5th Oct. 1804, the Medusa assisted at the capture of three Spanish frigates laden with valuable merchandize, and having on board specie to a very large amount. During the action that took place on this occasion, a fourth frigate blew up, by which dreadful accident 240 persons perished[17].

On the 8th of the following month, Captain Gore returned to Portsmouth in company with the Matilda 36, which ship had been intercepted and detained by order of Sir Richard J. Strachan, when proceeding from Cadiz to Vera Cruz, with a cargo of quicksilver worth 200,000 pounds.

The Medusa being in want of considerable repairs, Captain Gore now obtained leave of absence; and whilst his frigate was in dock, the following correspondence took place between him and the first Marquis Cornwallis;– his god-father, and steady friend through life:–

York House, Bath, Dec. 15, 1804.

“My Lord,– I have just read in the Courier that you are to be appointed Governor-General of India. I do not mean to intrude any question, but if it is fact, and you think you can be more comfortable with me than a stranger, I can only state that my frigate, Medusa, is now undergoing a thorough repair at Portsmouth, and I am told will be out of dock in February. I shall be truly rejoiced to do every thing in my power to render yow voyage agreeable, and only beg that, instead of replying to this, your Lordship will signify your wishes to Lord Melville, upon whom, as well as your Lordship, I will wait the moment I return to London. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)John Gore.”

London, Dec. 19, 1804.

“My dear Gore,– What you read in the Courier is perfectly true. I am told that I can be useful by going to India, and if I can render my country any service it is a matter of indifference to me whether I die on the banks of the Thames or the Ganges. I therefore accept your offer with all the kindness it is made; and have seen Lord Melville, who desires to see you so soon as you come to town, and will there make all the necessary arrangements. Believe me your attached friend,


Captain Gore received the honor of knighthood, Feb. 21, 1805; and sailed for Bengal, April 15 following. The Marquis Cornwallis died at Gazeepour, a village on the banks of the Ganges, about 600 miles above Calcutta, Oct. 5 in the same year. His lordship’s remains were there interred by the present Sir George Abercrombie Robinson, Bart, and the other gentlemen who composed the suite of that great and lamented statesman.

Sir John Gore continued at Calcutta, waiting for despatches, till Nov. 3, 1805, when he sailed for England with Messrs. Robinson, &c. and the treaty of peace that had been concluded with the Mahratta chief Holkar. His voyage home was performed with astonishing celerity, the Medusa having run from the Ganges to the Lizard in 84 days, two of which were spent at anchor in St. Helena roads:– she was consequently but 82 days under sail, in which time she traversed the immense space of 13,831 miles.

Soon after his arrival. Sir John Gore removed to the Revenge 74, in which ship he was successively employed off Brest, l’Orient, and Rochefort. On the 15th July, 1806, one of his lieutenants was killed in a boat attack, which will be fully detailed under the head of Captain Edward Reynolds Sibly.

The Revenge formed part of the squadron under Commodore Sir Samuel Hood, when that officer lost his arm, in an action with some French frigates, from Rochefort bound to the West Indies; but being well to windward of her consorts at the time the enemy were first discovered, she was too far astern of them during the pursuit to render any assistance. An account of this affair is given at p. 570 et seq. of Vol. I. Part II.

Early in 1807, Sir John Gore was sent to join Lord Collingwood, who gave him the command of the inshore squadron off Cadiz, where he continued until June, 1808, at which period the inhabitants of that city sent two officers on board the Revenge, with offers of amity, and to solicit assistance against the French. This being made known to the senior officer. Sir John Gore and Colonel Sir George Smith were immediately ordered to land and negociate with the Spanish authorities; after which his lordship directed Admiral Apodaca, and the other commissioner appointed by the Supreme Council of Seville, to be conveyed to England in the Revenge, for the purpose of treating with the British cabinet on matters important to the interests of both nations. On her arrival at Portsmouth, the Revenge was taken into dock, and Sir John Gore’s health being much impaired he solicited and obtained permission to retire for a time from the fatigues of active service. He accordingly gave up the command of that ship, Aug. 6, 1808.

His next appointment was, Sept. 12, 1810, to the Tonnant of 80 guns, in which ship we find him successively employed in conveying troops to Lisbon, cruising under the orders of Sir Thomas Williams, superintending the blockade of Brest and l’Orient, and serving with the squadron in Basque roads, where he was very severely hurt by a tackle from the maintop falling on his head, contusing it badly, and giving a general shock to his whole frame. The Tonnant being in a defective state was thereupon sent home, and put out of commission in Aug. 1812.

On the 27th Nov. following, Sir John Gore was again appointed to the Revenge, and ordered to the Mediterranean. During the whole summer of 1813, he commanded the inshore squadron off Toulon; and towards the close of the same year he was sent to cruise off Cape St. Sebastian, with several line-of-battle ships under his orders. On the 8th Nov. his boats cut a French felucca privateer out of Palamos mole.

Sir John Gore’s promotion to the rank of Rear-Admiral took place Dec. 4, 1813; and on the 23d of the following month he received an order to hoist his flag in the Revenge. During the remainder of the war he commanded the squadron employed in the Adriatic.

On the 22d Mar. 1814, having arranged a co-operation with the Austrian Field Marshal Bellegarde, Sir John Gore commenced the close blockade of Venice by sea, anchoring his squadron off the town, and stationing the boats of the different ships to watch the entrances of Chiozza and Malancoca. A flotilla equipped by the squadron was at the same time ordered to co-operate with and sustain the Imperial troops on the Adige and Piave.

Tn consequence of the successes of the allied armies in France, Eugene Beauharnois and Marshal Bellegarde entered into a negociation respecting the surrender and occupation of Italy. This having been done without Sir John Gore’s knowledge, he remonstrated in the name of his sovereign against such a partial measure, and the indignity offered to the British flag; demanding that the ships, arsenal, timber, and naval stores of every description should be placed in his hands; but without effect. Not having a sufficient force to support his claim, he declined having any thing more to do with Venice, withdrew the whole of his squadron, &c. and submitted his correspondence to the decision of the British government.

From Venice, Sir John Gore proceeded to Corfu, and informed the governor-general of the Ionian islands of the great events that had recently occurred on the continent; but could not prevail upon him to evacuate them. He then went to Trieste, and there received instructions to attend Lieutenant-General Campbell, the commissioner appointed by government to receive possession of Corfu. On the 8th June, a French commissioner arrived to cede that island; on the 25th the British flag was hoisted in the citadel ; on the 26th a French squadron sailed from thence accompanied by the late garrison, 10,000 strong, embarked in English transports; and on the 28th Sir John Gore took his departure for Minorca, from whence he returned to Spithead, on the 16th Aug. following. We are informed that an order was sent out for him to be left in command of the squadron, on the peace establishment, in the Mediterranean, but that he had sailed for England, in company with Lord Exmouth, before the arrival of the messenger to whom that despatch was entrusted.

Sir John Gore was nominated a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; and appointed Commander-in-chief in the river Medway, at the buoy of the Nore, and from Dungeness to the river Tweed, Mar. 23, 1818. His flag continued flying on board the Bulwark 76, till the end of June 1821. Since the battle of Navarin he has been to the Mediterranean on a mission from H.R.H. the Lord High Admiral. His commission as a Vice-Admiral bears date May 27, 1825.

This officer married, Aug. 15, 1808, Georgiana, eldest daughter of Admiral Sir George Montagu, G.C.B. by whom he has had one son and six daughters.

Residence.– Datchett, near Windsor.

[This biography above from the Addenda in Supplement Part 2 superseded the following one from Vol I. Part II.]

Rear-Admiral of the Red; and Knight Commander of the most honourable Military Order of the Bath.

This officer is a son of the late Major Gore, for many years resident Governor of the Tower of London; and a brother of Brigadier-General Arthur Gore, Colonel of the 33d regiment of foot, who fell in the attack upon Bergen-op-zoom, March 9, 1814[18]. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant about the year 1789, and served in that capacity on board the Victory, the flag-ship of Lord Hood, at the occupation of Toulon, in 1793[19]. In the warm service of Fort Mulgrave, Mr. Gore conducted himself with great bravery and activity; and when the destruction of the French ships and arsenal was ordered, we find him engaged in that arduous service, on which occasion he was much burnt by the premature explosion of the Vulcan fire-vessel.

During the siege of Bastia, our officer assisted in various services and operations on shore; and soon after its surrender, May 22, 1794[20], was made a Commander into la Fleche, of 14 guns, In the course of the same year, he succeeded Captain Shield in the Windsor Castle, of 98 guns, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Linzee, in which ship he was present in the skirmishes with the French fleet, March 14, and July 13, 1795[21]. On the former occasion the Windsor Castle had 6 men killed and 31 wounded.

After these trivial affairs Captain Gore, who had been confirmed in his post rank, Nov. 12, in the preceding year, was appointed to one of the prizes, le Censeur, of 74 guns, (jury-rigged) and ordered to England in company with the homeward bound trade. On the 7th Oct., the convoy fell in with a French squadron, consisting of six ships of the line, besides frigates, about 83 leagues from Cape St. Vincent. Captain Taylor, the senior officer, made the signal for the merchant vessels to disperse, and formed the line with the men-of-war under his command; but, just as the van ship of the enemy had reached within gun-shot, le Censeur in wearing, unfortunately rolled away her fore-top-mast, and the other British ships, namely, the Fortitude and Bedford, of 74 guns each, one frigate, and a fire-vessel[22], being so situated as to be unable to support her effectually, the enemy’s fire was chiefly directed against that ship, and Captain Gore, after a most gallant defence against their very superior force, his vessel being much disabled, and her ammunition nearly expended, was compelled to surrender. About fifteen of the merchantmen were also captured. The French squadron was commanded by Admiral Richerry.

Captain Gore, having regained his liberty, was, in the summer of 1796, appointed to the Triton, of 32 guns, and in that frigate cruized with great success against the enemy’s privateers and other armed vessels, many of which were taken by him.

On the 18th Oct., 1799, he assisted at the capture of the Santa Brigida, of 36 guns and 300 men, laden with treasure, from Vera Cruz, bound to Old Spain. Her consort, the Thetis, with a similar cargo, was taken the day before by the Ethalion, Captain Young[23], into whose hands she had been chaced by the Triton, Naiad, and Alcmene. The Triton, which was the leading ship in the pursuit of the Santa Brigida, struck upon the rocks of Monte Lora, when going at the rate of seven knots, and received so much damage as to be obliged to go into dock on her return to port. Captain Gore’s share of prize money on this occasion exceeded 40,000l. sterling.

Early in 1801, a melancholy accident happened on board the Triton, during a cruize off the Penmarks. Being in chace of a cutter at which she was firing, the 11th gun from forward burst, the splinters of which killed the second Lieutenant, (Alford,) and a gunner’s-mate, and wounded 18 other men. Lieutenant A. had just left the Captain’s table, at which he had been dining; the remainder of the party were providentially saved, notwithstanding the cabin was much damaged. Some time before Captain Gore had been severely hurt by a blow from a block, which falling from aloft struck him on the head.

In the spring of the same year (1801), our officer was appointed to the Medusa, one of the finest frigates in the service; in which ship Lord Nelson’s flag was flying at the attack upon Boulogne[24], in the month of August following. On that occasion Captain Gore manifested great zeal, offering to serve as a volunteer under the orders of a junior officer, which offer was as handsomely declined hy his Lordship.

During the short-lived peace that succeeded the above disastrous attempt, the Medusa was employed in cruizing against the smugglers. On the renewal of the war, in March, 1803, she was sent to the Mediterranean with despatches relative to that event.

Captain Gore does not appear to have been engaged in any service requiring particular mention, until the 5th Oct. 1804, on which day he had the good fortune to share in the capture of three Spanish frigates laden with specie, and valuable merchandize to a great amount. The Mercedes, another frigate blew up during the action, with 811,000 dollars on board[25]. In the following month Captain Gore intercepted the Matilda, of 38 guns, from Cadiz, bound to the Rio de la Plata, with a cargo of quicksilver.

On the 21st Feb. 1805, he received the honor of knighthood; and some time after conveyed the late Marquis Cornwallis to India. His voyage from thence to England, with the remains of that lamented nobleman, was performed with astonishing celerity; the Medusa having run from the Ganges to the Lizard in eighty-four days, two of which were spent at anchor in St. Helena Roads; she was consequently but eighty-two days under sail, in which time she traversed the immense space of 13,831 miles.

Soon after his return, Jan. 1806, Sir John Gore removed into the Revenge, of 74 guns. In June, 1808, he received at Cadiz the Spanish commissioners appointed by the Supreme Council of Seville to treat with the British Cabinet on matters important to the interests of both countries. He subsequently commanded the Tonnant, of 80 guns, stationed in the Tagus, co-operating with the army.

On the 4th Dec. 1813, our officer was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, and shortly after proceeded to the Mediterranean, with his flag in the Revenge. He was nominated a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; and in 1818 appointed Commander-in-Chief in the river Medway, where he continued during the usual period of three years.

Sir John Gore married, Aug. 15, 1808, the eldest daughter of Admiral Sir George Montagu, by whom he has had several children.

  1. See Vol. II. Part I. note * at p. 63.
  2. See Vol. II. Part I. note † at p. 63 et seq.
  3. See Id. note † at p. 69.
  4. See Vol. I. Part I, p. 250.
  5. id. note † at ib.
  6. One hundred seamen, armed with pikes, and commanded by Lieutenant Gore, entered the enemy’s works simultaneously with the royals, and at the head of the column of attack.
  7. About 1200 Corsicans, under General Paoli, occupied advanced posts, and covered the flanks of the British forces, during the siege of St. Fiorenzo.
  8. The Convention redoubt was originally an open battery, but by indefatigable labour, the enemy had converted it into a close work, mounting 6 twenty-four-pounders, 8 eighteens, 5 twelves, 1 brass nine, 2 sixes, 11 small brass guns, 4 12-inch mortars, and 4 6-inch howitzers. Of these, 7 guns, 10 gun-carriages, 1 howitzer and its carriage, and 2 mortars with their beds, were rendered unserviceable by shot and shells from the British batteries.
  9. Lord Hood was forced from the Gulph of St. Fiorenzo by a strong westerly gale, on the 11th Feb., and a calm prevented his return from under Cape Corse until the 17th.
  10. See Vol. I. Part I. note at p. 340.
  11. Naiad 38, Triton 32, and Alcmene 32.
  12. See Vol. I. Part II. p. 684.
  13. Triton, one man wounded; Alcmene, one killed; a petty officer and eight men wounded. The Santa Brigida had two slain and eight wounded.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Taken by the Triton, in company with other British cruisers.
  15. L’Esperance.
  16. Le Sorcier.
  17. at p. 536 of our first volume
  18. The Gores are distantly related to the noble Irish family of Arran.
  19. For an account of the proceedings at Toulon, see pp. 46, 60, 294, &c.
  20. See p. 251.
  21. See pp. 340 and 254.
  22. The Argo 44, and Juno frigate, had previously parted company. See p. 486.
  23. See Rear-Admiral James Young.
  24. The attempt upon the enemy’s flotilla in the mouth of Boulogne harbour, was made by the boats of Lord Nelson’s squadron in five divisions, under Captains Somerville, Parker, Cotgrave, Jones, and Conn. A previous attack had taught the French the weak parts of their position; and they omitted no means of strengthening it, and of guarding against the expected assault. The boats shoved off from the Medusa about 11h 30’ P.M.; but owing to the darkness, and tide and half-tide, which must always make night attacks so uncertain on the coasts of the Channel, the divisions separated. One could not arrive at all; another not till near day-break. The others went to work in the most gallant manner; but the enemy were fully prepared; every vessel was defended by long poles, headed with iron spikes, projecting from their sides; strong nettings were triced up to their lower yards; they were moored by the bottom to the shore, and chained one to another; they were strongly manned with soldiers, and protected by land batteries, and the shore was lined with troops. Many were taken possession of; and, though they could not have been brought out, would have been burnt, had not the French resorted to a mode of offence which they have often used, but which no other people have ever been wicked enough to employ. The moment the firing ceased ou board one of their own vessels, they fired upon it from the shore, perfectly regardless of their own men. The French official account boasted of the victory. “The combat,” it said, “took place in sight of both countries; it was the first of the kind, and the historian woidd have cause to make this remark.” They guessed our loss at 400 or 500 men: it amounted to 44 killed and 138 wounded.
  25. See p. 536.