Royal Naval Biography/Gosling, George

[Post-Captain of 1825.]

Was born in London, Mar. 30th, 1790; and entered the royal navy as midshipman, on board the Ganges 74, Captain (afterwards Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas F.) Fremantle, in Aug. 1800. About eight months after this he witnessed one of the most bloody conflicts on record, the Ganges being attached to the division under Lord Nelson at the attack and destruction of the Danish line of defence before Copenhagen, April 2d, 1801[1]. She was afterwards successively employed in the Baltic, Channel, and West Indies.

Early in 1802, Mr. Gosling joined the Robust 74, Captain William Henry Jervis, at Jamaica; from whence he returned home, and was paid off at Portsmouth, in the month of July. On the 5th of Nov. in the same year, he was received on board the Driver sloop, Captain Francis William Fane, with whom he served until the renewal of hostilities, in May, 1803. Me was then removed to the Ville de Paris 110, Captain (now Sir Tristram K.) Ricketts; and subsequently to the Magnificent 74, commanded by his friend Captain Jervis.

The Magnificent was at first employed in cruising off the S.W. coast of Ireland, and on her return from thence to the Channel fleet, Captain Jervis was appointed senior officer of the inshore squadron off Brest, which honorable post he held until his ship was wrecked on a sunken rock near the Saintes, Mar. 25th, 1804. On this occasion, all private property was lost, and about seventy or eighty of the Magnificent’s crew had the misfortune to be taken prisoners.

In May, 1804, Mr. Gosling rejoined Captain Jervis, who was then about to assume the command of the Tonnant 80, stationed off Ferrol. During a subsequent cruise in the Bay of Biscay, this ship had her main-mast much damaged, one man killed, and ten persons severely injured by lightning. On the 26th of Jan. 1805, she joined the Channel fleet with despatches from Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Graves, relative to the escape of the Rochefort squadron, and Captain Jervis was unfortunately drowned, by the upsetting of a boat, while proceeding to the flag-ship. A memoir of this officer will be found in the Naval Chronicle, Vol. XX.

About Mar. 1805, Mr. Gosling, who had thus been deprived of the friend of his early youth, was removed from the Tonnant, then commanded by Captain Charles Tyler, to the Blenheim 74, bearing the flag of Sir Thomas Troubridge, whom he accompanied to the East India station, and whose melancholy fate he escaped sharing, by being placed on board the Fox frigate, Captain the Hon. Archibald Cochrane, to prevent his remaining idle while the Blenheim was under-going repair at Pulo-Penang, after getting aground on a sand at the entrance of the Straits of Malacca, where she sustained the serious damages which led to her supposed ingulphment, near the island of Rodrigues, in Feb. 1807[2].

In consequence of this disastrous event, Mr. Gosling returned home in the Concorde frigate, Captain John Cramer (now Sir Josiah Coghill); and on that ship being paid off, in Sept. 1807, he was turned over to the York 74, Captain Robert Barton, under whom he served as master’s-mate and acting lieutenant for a period of nearly two years.

The York assisted at the occupation of Madeira, by the forces under Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and Major-General Beresford, in Dec. 1807; and at the reduction of Martinique, by an expedition under Lieutenant-General Beck with and Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, in Feb. 1809[3]. On the latter occasion, Mr. Gosling, from his knowledge of the French language, was employed as aide-de-camp to Captain Barton, who commanded a detachment of 400 men, employed in dragging guns, mortars, and howitzers up to Mount Sourier, from the eastern side of Fort Edward, – “a service of the utmost labour and difficulty, owing to the heavy rains and deepness of the roads[4].” Mr. Gosling also commanded the York’s launch, employed under Commodore, (now Sir George) Cockburn, in landing and mounting heavy ordnance at the back of Pigeon Island, previous to the surrender of Fort Royal. For these services, he was rewarded with an appointment to act as lieutenant of the York, March 14th, 1809. In the following month, he assisted at the reduction of the Saintes, near Guadaloupe; and witnessed the capture of d’Hautpoult, a new French 74[5].

Mr. Gosling subsequently exchanged into the Jewel frigate. Captain the Hon. James W. King; and from her into the Ethalion, Captain (now Sir Thomas J.) Cochrane, which ship was paid off about Aug. 1810. His first commission bears date, Sept. 27th, 1809.

We next find the subject of this memoir serving as flag-lieutenant to Rear-Admiral Fremantle, on the Mediterranean station, where he arrived with that officer in the Fortunée frigate, and successively removed with him to the Ville de Paris, Rodney, and Milford, which latter ship be left in order to join the Havannah frigate. Captain the Hon. George Cadogan, June 26th, 1813.

Among other services performed by Rear-Admiral Fremantle, was that of obtaining the liberation of 400 Christian slaves at Tunis. After cruising for some time off Toulon, he was appointed to the command of a squadron employed in the Adriatic, where he continued till the whole of the French, posts in Dalmatia, Croatia, Istria, and the Frioul, with all the islands in that quarter, were surrendered to the British and Austrian forces. During this busy period, Lieutenant Gosling was not idle.

Before he left the Milford, he assisted at the capture and destruction of several French vessels. On the day after his removal to the Havannah, he gallantly seconded Lieutenant (now Commander) William Hamley, in a successful attack on ten others, armed, laden with oil, and lying aground under the batteries of Vasto, from which the enemy were driven with the loss of six men killed and seven wounded. Three weeks afterwards, he assisted at the capture of a Neapolitan convoy, under a martello tower, on the N.W. coast of Manfredonia, consisting of two heavy gunboats, one armed pinnace, and four trabacolos, the latter mounting three guns each. He subsequently commanded a detachment of boats employed in exciting a spirit of revolt against the enemy, among the inhabitants of the different islands. After the capture of Sagna, we find him despatched, in an open boat, to the squadron off Fiume, and, on his way thither, encountering a violent bora, or N.E. gale. From thence he followed Rear-Admiral Fremantle to the Brioni Islands, and, having communicated the intelligence with which he was charged, returned to his ship some time previous to the reduction of Zara, a fortress mounting 110 guns, besides mortars and howitzers, and defended by 2000 veteran troops, under the command of Baron Roisé, an experienced French General. The detail of this most important service, by the accomplishment of which the allies obtained complete possession of Dalmatia, will be given in our memoir of Commander Hamley.

The conjunct operations in the Adriatic being at length successfully concluded, and the European war nearly at an end. Lieutenant Gosling exchanged into the Apollo frigate, and shortly afterwards returned to England. In Nov. 1814, he sailed for Barbadoes, as passenger on board the Swiftsure 74, Captain William Henry Webley, and there joined the flag-ship of Sir Philip C. Durham, by whom he was promoted to the command of the Muros sloop, April 25th, 1815.

During the subsequent operations against Guadaloupe, Captain Gosling appears to have been employed in covering the debarkation of some troops near Baillif, in the face of a very large force; and on the following day (Aug. 10th, 1815) he ran into Ance la Barque, anchored within grape range of the shore, and succeeded in bringing out a large merchant ship and a sloop, the former mounting two 6-pounders, and both commanded by Buonapartists.

His next appointment was, July 15th, 1818, to the Ontario sloop, fitting out for the Jamaica station. On the 17th of Dec. 1819, being then on a cruise off Cuba, he drove ashore and captured, after a long and anxious chase amongst the Colorados, a piratical schooner, formerly the Veloy, of Jamaica; and retook a French merchant brig, from Marseilles bound to the Havannah, the cargo of which had been thrown overboard in order to make room for the more valuable plunder taken from two other prizes. One of these, a brig belonging to Bremen, was also rescued from the hands of the miscreants by Captain Gosling ; but the other, a Spanish trading schooner, whose crew they had deliberately massacred, upset while endeavouring to get round the above shoals, and all on board perished. In obtaining possession of the French vessel, Lieutenant Whitworth Lloyd, who commanded the boats despatched for that purpose, and two of his men, were wounded; the officers employed under his orders were Lieutenant William Maxwell and Mr. Henry Gosling, admiralty midshipmen, who succeeded in capturing sixteen of the piratical gang.

In June, 1820, Captain Gosling was obliged to get invalided, and come home for the recovery of his health. On the 4th of Oct. 1813, he was appointed to the Harrier 18, fitting out for the Irish station, where, in company with the Pelorus sloop, he captured a smuggling lugger, about the beginning of Oct. 1824. His promotion to the rank of captain took place Aug. 16th, 1825.

This officer married, Nov. 20th, 1821[errata 1], Felicia Jane, fourth daughter of the Rev. Charles Johnson, a Prebendary of Wells, Rector of South Stoke, near Bath, and Vicar of South Brent and Berrow, co. Somerset; granddaughter of the late Archdeacon Willes, of Bath and Wells; sister to Commander John S.W. Johnson, R.N.; and niece to the lady of Admiral Sir Davidge Gould, K.C.B.

Agents.– Messrs. Maude and Co.


[Captain of 1825.]

This officer, while serving as lieutenant of the Havannah frigate[6], was, from his knowledge of the French language, often employed in conveying flags of truce to Brindisi, &c. &c. and always acquitted himself to the perfect satisfaction of his: superiors. The merchant ship and sloop mentioned in p. 277 of Vol. III. Part I. were captured two days previous to the landing of the British troops near Baillif, in the island of Guadaloupe. In speaking of the capture of the piratical schooner Veloy, we have stated that sixteen of her crew were secured; whereas the number taken prisoners amounted to eighteen, one of whom, the boatswain, was hung at Jamaica, it having been proved that he was the man who fired the gun which wounded Lieutenant Lloyd. An act of parliament was afterwards passed, granting head-money for all pirates captured subsequent to January 1st, 1820: but the officers and ship’s company of the Ontario were refused any compensation by the Lords of the Treasury, because they had broken the ice, by taking the Veloy, on the 17th December, 1819. Captain Gosling married Miss Felicia June Johnson, on the 20th Nov. 1821; not in the year 1822, as is stated at the conclusion of his memoir in Vol. III. Part I.

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