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Royal Naval Biography/Graham, Philip


Son of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Graham, R.M.; nephew to the late Hamilton Gorges, Esq. M.P. for county of Meath; and first cousin to the Marchioness of Thomond; by the daughter of the late Captain Philip Walsh, R.N., and grand-niece to the learned Dr. Vernon, first rector of Bloomsbury.

This officer was born at Stonehouse, co. Devon; and first went to sea in the Rambler sloop, Captain Thomas Innes, on the renewal of the war with France, in 1803. He afterwards served in the Uranie frigate, Captain the Hon. Charles Herbert, and Prince of Wales 98, successively bearing the flags of Sir Edward Thornbrough, Sir James (now Lord De) Saumarez, and the late Lord Gambier, which latter officer he followed into the Ville de Paris and Caledonia, first rates, subsequent to the bombardment of Copenhagen, in 1807.

After witnessing the destruction of some French ships of war, near l’Isle d’Aix, April 1809, Mr. Graham passed his examination, and proceeded as a volunteer to the river Scheldt, where he commanded a gun-boat during the occupation of Walcheren. On his return from that severe service, he was ordered to Lisbon, and there promoted to the command of the Triton hospital ship, by commission dated April 14th, 1810. Disliking so inactive a situation, he soon got removed into the Zealous 74, Captain Thomas Boys, and in the autumn of that year, was sent as a volunteer, in the command of several armed boats, to co-operate with the British troops at Alhandra, where he arrived the evening on which Wellington first occupied the famous lines of Torres Vedra, from which period he was very actively employed under the orders of Lieutenant (now Captain) Maurice V. F. Berkeley, until after Massena’s retreat to Santarem.

The Zealous was next employed in cruising off the Azores: and afterwards on the North Sea and Baltic stations. In Jan. 1813, we find Mr. Graham retiring on half-pay for the purpose of attending to his private affairs. His subsequent appointments were, July 13th, 1813, to the Blenheim 74, Captain Samuel Warren, under whom he served us second lieutenant in the North Sea and Mediterranean, for upwards of twelve months:– Aug. 27th, 1814, to the Namur 74, flag-ship of Sir Thomas Williams, at the Great Nore:– Oct. 29th, 1814, to he first of the Comus 22, Captain John Tailour, fitting out for the African station, where he assisted in capturing, after a determined resistance, seven Spanish and Portuguese slavers:– lastly, Sept. 14th, 1818, to the Severn frigate, Captain William M‘Culloch, under whom he was actively employed in the suppression of smuggling, on the Kentish coast, until May 1825; when he was sent to the King’s bench prison, for four calendar months, by judgment of the Court, for offering a challenge to Robert Earl of Harborough: during his confinement, the Lords of the Admiralty were pleased to honor him with promotion to the rank of commander, by commission dated July 29th, 1825. Some time previous thereto, a smuggler, named Alexander John Spence, was executed at Dover, for attempting to shoot him while in the execution of his duty. 1830, the Royal Institution for Preserving Lives from Shipwreck, transmitted him their gold medallion for his gallant and humane exertions in rescuing the master and part of the crew of the brig Mountaineer, wrecked near Deal, on her voyage from the Cape to London, when a pilot and three other persons were unfortunately drowned.

Commander Graham’s only brother, Fortescue, is a first lieutenant in the royal marines, and adjutant of the Plymouth division.