Royal Naval Biography/Hancock, John
JOHN HANCOCK. Esq.
A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1806.]
This officer was born in 1766, and commenced his naval career at an early period of life, having embarked as a Midshipman on board the Vigilant 64, commanded by Captain (afterwards Sir Robert) Kingsmill, July 1st, 1778; from which period he appears to have been engaged in a constant series of very active services until the termination of hostilities with America, France, &c. in 1783. When only fifteen years of age, he saved the life of a young lad by jumping overboard and keeping him above water until a boat could be sent to his assistance.
The Vigilant formed part of Admiral Keppel’s fleet, and was one of the ships principally engaged in the action off Ushant, July 27th, 1778. She afterwards proceeded to the West Indies, under the command of the late Sir Digby Dent, and bore a share in the conflict between Byron and d’Estaing, off Grenada, July 6, 1779; as also in the whole of Rodney’s actions with the Count de Guichen, in April and May, 1780. From the Vigilant, Mr. Hancock removed with Captain Dent into the Royal Oak 74; and we subsequently find him serving as a Master’s-Mate, on board the Europe 64, commanded by Captain Smith Child, in the actions off the Chesapeake, Mar. 16, and Sept. 5, 1781. On the former occasion he had his left leg broke at the ancle joint, and his right leg dreadfully contused by a splinter: the Europe’s total loss is stated by Schomberg to have been 17 killed and 28 wounded.
Mr. Hancock next joined the Goliath 74, which ship had the honor of leading the van division of Lord Howe’s fleet at the relief of Gibraltar, and sustained a loss of 4 men killed and 16 wounded in the skirmish off Cape Spartel, October 20, 1782.
The Goliath being paid off at the conclusion of the war, Mr. Hancock was again received by his first Captain as a Midshipman on board the Elizabeth 74, from which ship he removed into the Phaeton frigate, commanded by the late Sir John Colpoys, with whom, and his successor. Captain George Dawson, he served on the Mediterranean station, until the autumn of 1787.
Having then no prospect of promotion, although he had passed his examination cwo years before, Mr. Hancock resolved to quit the service; and he accordingly remained on shore from that period until May 1790, when the dispute with Spain, relative to Nootka Sounds revived his hopes and induced him to join Captain Colpoys in the Hannibal 74; want of interest, however, prevented him from being included in the very large promotion that took place in Nov. following, and determined him to retire for ever from a profession which he had embraced with ardour, and never ceased to adore.
Notwithstanding this last cruel disappointment, and his resolve never to embark again, it fortunately happened that some of Mr. Hancock’s friends had sufficient influence to prevail upon him to accompany them to Portsmouth for the purpose of seeing the French republican prizes, brought thither by Earl Howe’s fleet; as on the sight of those splendid trophies he could not resist the temptation of making another effort to obtain advancement, by re-entering on board the Royal George, a first rate, bearing the flag of Lord Bridport, from which ship he was at length promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Oct. 24, 1794.
On this occasion, Mr. Hancock had the good fortune to be appointed third Lieutenant of the Aquilon frigate, commanded by that excellent officer Captain (now Sir Robert) Barlow, whose plans and regulations for the internal government of a King’s ship were then universally admired, and to whom many distinguished characters have been indebted for the chief of their professional knowledge.
In the Aquilon, Mr. Hancock was present at the capture of three French line-of-battle ships, by the fleet under Lord Bridport, June 23, 1795; and in the ensuing winter he was applied for by Captain Barlow to be his first Lieutenant in the Phoebe, a convincing proof that his talents were viewed in no common light by that discerning commander, to whom his general conduct must also have given great satisfaction. The Admiralty, however, did not think proper to break through a regulation then in force, by which no officer under three years standing was considered eligible to be appointed senior Lieutenant of an 18-pounder frigate, although he was allowed to become first of the Aquilon, two other gentlemen being appointed to her who were both his juniors in rank.
Captain Barlow was succeeded in the command of the Aquilon by Captain W. E. Cracraft, with whom Lieutenant Hancock continued to serve until the summer of 1798, when he exchanged into the Valiant, a third rate, on the Jamaica station. Previous to her proceeding thither, the Aquilon had a skirmish with four French gun-boats, which, taking advantage of a calm, had rowed out from under the land near Harfleur, and having long 24-pounders were enabled to annoy her very considerably, as they fired with such extraordinary precision that every shut took effect either in the hull, the masts, or the rigging: fortunately, although much cut up, she had only one man killed, and a midshipman severely wounded.
Whilst in the Valiant, Lieutenant Hancock assisted at the capture of la Petite Magicienne, a very fine French ship privateer, carrying 20 guns and 120 men, 3 of whom being recognized by him as deserters from the Aquilon, and found in arms against their country, were afterwards tried and executed. The first batch of the Hermione’s mutineers, 5 in number, was also found on board the same vessel, one of whom was admitted as King’s evidence; the others were hanged, and subsequently gibbeted on a prominent part of St. Domingo. Previous to the final evacuation of that island by the British, Lieutenant Hancock volunteered to assist in dislodging a considerable body of brigands, who had established themselves at Jean Rabel, from whence by means of small vessels and row boats, they daily committed depredations against merchantmen of every description.
To effect this essential service, it had been arranged that a detachment from the army at Cape Nichola Mole should storm the principal fort, which from its situation commanded the bay and adjacent country, whilst the boats of the Valiant and other ships were to make a simultaneous attack upon the batteries near the sea. The military part of the expedition to be commanded by Colonel (now Sir William) Stewart, and the naval portion by Captain John White, of the Adventure 44.
On approaching the enemy’s position, a division of boats was placed under the command of Lieutenant Hancock, who received directions to land and attack the batteries on the beach as soon as the troops showed themselves on the eminence near the fort; and so admirably was the whole affair conducted, that the blacks were driven from every post with great slaughter, but not until they had made a most desperate resistance.
In the course of the same day, whilst the British were employed blowing up the fort and batteries, destroying the guns, burning the carriages, and bringing away the plundered articles, a formidable body of brigands assembled under the cover of a thick wood, and endeavoured to regain possession of the beach; but were prevented by the judicious conduct of Lieutenant Hancock, who placed the launches with carronades in so masterly a manner as to secure the embarkation of the troops and stores, which would otherwise have been a service of very great hazard and difficulty. Upwards of 10,000 barrels of beef, pork, and flour, which had been taken out of English victuallers bound to Cape Nichola Mole, formed part of the valuable property re-captured on this occasion. The loss sustained by the British appears to have been very small, considering the nature of the attack, and the circumstances under which they effected their retreat: it did not exceed 20 men killed and wounded.
On the following morning. Lieutenant Hancock had the gratification of finding that Colonel Stewart and Captain White had made a most favorable report of his gallant and able conduct to the commander-in-chief, Sir Hyde Parker, under whom he had served as midshipman in the Goliath, and whose lasting friendship he had now the good fortune to obtain.
In Oct. 1798, a vacancy occurring on board the flagship, Lieutenant Hancock was removed into her, agreeably to a promise which Sir Hyde had made immediately after the brilliant exploit at Jean Rabel; but it unluckily happened that that officer was recalled from the Jamaica station without having an opportunity of promoting him according to his expressed intention.
Mr. Hancock had not been long in the Queen before he became first Lieutenant; and it was principally through his exertions that she was brought to Port Royal in safety, after grounding on a shoal called the Three Fathom Bank, where she remained beating with great violence for 72 hours. It is scarcely necessary to add, that the preservation of such a ship from destruction must ever be considered a service of the highest importance, and as such it was viewed by Sir Hyde Parker and his Captain, both of whom expressed the most perfect approbation of Mr. Hancock’s meritorious conduct on this trying occasion.
Sir Hyde Parker was relieved by Lord Hugh Seymour, in August 1800; and from that period we find Mr. Hancock serving as his first Lieutenant in the Trent, Royal George, and London, until promoted to the rank of Commander, April 2, 1801. We should here remark, that those ships were severally commanded by the present Sir Robert Waller Otway, than whom no officer was ever more capable of rightly appreciating professional merit, and that he was pleased to bestow the warmest encomiums upon Lieutenant Hancock for the expeditious manner in which the London was got ready to act against the Northern Confederacy, he himself being absent on Admiralty leave during the greater part of the time that she was in the course of equipment.
At the celebrated battle of Copenhagen, Lieutenant Hancock was honored with the command of more than one hundred and fifty flat-bottomed and other boats, containing nearly 2000 seamen and troops, who were intended to storm the Trekroner battery the instant that the cannonade from the ships should silence its fire; a most striking evidence of the great confidence reposed in him by the Admiral, who had previously appointed one of the ablest captains in his fleet to conduct that service.
Lieutenant Hancock left the London with orders “to keep as near to the Elephant as possible, but out of the line of fire, and to be ready to receive the directions of Lord Nelson.” To obey both these orders was quite impossible, as the enemy’s shot fell more than a mile outside of the British line: he therefore directed all the boats to row towards the ships engaged, and keep on their off sides, where they remained with only room to use their oars until the Danish floating batteries had ceased to make resistance. Lieutenant Hancock, who had led in and taken his station abreast of the Elephant, was then called on board by Nelson, who ordered him to select a sufficient number of boats and hasten to take possession of the ships that had surrendered; which service was performed under a tremendous fire from the Trekroner battery, but happily without any serious loss.
On this occasion, the London’s barge, under the immediate command of her first Lieutenant, and a flat-bottomed boat containing part of the 49th regiment, boarded the Holstein of 60 guns, from which ship the Danish commander-in-chief had recently retreated to the Trekroner, but not before he had caused all her guns on the inshore side to be spiked, and thus prevented the British from using them against that battery, which otherwise would have been soon cleared, as it was quite open (en barbette), and the Holstein not more than 200 yards distant.
Finding that the enemy were about to cannonade the prize, Lieutenant Hancock immediately directed the whole of his prisoners to be ranged three deep along the gangways and quarter-deck, that being the only method by which he could hope to save the lives of his own people; and fortunately it proved successful, as the Danes on shore, seeing their countrymen so exposed, were thereby deterred from firing more than a single shot or two, which passed over her and consequently did no damage.
At the conclusion of the battle Lieutenant Hancock received directions to burn the Holstein; but observing that she was a new ship, and that most of her sails, rigging, and stores were on board, he ventured to disobey those orders by taking upon himself the responsibility of towing her out to the commander-in-chief, near whom he anchored by daylight the following morning.
This valuable piece of service does not appear to have been properly appreciated, as no official report of it was made, either by Sir Hyde Parker or Lord Nelson: the former does not even mention the boats in his public letter, and the latter only speaks of them in terms of general approbation. Lieutenant Hancock, however, was perfectly well satisfied when he found himself promoted to the rank of Commander, and appointed to succeed Captain (now Sir James) Brisbane, in the Cruiser, a fine brig mounting 16 thirty-two pounder carronades, and 2 long sixes, with a complement of 120 men.
The desultory kind of service in which the Cruiser was employed between April 1801, and June 1803, did not afford Captain Hancock any opportunity of particularly distinguishing himself. On the 14th of the latter month he assisted at the capture of two French armed vessels, as will be seen by the following official letter:–
“Immortalité, off Calais, June, 14, 1803.
Sir,– I this morning, in company with the Jalouse and Cruiser sloops, chased two French gun vessels on shore, on the east part of Cape Blanc Nez, and with the flood tide, ordered the two sloops to anchor, and endeavour to destroy or bring them off; sending our boats to assist in so doing. I am happy to inform you, that, after about an hour’s firing from them and the batteries, they were silenced, and taken possession of by the boats, under a heavy fire of musketry from the cliffs, by which Mr. Charles Adams, Mate of the Jalouse, has been badly wounded. They prove to be l’Inabordable schooner, and la Commode brig, each carrying three 24 pounders and one 18 pounder, and appear very fine vessels. I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“E. W. C. R. Owen.”
“To Rear-Admiral Montagu.”
We next find Captain Hancock serving under the orders of Sir W. Sidney Smith, and having a brush with thirteen armed vessels, full of troops, which had come out of Flushing, apparently with an intention of carrying his brig by boarding, she then being moored off Blankenberg, in company with the Rattler sloop of war, commanded by Captain Francis Mason. When reporting his proceedings to the Commodore, he says, “I have to regret, from the shoal water, it was not in our power to close with the enemy, but am happy to add, that we have sustained no loss, although we continued the pursuit until both the shot and shells from the batteries at Ostend went over us, and no prospect remained of our making any further impression on them.”
This skirmish took place in March 1804, at which period the ports of Flushing, Helvoetsluys, and Ostend, were narrowly watched by a British force under the command of Sir W. Sidney Smith, whose broad pendant was then flying on board the Antelope of 50 guns; and whose accustomed anchorage was in the Stone Deep, about six leagues from the first named port, and at a still greater distance from Ostend. Off the latter harbour, Captain Hancock was stationed with the Rattler under his orders; and l’Aimable frigate was placed at an intermediate anchorage to repeat his signals to the Commodore, whose orders were either conveyed through the same medium, or by means of small vessels, commanded by Lieutenants. To facilitate the communication of Captain Hancock’s observations, and the Commodore’s directions, flags of an extraordinary size were used instead of the customary signals, which flags expressed their import, not by colour, but by number And position. We have been thus minute, in consequence of the obscure manner in which the following official report of the first general action is worded:
“Antelope, of Ostend, May 17, 1804.
“My Lord,– Information from all quarters, and the evident state of readiness in which the enemy’s armaments were in Helvoet, Flushing, and Ostend, indicating the probability of a general movement from those ports, I reinforced Captain Manby, off Helvoet, with one ship, and directed Captain Hancock of the Cruiser, stationed in shore, to combine his operations and the Rattler’s with the squadron of gun brigs stationed off Ostend.
“The Antelope, Penelope, and Aimable, occupied a centrical position in sight both of Flushing and Ostend, in anxious expectation of the enemy’s appearance. Yesterday, at half-past 5 A.M., I received information from Captain Hancock, then off Ostend, that the enemy’s flotilla was hauling out of that pier, and that twenty-one one-masted vessels and one schooner were already outside in the roads. At half-past 7 the same morning, I had the satisfaction to see the Flushing flotilla, of fifty-nine sail, viz. two ship-rigged praams, nineteen schooners, and thirty-eight schuyts, steering along shore from that port towards Ostend, under circumstances which allowed me to hope I should be able to bring them to action. The signal was made to the Cruiser and Rattler for an enemy in the E.S.E., to call their attention from Ostend: the squadron weighed the moment the flood made and allowed of the heavier ships following them over the banks; the signals to chase and engage were obeyed with alacrity, spirit, and judgment, by the active and experienced officers your Lordship has done me the honor to place under my orders. Captains Hancock and Mason attacked this formidable line with the greatest gallantry and address, attaching themselves particularly to the two praams, both of them of greater, force than themselves, independent of the cross fire from the schooners and schuyts: I sent the Aimable by signal to support them. The Penelope having an able pilot, on signal being made to engage. Captain Broughton worked up to the centre of the enemy’s line, as near as the shoal water would allow, while the Antelope went round the Stroom sand to cut the van off from Ostend. Unfortunately our gun-brigs were not in sight, having, as I have understood since, devoted their attention to preventing the Ostend division from moving westward.
“The enemy attempted to get back to Flushing; but being harrassed by the Cruiser and Rattler, and the wind coming more easterly against them, they were obliged to run the gauntlet to the westward, keeping close to the beach, under the protection of the batteries.
“Having found a passage for the Antelope within the Stroom sand, she was enabled to bring her broadside to bear on the headmost schooners, before they got the length of Ostend. The leader struck immediately, and her crew deserted her: she was, however, recovered by the followers. The artillery from the town and camp, and the rowing gunboats from the pier, kept up a constant and well directed fire for their support: our shot, however, which went over the schooners, going ashore among the horse-artillery, interrupted it in a degree; but still it was from the shore we received the greatest annoyance: for the schooners and schuyts crowding along could not bring their prow-guns to bear, without altering their course towards us, which they could not venture; and their side-guns, though numerous and well-served, were very light. In this manner the Penelope and Antelope engaged every part of their long line from 4 till 8 o’clock, while the Aimable, Cruiser, and Rattler, continued to press their rear. Since 2 P.M., the stem-most praam struck her colours and ran on shore; but the artillery-men from the army got on board, and she renewed her fire on the Aimable with the precision of a land battery, from which that ship suffered much: Captain Bolton speaks much in praise of Lieutenant (William) Mather, who is wounded.
Several of the schooners and schuyts immediately under the fire of the ships were driven on shore in like manner, and recovered by the army. At 8, the tide falling, and leaving us in little more water than we drew, we were reluctantly obliged to haul off into deeper water to keep afloat; and the enemy’s vessels that were not on shore, or too nmch shattered, were thus able to reach Ostend.
“I have to regret, that, from the depth of water in which these vessels move, gun-brigs alone can act against them with effect. Four have joined me, and I have sent them in to see what they can do with the praam that is on shore. I have great satisfaction in bearing testimony to your Lordship of the gallant and steady conduct of the captains, commanders, officers, seamen, and marines, under my orders. Captains Hancock and Mason bore the brunt of the attack, and continued it for six hours against a great superiority of fire, particularly from the army on shore, the howitzer-shells annoying them much. These officers deserve the highest praise I can give them. They speak of the conduct of their lieutenants, officers, and crews in terms of warm panegyric. Messrs. Budd and Dalyell, from the Antelope, acted in the absence of two Lieutenants belonging to the Cruiser and Rattler. Lieutenants Garrety and Patful, commanding the Favourite and Stag, cutters, did their best with their small guns against greater numbers of greater calibre. * * * * * *
“I could not detach open boats into the enemy’s line to pick up those vessels which had struck, and were deserted, mixed as they were with those still firing. Captain Hancock sent me one schuyt that had hauled out of the line and surrendered. She had a Lieutenant and 23 soldiers of the 48th regiment, with 5 Dutch seamen on board. She is so useful here I cannot part with her yet. Enclosed is a list of our loss, which, though great, is less than might have been expected, owing to the enemy directing their fire at our masts. The Rattler and the Cruiser have of course suffered most in the latter respect, but are nearly ready for service again. The smoke would not allow us to see the effect of our shot on the enemy; but their loss, considering the number of them so long under our guns, must be great in proportion. We see the mast-heads above water of three of the schooners and one of the schuyts which were sunk. I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“W. Sidney Smith.”
“Right Hon. Lord Keith, K.B.”
Two attempts to destroy la Ville-d’Anvers and the other grounded vessels were afterwards made by part of Sir W. Sidney Smith’s squadron, under the able directions of Captain Hancock, assisted by Captain Mason. In the first attempt, the Minx gun-brig had her Master and 5 seamen very much hurt by an accident on board that vessel; in the second, the Antelope’s launch upset alongside the Cruiser, and 5 brave fellows met with a watery grave.
From the notes which we have appended to Sir W. Sidney Smith’s official letter, it will be seen that the Cruiser and Rattler most gallantly attacked the enemy’s flotilla, about two hours and a half before any other British ship could get near enough to take the least share in the action; and we are moreover of opinion, that if the division of gun-brigs under Lieutenant Manderston, had formed a junction with those two sloops, according to Captain Hancock’s signal, the enemy would have been completely defeated, and many of their vessels captured, long before l’Aimable, &c. could cross or round the sands. The prisoners taken on this occasion reported that the Flushing flotilla alone carried no less than 76 long 32-pounders, 24 long twenty-fours, 39 long eighteens, 230 brass carronades and light guns, 85 howitzers, and upwards of 3000 men, principally soldiers.
A few days after the very gallant affair off Ostend, the late Viscount Melville addressed a letter to Captains Hancock and Mason, from which we make the following extract:
“The zeal and promptitude with which you made the attack on that numerous and formidable armament, and the gallantry with which you maintained the action against such superior force, have been represented in such a manner by Commodore Sir Sidney Smith, as to entitle you to my perfect approbation and most favourable consideration; and you may rest assured, that when a proper opportunity offers, your meritorious conduct shall not escape my recollection. I am, with much esteem. Gentlemen, &c.
“To Captain Hancock and Captain Mason.”
Unfortunately for those zealous and gallant officers, the noble Viscount shortly afterwards went out of office, and they were consequently obliged to establish additional claims to the “favourable consideration” of the Admiralty, before they could obtain promotion.
In October 1804, we find Captain Hancock employed as senior officer off Ostend, where he had a general action with a division of French flotilla, as appears by his official report to Lord Keith, dated on the 24th of that month.
“I beg to acquaint your Lordship, that part of the enemy’s flotilla, consisting of two praams, one hearing the flag of a Chief-of-Division, and both under French colours, with 18 schuyts, put to sea yesterday afternoon from Ostend, to run to the westward, just at the moment H.M. sloop under my command, with the gun-brigs and cutters named in the margin, were standing in to reconnoitre that port.
“As soon as I could give the necessary directions to the gun-brigs, &c. I made sail in pursuit of the headmost praam, which I brought to close action at 5-15 P.M., in which I was very handsomely supported by the gun-brigs and cutters, and continued it with great apparent effect till 6-35, the enemy’s fire being entirely silenced, and for the last half hour he only kept up a faint fire of musketry. The tide was, however, falling so rapidly, and the enemy kept in such shoal water, that it was not possible to close with him, to take that advantage which, by our fire, we had so manifestly over him. It falling also dark, and being in less than three fathoms water, I considered it proper to haul off and anchor, having no person on board acquainted with the shoals to the westward of Ostend.
“It is with extreme concern I acquaint your Lordship, that in Lieutenant Ormsby’s gallant zeal to close with the enemy, agreeably to my orders, the Conflict took the ground, and the tide left her so rapidly, that every endeavour he used to get her afloat was unsuccessful, and he was therefore under the necessity of quitting her with his people. The darkness that came on before the close of the action, prevented me from being aware of this unfortunate accident till Lieutenant Ormsby came on board the Cruiser, after we had anchored.”
In this action, and whilst making an attempt to recover the Conflict, Captain Hancock’s little squadron sustained a loss of 1 man killed, and 1 officer and 10 men wounded: none of the gun-brigs or cutters suffered in their masts, &c, nor did the Cruiser receive any material injury, except in her sails and rigging. We shall only add, that Lord Keith, in a letter to Captain Hancock, dated Oct. 28, 1804, expressed himself pleased with his zealous and active exertions, and regretted that they had not been attended with the success which they deserved.
In 1805, Captain Hancock was constantly emplayed as senior officer off Flushing and Ostend. During that and the preceding year, he was no less than 104 times in action, either with the enemy’s flotilla or land batteries; and so great was his zeal in checking the movements of the former, and in cutting off neutral vessels when attempting to break the strict blockade which he was ordered to maintain, that the approbation of the Admiralty, and of the different flag-officers under whom he served, was frequently expressed to him in very flattering terms: strange, however, as it may appear, although he received the thanks of many corporate and mercantile bodies for “ridding the seas of the most daring and successful plunderer that ever appeared on the British coast during the close of the last, and beginning of the present century;” also for his general activity in taking privateers, and rescuing British property to an immense amount, he never received the value of a tea-spoon from , or any other commercial association:– thanks he certainly received in abundance, but always at the expense of postage. The wind-up of his services as a Commander now requires our notice.
In January, 1806, a vast number of smuggling vessels had collected at Flushing and the adjacent ports, waiting for a change of wind, which had been for some time blowing very hard from the N.W. Knowing that such was the case, Captain Hancock took measures for intercepting some of those illicit traders; and, at day-light on the 28th, the wind having come round to the S.E., he had the gratification to see at least 60 cutters and luggers coming out of the different harbours. Aware of the inutility of chasing them whilst they continued between him and the shore, he contrived, by disguising the Cruiser, and keeping an American flag flying, as if in want of a pilot, to decoy several of them outside of him. Having done this, and succeeded in capturing one large cutter, which was immediately manned as a tender, he bore up, and followed the course that he supposed the smugglers would steer all night, and the event fully answered his expectations. At day-break on the following morning, six or seven sail were discovered close to the Cruiser; and, although very unusual at that season of the year, the weather was then perfectly calm, in which state it continued until four large luggers and a cutter were secured by his boats, the smugglers having deserted their vessels, and rowed off with all possible expedition. In the mean time the tender, under the command of Lieutenant John Pearse, captured two other fine luggers, each having on board 1000 tubs of geneva, rum, &c. The whole of the cargoes taken consisted of more than 20,000 gallons of spirits, together with a large quantity of tobacco, and various other contraband goods, to a very considerable amount. This seizure, we believe, was the largest ever made at one time; and it certainly was by far the severest blow the smugglers had received during the war.
The protection thus afforded to the revenue would no doubt have secured Captain Hancock’s advancement to post rank; but singular as it may appear, he had been included in the grand Trafalgar promotion, which took place only seven days before he made this very valuable and important capture, and of which he was at that time ignorant. He was consequently superseded in the command of the Cruiser, immediately on his arrival in port with the prizes.
From this period. Captain Hancock remained on shore until Aug. 1807, when he embarked, with the permission of the Admiralty, as a volunteer on board the Agamemnon 64, forming part of the grand armament then preparing to sail for Copenhagen; but on his arrival in the Sound he had the mortification to find that he had put himself to a great deal of unnecessary inconvenience and expense; as by a clause in the Naval Regulations and Instructions, then recently established, the commander-in-chief was prevented from appointing an officer on half pay to a ship, or to give him any commission or appointment whatever, “without express directions for that purpose from the Admiralty.”
Captain Hancock, however, availed himself of an offer made by General John M‘Farland, and served on shore with that officer during the whole of the siege and bombardment which terminated in the surrender of the Danish navy.
Shortly after his return from Copenhagen, the subject of of this memoir was appointed acting Captain of the Lavinia frigate, in which ship he continued about a year, on the Oporto, Rochefort, and Mediterranean stations. In the spring of 1809, he assumed the temporary command of the Christian VII.; and on the 18th Nov. 1810, after declining two other acting appointments, we find him receiving a commission for the Nymphen, rated at 36, but mounting 42 guns. The important services performed by him whilst in this frigate have never been known to the public, and we shall therefore feel the greater pleasure in noticing them.
For the first four or five months. Captain Hancock served under the orders of Sir Edward Pellew, then commander-in-chief on the North Sea station, by whom he was sent to cruise between the coasts of Jutland and Norway, where he continued until a very heavy gale of wind obliged him to run out of the Sleeve, in order to obtain good sea-room. On the 26th Feb. 1811, he captured le Vigilante, French privateer, a remarkably large and fast-sailing lugger, mounting 14 guns, with a complement of 60 men.
On his return from this cruise he was entrusted with the command of a squadron employed watching the ports of Helvoet, Flushing, and Ostend; on which trying service he also continued under the late Sir William Young, whose high opinion of his zeal and abilities will be seen by the letters which we shall have occasion to insert hereafter.
Towards the latter end of Aug. 1811,the French fleet at Flushing had increased to seventeen sail of the line, besides several frigates, and numerous smaller vessels; the whole of which were under the command of Vice-Admiral Missiessy, and in an apparent state of readiness for sea. This formidable force was most anxiously watched by Captain Hancock, who had never omitted to reconnoitre that port daily, except when the state of the weather rendered it absolutely impracticable to do so.
Taking advantage of the high tides, three or four of the enemy’s ships now made a practice of getting under weigh every morning, and continued under sail for two or three hours; but never came farther down than half-way between Sluys and the Bresckins. On the 29th of that month, however, the French commander-in-chief ran to the extremity of the Wieling, and afforded Captain Hancock an opportunity of displaying his usual promptitude and decision.
“This morning,” (says Captain Hancock in a letter to Admiral Young) “soon after day-light, Vice-Admiral Missiessy, with five line-of-battle ships, weighed with the last quarter ebb, and ran down the Wieling so far to the westward, that when they hauled their wind to work back they were nearly abreast of Blankenburgh, which is much further to the westward than ever they ventured before: they then tacked occasionally, working back: the wind had increased considerably, and was then at E.S.E.
“As is my invariable custom, I weighed in H.M. ship ander my command, and followed them down outside the sand, and out of gun-shot. At 1 P.M., observing tho leewardmost ship much separated from the rest, from having missed stays twice, I was encouraged, from the miserable manner in which she was handled, to cross the sands and try a shot or two, if only to give my ship’s company a little good exercise; although I considered it very probable that I might by a prompt attack disable her masts or sails, and eventually drive her on shore. By hauling on board the fore and main tacks, and setting top-gallant-sails, I was within shot of her in a few minutes, and fired two or three broadsides from the main-deck when passing on contrary tacks; then tacked, hauled up the courses, and continued firing at her for 12 or 15 minutes, without receiving a shot in return. The, enemy’s ship was thrown into evident confusion; the French Vice-Admiral, with the rest of the squadron, bore round up and set steering-sails to close, and as our opponent had by this time got some of his after lower-deck guns ready, and soon began to throw his shot over us, I thought there was no use in any longer courting a contest of this kind, particularly as the rest of the enemy’s squadron were approaching very near; I therefore re-crossed the sands and worked back to my former anchorage off the Duerloo.
“The only visible effect of our fire on the enemy was his quarter-most, fore-top-sail sheets, jib-stay and halliards, shot away; the boat he never attempted to pick up; the latter with the jib he cut away: several shot passed through his main-top-sail, spanker, and other sails. We have sustained no loss whatever: only one shot passed through the main-top-sail, and three or four through the mizen-stay-sail. I feel quite sure, if I had had a second 18-pounder frigate with me, so totally unprepared was the enemy for such a prompt attack, that, in his confusion, he would have gone on shore.”
In a second letter to Admiral Young, dated Sept. 7, 1811, Captain Hancock says;– “We have spoken several fishermen to-day, who all agree in the same story, that the enemy’s ship we fired at on the 29th ult. had 5 men killed and 9 wounded; and that all three of her top-masts are so badly wounded that she is now shifting them. You will observe by my report of reconnoitre, that one of the French ships grouped No. 7, has her top-masts down, which to a certain degree corroborates their report.”
On the 24th Oct. following, whilst Vice-Admiral Misaiessy was performing his usual manoeuvres in the Wieling, Captain Hancock made a similar movement, hoping that he should he able to cut off one or two of the small vessels which the enemy invariably stationed at the extreinities of the different shoals, as marks for the guidance of the ships of the line. The Frenchmen, however, seem to have penetrated his design; for, before their last ship got abreast of the outer brig, the latter either cut or slipped her cable, and was under a crowd of sail in an instant. The Quebec, a small 32-gun frigate, commanded by Captain Hawtayne, was in company with the Nymphen on this occasion, as were also the Cretan and Primrose brigs. Captain Hancock concludes his report to Admiral Young in the following energetic terms:– “This sort of service does us all a great deal of good; keeping us on the constant alert, and I trust not without a useful lesson to the enemy, that he must not commit himself loosely in this intricate navigation, even before two of his Majesty’s frigates.”
From this period the Nymphen experienced constant and very hard gales of wind from S.W. to N.W., with a heavy sea; but still Captain Hancock was enabled to keep his anchorage at the entrance of the Duerloo, until superseded by Commodore Owen, Nov. 3, 1811. Having ascertained, by sweeping the Nymphen’s bottom frequently during the preceding summer, that she had sustained considerable injury by striking violently on Rasen sand (whilst under the command of his predecessor), he now made a representation thereof to the commander-in-chief, and was consequently ordered to Chatham, where, on his ship being docked, it was found that his report was by no means exaggerated, 18 feet of the false keel being entirely gone, and the main keel much injured.
In Feb. 1812, Captain Hancock commanded the squadron of observation stationed off the Texel; and at the latter end of March he resumed his honorable post as senior officer of the inshore squadron off Flushing; which he had scarcely done when the first division of the enemy’s fleet came down the Scheldt, from their winter quarters, and took up their former position between the islands of Walcheren and Cadsand. The importance, at that particular time, of the discovery of a more expeditious passage into the Wieling than had ever before been known, will be duly appreciated by our val readers; and we shall therefore proceed to relate it in Captain Hancock’s own words:–
“H.M.S. Nymphen, at anchor off the Duerloo, May 1, 1812.
“Sir,– In my late communication with you, I have repeatedly expressed an opinion that a passage might be found into the Wieling channel, by crossing the Ript Hart sand further to the eastward, and that if such a passage could be discovered, the enemy might be more easily watched and reconnoitred, than by the usual circuitous route of entering the Wieling to the westward of Leswagen. It had also frequently occurred to me, that beyond the increased facility of watching the enemy and ascertaining their every movement, such discovery might lead to the most important consequences to the country, if the enemy, in ignorance of such a passage (and which I am most perfectly convinced they are) should be tempted to manoeuvre as low down the Wieling, with his line-of-battle ships, as he did last year.
“I have availed myself of this fine weather, and the very ample means you have afforded me, by placing all the small vessels under my orders, to ascertain the correctness of my hopes in making such a discovery, with an anxiety proportioned to my opinion of the importance of it; and I have now the satisfaction of acquainting you, that I have discovered a very safe and good passage into the Wieling, for the largest ships; and that they may enter it at half-flood, and in moderate weather with the most perfect safety.
“This channel lies between the sands of the Droog Raan and the Vlaak Raan, the former of which having passed, steering from South to S. ½ W. and S. b W. and entered the Spleet, you may then haul up as high as to bring Bruges steeples on with Heyst church, and cross the Ript Hart sand in 5 and ¼ less 5 fathoms at half-flood, to the westward of what is called in the Dutch charts the English Poel, wrhich either does not now exist, or is placed on all our charts, as also the Dutch, too far to the westward, as I was yesterday on board the Idas cutter, and crossed the Ript Hart sand considerably higher to the eastward, having Bruges steeple open to the eastward of Heyst, never having less than 5 fathoms, and fell into 7 and ½ 7 in the Wieling after two or three casts * * * * * * * *. It is but fair that I should not attribute to myself alone the discovery of this passage, and to acquaint you that the first suggestion of it to me was from Mr. Richard Wenham, Master of the Idas cutter, who with the master and pilots of this ship, as also those you seitt on this service, have been very zealous and indefatigable. I have the honour to be, &c.
“To Sir Richard J, Strachan, Bart., K.B. &c. &c. &c.”
“May 7, 1812.
“I sent the Calliope and Raven through the new passage into the Wieling yesterday, and the report of their commanders confirms my former opinion of the very great advantage of this discovery, if only for the purpose of more closely watching the enemy. The brigs both returned back the same way, and had not less water in going over the sand than ¼ less 5, and on returning than 5¼, 5½, and 6 fathoms.”
The merit of this valuable and important discovery was afterwards assumed by an Admiralty surveyor, which caused a remonstrance on the part of Captain Hancock, whose feelings, we are happy to say, were soon soothed through the kind interference of Sir William Young, whose letter on the subject we shall give at the end of this memoir.
In the course of May 1812, Captain Hancock was once more relieved in the command of the advanced squadron, by Commodore Owen; and we subsequently find him making a trip to the Shetland islands. In the ensuing autumn he resumed his station as senior officer off the Duerloo, and previous to his departure from thence succeeded in recovering a bower-anchor and four new cables, which had been slipped by the Inconstant, and one anchor and three cables belonging to the Horatio frigate. In April 1813, he returned from the Downs to his old station; and in the following month the Nymphen conveyed H.R.H. the Duke of Cumberland from Yarmouth to the mouth of the Elbe, and from thence to Gottenburgh, at which place Captain Hancock took charge of the homeward bound Baltic trade, the whole of which he escorted in safety to England.
During the summer of 1813, Captain Hancock was employed affording protection to the Mediterranean, Lisbon, and Oporto trade; also carrying out specie for the use of the British army in the peninsula. On his return from that service he was again placed under the orders of Admiral Young, and immediately sent by him to direct the operations of his former squadron.
On the 17th Nov. 1813, Captain Hancock was under the necessity of cutting from three cables, and obliged to carry a press of sail in order to weather the Stone Bank and gain an offing; the wind being at N.W. by N., blowing a perfect hurricane, with a lee tide. Having reported this circumstance, and his subsequent proceedings, to the commander-in-chief, be had the gratification of receiving in return one of those friendly letters to which we alluded at p. 23, and of which the following is a copy:
“Impregnable, in the Downs, Nov. 24, 1813.
“My dear Sir.– I cannot describe to you the delight which your letter of the 22d instant afforded me, for I much feared I never should see your hand-writing again; perhaps the feeling was in some degree selfish, knowing how essential your services would be, in the important duty we iiave now to carry on, in consequence of the revolution that has taken place in the north of Holland; but, be that as it may, I do most heartily congratulate you on your escape from danger.
“At first, I cherished the hope that your accurate knowledge of the coast, the excellent order of your ship’s company, and the good qualities of the Nymphen, would enable you to weather the gale, which even with us here was most violent; but when your boats were picked up, and brought into the Downs, my heart sickened and I gave you up as lost. I am, with great esteem, faithfully yours.
“To Captain Hancock, Nymphen.”
The revolution in Holland may be dated from the 15th Nov. 1813, on which day the people of Amsterdam rose in a body, proclaiming the House of Orange, and universally putting up the ancient national colours. This example was immediately followed by the other towns of the provinces of Holland and Utrecht, the Hague, Rotterdam, &c. The French authorities were dismissed, and a temporary government established in the name of the Prince of Orange, whose arrival at the Hague we have already mentioned in our memoir of Viscount Torrington.
The enemy’s line-of-battle ships were then lying at Antwerp, in a dismantled state, the greater part of their seamen and the whole of the soldiers having been sent off to join Napoleon’s army; but four large French frigates were still anchored off Flushing, and perfectly ready for sea. In addition to the duty of watching this squadron, Captain Hancock was entrusted with the very difficult mission of making known to the inhabitants of Walcheren, and the neighbouring islands, the glorious victories of the allied armies; and at the same time he received directions to make himself acquainted, if possible, with the strength and disposition of the garrisons of Flushing, Middleburg, Tervere, &c.; to ascertain the state of those fortifications, and whether a hope might reasonably be entertained of our fleet being able to take any of them by a coup-de-main. These services were undertaken by him with his usual zeal and promptitude; the burghers were first apprised that a great political change had taken place in Holland, by the Nymphen and her consorts working up the Spleet, hoisting the allied colours, including the Orange flag over that of France, and firing a royal salute; an address was subsequently drawn up by Captain Hancock, informing them of the actual state of affairs in the north and south of Europe, as well as in Holland; and exciting them to follow the noble example of their countrymen by exerting themselves to shake off the galling yoke of French tyranny: and, lastly, assuring them that, if they were inspired with the same honorable sentiments as the people of Amsterdam, Sec, the British fleet would afford them every assistance in recovering their long lost liberty.
Numerous copies of Captain Hancock’s address were printed, both in the French and Dutch languages, and measures were taken by him to ensure their being distributed all round the neighbourhood of Walcheren. In the mean time he kept up a constant correspondence with those burghers who represented themselves as favorable to apolitical change; and it is not too much to say, that he was mainly instrumental in causing the insurrection which led to their complete emancipation.
Admiral Young arrived off West Capel on the 27th Nov., and shortly afterwards informed Captain Hancock that buoys were making on board the ships of the fleet, for marking out the channel to the Roompot; that he would be required to lay them down when completed; and that all the small vessels attached to the fleet were to be placed as additional marks under his directions. The manner in which this service was performed will be inferred from the following official letter:
“Impregnable, in the Roompot, Dec. 14, 1813.
“Sir,– The fleet under my command being safely moored in the Roompot, I have great pleasure in doing justice to the zeal, intelligence, and activity with which you have discharged the various and frequently arduous services in which you have been employed while under my command; and in assuring you of the satisfaction your conduct gave me yesterday, in leading the fleet in to a safe anchorage in the Roompot, which I shall not fail to represent to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. I am, &c.
“To Captain Hancock.”
After the performance of the important service mentioned in the latter part of Admiral Young’s letter, Captain Hancock proceeded into the West Scheldt, passing the batteries of Flushing and Cadsand without sustaining any loss. On the 2d Mar; 1814, he displayed his usual zeal and ability in placing the Nymphen in an admirable though dangerous situation for heaving the Antelope of 50 guns off a shoal, on which she had struck whilst endeavouring to push into the same branch of the river, which service was thus acknowledged by Captain Samuel Butcher, her commander:
“To the steady intrepidity of Captain Hancock, who, amidst a shower of shot and shells falling in every direction, took up, and retained for more than five hours, a position from which I was enabled to get on board a bower cable, I am highly indebted.”
The occupation of South Beveland, Schowen, &c. by different detachments from the British fleet, has already been noticed in the course of this work; and it therefore only remains for us to say that Captain Hancock continued to be most actively employed in the Scheldt during the whole of those operations; which, owing to the brilliant successes of Wellington, and the rapid advance of the allied armies towards Paris, merged into an insignificance that would not have attended them under any other circumstances. The revolution in Holland is now, however, justly considered as one of the most important features of the late war; and, surely, the expulsion of the common enemy from the islands of Zealand, by a British fleet, at an inclement season of the year, should not be deemed a service unworthy of the future historian’s notice.
In April 1814, Captain Hancock gave up tho command of the Nymphen, being superseded at his own particular equest: and at the latter end of the same month he was appointed to the Liffey of 50 guns, then at Woolwich; in which frigate he escorted a large fleet to Quebec and Halifax, and afterwards served on the Channel station until she was put out of commission in Aug. 1815, since which he has not sought employment. He received the insignia of a C.B. in the month of June preceding.
The following is a copy of Sir William Young’s letter respecting the discovery made by him in May 1812:
“London, Feb. 3, 1820.
“My dear Sir,– In consequence of your letter I went to the Hydrographer’s office, and I found that they had never seen nor heard of a chart in which your name was given to any Gat; I therefore carried them one of mine (Captain Lennock’s survey), in which the Gat, with your name in it, is distinctly marked, and they immediately determined to insert it in the Admiralty chart. I am extremely glad that I happen to be here, and to have my charts at hand to correct this omission; for certainly the zeal, ability, and exertion, with which you performed the various services on which you were employed off the Scheldt, well deserve that you should be allowed to enjoy every thing which may mark those services, and be gratifying to you. * * * * * * Believe me, my dear Sir, faithfully yours,
Captain Hancock married, Nov. 18, 1811, Elizabeth, third daughter of Benjamin Longuet, of Bath, Esq. and co-heiress of the late Thomas Lilley, Esq. His family consists at present of three sons and three daughters.
Agents.– Messrs. Barnett and King.
- See Vol. I. note † at 195, et seq.
- See Vol. II. Part I. note † at p. 50, et seq.
- See Vol. I. note † at p. 103, et seq.
- See ib. p. 40, and note at p. 133.
- Captain Child fought the Europe with such credit as enabled him to obtain promotion for many of his officers. He afterwards attained the rank of Admiral, and died at Newfield, near Newcastle-under-Lyne, Jan. 21, 1813, aged 83 years
- See Vol. I. p. 17, and Vol. II. Part I, note † at p. 42.
- The high estimation in which Captain Barlow’s abilities were held at the commencement of the French revolutionary war, may be inferred from the following passage in a letter written by Captain (now Sir Thomas) Pakenham, to the father of a youngster whom he had placed on board the Aquilon for improvement: “I am certain so fit a man as Bob Barlow is not to be found in our profession: he is the person with whom we all wish to send our young friends, and he is certainly the best officer amongst us. He will not spare his own son, nor yours, if he has any thing for him to do.”
- See Vol. I. p. 246.
- The Queen, of 98 guns, Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Man Dobson.
- “The land forces and a body of 500 seamen were to have been united under the command of Captain Freemantle and the Hon. Colonel Stewart, and as soon as the fire of the Crown battery should be silenced, they were to storm the work and destroy it.” See Clarke and M‘Arthur’s Life of Nelson, 4to. edition, Vol. II. p. 267. N.B. This arrangement, as far as it respects Captain Freemantle, was altered in consequence of that officer’s ship, the Ganges 74, being attached to Lord Nelson’s division after the Danish line of defence was last reconnoitred. It will be seen by reference to the note at p. 368 of our first volume, that the ships intended to silence the Trekroner were not able to get into their stations.
- “From the uninjured state of this outwork, which had been manned at the close of the action with nearly 1500 men, it was deemed impracticable to carry into execution the projected plan for storming it: the boats for this service had been on the starboard side of each ship during the action.” See id. p. 272.
- The above orders were conveyed to Lieutenant Hancock by Lord Henry Paulet, then commanding the Defence 74. He not only ventured to disobey them by carrying off the Holstein, but even directed one of Nelson’s own officers, the present Sir William Bolton, who had charge of the Indosforthen block-ship, to cut her adrift also – the latter afterwards sunk alongside of the Ramillies 74, to which ship she had been secured in consequence of having left all her anchors behind. The Holstein, subsequently named the Nassau, wan added to the British navy, and employed as an efficient 64 during the whole of the late war, in the course of which she assisted at the destruction of a Danish third rate. See Vol. I. p. 640.
- This division hauled out on the evening of the 15th, and Captain Hancock immediately made the signal of recall to the squadron of gun brigs, then standing to the westward, under the orders of Lieutenant Patrick Manderston. Having done this, and despatched a cutter with the intelligence to Sir W. Sidney Smith, the Cruiser and Rattler got under weigh at dark, and re-anchored within long range of the batteries at the pierhead, the better to prevent the escape of the vessels which had brought up within the Stroom sand. On the 16th at day-break, the gun-brigs, being still in sight, were again recalled; but, as on the preceding evening, they either did not see, or misunderstood the signal.
- This signal does not appear to have been repeated by l’Aimable; nor was the Flushing flotilla discovered by the sloops off Ostend until 9-30 A M. The latter got under weigh at 10, and the ships in the Stone Deep at 11 o’clock. At noon the Antelope war, 7 or 8 miles to the N.N.E. of Ostend. The Cruiser and Rattler were then pursuing the enemy in the Inner Welling, a shift of wind having induced the Dutch commander to put back towards Flushing, as is stated in the third paragraph of Sir W. Sidney Smith’s letter.
- Captain Hancock commenced the attack at 1-30 P.M.; and in ten minutes after, Captain Mason was also in action with the enemy. L’Aimable’s log does not pretend that she fired a shot until 4 o’clock: it runs thus – “at 4 opened our fire on the enemy’s line, batteries, and flying artillery.”
- The rowing gun-boats alluded to above were those which had anchored to the westward of Ostend light-house. See note * at p. 13.
- The praams were la Ville-d’Anvers and la Ville-d’Aix, each mounting 12 or 14 long 24-pounders, besides howitzers: the former bore the flag of Rear-Admiral Verhuell, whom Captain Hancock engaged with great effect, being within a few yards of his lee-quarter until 2-40, when the Dutchman struck his colours and ran upon the beach. The Cruiser being then in only two and a half fathoms water, and she drawing 14 feet, Captain Hancock was reluctantly obliged to sheer off and leave his beaten antagonist. Ah soon as the smoke cleared away, the Cruiser was observed to be surrounded by 8 or 10 schooners, two of which attempted to board her, but were driven back with great loss. The bowsprit of one schooner lay on the Cruiser’s main channel; and although it was three times cleared by the British marines and small-arm men, still fresh hands rushed to the assault. The bowsprit being at length cut away by a shot from one of the brig’s carronades, the schooner then dropt astern, and afterwards sunk close abreast of her Admiral. The Cruiser appears to have been incessantly engaged for six hours and a half.
Captain Mason, owing to the delay occasioned by his shortening sail in order to take possession of a schuyt which had struck to the Cruiser, and which he was directed by signal to secure, could not get up with la Ville d’Aix, the praam he meant to engage, until she was very close to the shore. This was about 20 minutes after he first commenced action with the flotilla; and it appears by the Rattler’s log that he continued engaging his powerful opponent, the latter occasionally striking the ground, and himself constantly backing and filling to keep abreast of her, from 2 o’clock to 6-10 P.M.; the whole of which time, except the first quarter of an hour, he was within half a cable’s length of the praam, and continually exposed to a very heavy fire of grape from the enemy’s flying artillery on the beach, likewise to an incessant discharge of shot and shells from their numerous land batteries.
At 5-10 P.M., la Ville-d’Aix being hard and fast a-shore, the Rattler hauled off to repair her rigging: it was at this period that l’Aimable first became engaged with that praam; and we believe it was much later in the day before she received a shot from la Ville d’Anvers. Captain Mason again made sail towards the flotilla at 5-30; renewed the action at 6-45; succeeded in driving several schooners on shore, and did not cease firing until 8 o’clock. We should here observe that several schooners were also forced on shore by the Cruiser and Rattler long before l’Aimable could get into action with that part of the enemy’s line.
- The British had altogether 13 killed and 33 wounded; the acknowledged loss on the part of the enemy amounted to 18 killed and 60 wounded; 4 of the former, and 29 of the latter, are said to have belonged to the two praams. The Cruiser had 1 man killed, and the Captain’s Clerk (Mr. George Ellis) and 3 men wounded; site also had her sails and rigging much cut; and received 2 large shot far under water. The Rattler had 2 men killed and 10 wounded. Her damages will be noticed in our memoir of Captain Francis Mason, C.B.
- Blazer, Conflict, Tigress, Escort, Admiral Mitchell, and Griffin; commanded by Lieutenants John Hinton, Charles C. Ormsby, Edward Greensword, Joseph G. Garland, Richard Williams, and James Dillon.
- We have been given to understand that the French Commodore actually hailed the Cruiser, in token of submission; and that he was dishonorable enough to fire two shot at her as she was hauling off with the intention of sending in a gun-brig to bring him out.
- Mr. Abraham Garland, acting Lieutenant of the Cruiser, right leg amputated very high up.
- Extract from a letter addressed to Captain Hancock, by the merchants, ship-owners, and underwriters of North Shields, thanking him for the important service he had rendered them by capturing le Contre Amiral Magon, French privateer brig, of 17 guns and 84 men, commanded by Mons. Blackeman. a most skilful, active, and enterprising seaman, who had pursued a very successful career, in various other vessels, for many years; and whose local knowledge of our coast, added to the ample means he then possessed, from his brig’s superior sailing and force, must have been highly detrimental to British commerce, had not the Cruiser prevented him from committing any further depredations.
It was always currently reported, on the North Sea station, that the officer who should have the good fortune to capture Mons. Blackeman, would be immediately promoted; and also that he would be handsomely rewarded by the underwriters at Lloyd’s. Le Contre Amiral do Magon was taken Nov. 17, 1804, after a chase of nearly 100 miles; but Captain Hancock did not obtain post rank until more than fourteen months afterwards.
- Among other privateers captured by the Cruiser, was le Vengeur of 14 guns and 56 men.
- See Naval Instructions, Anno 1806, sec. 4, chap. 2, art. 5, p. 82. – N.B. It is somewhat singular, that those very instructions should have been drawn up by Admiral Gambier, commander-in-chief of the armament sent against Copenhagen.
- See Vol. I., pp. 78–83.
- Napoleon Buonaparte reviewed the fleet at Flushing on the 24th Sept. and afterwards hoisted his imperial standard on board the Charlemagne, where he was obliged to remain through bad weather until the morning of the 27th, when he landed and inspected the works in the island of Walcheren.
- It appears by Captain Hancock’s quarterly reports that no corporal punishment was inflicted on board the Nymphen between Oct. 5, 1812, and April 5, 1813; “which,” says Admiral Young, “considering the great number of foreigners among her crew (at least one fourth part of the whole), does great credit to the system of discipline Captain Hancock must have established, and the manner in which the officers under him must have carried it into execution.” It is almost needless to say, that the Admiralty expressed much satisfaction on the receipt of those retu