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Royal Naval Biography/Hawkins, Richard

[Post-Captain of 1802.]

This officer was born at Saltash in 1768; and served as a Midshipman in the boats of the Windsor Castle, a second rate, at the evacuation of Toulon in 1793. He also distinguished himself in an affair with the French republicans near Hieres Bay, the particulars of which will be found at p. 313 of this volume.

On the 1st Aug. 1798, when Sir Horatio Nelson defeated the enemy’s fleet under Admiral Brueys in Aboukir bay, we find Mr. Hawkins serving as first Lieutenant of the Theseus 74, commanded by the late Captain R. W. Miller, and his name returned among those wounded in that engagement[1]. At the close of the war he commanded the Galgo of 14 guns, from which vessel he was posted April 29, 1802.

In 1807 Captain Hawkins obtained the command of la Minerve frigate; and on the 6th May, 1808, his boats attacked and carried a battery mounting one 18-pounder, which was immediately turned against a blockhouse commanding a small bay near l’Orient; but a large party of soldiers therein having opened a heavy fire through their loop-holes, and killed Lieutenant Cook who directed the attack, the assailants were obliged to content themselves with spiking the gun and bringing off the body of their leader. On the 23d Sept. following, Captain Hawkins fell in with a brig, which overset just as he had arrived within gun-shot of her, after a chase of seventy-five miles. La Minerve being instantly brought to, succeeded in saving 16 of the unfortunate vessel’s crew; but her commander and 33 men were drowned. From the account of the survivors it appeared that she was the Josephina, a French letter of marque, mounting 8 guns, pierced for 18, from St. Sebastian, bound to Guadaloupe, with a cargo of flour, brandy, wine, and clothing, and intended to cruise against our trade in the West Indies, she having already done much mischief to British commerce as a privateer.

Captain Hawkins continued to command la Minerve till 1814, but does not appear to have had any opportunity of distinguishing himself whilst in her. He has ever since been on half-pay.

Agent.– J. Copland, Esq.

  1. The Theseus, although hulled in more than seventy places, had only 5 men killed and ,30 wounded. Captain Miller lost his life by an explosion of shells, in May 1799; see Vol. II, Part I, note † at p. 383.