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Royal Naval Biography/Hope, David

[Captain of 1830.]

Is the third son of William Hope, of Newton, near Edinburgh, Esq, and descended from Sir Thomas Hope, Bart. of Edminstone and Cauld Coats, in the county of Mid-Lothian. Two of his brothers, James and William, fell in the military service of their country – the former, a lieutenant in H.M. 1st regiment of foot, then styled the “Royals,” after having been severely wounded in Holland, died from extreme fatigue during the glorious Egyptian campaign: and the latter, an officer in the 19th regiment of foot, was massacred at Candy, in the island of Ceylon, 1803. Another of his brothers is now on the half-pay of the 89th regiment.

Mr. David Hope was born at Edinburgh, in 1786; and embarked, when only ten years of age, as midshipman on board the Kite sloop. Captain William Brown, then employed as a North Sea cruiser, under the orders of Admiral Duncan. In May, 1798, he witnessed the bombardment of Ostend, the destruction of several gun-vessels lying in the basin, the blowing up of the sluice-gates of the Bruges canal, and the subsequent defeat and surrender of the British troops, commanded by Major-General Coote; a disaster already noticed under the head of Rear-Admiral Raper[1].

On this occasion, our juvenile officer appears to have been employed on shore; from whence, however, he had fortunately returned to the squadron under Sir Home Popham, a short time previous to the capitulation.

In the beginning of 1799, Mr. Hope was successively removed into the Kent 74, bearing the flag of Lord Duncan, and Tisiphone sloop. Captain Charles Grant, under whom he served in the expedition against the Helder, and was consequently present at the surrender of the Batavian fleet to the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Mitchell[2].

In Nov. 1799, the Tisiphone sailed for Jamaica; and in Sept. 1800, Mr. Hope followed Captain Grant into the Abergavenny 54, bearing the flag of Lord Hugh Seymour, commander-in-chief on that station. In July 1802, he returned to England with the same captain, as master’s-mate of the Quebec 32, which ship was soon afterwards put out of commission. During the remainder of the peace of Amiens, he served as admiralty-mate, under Commodore Domett, in the Dryad frigate, on the Irish station; and subsequently in the Prince of Wales 98, bearing the flag of Sir Robert Calder, where we find him assisting at the capture of two Spanish line-of-battle ships, July 22d, 1805[3]. His first commission bears date Aug. 30th, 1806; at which period he was appointed to the Sir Francis Drake 36, Captain James Haldane Tait, then on the East India station. He afterwards served under Captain Charles Foote, in the Wilhelmina and Piedmontaise frigates, but was at length obliged to return home for the recovery of his health, in the Powerful 74, Captain Charles James Johnstone, which ship arrived in England about June 1809.

From this period, Lieutenant Hope remained on shore until the month of September following, when he joined the Freija frigate, Captain John Hayes, fitting out for the Leeward Islands’ station. On the 18th of December in the same year, he assisted at the destruction of two French 44-gun frigates, laden with stores and provisions for the garrison of Guadaloupe, then about to be attacked by Sir Alexander Cochrane, in conjunction with a land force under Sir George Beckwith.

After the performance of the above service, and the demolition of the batteries in Ance la Barque[4]. Captain Hayes was employed as senior officer of a small squadron sent to blockade the N.W. side of Guadaloupe; and Lieutenant Hope commanded the boats of the said detachment at the capture and destruction of the sea batteries in that quarter. Among other official reports made by Captain Hayes, at this period, we find the following:–

H.M.S. Freija, Jan. 22d, 1810.

“Sir,– I have the honor to inform you, that on Wednesday the l7th instant, at 9 p.m., I captured, off Englishman’s Head, the Victor French schooner, of 150 tons, laden with coffee, sugar, and cotton: she came out of Bay Mahaut that evening at 5 o’clock. By her log, I found that other vessels were in the bay, and that Mahaut was a place of strength, having two batteries, one of three 24-pounders, the other of one 24-pounder; at the former a company, at the latter twenty-four chasseurs of colour. I also discovered by the log, that it was customary to secure the vessels by the head, to unhang their rudders, and keep all sails on shore till loaded, and perfectly ready for sea. I had come to the determination of attacking the place with a division of boats from the squadron you did me the honor to place under my orders (as the ships could not approach it without experienced pilots), as soon as I should be able to gain the necessary information relative to the strength of the place, which this log completely put me in possession of. On Friday, I endeavoured to find the place, but could not discover it. On Saturday, I worked close up behind the shoals, and at noon saw three vessels at anchor, which pointed out its situation; but the distance was too great to ascertain more than a brig with top-gallant yards across and sails bent. The evening proved particularly fine, with little wind, and smooth water; and though I had not at this time any ship with me, or within sight of signals, I could not let pass so fair an opportunity for making the attack; and at 8-45 p.m., I sent the Freija’s four best boats, with thirty marines and fifty seamen, under the command of Mr. David Hope, my second lieutenant (the first being at sick-quarters), assisted by the senior officer of marines, the gunner, a master’s-mate, and two midshipmen, with orders to destroy the batteries, to bring out the brig and every vessel fit for sea, and to burn all others. I have great pleasure to inform you, that the above orders were most masterly and very effectually executed, notwithstanding the enemy was perfectly prepared, and in no way taken by surprise. The boats had to pull into the bay under a very heavy fire from the two batteries and the brig, with musketry from every part of the beach, as you will see by the report made to me by Lieutenant Hope, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose. It is with infinite satisfaction I now add, that not a man on our side was killed; only two were severely wounded, one I believe dangerously, the other I think will do well. The loss of the enemy I have not been able to ascertain; but I have reason to suppose the commandant fell in the conflict, as two officers were found dead, one of whom wore two epaulets. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)John Hayes.”

To the Hon. Sir Alexander Cochrane, K.B.,
&c. &c. &c.


H.M.S. Freija, Jan. 22d, 1810.

“Sir,– In pursuance of your order, I proceeded with the boats under my command, to the southward, towards Bay Mahaut, after experiencing great difficulty in finding a passage, and meeting so many shoals, that the headmost boat got ashore eight or ten times. At a little after eleven o’clock we took a fisherman, who informed me that a troop of regular soldiers had arrived there from Point-a-Pitre, and also a company of native infantry. As soon as we had approached the shore within gun-shot, a signal gun was fired, and instantly followed by a discharge of grape from a battery at the N.E. point, and another at the head of the bay, together with the guns from the brig, which were found to be six in number, and muskets from the bushes between the batteries. Under this fire, the boats pulled to the brig; but, finding her abandoned, I pushed for the shore. The boats grounding at some distance; the people had to wade up to their middles in water. As we advanced to the battery, the enemy retreated, took post behind a brick breast-work, and over it engaged us with musketry; but from which they were soon driven, and we became masters of their ground, where we found two magazines, containing twenty barrels of powder, and some implements of war, all which we destroyed. In this battery was one 24-pounder, which we disabled and threw over the cliff. In about half an hour after, we carried another battery, of three 24-pounders, the whole of which we spiked and rendered useless, burning the carriages and guard-house. This battery was very complete, with a ditch all round it, and having a small bridge, and gateway entrance. After this service was performed, we returned to the brig, and found her fast in the mud, the enemy having cut her cables on leaving her; but after much difficulty and exertion she was got off. Near her lay a large English built ship, in the mud, under repair; and, farther in shore, a very fine national schooner, pierced for sixteen guns, twelve only on board. The situation of the ship, which we could not move, rendered it impossible to get out the schooner. I therefore set fire to, and burnt both of them; six howitzers, found on the beach, we buried in the sand. All the officers and men conducted themselves with great bravery; and I received from Mr. Shillibeer (the officer of marines), Mr. A. G. Countess (master’s-mate), and Mr. Bray (the gunner), every assistance I could possibly require. I am happy to say, that only two of our men were severely wounded, – one in going up to loose the brig’s fore-top-sail, the other in attacking the batteries. The enemy must, I think, have lost many men, as I found two officers dead, and several wounded. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)David Hope.”

To Captain Hayes,
&c. &c. &c.

We are credibly informed that Lieutenant Hope was himself wounded on this occasion, although his modesty prevented him from officially reporting it.

On the 25th of the same month, Sir Alexander Cochrane transmitted both the above letters to the Admiralty, with one from himself, in which, after dwelling upon the importance of the service, in reference to the intended attack upon the island at large, he says:–

The conduct of Lieutenant Hope and his party, in driving so large a force before them, and surmounting so many difficulties in reaching the enemy’s positions, stamps their leader as a brave and meritorious officer; and he is deserving of the notice of the Lords Commissioners.

We have been induced to give the details of this very gallant and well-conducted enterprise, in consequence of the Board of Admiralty not having deemed them of sufficient importance to appear in the London Gazette, which merely stated, that Sir Alexander had “transmitted a letter from Captain Hayes, reporting the destruction of the batteries at Bay Mahaut, and of a ship and national schooner at anchor there; also the capture of an armed brig, by the boats of the Freija, under the direction of Lieutenant David Hope, who appears to have displayed much gallantry in the performance of this service.”

These brief statements, of which the naval annalist has great cause to complain, may possibly have originated in a press of official matter; but, then, how happens it that we occasionally see along with them, in the columns of the gazette, entire letters, announcing the capture of half a dozen insignificant chasse-marées, or of some privateer of trifling force, and that perhaps by a frigate or ship of the line?

After the surrender of Guadaloupe, the Freija was found in a very defective state, and consequently ordered to England, where she arrived in Sept. 1810, and was soon afterwards put out of commission. Lieutenant Hope then received an appointment to the Macedonian, a frigate of the largest class, in which he continued, under Captains Lord William Fitz-Roy, the Hon. William Waldegrave, and John Surman Carden, until her capture by the United States, an American ship of far superior force and size, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore Decatur, Oct. 25th, 1812[5]. Previous to this event, the Macedonian had been very actively employed on the coasts of Portugal and France, and often engaged with the enemy’s batteries, in the neighbourhood of Isle d’Aix[6]. The following is an extract of Captain Carden’s official letter, relative to his gallant but unfortunate action with the United States:

“The truly noble and animating conduct of my officers, and the steady bravery of my crew, to the last moment of the battle, must ever render them dear to their country. My first Lieutenant, David Hope, was severely wounded in the head, towards the close of the battle, and taken below; but was soon again on deck, displaying that greatness of mind and exertion, which, though it may be equalled, can never he excelled.”

Mr. James, in the second edition of his Naval History, informs us, that Lieutenant Hope “was severely wounded in the leg, at the commencement, and more severely still in the head, towards the close of the battle;” – this, we have every reason to believe, is correct.

On the 27th May, 1813, and three following days, Captain Carden, his officers, and surviving crew, were tried for the loss of their ship, by a court-martial assembled on board the San Domingo 74, at Bermuda. The following is an extract of the sentence pronounced:–

“The Court is of opinion, that Captain John Surman Carden, his officers, and ship’s company, in every instance throughout the action, behaved with the firmest and most determined courage, resolution, and coolness; and that the colours of the Macedonian were not struck, until she was unable to make further resistance. The Court does therefore most honorably acquit Captain John Surman Carden, the officers, and company of H.M. late ship Macedonian; and Captain Carden, his officers, and company, are hereby most honorably acquitted accordingly. The Court cannot dismiss Captain Carden, without expressing admiration of the uniform testimony which has been borne to his gallantry and good conduct throughout the action; nor Lieutenant David Hope, the other officers, and company, without expressing the highest approbation of the support given by him and them to the captain, and of their courage and steadiness during the contest with an enemy of very superior force; a circumstance that, whilst it reflects high honor on them, does no less credit and honor to the discipline of H.M. late ship Macedonian.”

Immediately after this honorable acquittal. Lieutenant Hope was appointed by Sir John B. Warren to the command of the Shelburne schooner, of 14 guns, recently taken from the Americans. During the ensuing twelve months, he drove on shore and destroyed a number of the enemy’s small privateers and merchant vessels. Through his exertions also, the U.S. sloop of war Frolic was captured by the Orpheus frigate. Captain Hugh Pigot; yet, strange to say, no mention whatever is made of his name in that officer’s official letter, as will be seen by the following copy:–

H.M.S. Orpheus, New Providence, April 25th, 1814.

“Sir,– I have the pleasure to acquaint you, that on the 20th instant, after a chase of sixty miles, the point of Matanzas, in Cuba, bearing S.S.E. five leagues, we captured the United States’ ship Frolic, commanded by Master-Commandant Joseph Bainbridge; she had mounted twenty 32-pounder carronades, and two long eighteens, with 171 men; but a few minutes before striking her colours, threw all her lee guns overboard, and continued throwing also her shot, small arms, &c. until taken possession of. She is a remarkably fine ship, of 509 tons, and the first time of her going to sea: she has been out from Boston two months, and frequently chased by our cruisers; their only capture was the Little Fox, a brig laden with fish, which they destroyed. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)H. Pigot.”

To the Hon. Sir Alexander Cochrane,
&c. &c. &c.

When the chase commenced, at day-light, the Orpheus and Shelburne were both to-leeward; but, after a joint pursuit of twelve hours, the very superior sailing of the schooner enabled Lieutenant Hope to gain the wind of the enemy, and effectually cut her off from the neutral port in view. She then tacked off shore, kept away free, and succeeded in crossing the British frigate, without sustaining any damage; – in fact, only two shot were fired at her, as they passed on opposite tacks, and both of them fell short. She was, however, closely pressed by Lieutenant Hope, who kept on her weather quarter until he observed her guns thrown overboard, then ran up alongside to leeward, and caused her to surrender, without the least opposition. At this period the Orpheus was two miles astern, and, from bad sailing, had no chance whatever of coming up with the chase.

We next find Lieutenant Hope employed, for about four months, in blockading New Orleans, and rendering assistance occasionally to our allies, the Creek Indians, on the Apalachicola river. During his long and solitary cruise off the mouths of the Mississipi, he was promoted, by the Admiralty, to the command of the Beagle 16; which sloop, however, he never joined, having subsequently received orders from Sir Alexander Cochrane to continue in the Shelburne, and proceed to the New Providence station. His commission as commander bears date June 15th, 1814.

Early in Oct. following, Captain Hope received on board a large sum of money consigned to the Havannah, and was about to sail for that place, when Sir James A. Gordon arrived at New Providence, in the Seahorse frigate, to assume the command of a small squadron in the Gulf of Mexico. Finding that that officer was unacquainted with the set of the different currents in the Gulf of Florida, and that the commander of a small schooner who had come down to conduct him, could not get his vessel ready for sea in time, Captain Hope immediately offered to re-land the specie, and accompany him. In acting thus, he gave up a very considerable freight; but he has the satisfaction of reflecting that the Seahorse and transports were, at least on one occasion, saved from running on shore in the night, through his watchfulness and timely notice. After escorting them safely through the Gulf, he remained under the orders of Sir James, assisting in the blockade of different ports, and occasionally co-operating with the Indians and a detachment of marines at Pensacola, until the arrival of the expedition against New Orleans, when he received an appointment the nature of which will be seen by the testimonial he afterwards obtained from his commander-in-chief:

Upper Harley Street, London, July 25th, 1815.

“Sir,– I have much pleasure in complying with the request of Captain David Hope, by transmitting to you, to be laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, his memorial of services, which is accompanied by a copy of the testimony I had occasion to convey to their Lordships, of that officer’s meritorious conduct when serving under my command in the West Indies.

“I should not omit to bring before their Lordships’ notice also, that when proceeding upon the expedition against New Orleans, Captain Hope volunteered to make himself useful in any way I might think proper, and, as one of my aide-de-camps, rendered me much assistance throughout this arduous campaign, in which he was nearly losing his life, by jumping into the Pearl River to save a soldier of the 95th regiment, who would have been drowned but for the humane exertions of Captain Hope. I am. Sir, &c.

(Signed)Alex. Cochrane, Vice-Admiral.”

To John Barrow, Esq.

Commander Hope returned home in the Ramillies 74, Captain Sir Thomas M. Hardy, and was not again employed until his present Majesty came into office as Lord High Admiral, by whom he was appointed to the Terror bomb, intended for the Mediterranean station, Jan. 12th, 1828. Before he could join this ship, she had been stowed under the Superintendence of the dock-yard officers at Portsmouth, and so completely crammed with stores as to render it necessary, on going out of harbour, to caulk in all her ports; the commissioner, Sir George Grey, refusing to allow any portion of them to be re-landed without orders from the Admiralty, and Commander Hope having positive instructions to sail without delay. In this encumbered state, he proceeded to sea on the 29th of the same month, trusting that he should soon cross the Bay of Biscay, and get into fine weather. On the 9th Feb., he took his departure from the Lizard, and after experiencing very bad weather, during which many stores were thrown overboard to save the ship from foundering, made the Rock of Lisbon on the 17th, with a fine breeze blowing from the N.W. On the following morning, the land near Cape St. Vincent was seen, bearing S.E.b.E., distant ten or twelve leagues. The wind suddenly shifted to S.b.W., and freshened fast. At 9, the Terror wore off shore, under close-reefed top-sails and fore-sail. At noon, it was blowing a perfect hurricane, but the ship was still under her main-top-sail and storm-stay-sails, in order, if possible, to claw off-shore. At 1-30 p.m., Captain Hope found it absolutely necessary to haul down the latter sails; and at 3, to take in the main-topsail also, the wind having then shifted to W.S.W., with a most tremendous sea; the masts complaining, and the ship straining greatly. To steady her, the storm-stay-sails were again set, which had scarcely been effected, when a heavy sea made a clean sweep of everything moveable on her upper deck, tore a boat away from the larboard quarter, and ripped up the weather boards of the quarter deck. The whole of the ship’s company were now busily employed in pumping and bailing, as leaks had been sprung in every direction, and the waves were making a fair breach over her.

At 8-30, the starboard quarter-boat and gallery were carried away, and two of the stern dead-lights forced in; the water at the same time gaining on the pumps. At 2 a.m., on the 18th, soundings were obtained in forty fathoms, and an attempt was made to wear; but in the act of doing so land presented itself on the lee-beam. As the last resource, both bower-anchors, with chain-cables attached, were let go in twenty fathoms; but many minutes had not expired before the starboard chain snapt, and the ship began to drive. The officers and ship’s company conducted themselves on this awful occasion as became British seamen, obeying all orders as coolly and correctly as ever. The small-bower being instantly slipt, the courses were soon loosed and set, and in a few minutes the ship was run end on into a small sandy cove, between two rocks, and only just wide enough to receive her. In forcing her over a reef outside four planks on the broadside were stove, and had it not been near high water she must then have perished, with all on board. The sea continuing to break over the ship in a most terrific manner, the officers and men were obliged to lash themselves in the fore-rigging until the tide fell; and at day light they discovered that Providence had directed them to the only spot on a long range of steep rocky coast, where they could have been saved. A large English brig was then lying a total wreck, distant only two hundred yards, and about one thousand Portuguese were seen on the shore ready to march off with their approaching plunder. Captain Hope did all he could to induce them to lay hold of a line which he floated on shore, but none would come near until he commenced firing musketry among them. A sailor then swam to the beach, and, with the assistance of the natives, a hawser was hauled on shore and secured. About 27,000l. in silver and copper coin, for the use of the commissariat department at Malta, was first got on shore by this hawser; two long 6-pounders followed, and a battery was soon thrown up by the marine artillery-men, in the centre of which the money and some despatches for Sir Edward Codrington were safely deposited. A few light sails for tents, and a small quantity of provisions, were also hauled on shore before the tide began again to flow; but it was not until noon that Captain Hope and his first lieutenant, Charles Hotham, left the ship, over which the waves were again breaking with great fury. On mustering the crew, only one man was missing, and he, it appears, had been washed overboard with the barge, under which his body was afterwards found on the rocks. On this melancholy occasion, a merchant brig from Liverpool, bound to Gibraltar, lost seven out of sixteen persons on board, including among the former Captain M‘Ede, of H.M. 12th regiment, an officer’s wife, and three children. Of the crews and passengers of two other vessels which drifted on shore near the Terror, not a single person was saved.

Immediately on landing, Captain Hope despatched his second lieutenant, Charles Henry Baker, and Sir William Dickson, a supernumerary officer of the same rank, to Lisbon, for the purpose of informing Lord Amelius Beauclerk, then commanding in the Tagus, of the unfortunate situation of the Terror. the lives of the master and crew of a merchant brig were subsequently saved through his exertions, and the intrepid conduct of Lieutenant Hotham, assisted by two men who were excellent swimmers.

In the course of a few days. Captain Hope and his companions were gratified with the sight of a frigate and a brig, which had been sent from Lisbon to their assistance. A considerable time, however, elapsed before they could even land a supply of provisions; and so bad was the then appearance of the weather, that they were obliged to return to the Tagus, taking with them the specie, and leaving the Terror to her own resources.

During their continuance in the neighbourhood of Villa-novade-mille-fuentes, near which town the Terror had run ashore, a survey was held by the officers of the frigate and brig, who were of opinion that she could not be saved, and therefore recommended her being sold. Captain Hope, however, only considering the great expence that would be incurred in transporting her officers, men, and stores to England, resolved to make an effort for her preservation, and accordingly requested Lord Amelius Beauclerk to send him a frigate’s anchor and two cables. This being complied with, the ship, after much labour and very extraordinary exertions, was, on the 17th March, hove bodily round, and got through a sandy passage, not much exceeding her own breadth, with only eight feet water at the highest spring-tide. During this operation, the casks which had been frapped to her bottom, by means of 3½-inch rope and bolts driven into her bends, were all stove and washed away by the surf, and when fairly afloat she made eight feet water an hour. On the following day she was run on shore in the harbour of Villa-nova-de-mille-fuentes, where the principal leaks were stopped, and the ship put into a condition to return home without escort, the whole expence incurred not exceeding one hundred pounds. From Lisbon she conveyed to Plymouth a number of Portuguese refugee noblemen, flying from the vengeance of Don Miguel.

On his arrival at the latter port. Captain Hope was sent for by the Lord High Admiral, then on a visit of inspection there, who presented him with an appointment to the Meteor bomb, intended to supply the place of the Terror, and was most graciously pleased to say, that he trusted he should soon be able to grant him the promotion which by his services he so well merited. The senior lieutenant and midshipman[7] were immediately promoted for their exertions under his command.

On the 13th Sept. 1828, the Meteor sailed from Plymouth, accompanied by the Orestes and Britomart sloops, for the purpose of demanding the restoration of two merchant vessels captured by Barbary cruisers. This was at first refused; but on the port of Tangier being put in a state of blockade, the demand was complied with, and demurrage for their tention allowed. In Jan. 1820, Commander Hope joined the Mediterranean squadron, under the orders of Sir Pulteney Malcolm, with whom he was serving when promoted to the rank of captain, Feb. 4th, 1830. He returned home in the Asia 84, Captain George Burdett.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.