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Royal Naval Biography/Hope, Henry

Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1808.]

This officer is a son of the late Commissioner Charles Hope, R.N., and a cousin to the present Vice-Admiral Sir W. Johnstone Hope, G.C.B., M.P., &c. &c.

He received his first commission, May 3, 1804; obtained the rank of Commander, Jan. 22, 1806; and was made a Post-Captain, May 24, 1808. In Oct. 1809, we find him commanding the Topaze frigate, and assisting Captain (now Sir Benjamin) Hallowell in making arrangements for the capture and destruction of a French convoy, near Rosas; the particulars of which service will be given in our memoir of the officer by whom it was conducted[1].

Captain Hope’s next appointment was to the Salsette 36; and in her he appears to have captured two French privateers, one of which carried 16 guns and 70 men. His removal to the Endymion frigate, fitting at Plymouth for the purpose of coping with the American forty-fours, took place May 18, 1813. On the 3d Dec. following, he captured the Perry letter of marque, a remarkably fine schooner, of 230 tons measurement.

At this latter period, the Endymion was proceeding to join the squadron employed in the blockade of New London; on which station she continued, under the orders of Sir Thomas M. Hardy, until the enemy’s ships in that port were moved up the river, and dismantled. She subsequently accompanied an expedition to the Penobscot, and assisted at the capture of Castine, Sept. 1, 1814[2].

Captain Hope’s action with Commodore Decatur has already been noticed, under the head of Captain John Hayes, C.B.: his own official letter, written on that occasion, is a very short one – and as modest as it is brief – he contents himself with saying:

“I enclose a return of the killed and wounded, and I have great pleasure in bearing testimony of the very great assistance I received from the senior Lieutenant, Morgan, during the whole day’s proceedings; together with the cool and determined bravery of my officers and ship’s company, on this fortunate occasion. Where every individual has so conspicuously done his duty, it would be injustice for me to particularize; but I trust the loss and damage sustained by the enemy’s frigate, will shew the steady and well-directed fire kept up by his Majesty’s ship under my command. Although our loss has been severe, I am happy to state that it is trifling when compared with that of the enemy.”

The following statement will shew the comparative force of the parties opposed to each other on the 15th Jan. 1815:




Main-deck 26 long twenty-four-pounders, 30 long twenty-four-pounders,
Quarter-deck 16 thirty-two-pounder carronades, 16 forty-two-pounder carronades,
Forecastle 6 dittoditto 4
long twenty-four-pounders,
Total 48

guns, exclusive of a long-eighteen-pounder, used only as a bow-chaser, there being no broadside port for it.


guns, exclusive of a brass 8-inch howitzer, mounted upon a travelling carriage, and fought through a port on the spar-deck.

Broadside weight of metal long guns,
664 pounds. long guns,
828 pounds[3].
Size in tons



The Endymion, previous to her encounter with the President, had had 28 officers and men killed, and 37 badly wounded, in an unsuccessful attack made by her boats upon the Prince de Neufchatel American privateer; but to make up for this heavy loss she obtained a draft of men from another ship belonging to the Halifax squadron. The total number of officers, men, and boys on board, at the commencement of the action, was 346: her loss consisted of 11 killed and 14 wounded.

The “New York Evening Post,” speaking of the President, says “she had a picked crew of 500 men.” Her watch-bill, the only paper found on board, contained the names of 477 persons, as doing the duty of the ship; and it has been satisfactorily proved that she had no less than 35 slain and 70 wounded: among the former were 3 lieutenants, and in the latter list we find the name of Commodore Decatur.

The principal damage sustained by the Endymion, was in her sails and rigging; the fore-top-mast being the only badly wounded spar. The President was completely riddled from stem to stern; several of her guns were disabled, and the senior officer’s official letter informs us that “she had six feet water in the hold, when taken possession of.” Rear-Admiral Henry Hotham, writing to Sir Alexander Cochrane, says:

“You will perceive by the reports Captain Hayes has delivered to me, the ardour displayed by Captain Hope, in the pursuit; the intrepidity with which he brought the enemy’s ship to close action; and the undaunted spirit with which the Endymion’s inferior force was singly employed for the space of two hours and a half; leaving honorable evidence of judgment in the position she was placed in, and of the destructive precision of her fire, in the sinking state of her antagonist, the heavy loss sustained by him, and his inability to make further resistance, when the Pomone arrived up with him; while the loss and damage sustained by the Endymion was comparatively small; and although the distinguished conduct of Captain Hope, his officers, and ship’s company, can derive no additional lustre from my commendation, I cannot withhold my tribute of applause.”

On the 17th Jan., in a violent storm, the Endymion lost her bowsprit and fore and main-masts; she was also obliged to throw overboard the whole of her carronades. In the same gale the President carried away all her lower masts; and, having several shot-holes between wind and water, not plugged up, was near foundering; the crew exhausted at the pumps, and the water gaining on them; the bowsprit remaining, keeping the ship off in the trough of the sea. In this perilous situation, the prize-master. Lieutenant William Thomas Morgan, veered out an “umbrella” with two hawsers an-end on it, from forward, which immediately had the effect of causing the ship to bow the sea, and enabled the crew, by great exertion of bailing and pumping, to keep her free. When the umbrella had been out 8 or 10 hours, the hawser parted; but the gale had then moderated, and the sea abated; jury-masts were rigged, and the President was safely conducted to Bermuda[4].

On Captain Hope’s arrival at that rendezvous, the magistrates, merchants, and principal inhabitants, deputed a committee to wait upon him with a complimentary address, and to request his acceptance of a piece of plate, as a token of their esteem: they also presented his officers with a goblet, to “be considered as attached to the present, or any future ship, which may bear the gallant name of ‘Endymion.’”

Captain Hope’s delicate treatment of Commodore Decatur is thus acknowledged by the latter officer, in his report to the Secretary of the American navy:

“It is due to Captain Hope to state, that every attention has heen paid by him to myself and officers that have been placed on board his ship, that delicacy and humanity could dictate.”

The Endymion and her prize arrived at Spithead Mar. 28, 1815. “The President, of course, was added to the British navy; but her serious damages in the action, coupled with the length of time she had been in service, prevented her from being of any greater utility, than that of affording to Englishmen, many of whom, till then, had been the dupes of their trans-atlantic ‘brethren,’ ocular demonstration of the ‘equal force’ by which their frigates had been captured[5].”

Captain Hope received a gold medal from the Admiralty, for his gallant conduct in the above action; was nominated a C.B. June 4, 1815; and put out of commission in the month of August following.

Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.

  1. See Captain John Tailour.
  2. See Vol. II, Part II, p. 730.
  3. Exclusive of the howitzer, but including both of the forecastle 24-pounders, one of which was fought through a spare port on the quarterdeck. The President’s top-guns, 5 brass 4-pounders, were also used during this action.
  4. The American “umbrella” is, we believe, something similar to Captain de Starck’s contrivance for warping ships a-head in calm weather. – See “Naval Battles Reviewed,” by Rear-Admiral Ekins, C.B., pp.44 and 336.
  5. James, Vol. 6, p. 539.