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Royal Naval Biography/Laroche, Henry

[Post-Captain of 1806.]

Entered the naval service as a Midshipman on board the Squirrel of 20 guns, commanded by the late Rear-Admiral Epworth; and subsequently joined the Active 32, from which frigate he removed with Captain Thomas Mackenzie[1] into the Magnanime, a 64-gun ship, on the East India station. The Active formed part of Commodore Johnstone’s squadron in the affair at Porto Praya, was subsequently employed in the blockade of Hyder Ally’s ports on the Malabar coast, assisted at the destruction of his shipping off Calicut and in Mangalore harbour, and was present at the surrender of Negapatnam, in Nov. 1781. The Magnanime returned to England, and was paid off, in 1783.

Subsequent to this period we find Mr. Laroche serving on board the Powerful 74, and Queen Charlotte of 100 guns; the latter ship bearing the flag of Lord Howe, during the Spanish armament, at the close of which he was made a Lieutenant, by commission dated Nov. 22, 1790.

At the commencement of the war with France, in 1793, Lieutenant Laroche was appointed to the Captain 74, which ship formed part of Lord Hood’s fleet at the occupation of Toulon; and afterwards accompanied Rear-Admiral Gell to Genoa, where she assisted at the capture of la Modeste 36, and three French gun-boats; she also assisted in weighing the Imperieuse, a fine 40-gun frigate, which the enemy had scuttled and sunk in Port Especia.

On his return from the Mediterranean, Mr. Laroche obtained an appointment to the Sheernees 44, fitting for the coast of Africa, where he served as first Lieutenant under Captain Simon Mackenzie, and his successor. Captain James Cornwallis, until obliged to leave that ship through ill health, in 1798. We next find him serving as senior Lieutenant of the Revolutionnaire frigate, commanded by Captain Thomas Twysden, a most active officer and excellent disciplinarian, with whom be continued on the Irish station until Mar. 1801[2]. Whilst in that ship he assisted at the capture of five formidable French privateers, carrying altogether no less than 88 guns and 813 men, viz.: –

Victoire, brig, 16 long 9-pounders and 160 men.
Determinée, 18 guns and 163 men.
Bourdelais, ship, of 620 tons, mounting 16 long twelves, and 8 thirty-six pounder carronades (all brass guns), with a complement of 202 men.
Coureur, ship, of 10 long sixes, 4 carronades, and 158 men.
Moucheron, brig, of 16 long twelves and sixes, and 130 men.

During the remainder of the revolutionary war, Mr. Laroche served as first Lieutenant of the Neptune 98, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral (now Lord) Gambier, with whom we also find him serving after the renewal of hostilities, in 1803. His promotion to the rank of Commander took place June 2d, 1804; and his post commission bears date Jan. 22, 1806.

Since writing the above, an officer of high rank has informed us that in April, 1800, the Revolutionnaire encountered a most tremendous hurricane, lost her rudder, sustained much other damage, and narrowly escaped being wrecked on the rocks near Waterford; that her first Lieutenant’s zealous and seamanlike conduct on this occasion was highly extolled by every one on board; that Captain Twysden not only reported his admirable conduct in strong terms to the Admiralty, but also often declared that “a better officer than Henry Laroche never existed;” and that a similar opinion of his merits and ability has always been entertained by the noble Admiral to whom he was indebted for his subsequent advancement.

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

  1. See Vol. I, note ‡ at p. 654.
  2. Captain Twysden died Oct. 4, 1801.