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Royal Naval Biography/Laugharne, Thomas Lamb Polden


THOMAS LAMB POLDEN LAUGHARNE, Esq.
[Captain of 1832.]


Obtained his first commission on the 8th April 1806; served as second lieutenant of la Nereide frigate. Captain (now Sir Nisbet J.) Willoughby; and was one of the gallant companions of that heroic officer when he landed at Jacotel, in the Isle of France, April 30th, 1810[1]. We subsequently find him first of the Boadicea, Captain (now Sir Josias) Rowley, by whom he was recommended to the “favorable notice” of Vice-Admiral Bertie, commander-in-chief on the Cape station, for “the steadiness and zeal he manifested” at the recapture of H.M. ship Africaine, in the presence of two French frigates, near Isle Bourbon, Sept. 13th, 1810[2]. On the 21st of the same month. Captain Rowley reported the capture of la Venus frigate commanded by Mons. Hamelin, senior officer of the French squadron in India; and the recapture of H.M. ship Ceylon, having on board Major-General the Hon. John Abercromby and his staff[3]. The following is an extract from the official letter addressed to Vice-Admiral Bertie on this occasion:– “To Lieutenant Laugharne I feel much indebted, for his able assistance in taking charge of and conducting into port the Africaine and la Venus; and I beg you will have the goodness to recommend him to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.”

A few days afterwards, Lieutenant Laugharne was promoted to the command of the Otter sloop, and ordered to England with despatches announcing the Vice-Admiral’s intention of resuming the blockade of Port Louis. On his passage to the Cape of Good Hope, he fell in with a dangerous shoal, lat. 33° 56' S., long. 36° E., seemingly very extensive, and no part of it visible above water. His advancement to the rank of commander took place Feb. 12th, 1811.

This officer’s next appointment was, about Feb. 1812, to the Alert sloop (formerly a Newcastle collier), mounting fourteen 18-pounder carronades and two long sixes, with a complement of 86 officers, men, and boys; destined to the Halifax station. On the 13th Aug. following, being then in search of the United States’ ship Hornet, he fell in with, and after a short action was captured by the Essex frigate, of 46 guns and 328 men. His “conspicuous gallantry” in bearing down upon the enemy, “entitled him,” says Mr. James, “to a better ship than the Alert, a better first lieutenant than Andrew Duncan, who gave him no support, and a better crew than his officers and men, who, except Johanson Clering, the master, and William Haggerty, the purser, went aft to request him to strike the colours. Captain Porter (of the Essex) disarmed his fine prize, and sent her, with the prisoners, as a cartel, to Newfoundland; where, on the 8th Oct., Commander Laugharne and his officers and men were tried for the loss of their ship. The commander, master, and purser were most honorably acquitted; the first lieutenant was dismissed the service; and the remaining officers and crew obtained, along with their acquittal, the marked disapprobation of the court[4].”

The subject of this sketch was appointed to the Achates sloop about July 1814; and to be an inspecting commander of the coast guard in Nov. 1823. For his exertions in the latter service, he received a captain’s commission dated April 4th, 1832.

Captain Laugharne married, in 1820, Mary Amelia, eldest daughter of the late Sir Stewkley Shuckburgh, Bart.