Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Le Geyt, George

[Post-Captain of 1812.]

A son of Robert Le Geyt, of Canterbury, Esq. (first cousin to the late Vice-Admiral d’Auvergne, Prince of Bouillon), by Jane, daughter of the Rev. William Byrch, rector of St. Mary’s Dover, and of Mongham, also in the county of Kent.

This officer’s grandfather and great-grand uncle, both held the office of chief civil magistrate of the royal court, and president of the states of Jersey: the latter gentleman, Philip Le Geyt, Esq. whose daughter was the mother of the Prince of Bouillon, was displaced by Oliver Cromwell, in consequence of his loyal adherence to the royal cause, but reinstated by Charles II. immediately after that monarch’s own restoration.

Mr. George Le Geyt was born at Canterbury, in Mar. 1777; and he first embarked, in 1791, on board the Colossus 74, Captain (afterwards Sir Henry) Harvey. We subsequently find him serving on the Halifax station, in the Hussar 28, Prince Edward cutter, Prevoyante 38, and Resolution 74. His promotion to the rank of Lieutenant took place Oct. 11, 1796; on which occasion he was appointed to the Rover 16, Captain George Irwin.

After suffering shipwreck in that sloop, owing to her running ashore on Cape Breton, in a thick fog. Lieutenant Le Geyt returned home in the Resolution, under the command of Captain William Lechmere; from which ship he removed to the St. George 98, Captain John Holloway. His next appointment was to the Tamar 38, Captain Thomas Western; and in her he assisted at the capture of many of the enemy’s vessels, on the Leeward islands’ station; among which were le Republicain French national corvette, mounting 32 guns, with a complement of 220 men, 45 of whom were absent in prizes; le General Massena, ship privateer, of 16 guns, pierced for 18, and 150 men; and another, name unknown, of 10 guns: le Republicain defended herself in the most gallant manner until she was reduced to a mere wreck; 9 of her crew were killed and 12 wounded: the Tamar had only 1 slain and 2 wounded.

Mr. Le Geyt’s next appointment was, in 1801, to the Leviathan 74, bearing the flag of Sir John T. Duckworth; who promoted him into the Stork sloop, on the Jamaica station, May 28, 1803. While commanding that vessel, he captured the French privateers, la Coquette of 2 guns and 95 men, and l’Hirondelle, of 3 guns and 44 men.

On the 23d March, 1805, being then off Cape Roxo, Porto Rico, Captain Le Geyt discovered a large schooner, lashed alongside a brig in the harbour; and for the purpose of cutting her out, he despatched his pinnace and cutter, containing between them 18 men, under the command of Lieutenant George Robinson, assisted by Lieutenant James Murray. As the schooner, which proved to be the Dutch privateer Antelope, was preparing to heave down on the following day, her guns, 5 in number, were on board the brig, and the two vessels were defended by at least 40 men; but both were simultaneously boarded by the boats, and gallantly carried without any other casualty to the British than the junior lieutenant and 1 man slightly wounded. The privateer’s men having taken to the water soon after the boats got alongside, only 15 prisoners were secured.

On the 25th Aug. 1806, Captain Le Geyt was sent from Port Royal, with the Superieure brig, and two schooners under his orders, to attack a number of small vessels collected at Batabano, on the south side of Cuba, On the 30th, one of the schooners, mounting 4 guns, and having on board about 30 officers and men, gallantly attacked and captured a Spanish guarda-costa, of 10 guns and 45 men, close to the Isle of Pines.

At this period, Captain Le Geyt had the mortification to learn from his pilot, that the Stork could not approach within 30 leagues of Batabano, and he therefore directed Captain Edward Rushworth, of the Superieure, to proceed with that vessel and the schooners, after having reduced their draught of water as nmch as possible, and reinforced them with the boats and a party of men from his own sloop: the result of the expedition will be seen by the following copy of Captain Rushworth’s official report, dated Sept. 9, 1806.–

“After leaving H.M. sloop Stork, on the 25th August, off the Isle of Pines, it took us till the 2d of this month to get off Point Gondas, 22 miles N.W. from Batabano, when I anchored with the Flying Fish and Pike schooners: at midnight, we weighed and stood for Batabano, to be off that place before break of day, but owing to baffling winds it took us until day-light. I thought it expedient to land, which I accordingly did, about 2 miles to windward of the battery, taking with me 18 of the Stork’s men, 35 from the Superieure, and 10 from the Flying Fish, to guard the boats. The marshy irregular ground greatly impeded our march, and the enemy perceiving it, sent some soldiers to way-lay us in the thick bushes; but the most forward of my party charged and completely put them to the rout, killing 2 and badly wounding 1. At that time a general alarm had spread, the militia had joined the stationary regulars in the front, aided by men from the shipping in the bay. Our retreat being then cut off, we were obliged to rush forward to gain the fort, which, I am happy to say, was completely carried in three minutes, the enemy retreating in all directions, after firing 2 guns and a volley of small arms towards the path we were obliged to pass. The battery contained 6 long 18-pounders, mounted on travelling carriages, which we spiked, and then proceeded to take possession of the vessels; viz. one felucca, pierced for 14 guns, having one 18-pounder and 12 blunderbusses on board; a schooner pierced for 12 guns; a French privateer of 4; three Spanish vessels with 1 gun each, and six smaller with cargoes, which were saved, and the vessell burnt, not having sufficient men to carry them out. The next morning a flag of truce came off, and I learnt their loss was considerable, I am happy to say, we had only one man badly wounded on the occasion.

“I feel it my duty to state the great assistance I received from Lieutenants Russell and Murray, and sub-Lieutenants Blake and Brown. The seamen and marines under my command acted in a most gallant manner. Two days after, I captured the St. John, Spanish schooner, of 3 guns and 32 men, after a slight resistance.”

We next find Captain Le Geyt employed in the blockade of Martinique, and assisting at the destruction of la Cygne, French national brig, and two schooners laden with flour and provisions for the garrison of that island[1].

Captain Le Geyt’s promotion to post rank took place Aug. 12, 1812; at which period he had been upwards of 20 years in constant active employment (one-half of that time in the West Indies, and upwards of six years on the American station). He left the Stork in Sept. 1812, and has never since been able to obtain any naval appointment.

This officer married, in 1812, Rose Marie, daughter of the late Rear-Admiral Heath. His brother, Philip C. Le Geyt, Esq. has been secretary to several flag-officers, and is at present clerk of the check at the Royal Hospital, Greenwich.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.