Royal Naval Biography/Mansel, Robert
ROBERT MANSEL, Esq
[Post-Captain of 1801.]
This officer is the second son of Major-General Mansel, who was killed at the head of a brigade of dragoons, when serving under the command of H.R.H. the Duke of York, in 1794.
He entered the naval service as a Midshipman on board the Sampson 64, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Milbanke in 1784; sailed for the West Indies with Captain Peter Rainier in the Astrea frigate, about Oct. 1786; removed with that officer into the Monarch 74, at the period of the Spanish armament; and subsequently accompanied him into the Suffolk of similar force, from which latter ship he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in Nov. 1793. His first appointment as such was to la Prompte of 20 guns, commanded by Captain (now Vice-Admiral) Taylor, under whom he afterwards served as senior Lieutenant of the Andromeda frigate, on the North Sea, Newfoundland, and Halifax stations.
In 1797 we find Lieutenant Mansel serving as first of the Iris frigate, Captain Thomas Surridge, under the orders of Admiral Duncan; from which ship he appears to have been appointed to the Mary yacht, when our late Monarch made an attempt to visit his fleet at the Nore. His advancement to the rank of Commander took place in 1798.
Captain Mansel commanded the Adventure 44, armed en flute, during the expeditions against the Helder and Quiberon, and subsequently the Penguin of 18 guns, on the Irish station. In Feb. 1801, being on his passage to the Cape of Good Hope with despatches for Sir Roger Curtis, he fell in with and was attacked by a French squadron, consisting of a corvette mounting 24 guns, and two other ships, of 16 guns each. The action continued with great warmth about three hours, when the Penguin obtained the weather gage of the sternmost vessel, bore up to cut her off from her consorts, and succeeded in breaking the enemy’s line and throwing them into confusion; but, unfortunately, at the moment when Captain Mansel’s gallant attempt seemed likely to be crowned with success, his own fore-top-mast fell, and in such a direction as to render the foresail useless, which, added to the disabled state of his other sails, some of which were on fire, caused the Penguin to become quite ungovernable, and afforded the enemy an opportunity of making off. The next morning they were again discovered and pursued by Captain Mansel, but succeeded in effecting their escape into Teneriffe. The Penguin’s loss on this occasion was very trifling, considering the length of the contest, and the superiority of the enemy, whose fire appears to have been directed principally against her rigging. She had not a man slain, and only a few persons wounded.
In May following, Captain Mansel sailed from the Cape of Good Hope, with three vessels under his convoy, bound to the Red Sea; but was compelled to put back in consequence of a heavy gale, during which two of the vessels parted company, and are supposed to have sunk. On his return he found himself promoted to post rank, by commission bearing date Feb. 14, 1801, and accordingly took a passage to England in the Adamant of 50 guns.
Soon after his arrival Captain Mansel was appointed to the Berschermer 50, the command of which ship he retained till Dec. 1803, when he received a severe wound by the splitting of the main-top-sail clue-line block, one half of which, in its descent towards the deck struck him on his head, and rendered him incapable of serving any longer afloat. In addition to this severe injury, by which Captain Mansel was doomed to a state of inactivity during the late war, he was four times slightly wounded in the service of his country.
Agent.– Isaac Clementson, Esq.