Royal Naval Biography/Page, Benjamin William

Rear-Admiral of the Blue.

This officer was born at Ipswich, co. Suffolk, in 1765; entered the naval service under the protection of Sir Edward Hughes (an intimate friend of his father), as a Midshipman, onboard the Superb, of 74 guns, Nov. 20, 1778; accompanied that distinguished commander to the East Indies; bore a part in all his battles with the celebrated M. de Suffrein[1], in one of which he received a very severe wound; and after serving for some time as acting Lieutenant of the Exeter, 64, returned with him to England in 1783.

Mr. Page’s commission was confirmed by Lord Howe, Nov. 20, 1784, and he soon after went to Jamaica in the Astrea frigate, commanded by Captain Peter Rainier. On his return from thence, he was sent to the East Indies on promotion; notwithstanding which, he appears to have come home a Lieutenant, in the Crown, 64. His next appointment was, at the commencement of 1793, to the Suffolk, 74, and in that ship he again visited India with his friend, Commodore Rainier, by whom he was advanced to the rank of Commander, in the Hobart sloop of war, about Sept. 1795; and on the death of Captain Newcome, in Feb. 1797, posted into the Orpheus frigate; but as Earl Spencer had previously made him a Post Captain[2], he was under the necessity of returning home at an earlier period than he otherwise would have done. During his continuance on the East India station, the merchants of Bombay presented him with 500 guineas, for the attention he had paid to a fleet he had convoyed from China.

In 1800, Captain Page was appointed to the Inflexible, a 64 gun ship, armed en flute, in which he made two trips to the Mediterranean with troops, and was present at the debarkation of the army under Sir Ralph Abercromby, in Aboukir Bay[3]. Previous to his return to England, in 1802, he was presented with the Turkish gold medal, for his services during the operations against the French in Egypt[4].

On the renewal of hostilities, our officer was sent in the Caroline, of 36 guns (to which frigate he had been appointed in the preceding year), with secret orders, to the East Indies. On his passage he captured several French vessels, and detained others belonging to the Batavian republic. Among his prizes was the Dutch brig of war de Haasje, of 6 guns, pierced for 18, bound to India with despatches from Buonaparte. Captain Page, by sending this vessel to St. Helena, caused the detention of some Dutch ships lying there, and prevented those belonging to English merchants from sailing without convoy.

Early in 1804, the Caroline, after escorting the homewardbound trade through the Bay of Bengal, had the good fortune to intercept les Freres Unis, of 16 guns and 185 men, and le General de Caen, of 26 guns and 240 men. The capture of those vessels immediately on their arrival from France, and before they had been able to commit any depredations on our commerce, was considered of so much importance, that the merchants of Bombay and Madras each voted Captain Page 500 guineas, for the service he had thus afforded them.

We next find Captain Page entrusted with the command of a squadron sent to protect the trade to and from China. On his return to India with the homeward-bound ships, he was selected by Admiral Rainier to command the Trident, of 64 guns, bearing the flag of that officer, with whom he came to England in Sept. 1805. On the safe arrival of the convoy in the Downs, the Court of Directors voted him 500 guineas, for his continued attention to their interests.

Captain Page, whose health had been greatly impaired through long and active services on foreign stations, was now induced to accept the command of a district of Sea Fencibles, which he retained till the breaking up of that corps. His last appointment was, in 1812, to the Puissant, a guard-ship, stationed at Spithead, where he continued until Oct. 1815, at which period she was put out of commission. He became a Rear-Admiral Aug. 12, 1819.

Residence.– Ipswich.

  1. See note †, at p. 421, et seq.
  2. His commission as Post-Captain bears date Dec. 22, 1796.
  3. See note †, at p. 259.
  4. See note at p. 129, et seq.