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Royal Naval Biography/Pearson, Richard Harrison

[Post-Captain of 1798.]

This officer, a descendant from the elder branch of the Pearsons of Kippencross, in Scotland, is the eldest son of the late Sir Richard Pearson, Knt., who died Lieutenant-Governor of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, in Jan. 1806, by Margaret, third daughter of Francis Harrison, of Appleby, Westmoreland, Esq.[1].

He was made a Lieutenant in 1793; commanded the Stork sloop of war in 1797, and in that vessel captured the Lynx, a French privateer of 14 guns and 50 men. His post commission bears date Aug. 7, 1798.

On the 18th May 1803, the very day on which the declaration of renewed hostilities against France issued from St. James’s, Captain Pearson, in the Doris frigate, being off Ushant, fell in with and captured l’Affronteur, a French lugger of 14 guns, long 9-pounders, and 92 men. This vessel kept up a running fight with the Doris till the instant Captain Pearson laid her alongside; nor did she then give up a contest so fraught with temerity, until 9 men, including her captain, were killed, and 14 wounded. Luckily only 1 man was wounded on board the frigate. From this period Captain Pearson cruised, with very great success, against the enemy’s trade, until the month of September following, when he was obliged to come on shore through ill health. He subsequently commanded the Dictator of 64 guns, and Benbow, a third-rate. The latter ship received the flag of the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, when the Lords Commissioners, attended by the Navy, Transport, and Victualling Boards, visited Portsmouth, in September 1818.

Captain Pearson married, in 1799, Miss Maria Holmes, of Westcombe Park, near Greenwich.

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  1. Sir Richard Pearson was the officer who, in Sept. 1779, with his own ship, the Serapis, and the Countess of Scarborough, an armed vessel, whose joint force amounted to 64 guns and 380 men, so gallantly defended himself against four of the enemy’s ships, carrying 126 guns and 1100 men, commanded by that notorious trailer and freebooter, Paul Jones, a naturalized subject of the United States, and by his gallant exertions prevented a fleet under his convoy, valued at upwards of 600,000l. sterling, from being captured. A portrait and memoir of Sir Richard will be found in the Nav. Chron v. 24. p. 353, et seq.