Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Pleydell-Bouverie, Duncombe

[Post-Captain of 1802.]

This officer is the second son of Jacob, present Earl of Radnor, by Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Anthony Duncombe, Baron Faversham (a title now extinct). He was born June 28, 1780; entered at the Royal Academy at Portsmouth, in January 1793; and removed from thence to the Latona frigate in April 1795.

Mr. Bouverie having completed the established period of service as a Midshipman on board the Latona and Cambrian, under the command of Captain the Hon. A. K. Legge, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 16th Feb. 1799: he subsequently accompanied Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis to the Cape of Good Hope, in the Lancaster of 64 guns, from which ship he was made a Commander into the Penguin sloop of war, by commission dated in Feb. 1801. His promotion to the rank of Post-Captain took place April 28, 1802, on which occasion he was appointed to the Braave of 40 guns.

At the renewal of the war, in 1803, we find Captain Bouverie commanding the Mercury, a 28-gun frigate, fitted as a floating battery for the defence of Guernsey. In Dec. 1804 he sailed from Portsmouth as convoy to the outward-bound Mediterranean trade: and on the 4th Feb. following, he captured El Fuerte de Gibraltar, a Spanish vessel of 4 guns and 59 men, from Cadiz bound to Algeziras. His next appointment was about Aug. 1805, to l’Aimable 32, in which ship he fell in with and was chased by a French squadron under M. Richery, when proceeding to join Lord Nelson’s fleet off Cadiz. Early in 1806 he was removed to the Medusa frigate, then under orders for the East Indies, but afterwards sent to the Rio de la Plata, where he joined the squadron under Sir Home Popham, Oct. 7, 1806, and continued to serve till the final evacuation of Spanish America, Sept. 9, 1807. The Medusa returned to Spithead with Lieutenant-General Whitelocke and his staff on the 7th Nov. in the same year[1].

On the 4th April 1808, Captain Bouverie captured l’Actif French privateer of 14 guns, near Dunnose. He was subsequently ordered to the coast of Labrador, where he remained three months under the orders of Captain Thomas Manby of the Thalia frigate[2]. On his return from that inhospitable station, we find him employed as a cruiser in the British Channel, and Bay of Biscay, where he captured the French privateers l’Aventure, of 14 guns and 82 men, l’Hirondelle, of 14 guns and 75 men, and several other of the enemy’s vessels: and about the same period he appears to have been elected M.P. for Downton, in Wiltshire.

In the night of June 4, 1812, the boats of the Medusa, under the directions of Lieutenant Josiah Thompson, were sent by Captain Bouverie to attack a French store-ship lying in the harbour of Arcasson; and notwithstanding the rapidity of the tide and the intricacy of the navigation, succeeded in getting alongside, although discovered and hailed by the enemy before they arrived within musket-shot. The Frenchmen it appears were at their quarters, and perfectly prepared to resist the attack; but nothing could baffle the impetuosity of Lieutenant Thompson.who rushed on board at the head of his gallant party, and carried the ship after a desperate struggle, in which the whole of her crew, excepting 23 men, were either killed or compelled to jump overboard: among the latter was her commander, a Lieutenant de vaisseau, severely wounded.

The prize proved to be la Dorade, mounting 14 guns, with a complement of 86 men, and a full cargo of ship timber. At day-light she was got under weigh; but after proceeding about a league down the harbour she grounded on a sand-bank, and the tide then running out with great violence, the captors were obliged to set her on fire, by which means she was soon completely destroyed. In the execution of this spirited enterprise the Medusa had none killed, and only 5 men wounded.

From this period Captain Bouverie was employed in a series of active operations on the north coast of Spain, and his zeal and exertions were repeatedly noticed in Sir Home Popham’s despatches, extracts from which will be found under the head of Sir George Collier, Bart, at p. 523, et seq, He left the Medusa in June 1813, and has not since been afloat.

Captain Bouverie married, Dec. 27, 1808, Louisa, second daughter of the late Joseph May, of Hale House, co. Wilts, Esq., and by that lady has one daughter.

  1. The Medusa assisted at the capture of the town of Maldonado, and the island of Gorrite, in Oct. 1806. The operations of the British from that period till the final evacuation of Spanish America, have already been detailed in our memoirs of Sir Josias Rowley, and other officers. See vol. I, note at p. 624, et seq.
  2. See vol. II. part I. p. 210, et seq.