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Royal Naval Biography/Purchas, William Jardine


WILLIAM JARDINE PURCHAS, Esq.
[Captain of 1828.]

Second and youngest son of John Purchas, of Cambridge, Esq. by Elizabeth Sharpe, daughter of a clergyman in Suffolk; and brother to the late Captain John Purchas, who served as a subaltern of H.M. 20th regiment at the battle of Maida; commanded a company of the 76th during the peninsular war; and fell before Plattsburg, in the state of New York, towards the close of the late contest between Great Britain and America.

Mr. W. J. Purchas was born at Cambridge in 1788; entered the navy, in 1803, under the patronage of Admiral Sir Henry Trollope; and served the greater part of his time as midshipman, under the Hon. Alan Hyde (afterwards Lord) Gardner, in the Hero 74, Ville de Paris 110, and Bellerophon 74, on the Channel and North Sea stations. He was consequently present at the capture of two Spanish line-of-battle ships, by Sir Robert Calder, July 22d, 1805; of four French two-deckers, by Sir Richard J. Strachan, Nov. 4th, in the same year; and at the surrender of Rear-Admiral Linois, to part of the squadron under Sir John B. Warren, Mar. 13th, 1606[1].

In 1809, the Bellerophon, then commanded by Captain Samuel Warren, was attached to the Baltic fleet; and on the 7th of July, Mr. Purchas served in her barge, under Lieutenant John Skekel, at the capture and destruction of seven Russian gunboats, a large armed ship, and twelve transports, near Percola Point, in the Gulf of Finland[2]. On the 7th of December following, he passed his examination; and on the 9th, was promoted into the Erebus sloop, Captain William Autridge.

Lieutenant Purchas’s subsequent appointments were – Oct. 13th, 1813, from the Erebus to the Carnation sloop, Captain George Bentham, fitting out for the Jamaica station; – Mar. 25th, 1827, to the Alert sloop. Captain John Smith[3]; – and, Sept. 5th, 1817, to be first of the Scamander frigate, Captain William Elliot, C.B., employed at the Leeward Islands. His commission as commander bears date Dec. 7th, 1818; from which period he remained on half-pay for nearly six years.

We next find this officer commanding the Esk 20, on the African station, where he captured nine Brazilian, Dutch, and Spanish vessels, with 2249 slaves, between July 17th, 1825, and Feb. 8th, 1827. He subsequently assisted in completing the establishment at Fernando Po; conveyed stock from St. Helena to Ascension; and brought home a quantity of gold dust and ivory, with which he arrived at Spithead May 1st, 1828. His promotion to the rank of captain took place on the 16th of the same month. Mrs. Purchas, to whom he was married in Aug. 1820, is the youngest daughter of the late William Hills, of Chancery Lane, London, Esq.