Royal Naval Biography/Roberts, John Walter

[Post-Captain of 1823.]

Eldest son of the Rev. William[errata 1] Roberts, D.D. Vice-Provost of Eton College, and Rector of Worplesdon, co. Surrey, by a daughter of the late Colonel John Gore, Lieutenant-Governor of the Tower of London, and sister to Vice-Admiral Sir John Gore, K.C.B[1].

This officer was born in 1792; and entered the navy, as midshipman on board the Medusa frigate, commanded by his maternal uncle, under whom he served, in that ship and the Revenge 74, from Dec. 1804 until Aug. 1808. During this period he visited the Cape Verd Islands, Calcutta, St Helena, and Cadiz; saw much active service off Brest, l’Orient, and Rochefort; and witnessed the capture of four French frigates of the largest class, by part of the squadron under Sir Samuel Hood, who lost his right arm in the action[2].

Mr. Roberts next joined the Endymion frigate, Captain the Hon. Thomas Bladen Capel, and continued in her until Sir John Gore assumed the command of the Tonnant 80, in Sept. 1810, when he again became one of his midshipmen. From the latter ship, he was promoted into the Armada 74, Captain Charles Grant, on the Mediterranean station, March 0, 1812. Me afterwards successively served in the Repulse 74, Captain Richard Hussey Moubray, employed off Toulon; l’Impérieuse frigate, Captain the Hon. Henry Duncan, on the coast of Italy; and Revenge, as flag-lieutenant to Sir John Gore, in the Adriatic. His advancement to the rank of commander took place Aug. 26th, 1814.

On the 18th April, 1820, Captain Roberts was appointed to the Shearwater brig, in which he proceeded to St, Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, and Mauritius. While commanding that vessel, he was obliged to throw all her guns overboard in a tremendous gale of wind.

The Shearwater was paid off at Portsmouth, in the beginning of 1822; and in June following, Captain Roberts received an appointment to the Thracian 18, fitting out for the Jamaica station, where his boats, under the command of Lieutenant Amos Plymsell, assisted those of the Tyne 28, Captain John Edward Walcott, in capturing the Spanish piratical schooner Zaragozana, mounting one long 18-pounder, four 9-pounders, and eight swivels, with a crew of from 70 to 80 men, of whom 24 were soon afterwards sentenced to death, and executed. The particulars of this capture, and copies of documents shewing the importance attached to it, both by the commander-in-chief at Jamaica and the Board of Admiralty, have been given at pp. 392–395 of Suppl. Part IV.

In April, 1823, Captain Roberts, “who, on every occasion throughout the period of his service with Captain Walcott, had manifested a zeal and effort commanding the applause of all,” was appointed to succeed that officer in the command of the Tyne, stationed on the coasts of Cuba and Mexico, from whence he brought home 500,000 dollars and a quantity of cochineal, on merchants’ account, Dec. 15th following. He was promoted to post-rank, June 16, 1823; and put out of commission soon after his return from the West Indies, where the Tyne appears to have suffered much from yellow fever, and lost many of her crew.

Captain Roberts married, in Nov. 1825, Frances, daughter of John Sargent, of Lavington Park, co. Sussex, Esq. formerly M.P. for Seaford. One of his sisters is married to Captain George Wyndham, R.N. nephew to the Earl of Egremont.

  1. See Suppl. Part II. p. 466. The father of the above mentioned Dr. Roberts was Provost of Eton. His family originally came from Gloucestershire, but have been long settled in the county of Monmouth.
  2. See Id. p. 481. et seq.

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