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Royal Naval Biography/Rowe, Henry Nathaniel


Youngest son of the late Rev. Henry Rowe, LL.B. of Padnal Hall and Toby Priory, co. Essex, rector of Ringshall, in Suffolk, by Harriet, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Bland, vicar of Sittingbourn, co. Kent, and rector of Warley, in Essex. His grandfather, Nathaniel Rowe, of Eastworth House, Chertsey, co. Surrey, sailed round the world with Commodore (afterwards Lord) Anson, and was a nephew to Lord Bathurst, then High Chancellor of England. His more remote ancestor. Sir Thomas Rowe, was knighted in the field of battle, during the crusades, and from him branched the celebrated poet, Nicholas Rowe, who sang of Tamerlane, and whose mortal remains are entombed in Westminster Abbey.

This officer commenced his naval career at a very early age, under the auspices of Isaac Hawkins Browne, Esq., M.P. for Bridgenorth, by whom he was recommended to the protection of Captain Thomas Parr, commanding the flagship at the Great Nore, in 1798. He subsequently served under Captains Jeffery Raigersfeld, ____ Wright, and John Wight, in the Hermes and Wolverene sloops, on the North Sea and Channel stations; as supernumerary midshipman on board the Andromeda frigate. Captain James Bradby, with whom he proceeded to Martinique; as master’s-mate of l’Eclair schooner, Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) Kenneth M‘Kenzie; and as acting lieutenant of the Guachapin sloop, commanded by the same gallant officer, under whose orders he succeeded in cutting out many of the enemy’s vessels, and assisted in capturing several French privateers, on the West India station. From thence he returned home passenger on board the Arab 20, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore the Hon. Robert Stopford, Mar. 7th, 1803. We next find him joining the Impetueux 84, Captain (now Sir T. Byam) Martin; from which ship he was appointed sub-lieutenant of the Aimwell gun-brig, stationed in Blackwater river, about the close of 1804. On the 19th Mar. following, he obtained the rank of lieutenant in the Ajax 80, then commanded by Captain Christopher Laroche, but afterwards by Captain William Brown, in Sir Robert Calder’s action with the combined fleets of France and Spain; by Lieutenant John Pilfold, at the memorable battle of Trafalgar; and by Captain the Hon. Henry Blackwood, in the expedition against Constantinople. The destruction of that ship by fire, in the night of Feb. 14th, 1807, has been noticed in p. 648 et seq. of Vol. I. Part II.

During the subsequent operations of the squadron under Sir John T. Duckworth, Lieutenant Rowe served as a volunteer on board the Windsor Castle 98, Captain Charles Boyles, which ship, when returning through the Dardanelles, was struck by several marble shot of great size, one in particular measuring six feet eleven inches in circumference: her total loss, however, did not exceed four men killed, and twenty, including Mr. William Jones, master’s-mate, wounded.

Lieutenant Rowe’s next appointment was to the Valiant 74, Captain James Young, then about to sail for Copenhagen, under the orders of Admiral Gambier. During the siege of that capital, he was placed in command of the Charles armed transport, attached to the advanced squadron, which vessel was blown up by a shell pitching into her magazine, whilst engaged with the Danish flotilla and land batteries, Aug. 31st, 1807. On this unfortunate occasion, Lieutenant Rowe had his leg shattered above the knee, his collar-bone broken, his body dreadfully lacerated, and his head and face so violently contused, as to be for some time bereft of sight. Thus mangled, he fell into the sea at a considerable distance from the spot where the explosion took place, and was in the act of sinking when a seaman caught hold of his hair and dragged him into a boat belonging to the Thunder bomb, on board of which vessel he underwent immediate amputation: the other sufferers by the same unlucky event were thirty in number, of whom the master of the transport and nine men were killed, and a mate of the Valiant (named Philip Tomlinson) and nineteen men wounded, the former mortally.

On the 11th Jan. 1808, Lieutenant Rowe obtained a pension for his wounds, the present amount of which is 200l. per annum; and when sufficiently recovered he was ordered out to the Leeward Islands on promotion. He accordingly proceeded thither in the Rosamond sloop, Captain Benjamin Walker; and after serving for a short time in the Abercrombie 74, Captain (now Sir William Charles) Fahie, was advanced by Sir Alexander Cochrane to the command of the St. Christopher sloop, an appointment which appears to have been confirmed by the Admiralty, May 2d, 1810. After the reduction of Guadaloupe, he was removed to the Asp sloop, and sent home with despatches; since which he has not held any appointment.

In 1819, Commander Rowe published a poetical work, entitled “Sacred Beauties;” and he is now, we understand, employing his leisure hours on another, to be entitled “The Intellectual Globe,” and addressed to William Lawrence, Esq. Professor of Anatomy, author of “The Natural History of Man.”

This officer married Joanna, youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Crew, and allied to a very respectable family in Cheshire, by which lady he has issue two sons and five daughters. His elder brother, John, died of yellow fever, in the West Indies, while serving as midshipman on board the Severn 44, Captain John Whitby.