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Royal Naval Biography/Seymour, Michael

Knight Commander of the most Honourable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1800.]

This officer is the second son of the late Rev. John Seymour, Rector of Abington, and Chancellor of Emly, in Ireland, and a Chaplain to the Archbishop of Cashel, by the youngest daughter of William Hobart, of High Mount, co. Cork, Esq.

He was born at Palace, in the county of Limerick, Nov. 8, 1768; and commenced his professional career as a Midshipman on board the Merlin sloop of war, commanded by the Hon. James Luttrell, in Nov. 1780. He subsequently served with the same officer in the Portland 50, Mediator 44, and Ganges of 74 guns.

Whilst serving in the Mediator, Mr. Seymour participated in a very warm action between that ship and a French squadron of far superior force; the result of which was the capture of le Menagere, a frigate armed en flute, and l’Alexandre of 24 guns.

Mr. Seymour left the Ganges in 1783; and from that period was almost constantly employed in different ships till Nov. 1790, when he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, in the Magnificent 74. His next appointment was to the Marlborough, another third rate, in which ship he lost an arm on the memorable 1st June, 1794[1].

As a Commander, the subject of this memoir served about five years in the Spitfire sloop of war, on the Channel station; and, among other prices, captured l’Allégrée, a French vessel laden with ammunition and other warlike stores; six privateers, carrying in the whole, 7 guns and 301 men; and a transport armed with 14 guns. His post commission bears date Aug. 11, 1800.

At length, after acting as Captain of several line-of-battle ships and frigates, our officer obtained the permanent command of the Amethyst, rated at 36, but mounting 42 guns, with a complement of 261 men and boys; in which ship, whilst cruising) near l’Orient, he fell in with, and after a long, sharply contested, and bloody action at close quarters, captured la Thetis, a French frigate of 44 guns and 436 men (including soldiers); of whom, according to Captain Seymour’s account, 136. were killed and 102 wounded. The Amethyst had 19 slain and 51 wounded. This brilliant exploit was performed in the night of Nov. 10, 1808.

His late Majesty was graciously pleased to signify his most gracious approbation of Captain Seymour’s distinguished conduct in the action with la Thetis, by presenting him with the naval gold medal: the Corporation of Cork and Limerick voted him the freedom of those cities; that of the former, to be delivered in a silver box; the latter, in a box made of oak, and ornamented with gold. He also received a piece of plate, value 100 guineas, from the Patriotic Fund at Lloyd’s[2].

On the 6th April, 1809, Captain Seymour captured le Niemen of 46 guns and 319 men. The enemy had 47 killed and 73 wounded: the Amethyst, of whose crew a Lieutenant and 37 men were absent in prizes, sustained a loss of 8 slain and 37 wounded. In the course of the following month, Captain Seymour was raised to the dignity of a Baronet of Great Britain, as a reward for his gallant conduct in thus adding a second large frigate to the royal navy[3].

During the ensuing summer, we find Sir Michael Seymour serving with the Walcheren expedition. He was afterwards appointed in succession to the command of his prize le Niemen, and the Hannibal of 74 guns. On the 26th March, 1814, the latter ship captured la Sultane French frigate, of 44 guns and 330 men. This vessel had previously suffered considerable damage in an action with two British cruisers.

Sir Michael Seymour was nominated a K.C.B. in Jan. 1815; and at present commands a royal yacht. His pension for the loss of an arm is, we believe, 300l. per annum. He married Jane, third daughter of the late Captain James Hawker, R.N., and has several children. His brother Richard was first Lieutenant of the Amazon frigate, and fell in the action between her and the Belle Poule, in March 1 806.

Agent.– M‘Inerheney, Esq.

  1. See note †, at p. 15.
  2. La Thetis was bound to Martinique, and had on board 1000 barrels of flour, together with a quantity of other stores. A painting by Dodd, representing the action between her and the Amethyst, was exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1809.
  3. The French Captain’s bombastic account of this action appears at full length in the Nav. Chron. v. 22, p. 93, et seq. We should here observe that the Amethyst, after beating her opponent, but previous to the enemy’s surrender, was joined by the Arethusa frigate, commanded by the late Sir Robert Mends. Of this circumstance M. du Potet avails himself in so great a degree, as actually to declare that the Amethyst had struck to him, and was about to be taken possession of when her friend appeared in sight!!