Royal Naval Biography/Skekel, John

[Post-Captain of 1825.]

Entered the royal navy in Dec. 1795 ; and served in various ships, as midshipman, master’s-mate, and lieutenant, until June, 1803, when he assisted at the capture of St. Lucia[1], and received a commission appointing him to the Pandour 44, armed en flûte, which ship formed part of the force under Commodore Hood, at the reduction of Surinam, in May, 1804. During the operations against that colony, Lieutenant Skekel was employed in the flotilla on the Commewyne river[2].

In Feb. 1806, the Pandour having been paid off on her return to England, this officer was appointed to the Hero 74, Captain the Hon. Alan Hyde Gardner, under whom he bore a part in Sir Robert Calder’s action with the combined fleets of France and Spain, July 22d, 1805[3]; and was wounded while assisting at the capture of four French line-of-battle ships, Nov. 4th following[4]. He also witnessed the surrender of the Marengo 80, and Belle Poule frigate, the former bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Linois, Mar. 13th, 1806[5]. The total loss sustained by Sir Richard J. Strachan’s squadron, in action with that under Mons. Dumanoir le Pelley, was only 24 killed and 111 wounded; of which numbers, the Hero alone, as a proof of the conspicuous share she took in the combat, had 10 slain and 51 wounded.

Lieutenant Skekel’s next appointment was, in 1807, to the Ville de Paris, 110, flag-ship of Admiral Lord Gardner, then commanding the Channel fleet; and after the retirement of that veteran chief from the fatigues of service, he rejoined his son, whose flag, as Rear-Admiral, had been recently hoisted on board the Bellerophon 74, Captain Samuel Warren.

From this period we And no particular mention of Lieutenant Skekel until July 7th, 1809, when he commanded one of the boats of the Bellerophon, and highly distinguished himself in a most brilliant and successful attack upon a Russian flotilla, the official account of which achievement has been given at p. 369 et seq, of Suppl. Part III. For this service he received, in common with his brother officers, the thanks of the Board of Admiralty, and was, we believe, ultimately promoted to the command of the Fly sloop, by commission dated June 28th, 1811.

Captain Skekel’s subsequent appointments were, – about the close of the same year, to the Gluckstadt, of 18 guns, which vessel was soon found unfit for further service; – May 16th, 1812, to the Bold 14, in which he suffered shipwreck, during a strong N.E. gale, near the north end of Prince Edward’s island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sept. 27th, 1813; – June 7th, 1814, to the Plover 18, fitting out for the Newfoundland station, where he remained until the end of the year 1816; – and in May, 1823, to be superintending commander of H.M. ships in ordinary at Plymouth. His promotion to the rank of captain took place May 27th, 1825.

Agent.– J. Hinxman, Esq.