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Royal Naval Biography/Spry, Thomas


THOMAS SPRY, Esq
(Late Davy.)


This officer is related to the late Admiral Sir Richard Spry, whose surname he adopted on succeeding to his extensive landed property in Cornwall. He obtained the rank of Post-Captain, May 5, 1778, and in the same year commanded the Europe, of 64 guns, under the orders of Commodore Evans, in the expedition against the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, on the coast of Newfoundland. They were taken possession of on the 14th September. The French fishery was entirely destroyed, and their boats, &c. burnt in all those parts where they had been permitted to dry their fish. This service having been accomplished, Captain Spry exchanged ships with the late Sir Richard King, and, in the month of November, returned to England in the Pallas, of 36 guns.

On the 13th May, 1779, the Pallas formed part of a small squadron under Sir James Wallace, when that officer followed several French men of war into Concale Bay, and succeeded in capturing la Danäe, of 34 guns and 250 men. The remainder, consisting of la Valeur, 26 guns, la Recluse, 24, la Dieppe, 16, and several smaller vessels, were destroyed.

In the following year Captain Spry commanded the Ulysses, of 44 guns, on the Jamaica station. On the 2d of Oct. that ship lost all her masts in a hurricane, which extended its rage to almost all the other islands: it was attended with frequent and violent shocks of an earthquake; an extraordinary and sudden elevation of the sea broke in and overwhelmed the town of Savanna le Mar, and on its retreat swept every thing away, so us not to leave the smallest vestige of man, beast, or house behind. The wretched inhabitants, who had fled in time and escaped the ravages of this most wonderful phenomenon, on their return beheld nothing but ruin and desolation. Every part of the island felt the terrible effects of this violent hurricane, but in a less degree[1].

Captain Spry continued on the Jamaica station until the conclusion of the war, in 1783, since which time he has lived in retirement. He was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, June 1st, 1795; Vice-Admiral, Feb. 14th, 1799; and Admiral, Nov. 9th, 1805.

Residence.– Killaganoon, co. Cornwall.

  1. The squadron which had sailed from Port Royal with the trade for Europe, under Rear-Admiral Rowley, shared in this dreadful calamity. That officer, with five of his ships, returned to Jamaica dismasted and in a most shattered condition. The Stirling Castle, of 64 guns, Captain R. Carket, was totally lost on the Silver Keys, near Hispaniola, and only 50 of the crew saved. The melancholy fate of the Thunderer, of 74 guns, bearing the broad pendant of the Hon. Commodore Walsingham, was still more calamitous, having foundered, and every soul perished. Several other ships of war experienced the most horrible distress from this terrible conflict of the elements. Further particulars of this event will be found under the head of Admiral John Holloway.