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Royal Naval Biography/Stamp, Thomas

[Post-Captain of 1814.]

Fifth son of Thomas Stamp, of Sunderland, Esq. a considerable ship-owner, by Mary, daughter of Warren Maude, of Sunnyside, co. Durham, Esq. a branch of the Yorkshire family of that name.[1]

At the age of 14 years, Mr. Thomas Stamp, junior, was bound apprentice to his father, in whose employ he continued, in the coal trade, for a period of three years, when he ran away in consequence of his having been refused the command of a vessel, to which he felt himself competent. He then entered on board a South Sea whaler, and in her made a voyage to the Pacific. On his return from thence, he again entered into his father’s service, it being agreed upon that he should very soon have the command of a large ship; but before this could be effected she was unfortunately wrecked at the upper part of the Swin, and there abandoned to the underwriters. This ship was afterwards raised out of the sand, into which she had sunk many feet, by a plan of his suggestion.

In Aug. 1790, Mr. Stamp joined the Egmont 74, commanded by the late Commissioner Charles Hope, to whom he was recommended by the Countess of Darlington, mother of the present peer. In the spring of 1791, we find him in the Otter sloop. Captain James Hardy, and from that period he appears to have been entrusted with the charge of a watch until he was made a lieutenant. In 1793, he removed to the Astrea 32, Captain Robert Moorsom, under whose successor. Lord Henry Paulet, he assisted at the capture of la Gloire French frigate, April 10, 1795.[2]

Soon after this event, Mr. Stamp followed Lord Henry Paulet into the Thalia 36, which ship was attached to Lord Bridport’s fleet at the capture of three French two-deckers, near l’Orient, June 23, 1795. In Dec. 1796, he passed his examination, and, being strongly recommended by his captain, was immediately promoted.

On the 28th Dec. 1797, Lieutenant Stamp, then first of the Termagant sloop. Captain David Lloyd, assisted at the capture of la Victoire French schooner privateer, of 14 guns and 74 men, on the North Sea station. He subsequently served in the same vessel, under Captains R. Allen and William Skipsey, on the coast of North America[3].

Lieutenant Stamp’s next appointment was, in 1800, to the Defence 74, commanded by Lord Henry Paulet, who had applied for him to be first of that ship, but which request the Admiralty refused to comply with, in consequence of his being so young an officer. On the 11th June, in the same year, he assisted at the capture of la Nochette French gunboat, mounting 2 long 24-pounders, a chasse marée of 10 guns, another of 6, and eight sail of transports; the following is a copy of the official letter written on that occasion:–

H.M. S. Fisgard, off the Penmarks, June 11.

“Sir,– In pursuance of the directions you gave me yesterday evening, two boats from each ship named in the margin[4], assembled on board the Fisgard, in order to attack the convoy lying at St. Croix; and at 11 o’clock, being as near the shore as the darkness of the night would permit, they proceeded under the command of the following officers: Lieutenant Burke, Renown; Lieutenant Green, and Lieutenant Gerard, R.M. Fisgard; Lieutenant Stamp, Defence; and Lieutenant Price, Unicorn; but the wind being fresh from the S.E. prevented their reaching the above anchorage till after day-light; when, in opposition to a heavy battery, three armed vessels, and a constant fire of musketry from the shore, they took the three armed vessels and eight others, laden with supplies for the fleet at Brest; the rest, amounting to 20 sail, ran upon the rocks, where many of them will certainly be lost.

“I have the pleasure to assure you, that the officers and men employed on this service, shewed a degree of zeal and intrepidity that can only be equalled by the cool, steady conduct which I had the satisfation to observe in them, when passing through a very intricate navigation, under a constant discharge of cannon from the shore.

“Lieutenant Burke speaks highly in favor of Mr. Jane, acting lieutenant of the Renown, Mr. Fleming, mate of the Fisgard, and Lieutenant Killogrivoff, of the Russian service, a volunteer; and I am glad they have had this opportunity of recommending themselves to your notice.

“The enemy have lost several officers and men, and I am sorry to annex the names of several wounded in our boats[5].

“I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)T. B. Martin.”

To Rear-Admiral Sir John B. Warren, Bart. K.B.

The Defence was one of the three ships sent by Sir Hyde Parker to reinforce Nelson’s division at the battle of Copenhagen, April 2, 1801[6]. She subsequently proceeded to Gibraltar, where Mr. Stamp became first lieutenant, in which capacity he continued to serve until she was paid off, on her return from the West Indies, in 1802.

During the peace of Amiens, Mr. Stamp obtained the command of a West Indiaman, and he was about to sail from the river Humber for Grenada, when he received an appointment to the Terrible 74, in which ship he served as senior lieutenant under his warm and constant friend. Lord Henry Paulet, for a period of 6 years.

After the renewal of hostilities, in 1803, the Terrible was employed in the blockade of the enemy’s ports; and she formed part of the squadron under Sir Richard J. Strachan, when that officer went to St. Helena, in quest of Jerome Buonaparte and his companions.

On the 19th May, 1806, Sir Richard again sailed from Plymouth in pursuit of the same French squadron; and on this occasion he was likewise accompanied by the Terrible. After cruising for some time off Madeira and the Canaries, he proceeded to Barbadoes, where he received so good information, that the night of Aug. 18th fell upon him, and the object of his search, nearly in the same latitude, and within a degree of the same longitude. In the tremendous hurricane which then commenced, and continued with unabated violence for 36 hours, the Terrible was totally dismasted, and had all her boats either blown or washed away; her tiller snapped in two, and the spare one was scarcely shipped before it broke also: – in this alarming situation, and left to the fury of the storm, without a vessel of any description in sight, one of the lower-deck guns nearly got adrift, but providentially, through the active exertions of her officers and crew, the imminent danger that seemed to threaten every one on board was speedily averted. In 48 hours after the hurricane subsided, she was completely jury-rigged, and ready to set studding-sails if wanted!!

We next find the Terrible employed on the Mediterranean station, where Lieutenant Stamp was, in 1809, successively appointed, by Lord Collingwood, to act as commander of the Scout, Redwing, and Halcyon brigs. In one of these vessels, and while serving under the orders of Captain Francis William Fane, he assisted at the capture of a French convoy, near Cette; but we have not been able to obtain the particulars of that service. When superseded in the command of the two former, he lived with his lordship, and received from him many marks of kind attention. His commission as commander was confirmed by the Admiralty, Dec. 23, 1809, exactly 13 years after his promotion to the rank of lieutenant. The Halcyon was stationed in the Faro of Messina, during the greater part of the time that Sicily was threatened with an invasion. While thus employed, she had several smart affairs with the enemy on the coast of Calabria, where she sunk a privateer, and destroyed a fort under which the marauder had run for protection. On the 24th July, 1810, she assisted at the destruction of two armed feluccas, near Cape del Arme, where they were for a long time defended by their crews, some soldiers, and the neighbouring peasantry[7].

Captain Stamp subsequently went up the Adriatic, and was there chased a day and a night by the French frigates afterwards taken off Lissa. On this occasion, finding the Halcyon hard pressed, he took in her studding-sails, let fly the royal, top-gallant, and top-sail sheets, fired a complete round of great guns, and luffed up, all the same moment. This manoeuvre had the desired effect. The Frenchmen, who until then had been gaining upon him, immediately hauled to the wind likewise, and were followed by the little brig alone for several hours.

On the 7th Oct. 1813, Captain Stamp was appointed to the Pandora brig, of 18 guns, in which vessel, after cruising for some time on the Channel station, he escorted a fleet of merchantmen to Oporto, Lisbon, and the Mediterranean. At the close of the war with France, in 1814, he sailed from Gibraltar for Bermuda, in company with a squadron under the orders of Captain Andrew King, and a fleet of transports, having on board part of the troops recently employed against Genoa. On the passage thither he was sent in search of a large American schooner privateer, which vessel he fell in with and chased during six successive days and nights, obliging her to throw guns and every thing else overboard in order to effect her escape. During this long pursuit, the Pandora was swept no less than 84 miles.

Captain Stamp subsequently cruised in the neighbourhood of the Bermudas, where he re-captured a British merchant ship, worth 18,000l. sterling, and discovered a bank hitherto unknown. His post commission bears date June 7, 1814. This active officer married, in 1819, Elizabeth Margaret, eldest daughter of Joseph Maude, of Kendal, co. Westmoreland, Esq.

Agent.– John Chippendale, Esq.

  1. See p. 249.
  2. See Vol. I. Part II. p. 514.
  3. Captain R. Allen died at Halifax, Nov. 2, 1799.
  4. Renown, Fisgard, Defence, and Unicorn.
  5. 2 petty officers, 1 marine, and 1 seaman; the latter dangerously.
  6. See Vol. I. Part I. note at p. 370.
  7. See Suppl. Part II. p. 912.