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Royal Naval Biography/Stanfell, Francis

[Post-Captain of 1810.]

Was made a Lieutenant July 31, 1795, and promoted to the rank of Commander Feb. 4, 1803; previous to which the Turkish gold medal had been presented to him for his services during the Egyptian campaign.

Early in 1806, Captain Stanfell was appointed to the Scorpion brig, of 18 guns, then at the Leeward Islands, to which station he proceeded as a passenger on board one of the Falmouth packets. On his arrival at Barbadoes, he had the mortification to find that his brig had been taken to the coast of America, by Sir John B. Warren; and after many months anxious expectation, during which he resided onshore at a great expense, he received letters from England acquainting him that she had returned to Europe, and that there was no probability of his being able to join her unless he likewise came home.

In consequence of this information, Captain Stanfell hastened back to England, and assumed the command of the Scorpion, on the Plymouth station, in the spring of 1807. On the 21st Nov. in the same year, he captured la Glaneuse, French ketch privateer, a remarkably fine vessel, of 16 guns and 80 men.

Availing himself of information obtained from his prisoners relative to le Glaneur, a celebrated privateer which had been repeatedly pursued, but always escaped by superiority of sailing, Captain Stanfell immediately went in search of that vessel, and had the good fortune to capture her, on the 3d Dec, after a chase of 12 hours. This latter ketch mounted 10 guns, with a complement of 60 men; and was well known at Lloyd’s to have done more mischief than all the privateers out of St. Maloes, having run two years with uninterrupted luck.

We next find Captain Stanfell employed blockading Basseterre, Guadaloupe; near which anchorage, and under the fire of a land battery, he captured, after an action of two hours, l’Oreste French national brig of 16 guns and 130 men, including several naval and military passengers. The enemy, on this occasion, had 2 killed and 10 wounded; the Scorpion not a man slain, and only 4 wounded. This gallant service was performed in the night of Jan. 11, 1810[1].

The following are extracts from Sir Alexander Cochrane’s letter to the Admiralty, announcing the subsequent conquest of Guadaloupe:

“Captains Stanfell, Elliott, and Flin, with detachments of seamen, were attached to the second division of the army; * * * * with all of whom the General is highly satisfied[2].

“I have entrusted this despatch to Captain Stanfell, who has been actively employed on this service, and will consequently be able to give such further particulars as their Lordships may require: and I take leave to mention him as an officer whose zeal and merit entitle him to their lordships’ protection.”

Captain Stanfell returned home in the Hazard sloop; arrived at the Admiralty, March 15, 1810; and was promoted to post rank on the 19th of the same month. His subsequent appointments were to the Druid 32, Cossack 22, and Bacchante 38; in which latter ship he proceeded from the Mediterranean to Bermuda and North America, at the close of the war with France, in 1814.

The Bacchante formed part of the squadron under Rear-Admiral Griffith (now Colpoys), at the capture of Castine; and was afterwards sent to take possession of Belfast, a town on the western side of Penobscot bay, through which the high road from Boston runs, for the purpose of cutting off all communication with that side of the country; whilst a naval and military force, under Captain Robert Barrie and Lieutenant-Colonel John, proceeded to attack Hamden; the result of which expedition has been stated at pp. 729–733 of Vol. II. Part II.

So soon as accounts were received from Captain Barrie, that the U.S. ship Adams was destroyed, and the force assembled for her protection dispersed, the troops stationed at Belfast were again embarked by Captain Stanfell, and arrangements made for sending them to take possession of Machias, the only place between Castine and Passamaquaddy bay, then occupied by the enemy. This service was performed without loss, under the directions of Captain Hyde Parker, commanding the Tenedos frigate, and Lieutenant-Colonel Pilkington, D.A.G.

Since the peace with America, the subject of this sketch has commanded the Phaeton frigate, and Conqueror 74. In the former ship he conveyed Sir Hudson Lowe from England to St. Helena; in the latter he served as Flag-Captain to Rear-Admiral Plamplin, during the last two years of that officer’s command at St. Helena.

The Conqueror was paid off Oct. 30, 1820; on which occasion her officers gave Captain Stanfell an elegant entertainment, at the Mitre hotel, Chatham, as a mark of their esteem for him, and an acknowledgment of his constant attention to their comforts. We very much regret that it is not in our power to give a fuller account of the services of such a kindhearted man, whom we likewise most highly respect.

Captain Stanfell married, Dec. 12, 1810, Elizabeth, second daughter of Captain (now Vice-Admiral) Robert Barton. One of his sisters was married to the late James Cobb, Esq. Secretary to the Hon. East India Company, a gentleman eminently distinguished by his literary attainments, as displayed in the operas of the “Haunted Tower,” “The Siege of Belgrade,” &c. &c. &c.[3]

  1. See Nav. Chron. Vol. xxiii. p. 429; and Vol. xxv. p. 461.
  2. See Sir George Beckwith’s General Orders of Feb. 7, 1810; at p. 879. of Vol. I. Part II.
  3. See Annual Biog. and Obit. for 1819, p. 363; and Nav. Chron. Vol. xxxix, p. 498.