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Royal Naval Biography/Stanley, William Pearce

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WILLIAM PEARCE STANLEY, Esq.
[Commander.]

Is, we believe, a freeholder of Northumberlandshire. He entered the royal navy in Mar. 1798, as midshipman on board the Diomede 50, Captain the Hon. Charles Elphinstone (now Vice-Admiral Fleeming), under whom he served on various stations until Feb. 1801, when he joined the Adamant 50, Captain the Hon. (now Sir William) Hotham, in which ship he returned home from the Cape of Good Hope, about Nov. following. We subsequently find him in the Trusty 50, Captain Daniel O. Guion, and Conflict gun-brig, the latter employed on Channel service, during the peace of Amiens. On the renewal of hostilities, he rejoined his first captain, then commanding the Egyptienne frigate, in which he assisted at the capture of two French corvettes and one large privateer, and was present at the defeat of the combined fleets of France and Spain, by the fleet under Sir Robert Calder, July 22d, 1805.

In Oct. following, Mr. Stanley was removed into the Superb 74, bearing the flag of the late Sir John T. Duckworth, whom he accompanied to the West Indies in pursuit of a French squadron. He there joined the Northumberland 74, flagship of the Hon. (afterwards Sir Alexander I.) Cochrane, under whom he bore a part at the battle of St. Domingo, Feb. 6th, 1806. On the return of that ship to Barbadoes, he received an order to act as lieutenant; but this appointment was not confirmed by the Admiralty until Aug. 15th following.

On the 3d of the ensuing month, Mr. Stanley was appoined to the Pheasant sloop, commanded by the late Captain John Palmer, under whom he served as first lieutenant, on the South American, African, West Indian, Newfoundland, Guernsey, and Plymouth stations, until July 1814, a period of nearly eight years. In Jan. 1807, he commanded that sloop, employed in the blockade of the Spanish gun-vessels at Monte Video, during the absence of Captain Palmer, then attached to the army on shore under Sir Samuel Auchmuty. After the storming of that fortress, he assisted in taking possession of Colonia del Sacramento; and subsequently in capturing, at different periods, several French privateers and various other vessels[1].

Lieutenant Stanley’s next appointment was to be first of the Ethalion 42, Captain William Hugh Dobbie, in which ship he continued for a few months on the Irish station. From Sept. 18th, 1815, until Oct. 13th, 1818, he was first of the Tiber frigate. Captain James Richard Nacres. In April 1819, he obtained the command of the Swallow revenue cutter, of 165 tons, mounting six 6-pounder carronades and two small brass guns, with a complement of thirty-seven men and boys. On the 27th Feb. 1821, he captured in the North Sea, after a long chase and running fight, the Idas smuggling cutter, of 177 tons, having on board 700 tubs of spirits and about 50 bales of tobacco. During the chase, and after getting for a time out of gun-shot, the greater part of this vessel’s cargo and the whole of her guns, which appear to have been 9-pounders, were thrown overboard; and when the Swallow got alongside at night, she found her abandoned by her lawless crew, about thirty in number, though four or five leagues from the land. It afterwards appeared that three of them had been killed and several wounded. The Swallow had two men wounded. Both cutters suffered severely in sails and rigging. On the 19th July following, Lieutenant Stanley was promoted to the rank of commander.