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Royal Naval Biography/Stewart, Allan


Obtained his first commission in Aug. 1799; and was senior lieutenant of the Alceste frigate, commanded by the late Sir Murray Maxwell, at the capture and destruction of a Spanish convoy, under the batteries of Rota, near Cadiz, April 4th, 1808.[1] The following is an extract of his captain’s official letter on that occasion:

“The situation of our little squadron was rather a critical one, tacking every fifteen minutes close on the edge of the shoal, with the wind in, and frequently engaged both sides. In the heat of the action, the first lieutenant, Allan Stewart, volunteered to board the convoy, if I would give him the boats. I was so struck with the gallantry of the offer, that I could not retrain from granting them, although attended with great risk. He went, accompanied by Lieutenants Pipon and Hawkey, of the royal marines (who most handsomely volunteered to go, as their men were chiefly employed in working the ship); Messrs. Arscott and Day, master’s-mates; and Messrs. Parker, Adair, Croker, M‘Caul, and M‘Lean, midshipmen; they were soon followed by the Mercury’s boats, under the command of Lieutenant Watkin Owen Pell, who was accompanied by Lieutenant Gordon, Lieutenant Whylock (R.M.), and Messrs. Du Cane[errata 1] and Comyn, master’s-mates. The boats, led by Lieutenant Stewart, pushed on in the most gallant manner, boarded and brought out seven tartans from under the very muzzles of the enemy’s guns, and from under the protection of the barges and pinnaces of the combined fleet, which had, by that time, joined the gun-boats” [twenty in number].

In the summer of 1810, Lieutenant Stewart, after having assisted in destroying several armed vessels and martello towers, on the coast of Italy, was sent with a message from Captain Maxwell to the French officer commanding at the mouth of the Tiber; who, disregarding the sanctity of a flag of truce, confined him for several weeks in a dungeon, and at length sent him off as a prisoner to Verdun[2]. His promotion to the rank of commander took place on the 15th June, 1814.

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