Royal Naval Biography/Stirling, James (b)


Is a son of John Stirling, of Kippendavie, Perthshire, Esq. by his wife, Mary Graham, of Airth, in Stirlingshire. This officer entered the royal navy in 1804, as midshipman on board the San Josef, first rate, bearing the flag of Sir Charles Cottort; and subsequently served in the Leonidas frigate. Captain Anselm John Griffiths, on the Mediterranean station. In 1810, he rejoined the former ship; and on the 20th May, 1811, was appointed lieutenant of the Leviathan 74, Captain Patrick Campbell. Early in the following year, he exchanged into the Blossom sloop, Captain William Stewart; and soon afterwards assisted at the capture of le Jean Bart, French schooner privateer, of seven guns and 106 men, near Majorca.

On the 29th April, 1812, the boats of the Blossom, in company with those of the Undaunted and Volontaire frigates, attacked a French convoy, near the mouth of the Rhone, brought out seven vessels, burnt twelve, including a national schooner of four guns and 74 men, and left two stranded on the beach. A boat of the Blossom, commanded by Lieut. Stirling, also captured and blew up two towers in the bay of St. Mary’s.

The subject of this sketch was next appointed to the Malta 80, bearing the flag of Rear Admiral Hallowell, (now Sir Benjamin H. Carew,) in which ship he was serving when made a commander, June 10th, 1814. During the usurpation of Napoleon, in 1615, he commissioned the Ferret sloop; and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief, at Plymouth, and of the Board of Admiralty, for the rapidity with which she was manned and equipped. The following is an extract of a letter addressed to him, by Captain (now Sir Charles) Malcolm, subsequent to the capture of two French national vessels, and five sail of merchantmen, in the harbour of Courgiou.

“When I informed Lord Keith of my having detained the Ferret for the attack upon Courgiou, I endeavoured all I could, to impress him with a just sense of your conduct. I mentioned your personal exertions the night before the attack, after the Ferret was anchored, in going off to the Sea Lark to pilot her in. I told him that, during the attack, your conduct was the admiration of all; that it was your good fortune to command a vessel of light draught of water, and that the advantage you took of that circumstance, to rim in in the fine style you did, between the rocks and the main into the mouth of the harbour, at once decided our success, and prevented the escape of the man-of-war brig, which you forced to run on shore. Believe me very faithfully yours,

(Signed)Charles Malcolm.”

In the performance of this service, the Ferret lost only one man. She afterwards formed part of Napoleon’s escort to St. Helena; and oh her return from thence, with only eight 12-pounder carronades mounted, captured, after a running fight of two hours, the brigantine Dolores (having on board nearly 300 slaves) armed with one long 32-pounder on a pivot, four long 9-pounders, and two 12-pounder carronades. On this occasion, she suffered severely from the slaver’s fire, and sustained a loss of three men killed and two wounded.

Commander Stirling married, July 6th, 1820, Mary, daughter of Day Hort Macdowall, of Castlesemple, Renfrewshire, Esq.