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Royal Naval Biography/Sutton, Samuel

Rear-Admiral of the Blue.

The subject of this sketch entered the naval service April 9, 1777; as a Midshipman, on board the Monarch, of 74 guns, commanded by the late Sir Joshua Rowley, Bart., with whom he afterwards removed into the Suffolk, Conqueror, and other ships, continuing to serve with that officer till the peace of 1783.

The Monarch formed part of the Channel fleet under Admiral Keppel, and had 2 men killed and 9 wounded in the action with M. d’Orvilliers, July 27, 1778[1]. The Suffolk was attached to Vice-Admiral Byron’s squadron in the conflict with d’Estaing, off Grenada, July 6, 1779, and on that occasion had 7 men slain and 25 wounded. The Conqueror’s loss in the battles between Rodney and de Guichen, off Martinique, in April and May 1780[2], amounted to 87 killed and wounded; among the latter was her commander, Captain G. Watson, who lost an arm and died soon after.

At the conclusion of the war with the American colonies, Mr. Sutton was appointed first Lieutenant of the Preston, a 50-gun ship, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Rowley, at Jamaica, from whence he was soon after compelled to return to England through ill-health. During the Spanish armament, we find him serving as signal officer of the Iphigenia frigate, one of the repeaters to the fleet then assembled under the orders of Lord Howe. In Jan. 1793, he joined the Culloden, 74, commanded by Sir Thomas Rich; and from that ship removed, Nov. 1794, into the Mars, another third rate, as first Lieutenant to the late Sir Charles Cotton.

The Mars was with Vice-Admiral Cornwallis when that officer effected the most masterly retreat, from an immensely superior French fleet, ever recorded in the annals of the British navy; and being the sternmost ship, sustained the brunt of the enemy’s attack, but fortunately had not a man killed, and only 12 wounded; this event occurred June 16, 1795[3].

In the month of Sept. following, Lieutenant Sutton was promoted, to the command of the Martin sloop of war; and in 1797, ordered to convey the Due d’Angouleme from Leith to Cuxhaven; immediately after the performance of which service, be was advanced to post rank, by commission dated June 27. He subsequently commanded for a short period the Monarch, 74, bearing the flag of Sir Richard Onslow, in the North Sea; and in 1799, became Flag-Captain to Sir Charles Cotton, with whom he continued to serve in different ships till the commencement of 1801. He was then appointed to the Alcmene, of 32 guns, and in that frigate assisted at the capture and destruction of the Danish line of defence before Copenhagen, on the memorable 2d April[4]. The Alcmene on that glorious occasion had 5 men killed and 14 wounded. Captain Sutton subsequently removed into the Amazon, 38, as successor to the gallant Riou, who had fallen in the battle. His next appointment was to the Victory, a first rate, fitting for the reception of Lord Nelson, who hoisted his flag on board her May 18, 1803, and sailed to assume the chief command in the Mediterranean, on the 20th of the same month.

On his Lordship’s arrival off Brest, he removed into the Amphion frigate, leaving the Victory to communicate with Admiral Cornwallis. A few days after, Captain Sutton captured l’Ambuscade, a French frigate of 32 guns and 187 men, from St. Domingo bound to Rochefort.

The Victory re-joined Lord Nelson off Toulon on the 30th July, when Captain Sutton exchanged with the present Sir T. M. Hardy, into the Amphion frigate, in which he was very actively employed during the most important part of his Lordship’s command on the Mediterranean station, and had the good fortune to assist at the capture of a Spanish squadron laden with specie, Oct. 5, 1804. The Amphion on this occasion was opposed to la Mercedes, the Spanish Admiral’s second astern, which blew up with a tremendous explosion in less than ten minutes after the commencement of the action, and all on board, except 40 men, perished[5]. From this period we lose sight of Captain Sutton till July 19, 1821, on which day he was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral.

Residence.– Ditchingham Lodge, near Bungay, Suffolk.

  1. See note †, at p. 195.
  2. See note at p.104, et seq. N.B. Mr. Sutton’s patron was at this time a Rear-Admiral of the Red. He had previously, when in the command of a detached squadron, taken three French frigates, carrying in the whole 106 guns, and 527 men; and assisted at the capture and destruction of a convoy from Marseilles, consisting of eight vessels, mounting 162 guns, and manned with 890 men.
  3. See p. 354.
  4. See note *, at p. 365, et seq.
  5. See p. 536.