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Royal Naval Biography/Waldegrave, Granville George


A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1807.]

Eldest son of the late Admiral Lord Radstock, G.C.B.[1]; was born Sept. 24, 1786; made a Lieutenant July 20, 1804; and promoted to the rank of Commander Jan. 22, 1806. At the close of the latter year we find him commanding the Minorca brig, in which vessel he captured a Spanish privateer of 4 guns, a royal packet from Tangier bound to Tariffa, and one or two merchantmen. His post commission bears date Feb. 16, 1807.

Captain Waldegrave’s next appointment was to the Thames 32, in which frigate he appears to have been very actively employed on the Mediterranean station. The first service of importance performed under his directions is described in the following letter:–

H.M.S. Thames, Gulph of St. Euphemia, July 26, 1810.

“Sir,– A convoy of thirty-one vessels, laden with stores and provisions for Murat’s army at Scylla, together with seven large gun-boats and five scampavias protecting them, have wholly fallen into our hands. This is an event of such importance at the present moment, and the circumstances attending the capture arc so highly honorable to the officers and men employed on this service, that I may be allowed to detail the particulars.

“At day-light yesterday morning, standing along this coast with the Pilot (brig), I saw the Weazle (of 18 guns) off Amanthea, with the signal for a convoy in that direction. The enemy, on seeing us, hauled the vessels high on the beach, under the town, where they were flanked by two small batteries, while the gun-boats and scampavias were drawn up in a line for their protection. Being nearly calm, it was two (o’clock) before we closed, this ship and the two brigs in a close line; then running along within grape, drove the enemy from their vessels and anchored. Captain (Henry) Prescott shewed the example of pushing off with his boats; I instantly supported him with ours and the Pilot’s, under the orders of Lieutenant (Edward) (Collier, first of this ship. The marines were landed under Lieutenant David M‘Adam, R.M. to cover the seamen launching the vessels; the ships all the time firing on the batteries, and wherever musketry was collected to oppose the party on shore: for the enemy had not only thrown up an embankment outside the vessels to prevent our getting them off, but also one within them to afford shelter for the numerous troops collected, who, when driven from their entrenchments, still annoyed us greatly from the walls of the town.

“At length every difficulty was surmounted, and by six o’clock all the vessels were brought off, except one laden with bread, which was burnt; if we have not now possession of her, and the others destroyed as per list, it is only from their having been too much shattered by our destructive fire to float.

“By the result of this successful attack, you will judge better than from any thing I could add, what must have been the conduct of every individual. Gratified as I feel at an opportunity of testifying the gallantry and zeal of Captain Prescott, Captain (John Toup) Nicolas, and Lieutenant Collier, together with all the officers and crews of the ships, more particularly those in the boats, for their sakes I cannot help regretting it should not have fallen to their lot to have been under the command of one, whose testimony would have greater weight in ensuring them the applause and reward to which such conduct so justly entitles them. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)G. G. Waldegrave.”

Rear-Admiral George Martin, &c. &c. &c.

The vessels taken consisted of six gun-boats, mounting 4 long 18-pounders and 2 brass 36-pounders; two scampavias, each carrying a long brass gun; one pinnace armed with swivels, &c.; and twenty-eight transports. The other gunboat, scampavias, and transports were destroyed, as stated in Captain Waldegrave’s letter. The loss sustained by the British was only 1 marine killed and 6 men wounded. That of the enemy could not be ascertained; but 14 prisoners and deserters were brought off on this occasion. The following is a list of the gentlemen who were employed in the boats of the Thames and her consorts:

Thames – Lieutenants Edward Collier and Francis Molesworth; Messrs. Matthew Liddon, Christopher Wyvill, John Veal, John Murray, the Hon. Trefusis Cornwall, and William Wilkinson, Midshipmen.

Weasle – Captain Henry Prescott, and Lieutenant Thomas John James William Davis; Messrs. George Cayme (the Master); William Holmes, and John Golding, Midshipmen.

Pilot. – Lieutenants Francis Charles Annesley and George Penruddocke; and Mr. Thomas Leigh, Master’s-Mate.

For their gallantry in the command of the boats, Captain Prescott and Lieutenant Collier were both promoted, and their commissions dated back to the day on which this service was executed.

To shew the importance attached to the gallant exploit at Amanthea, we shall here introduce some extracts from the newspapers of that period.

London, Thursday, Sept. 6, 1810.

“A Heligoland mail is arrived, with German papers to the 26th ultimo. It appears by an article from Naples, that Murat’s flotilla, even according to his own admission, has at length suffered a severe defeat. The engagement took place on the 25th July, when the whole of the enemy’s flotilla, as well as the vessels under their protection, were taken and destroyed. The convoy thus disposed of, and that which was destroyed on the 8th July, by a brig of war (the Pilot), is acknowledged to have been indispensably necessary to complete the preparations for the invasion of Sicily; and therefore we may expect to hear that that enterprise has been postponed to some future occasion.” Hampshire Telegraph, 10th Sept. 1810.

Reggio, Aug. 6th. – It is asserted here, that the misfortune which befel the convoy of twenty sail, commanded by Captain Gorafolo, and more particularly the unfortunate action of Amanthea, in consequence of which Captain Carracciolo’s convoy was lost, and along with it a large collection of articles, of the utmost importance for the completion of the expedition, with all the barges destined for the cavalry, are likely to protract the intended descent upon Sicily for a considerable time. All the troops concentred in the environs of Bagnara and Scylla, as well as those in the camp near Melra, have received orders to go into cantonments in the neighbouring villages.”

Hamburgh, Sept. 1st. – Letters from Naples state, that the King was expected there, the expedition against Sicily having been postponed for an undetermined time.”

The Observer, Sept. 16, and the Times, Sept. 22, state – “Agreeable to information received from Naples, the capture of the two convoys Murat alleges as the cause for his not attempting the invasion of Sicily.”

On the 5th Oct. following, the boats of the Thames, assisted by those of the Eclair brig, cut out ten transports, collected near Agricoli, in the gulph of Salerno, and the same number of armed feluccas were subsequently destroyed by a detachment landed from that frigate and the Cephalus sloop of war, as will be seen by Captain Waldegrave’s hitherto unpublished letter, of which the following is a correct copy:

H.M.S. Thames, Gulph of Policastro, June 17, 1811.

“Sir,– The convoy we have been so long hoping to intercept on its way from Pizzo to Naples despairing to elude us, detached from time to time the rowing boats singly, while ten large armed feluccas kept in a body together for their mutual support. The unremitting attention of Captain (Augustus William James) Clifford in the Cephalus, looking out to the southward for this division, was yesterday crowned with the satisfaction of his discovering them hauled up on the beach under Cetraro. He immediately pushed forward, and by anchoring kept them in check at that place until our approach. The wind failing, obliged us to tow, so that we could not anchor until dusk. A party of 180 men was then landed under the orders of Lieutenant (Samuel) Whiteway, first of this ship. Covered by our fire, I had a hope he would have succeeded in launching the vessels; but their unusual size and heavy cargoes rendering it impossible, compelled us to burn them. This was done so effectually as only to leave me the regret that our brave fellows could not be rewarded with the spoils their exertions so well deserved. Captain Clifford was on shore, and with myself ascertuned that no measures were untried to get the vessels off. The characteristic zeal of this officer, of Lieutenants Whiteway and Morier of this ship, and Lieutenants Richardson and Jenkins of the Cephalus, with the petty officers, marines, and crews of the boats, was fully displayed on shore, while Lieutenant Dawson and the few on board exerted themselves equally by a well-directed fire for their support. Mr. Cornwall, Midshipman, and 2 men were wounded; but considering the numbers exposed for two hours to a fire of musketry at twenty yards distance from the town, on an impending cliff, whence the darkness of the night prevented our dislodging the enemy, it is impossible not to feel grateful that no other accident has clouded this little enterprise. I have the honor to be. Sir,– &c.

(Signed)G. G. Waldegrave.”

To Rear-Admiral Boyles, &c. &c. &c.

Captain Waldegrave shortly afterwards removed into the Volontaire 38; and at the close of the same year we find him employed watching the Toulon fleet, during the absence of Sir Edward Pellew, and the line-of-battle ships under that officer’s orders[2]. When relieved from that duty, he proceeded to the coast of Catalonia, where we find him reporting the capture of a French privateer, laden with provisions for the garrison of Barcelona[3].

In April, 1812, the boats of the Volontaire assisted at the capture and destruction of a French convoy, near the mouth of the Rhone[4]; and on the 23d June following, they captured the Colombe, a national felucca, of 1 gun, 8 swivels, and 45 men, which vessel had been sent out from Marseilles purposely to attack them. The next service in which they were employed is thus described by Captain Waldegrave:

H.M.S. Volontaire, off Cape Croisette, Mar. 31, 1813.

“Sir,– Yesterday we perceived fourteen merchant-vessels at Morjean. This added to the importance of the destruction of the two batteries erected there last year, which affords so much protection to the coast.

“The night favored for embracing Lieutenant Shaw’s offer of attacking the place. The marines, under Lieutenants (William) Burton and (Harry) Hunt, R.M., and boats of this ship, the Undaunted (frigate), and Redwing (brig), were placed under his orders for that purpose; and this morning justified my high confidence in him. He landed at Sormion, and marching over the hills at day-light, carried the batteries in the rear, after a partial resistance from 40 troops there. Five 36-pounders in one, and two 24-pounders in the other battery, were thrown into the sea; one mortar was well spiked, and all their ammunition destroyed. The boats under Lieutenant (Dey Richard) Syer, though elsewhere opposed by two field-pieces, brought eleven vessels out, laden (principally) with oil, and destroyed one other loaded, and two empty, which were aground. While completing the destruction of the works, many troops arrived from Marseilles; and the enemy’s fleet being in motion prevented further operations.

“Lieutenant Shaw’s character stands so high, that his conduct on this occasion is only what it always has been; and such testimony as his to the gallantry of all his companions adds to their merit; and among them I must strongly notice Mr. C. Wyvill, Midshipman, of this ship.

“I was highly pleased at the judicious position Sir John Sinclair, in the Redwing, had taken at day-light to cover the operation. The captures are hardly worthy of consideration, compared to the destruction of this strong post, which was doubly reinforced within these two days. Herewith I have the honor to report the loss on both sides, and prisoners made; the rest of the enemy escaped among the rocks[5]. I am, &c.

(Signed)G. G. Waldegrave.”

The subsequent demolition of the above mentioned batteries, and the capture of six merchant vessels, with cargoes, by the marines and boats of the Repulse, Volontaire, Undaunted, and Redwing, having been fully noticed at p. 811 et seq. of our first volume, we have only to add, that Captain Waldegrave became a C.B. in 1815, and an Irish peer on the demise of his father, Aug. 20, 1825; about two years previous to which event, he married Esther Caroline, daughter of the late James Puget, of Totteridge, co. Herts, Esq. His only surviving brother is a Commander, R.N.

Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.


(Suppl. Part I. p. 194)

Was appointed one of his Majesty’s naval aides-de-camp, in Sept. 1831.

  1. See Vol. I. p. 66, et seq.
  2. See Captain Joseph Swabey Tetley.
  3. See Commander Isaac Shaw.
  4. See Vol. II. Part II. p. 962.
  5. British – 1 marine killed, 4 men severely wounded. French – 4 killed, 6 wounded, 17 taken prisoner.