Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Waller, William

[Post-Captain of 1801.]

This officer is a son of the late Captain Jacob Waller, R.N.[1] He was made a Lieutenant into the Asia of 64 guns, soon after the commencement of the French revolutionary war, and served on shore at the reduction of Martinique in 1794. On his return to England he joined the Victorious 74, which ship formed part of the squadron under the orders of Sir George Keith Elphinstone, at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope, Sept. 16, 1795[2]; and afterwards proceeded to the East India station.

On the 9th Sept. 1796, the Victorious, in company with the Arrogant of 74 guns, had a very severe action off Acheen, in the island of Sumatra[errata 1], with six heavy French frigates, commanded by M. de Sercey. The brunt of this conflict was borne by the Victorious, whose loss consisted of 17 men killed and 56 wounded; among the latter was her commander, Captain William Clarke, whose place, on his being carried below, was most ably and gallantly supplied by Lieutenant Waller[3]: the Arrogant had 7 slain and 27 wounded. Both ships were greatly disabled in their masts, yards, rigging, and sails; and the French squadron received so much damage, as to be under the necessity of proceeding to Batavia, where three out of the six frigates were compelled to undergo a complete repair. The delay occasioned by this kept de Sercey in port at a very critical season: and so far the action contributed to preserve from spoliation much valuable British property, afloat in every part of the eastern hemisphere.

Jn the following year, Lieutenant Waller was removed into the Suffolk 74, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Rainier, by whom he was made a Commander, and appointed to the Albatross of 16 guns, in June 1799; but that vessel being in the Red Sea, he acted as Captain of la Sybille frigate, until he had an opportunity of joining her.

During the night of Nov. 12, 1800, Captain Waller fell in with, and after a smart action, during which the enemy attempted to carry the Albatross by boarding, captured l’Adele French privateer of 12 guns, pierced for 16, with a complement of 60 men, several of whom were killed and wounded. On the 24th March, in the following year, he had also the good fortune to intercept la Gloire of 10 guns, pierced for 18, and 130 men. These marauders had committed great depredations on our trade; and their capture was considered of so much importance, that the Madras Insurance Companies presented Captain Waller with a sword and a piece of plate, each worth 200 pounds, as a reward for the services he had thus rendered to their interest[4].

Captain Waller’s post commission bears date Jan. 8, 1801. He subsequently commanded the Daedalus of 32 guns; which ship returned to England and was paid off in the summer of 1803. From the time of his joining the Rose frigate on the Newfoundland station (1789), to this period, he had never been a day out of active service. His next appointment was pro tempore, to the Norge 74; and at the conclusion of the war, we find him fitting out the Sceptre, of similar force. His brother, John, commanded the Serpent sloop of war, and was lost with all his crew on the West India station, in 1807.

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

  1. At the time of his death (1798), Captain Waller commanded the Saturn 74, with a squadron under his orders, on the Irish station. He was taken in a fit whilst at dinner on board his ship, then lying in the Cove of Cork, and survived only five days.
  2. See Vol. I. p. 47, et seq. N.B. Lieutenant Waller on this occasion was also landed with a party of seamen to co-operate with the army. Passing through the village of Constantia during the march from Simon’s town, one of the sailors swore, ___ ___ ___ that for once in his life he would swim in wine; and jumping in the head of a vat, was almost immediately satiated with that enticing beverage.
  3. The first Lieutenant of the Victorious was absent in a prize. For a detailed account of the action, see James’s Nav. Hist. v. 5. p. 432, et seq.
  4. L’Adele was purchased for the Hon. East India Company, and la Gloire for the King. The latter was a very fine ship, and had left the Isle of France with 190 men on board. During her cruise, she took six British merchantmen, and sunk several others. Seven of her crew were killed and 15 wounded, before she surrendered to the Albatross.

Cite error: <ref> tags exist for a group named "errata", but no corresponding <references group="errata"/> tag was found, or a closing </ref> is missing