Royal Naval Biography/Westphal, Philip


PHILIP WESTPHAL, Esq.
[Captain of 1830.]

Is descended from the Counts Von Westphal, one of the most ancient aristocratic families in the German empire. His grand-father was a judge of one of the principal Imperial courts of judicature; and his great-uncle, a dignitary of the Hanoverian church, preceptor to H.R.H. the late Duke of Kent; under whose auspices he entered the naval service, in 1794, as midshipman on board l’Oiseau frigate, Captain (now Admiral) Robert Murray, whom he followed into the Asia 64, on the Halifax station, where the latter ship bore the flag of Vice-Admiral George Vandeput, from the end of 1798 until the death of that veteran, in the year 1800.

After passing his examination, Mr. Philip Westphal joined the Blanche frigate, Captain (now Sir Graham Eden) Hamond, under whom he bore a part at the sanguinary battle of Copenhagen, April 2d, 1801; on which memorable occasion, the Blanche occupied a station originally intended for a ship of the line, and sustained a loss of seven men killed and nine severely wounded[1].

Immediately after this conflict, Mr. Westphal was promoted into a death vacancy, and appointed to the Defiance 74, Captain R. Retalick, in which ship he continued until paid off after the treaty of Amiens. His next appointment was, about Nov. 1802, to the Amazon 38, Captain (now Rear-Admiral) William Parker; and on the 16th July, 1803, he assisted in capturing the French privateer le Felix, of 16 guns and 96 men.

The Amazon formed part of the gallant squadron with which Nelson pursued the combined fleets of France and Spain to and from the West Indies[2]. On the 12th Sept. 1805, she captured a Spanish privateer, of 24 guns and 160 men, to the westward of Scilly. On the 13th Mar. 1806, she compelled la Belle Poule, French frigate, of 40 guns and 320 men, to surrender, after an action of nearly two hours and a half, during which her first lieutenant (Richard Seymour), the second lieutenant of marines (Edward Prior), and two men were killed, and six others wounded[3].

On the death of Mr. Seymour, the subject of this memoir became senior lieutenant of the Amazon; and his gallant and skilful conduct in the action with la Belle Poule was so sensibly felt and truly represented by Captain Parker, that on the prize being manned by the squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren, he was appointed to command her as acting captain. This would have ensured his promotion to at least the rank of commander, but unfortunately for himself he was considered too able an assistant to be immediately parted with.

On the return of the squadron into port, Captain Parker received a roving commission from his uncle the Earl of St. Vincent, then commanding the Channel fleet; and he advised Lieutenant VVestphal not to push his claim until the end of a cruise from which so much was to be expected; assuring him that on their return he would take care to secure him, not only advancement, but also an active appointment. This there would have been no difficulty in his accomplishing had the Earl of St, Vincent continued afloat, and his political friends in power; but during the Amazon’s absence the former struck his flag, and the latter went out of office. Mr. Westphal consequently remained as first lieutenant of that ship until she was paid off in 1812. During this period of nearly six years, he repeatedly distinguished himself in action with the enemy, on the coasts of France and Spain, particularly in June 1811, when he commanded the boats of the Amazon at the capture and destruction of a French convoy near the Penmarks[4]. On the 21st Mar. 1812, he was appointed senior lieutenant of the Junon 46, Captain James Sanders; in which ship we find him very actively and successfully employed on the Halifax station[5]. On the 29th July, 1813, he commanded the boats of the Junon and Martin (sloop) at the capture of an American gun-vessel, mounting two long guns (one a 32-pounder), with a complement of 35 men. The circumstances under which this service was performed were most highly honorable to his zeal for the honor of the British flag, but it is not at present in our power to enter into any farther particulars than those already given under the head of Captain Humphrey[errata 1] Fleming Senhouse[6].

Mr. Westphal’s promotion to the rank of commander took place June 13th, 1815; from which period he remained on half-pay until Jan. 22d, 1829, when he was appointed to the Kent 78, then about to be commissioned by Captain John Ferris Devonshire, and stationed as a guard-ship in Hamoaze[7]. His commission as captain bears date July 22d, 1830. This officer’s younger brother, George Augustus Westphal, obtained post-rank in Aug. 1819, and has since received the honor of knighthood[8].

Agent.– Sir F. M. Ommanney & Son.




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