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Royal Naval Biography/Worth, James Andrew


JAMES ANDREW WORTH, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1810.]

Son of the late Superannuated Rear-Admiral James Worth. This officer was made a Lieutenant in 1794; and we first find him commanding the Stag armed cutter, in which vessel he captured la Zelie privateer, Jan. 5, 1798. He was subsequently appointed to the Telegraph hired brig, mounting 14 eighteen-pounder carronades, and 2 long sixes, with a complement of 60 officers, men and boys. The following is a copy of his official letter, to the late Admiral Sir Richard King, reporting the capture of another French cruiser:–

Telegraph, Torbay, March 19, 1799.

“Sir,– I have the honor to inform you, I arrived here at 7 o’clock this evening, with l’Hirondelle brig corvette, mounting 16 guns, long nines and six-pounders, and 89 men, when she sailed from St. Maloes three days since, but having captured an American schooner, and an English sloop, reduced her complement to 72. I discovered l’Hirondelle on Monday morning, at day-light, on the lee bow, the Isle de Bas S.E. 9 leagues: she immediately tacked and stood towards me. At half-past 7, being close alongside, an action commenced, which continued for three hours and a half; and after several attempts to board on both sides, she being totally unrigged, she struck, and proved to be the vessel above described. Five of her crew were killed and 14 wounded: the Telegraph bad 5 wounded. I am proud to say, the company of the Telegraph behaved as English sailors always do on such occasions; and to acknowledge the very able assistance I received from Mr. George Gibbs, the master. I shall return to Plymouth the moment the wind will allow me[1].

(Signed)J. A. Worth.”

For this service. Lieutenant Worth was promoted, March 29, 1799; from which period we lose sight of him, until his appointment to the Helena sloop, on the Irish station, about March 1806. In 1809, he captured the following French privateers:–

L’Auguste, of 2 guns and 24 men, Feb. 28; le Jason, 10 guns, 44 men, Sept. 1; and le Revenge, pierced for 16 guns, 61 men, Nov. 13.

On the 19th April, 1810, after a chase which continued from day-light until 9 P.M., Captain Worth likewise captured le Grand Napoleon, a new and well-appointed brig privateer, of 280 tons, mounting 12 English 18-pounder carronades and 4 long guns, with a complement of 124 men. His advancement to post rank took place Oct. 21, in the same year.

During the latter part of the war, Captain Worth successively commanded the Bulwark and Venerable 74’s, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral (now Sir Philip) C. Durham, on the North Sea, Channel, and West India stations. In Dec. 1813, the latter ship captured le Jason French letter of marque, pierced for 22 guns, mounting 14, with a complement of 54 men: this prize was laden with silks, wines, and various other articles of merchandise, from Bourdeaux bound to New York. The following are copies of the Rear-Admiral’s public letters to Mr. Croker, reporting the capture of two very fine frigates, a few days after that of le Jason:–

Venerable at Sea, Jan. 16, 1814.

“Sir,– I have the satisfaction of stating, that this day, at 9 A.M., the Cyane[2], made a signal for two strangers in the N.E., which were immediately given chase to; and owing to the very superior sailing of the Venerable, I was enabled to come up within gun-shot of them at the close of the day, leaving the Cyane far astern. On ranging up with the leeward-most (the night was too dark to distinguish her colours), desirous of saving her the consequences of so unequal a contest, I hailed her twice to surrender; but the evasive answer returned, obliged me to order the guns to be opened, as they would bear: upon this the enemy put his helm up, and, under all sail, laid us on board, – for which temerity he has suffered most severely.

“The promptitude with which Captain Worth repelled the attempt to board, was not less conspicuous than the celerity with which he passed his men into the enemy’s frigate, and hauled down her ensign. I have much pleasure in naming the petty officers who distinguished themselves on this occasion, viz., Messrs. Maltman, Wallier, and Knevill, master’s mates , and Mr. Grey, midshipman.

“This ship proves to be the Alcmene, a beautiful French frigate, of 44 guns, having a complement, at the commencement of the action, of 319 men, commanded by Captain Ducrest de Villeneuve, an officer of much merit, and who was wounded at the time of boarding.

“To his determined resistance, aided by the darkness of the night, the other frigate for the present owes her escape; but I have every hope that the Cyane will be enabled to observe her, until I have shifted the prisoners, and repaired the trifling injury done to the rigging, during the period of the enemy being on board.

“Our loss consists of two seamen killed and four wounded; that of the enemy, two petty officers and thirty seamen killed, and fifty wounded. Lieutenant George Luke, whom I have placed in the frigate, is an old and very deserving officer, who has served twenty years under my command.”

January 20, 1814.

“It affords me much pleasure to communicate to you, for their Lordships’ information, the capture of the French frigate that escaped on Sunday night.

“The vigilance of Captain Forrest, enabled him to keep sight of her during the night, and two following days, when, having run 153 miles, in the direction I judged the enemy had taken, the Venerable’s superior sailing gave me the opportunity of again discovering the fugitive, and, after an anxious chase of 19 hours, to come up with and capture her.

“She is named the Iphigenia, a frigate of the largest class, commanded by Captain Emeria, having a complement of 325 men, and, like her consort the Alcmene, perfectly new.

“Every means to effect her escape had been resorted to, the anchors cut away, and her boats thrown overboard. On our coming up we had run the Cyane out of sight from the mast-head.

“These frigates sailed in company from Cherbourgh on the 20th October last, and were to cruise for six months.

“It becomes me now to notice the very meritorious conduct of Captain Forrest, not only in assiduously keeping sight, but repeatedly offering battle to a force so superior; nor less deserving of my warmest approbation is Captain Worth, of this ship, whose indefatigable attention during the many manoeuvres attempted by the enemy, in this long and arduous chase, was equalled only by the exemplary behaviour of every officer and man under his command. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)P. C. Durham.”

One of Captain Worth’s sons is in the navy; another, a captain in the 84th Regiment, died at Port Royal, Jamaica, 1827.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.



  1. Mr. James calls l’Hirondelle a privateer; and we are inclined to believe that he is right, particularly as the name and rank of her commander is not stated in the above letter.
  2. Captain Thomas Forrest.