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Schomberg, Isaac (1753-1813) (DNB00)

SCHOMBERG, ISAAC (1753–1813), captain in the navy, naval commissioner, and author, eldest surviving son of Raphael or Ralph Schomberg [q. v.], was born at Great Yarmouth on 27 March 1753, and baptised on 8 April 1753. Isaac Schomberg (1714–1780) [q. v.] and Sir Alexander Schomberg [q. v.] were his uncles. He entered the navy in 1770 on board the Royal Charlotte yacht with Sir Peter Denis [q. v.] He was afterwards for a few months in the Prudent, with his uncle Alexander; for three years in the Trident, flagship of Sir Peter Denis, in the Mediterranean, and for nearly two years in the Romney, flagship of Vice-admiral John Montagu [q. v.] at Newfoundland. He passed his examination on 21 Nov. 1776, and on 21 Aug. 1777 was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Next year he was commanding the Labrador schooner on the Newfoundland station, and in February 1779 joined the Canada, at first with Captain Dalrymple, and afterwards with Sir George Collier [q. v.], at the relief of Gibraltar by Darby, and at the capture of the Spanish frigate Leocadia. In the summer of 1781 Collier was superseded by Captain (afterwards Sir William) Cornwallis [q. v.], under whom the Canada went out to North America, and thence with Hood to the West Indies, where she had a distinguished part in the operations at St. Kitt's and in the battle of Dominica. Schomberg at this time was her first lieutenant, and so he remained during her dangerous passage to England, and till she paid off.

On 10 April 1786 the Pegasus frigate was commissioned by Prince William [see William IV], and Schomberg was appointed first lieutenant. Schomberg understood that, as an old and experienced officer, he was to act as the prince's ‘dry nurse.’ The prince, however, had a strong idea of being his own captain, and the difference of opinion led to disagreement. When the ship arrived in the West Indies, the prince gave orders as to the discipline of the ship, which Schomberg conceived himself authorised to waive, and when the prince reprimanded him for what he termed disobedience and neglect of duty, Schomberg applied for a court-martial, 23 Jan. 1787. Nelson, to whom, as senior officer on the station, his letter was addressed, replied by placing him under arrest, and acquainting him that a court-martial should be ordered as soon as possible. But no court-martial could be assembled; and in May Nelson sent the Pegasus to Jamaica, with a private note to Commodore Gardner explaining the business. Gardner judged it best to supersede Schomberg (10 June 1787) and to send him to England, where he arrived on 22 July. He was then put on half pay; but in October he was appointed first lieutenant of the Barfleur, guardship at Portsmouth, and carrying the flag of Lord Hood.

In January 1789 he was appointed to the Crown, going out to the East Indies, with the broad pennant of his old captain, Cornwallis; and on 3 March 1790, when the captain of the Crown invalided, he was promoted to be commander of the Atalanta sloop, and ordered to command the Crown till her new captain, promoted from the Atalanta, joined. At the Andaman Islands on 10 July he took command of the sloop. Two months afterwards, on 13 Sept., coming into Madras roads, the Fort, by some inexplicable negligence, neither hoisted the flag nor saluted, as was the custom of the station. Cornwallis was at Calcutta. Sir Richard John Strachan [q. v.], the senior officer at Madras, told Schomberg to do as he thought proper. Schomberg accordingly, conceiving that the matter ought to be set right at once, wrote a very strong letter to the governor, complaining of the insult to the flag. The governor referred the letter to Strachan, commenting on its impropriety as proceeding from a junior officer. This view Cornwallis, on his arrival a few days later, also took, and suspended Schomberg from the command of the sloop, intending to try him by court-martial. Afterwards, as there was no possibility of holding a court-martial on the station, Cornwallis gave him leave to return to England for the benefit of his health, at the same time acquainting the admiralty with what had occurred, but suggesting that the matter might be allowed to drop (Cornwallis to Admiralty, 4 Oct. 1790).

Schomberg arrived in England in the summer of 1791, having meantime been promoted to post rank by the admiralty on 22 Nov. 1790, from which date he was accordingly put on half pay as a captain. In December 1793 he was appointed to the Vanguard, but for a few weeks only. In April 1794 he took command of the Culloden, and in her was present in the battle of 1 June, where the Vengeur, after being pounded into a wreck by the Brunswick [see Harvey, John, (1740–1784)] and the Ramillies [see Harvey, Sir Henry], was finally taken possession of by a party from the Culloden [see Rotheram, Edward], and the Vengeur's captain was actually on board the Culloden when his ship sank (Carlyle, Miscell. Essays, ‘The Sinking of the Vengeur’). Owing to the unbusinesslike way in which the medals and swords were awarded [see Howe, Richard, Earl], Schomberg's services passed without recognition. He resigned the command in the autumn, and had no further service afloat.

During the following years he resided principally at Seend in Wiltshire, occupied in the compilation of the ‘Naval Chronology,’ which was published in 1802 (5 vols. 8vo), a work still valuable as a book of reference, more especially for the lists of ships and officials in volumes iv. and v. On the renewal of the war in 1803 he was appointed to the command of the sea-fencibles of the Hastings district, which he held till September 1808. He was then appointed commissioner and deputy-comptroller of the navy, in which office he remained till his death at Chelsea on 20 Jan. 1813. He was buried in a vault, belonging to the family, in the church of St. George-in-the-East, London. He married, in 1793, Amelia, daughter of the Rev. Laurence Brodrick of Stradbally, Ireland, and left issue four sons. A portrait, attributed to Booth, is at Seend.

[Information from Mr. Arthur Schomberg of Seend (Schomberg's grandson); Journals and Letter-books, now in the possession of Mr. Arthur Schomberg; pay-books, list-books, &c., in the Public Record Office; Nicolas's Nelson Despatches, i. 208–37; O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1813, i. 93.]

J. K. L.