Daniel Woodriff

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Daniel Woodriff
Daniel Woodriff Captain of HMS Calcutta.jpg
Born(1756-11-17)17 November 1756
Died25 February 1842(1842-02-25) (aged 85)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Commands heldCalcutta
AwardsCompanion of the Order of the Bath

Captain Daniel Woodriff CB (17 November 1756 – 25 February 1842) was a British Royal Navy officer and navigator in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.[1] He made two voyages to Australia, he was Naval Agent on the convict transport Kitty in 1792, and in 1803 the captain of HMS Calcutta for David Collins' expedition to found a new settlement in Port Phillip.


Woodriff was commissioned as a lieutenant on 1 April 1783, and received promotion to the rank of commander on 18 September 1795, and to captain on 28 April 1802.[2]

Voyage to Australia[edit]

Towards the end of 1802 Woodriff was appointed to command of the Calcutta, a 50-gun ship armed en flûte, and fitted to transport convicts, they were bound for Port Phillip in the Bass Strait, on the southern extremity of Australia, with the intention of setting up a new settlement there under the command of David Collins. Calcutta sailed from Spithead on 28 April 1803, in company with the storeship Ocean, calling at Rio de Janeiro in July, and the Cape of Good Hope in August; they arrived at their intended destination in October. Calcutta then sailed alone to Port Jackson to take on a cargo of 800 tons of timber. Whilst in Sydney, Woodriff and the crew of Calcutta assisted in suppressing the Castle Hill convict rebellion. For this service Woodriff received a 1,000-acre (400 ha) land grant near Penrith, New South Wales in 1804.[3]

Calcutta then before sailing back to England via Cape Horn and Rio de Janeiro, arriving back at Spithead on 23 July 1804, completing a circumnavigation in ten months and three days.[4]

Action of 26 September 1805[edit]

The Calcutta was refitted as a 50-gun ship, and sent to Saint Helena to escort merchant ships back to England, she arrived there on 3 August 1804 and sailed in company with six merchant ships back to England. Unfortunately, on 26 September, as the convoy approached the entrance to the English Channel, they encountered a powerful French squadron. Woodriff attacked, sacrificing his own ship in order to give the convoy a chance to escape, which all but one did, while the Calcutta was forced to surrender. Woodriff, his officers, and crew were landed at La Rochelle three months later, and marched to Verdun, 600 miles (970 km) away. In June 1807, Woodriff was released in a prisoner exchange, and promptly court-martialled for the loss of his ship, he was honourably acquitted, and his conduct was pronounced to have been that of "a brave, cool, and intrepid officer."[4]

Later career[edit]

In 1808 Woodriff was appointed agent for prisoners of war at Forton, near Gosport. Towards the end of the war he served as Resident Commissioner at Jamaica, he was admitted into the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, on 9 November 1830, and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 26 September 1831, on the occasion of King William IV's Coronation Honours.[5]


He was born on 17 December 1756, the son of John Woodriff of Deptford, Kent.[6]

He married Asia Sumarel (1764–1827); they had three daughters, and three sons: Capt. Woodriff, Daniel James RN (1787–1860), Cdr. John Robert Woodriff RN (1790–1868), and Lt. Robert Mathews Woodriff RN (1792–1820).


  1. ^ Tilghman, Douglas Campbell (1967). "Woodriff, Daniel (1756–1842)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University.
  2. ^ O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). "Woodriff, Daniel James#citenote-DanielWoodriff-1" . A Naval Biographical Dictionary. John Murray – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ Stacker, Lorraine (2011), "The Woodriff Estate: Landlord and Tenant", 10th History Conference, Penrith City Council & Library, archived from the original on 28 March 2012, retrieved 27 January 2012
  4. ^ a b Marshall, John (1823). Royal Naval Biography : or Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains and commanders, whose names appeared on the Admiralty list of sea officers at the commencement of the year 1760, or who have since been promoted; illustrated by a series of historical and explanatory notes. With copious addenda. Volume II. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  5. ^ "No. 18854". The London Gazette. 27 September 1831. p. 1969.
  6. ^ Tilghman, Douglas Campbell. "Woodriff, Daniel (1756–1842)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cox, Margaret E. (1993), Captain Daniel Woodriff R.N. C.B. of His Majesty's Ship Calcutta : 1756-1842 : compiled from his own letters, family papers and admiralty records, M. E. Cox, ISBN 978-0-646-15554-8
  • Woodriff, Daniel (2002), Cotter, Richard (ed.), Daniel Woodriff Captain of H.M.S. Calcutta and the Sullivan Bay Settlement of 1803-4 : extracts from Daniel Woodriff's journal and from correspondence he received and wrote, 1802-4, Lavender Hill Multimedia, ISBN 978-0-9579676-5-6