Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was Countess Waldegrave from 1759 to 1766 as the wife of James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave, a member of the British royal family from 1766 as the wife of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh. Maria Walpole was the daughter of Dorothy Clement, her grandfather was Robert Walpole, considered to be the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She grew up at Frogmore House in Windsor, but her parents were not married, her illegitimate status hindered her social standing despite her family connections. On 15 May 1759, she married 2nd Earl Waldegrave; the Earl Waldegrave died on 28 April 1763. They had three children: Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave who married her paternal first cousin the 4th Earl Waldegrave Lady Charlotte Waldegrave who married the future 4th Duke of Grafton Lady Anna Waldegrave who married Lord Hugh Seymour, son of the 1st Marquess of Hertford. Anna and Hugh were the great-grandparents of Charles Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer, the great-grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales.
There is a portrait of Maria in 1764–65, shortly after she was widowed, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. She commissioned him in 1780 to paint The Ladies Waldegrave, a group portrait of her and Waldegrave's three daughters. On 6 September 1766 she married Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, at her home in Pall Mall, London; the Duke was a brother of King George III. The marriage was conducted in secret as the British Royal Family would not have approved of a marriage between a prince and a widow of non-royal rank and illegitimate birth, they lived at St Leonard's Hill in Clewer, near Windsor, had three children. Princess Sophia of Gloucester Princess Caroline of Gloucester Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh The marriage to a commoner of the Duke's other brother, the Duke of Cumberland, led to the passing of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which required all the descendants of George II to seek the sovereign's approval before marriage.
It was only in September 1772, five months after the passage of the Act, that the King became aware of Prince William's marriage to Maria. As the Act's provisions could not be applied retroactively and the Duke's marriage was considered valid. Due, however, to the anger of her brother-in-law at the marriage, she was never received at court. Princess Caroline died aged nine months following a smallpox inoculation, intended to protect her from the disease. 10 July 1736 – 15 May 1759: Maria Walpole 15 May 1759 – 28 April 1763: The Right Honourable The Countess Waldegrave 28 April 1763 – 6 September 1766: The Right Honourable The Dowager Countess Waldegrave 6 September 1766 – 25 August 1805: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh 25 August 1805 – 22 August 1807: Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Algeciras is a port city in the south of Spain, is the largest city on the Bay of Gibraltar. The Port of Algeciras is one of the largest ports in Europe and the world in three categories: container and transhipment, it is located 20 km north-east of Tarifa on the Río de la Miel, the southernmost river of the Iberian peninsula and continental Europe. In 2015, it had a population of 118,920, it is the biggest city among those of its metropolitan area that includes the municipalities of Los Barrios, La Línea de la Concepción, Castellar de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, San Roque and Tarifa, with a population of 263,739. The site of Roman cities called Portus Albus and Iuliua Tracta, the current name of Algeciras comes from the Arab period of the Iberian Peninsula: Al-Jazīra Al-Khadrā' Arabic الجزيرة الخضراء or Green Island. However, in modern dialectical Arabic it is referred to as Al Khuzurat in neighboring Morocco; the area of the city has been populated since prehistory, the earliest remains belong to Neanderthal populations from the Paleolithic era.
Due to its strategic position it was an important port under the Phoenicians, was the site of the relevant Roman port of Portus Albus, with two nearby cities called Caetaria and Iulia Transducta, founded by the Romans. It has been proposed that the site of Iulia Transducta was the Villa Vieja of Algeciras. After being destroyed by the Goths and their Vandal allies, the city was founded again in April 711 by the invading Moors, as the first city created by the Amazigh on the occupied Spanish soil. In the year 859 AD Viking troops on board 62 drekars and commanded by the leaders Hastein and Björn Ironside besieged the city for three days and subsequently laid waste to much of it. After looting the houses of the rich, they burnt the Banderas mosque. Reorganized near the medina, the inhabitants managed to recover the city and make the invaders run away, capturing two boats, it enjoyed a brief period of independence as a taifa state from 1035 to 1058. It was named al-Jazirah al-Khadra' after the offshore Isla Verde.
In 1055 Emir Al-Mutadid of Seville drove the Berbers from Algeciras. In 1278, Algeciras was besieged by the forces of the Kingdom of Castile under the command of Alfonso X of Castile and his son, Sancho IV; this siege was the first of a series of attempts to take the city and ended in failure for the Castilian forces. An armada sent by Castile was annihilated whilst trying to blockade the city's harbor. After many centuries of Muslim rule, the tide of the reconquista arrived at Algeciras. In July 1309 Ferdinand IV of Castile laid siege to Algeciras as well as Gibraltar; the latter fell into Christian hands, but Muslim Algeciras held on for the following three decades, until Alfonso XI of Castile resumed its siege. Juan Nunez de Lara, Juan Manuel, Pedro Fernández de Castro, Juan Alfonso de la Cerda, lord of Gibraleón all participated in the siege, as did knights from France and Germany, King Philip III of Navarre, king consort of Navarra, who came accompanied by 100 horsemen and 300 infantry. In March 1344, after several years of siege, Algeciras surrendered.
On winning the city, Alfonso XI made it the seat of a new diocese, established by Pope Clement VI's bull Gaudemus et exultamus of 30 April 1344, entrusted to the governance of the bishop of Cadiz. The bishops of Cadiz continued to hold the title of Aliezira, as it called, until 1851, when in accordance with a concordat between Spain and the Holy See its territory was incorporated into the diocese of Cadiz. No longer a residential bishopric, Aliezira is today listed by the Catholic Church; the city was retaken by the Moors in 1368. It was destroyed on the orders of Muhammed V of Granada; the site was subsequently abandoned, but was refounded in 1704 by refugees from Gibraltar following the territory's capture by Anglo-Dutch forces in the War of the Spanish Succession. It was fortified to guard against British raids with installations such as the Fuerte de Isla Verde built to guard key points; the city was rebuilt on its present rectangular plan by Charles III of Spain in 1760. In July 1801, the French and Spanish navies fought the British Royal Navy offshore in the Battle of Algeciras, which ended in a British victory.
The city became the scene for settling a major international crisis as it hosted the Algeciras Conference in 1906. The international forum to discuss the future of Morocco, held in the Casa Consistorial, it confirmed the independence of Morocco against threats from Germany, gave France control of banking and police interests. In July 1942 Italian frogmen set up in a secret base in the Italian tanker Olterra, interned in Algeciras, in order to attack shipping in Gibraltar. During the Franco era, Algeciras underwent substantial industrial development, creating many new jobs for the local workers made unemployed when the border between Gibraltar and Spain was sealed by Franco between 1969 and 1982. In 1982 there was a failed plan codenamed Operation Algeciras conceived by the Argentinian military to sabotage the British military facilities in Gibraltar during the Falklands War; the Spanish authorities intervened just before the attack, deported the two Argentine Montoneros and military liaison officer involved.
Algeciras is principally industrial city. Its main activities are connected with the port, which serves as the main embarkation point between Spain and Tangier and other
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by Spain; the landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of, a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people Gibraltarians. In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne; the territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, only 8 miles wide at this naval choke point, it remains strategically important. Today Gibraltar's economy is based on tourism, online gambling, financial services and cargo ship refuelling; the sovereignty of Gibraltar is a point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations because Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and, in a 2002 referendum, the idea of shared sovereignty was rejected.
Evidence of Neanderthal habitation in Gibraltar from around 50,000 years ago has been discovered at Gorham's Cave. The caves of Gibraltar continued to be used by Homo sapiens after the final extinction of the Neanderthals. Stone tools, ancient hearths and animal bones dating from around 40,000 years ago to about 5,000 years ago have been found in deposits left in Gorham's Cave. Numerous potsherds dating from the Neolithic period have been found in Gibraltar's caves of types typical of the Almerian culture found elsewhere in Andalusia around the town of Almería, from which it takes its name. There is little evidence of habitation in the Bronze Age, when people had stopped living in caves. During ancient times, Gibraltar was regarded by the peoples of the Mediterranean as a place of religious and symbolic importance; the Phoenicians were present for several centuries since around 950 BC using Gorham's Cave as a shrine to the genius loci, as did the Carthaginians and Romans after them. Gibraltar was known as Mons Calpe, a name of Phoenician origin.
Mons Calpe was considered by the ancient Greeks and Romans as one of the Pillars of Hercules, after the Greek legend of the creation of the Strait of Gibraltar by Heracles. There is no known archaeological evidence of permanent settlements from the ancient period, they settled at the head of the bay in. The town of Carteia, near the location of the modern Spanish town of San Roque, was founded by the Phoenicians around 950 BC on the site of an early settlement of the native Turdetani people. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Gibraltar came under the control of the Vandals, who crossed into Africa at the invitation of Boniface, the Count of the territory; the area formed part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania for 300 years, from 414 until 711 AD. Following a raid in 710, a predominantly Berber army under the command of Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed from North Africa in April 711 and landed somewhere in the vicinity of Gibraltar. Tariq's expedition led to the Islamic conquest of most of the Iberian peninsula.
Mons Calpe was renamed the Mount of Tariq, subsequently corrupted into Gibraltar. In 1160 the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle, be built, it received the name of Medinat al-Fath. The Tower of Homage of the Moorish Castle remains standing today. From 1274 onwards, the town was fought over and captured by the Nasrids of Granada, the Marinids of Morocco and the kings of Castile. In 1462 Gibraltar was captured by 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia. After the conquest, Henry IV of Castile assumed the additional title of King of Gibraltar, establishing it as part of the comarca of the Campo Llano de Gibraltar. Six years Gibraltar was restored to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who sold it in 1474 to a group of 4350 conversos from Cordova and Seville and in exchange for maintaining the garrison of the town for two years, after which time they were expelled, returning to their home towns or moving on to other parts of Spain. In 1501 Gibraltar passed back to the Spanish Crown, Isabella I of Castile issued a Royal Warrant granting Gibraltar the coat of arms that it still uses.
In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet, representing the Grand Alliance, captured the town of Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Austria in his campaign to become King of Spain. Subsequently most of the population left the town with many settling nearby; as the Alliance's campaign faltered, the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht was negotiated, which ceded control of Gibraltar to Britain to secure Britain's withdrawal from the war. Unsuccessful attempts by Spanish monarchs to regain Gibraltar were made with the siege of 1727 and again with the Great Siege of Gibraltar, during the American War of Independence. Gibraltar became a key base for the Royal Navy and played an important role prior to the Battle of Trafalgar and during the Crimean War of 1854–56, because of its strategic location. In the 18th century, the peacetime military garrison fluctuated in numbers from a minimum of 1,100 to a maximum of 5,000; the first half of the 19th century saw a significant increase of population to more t
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, KB, was a British naval officer. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782, it is claimed that he was the commander to have pioneered the tactic of "breaking the line". Rodney came from a distinguished but poor background, went to sea at the age of fourteen, his first major action was the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in 1747. He made a large amount of prize money during the 1740s, allowing him to purchase a large country estate and a seat in the House of Commons of Great Britain. During the Seven Years' War, Rodney was involved in a number of amphibious operations such as the raids on Rochefort and Le Havre and the Siege of Louisbourg, he became well known for his role in the capture of Martinique in 1762. Following the Peace of Paris, Rodney's financial situation stagnated, he spent large sums of money pursuing his political ambitions. By 1774 he was forced to flee Britain to avoid his creditors.
He was in a French jail when war was declared in 1778. Thanks to a benefactor, Rodney was able to secure his release and return to Britain where he was appointed to a new command. Rodney relieved Gibraltar during the Great Siege and defeated a Spanish fleet during the 1780 Battle of Cape St. Vincent, known as the "Moonlight Battle" because it took place at night, he was posted to the Jamaica Station, where he became involved in the controversial 1781 capture of Sint Eustatius. That year he returned home suffering from ill health. During his absence the British lost the crucial Battle of the Chesapeake leading to the surrender at Yorktown. To some Rodney was a controversial figure, accused of an obsession with prize money and nepotism; this was brought to a head in the wake of his taking of Saint Eustatius for which he was criticised in Britain. Orders for his recall had been sent when Rodney won a decisive victory at the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782, ending the French threat to Jamaica.
On his return to Britain, Rodney was made a peer and was awarded an annual pension of £2,000. He lived in retirement until his death in 1792. George Brydges Rodney was born either in Walton-on-Thames or in London, though the family seat was Rodney Stoke, Somerset, he was most born sometime in January 1718. He was baptised in St Giles-in-the-Fields on 13 February 1718, he was the third of four surviving children of Henry Rodney and Mary Rodney, daughter of Sir Henry Newton. His father had served in Spain under the Earl of Peterborough during the War of the Spanish Succession, on leaving the army served as captain in a marine corps, disbanded in 1713. A major investment in the South Sea Company impoverished the family. In spite of their lack of money, the family was well-connected by marriage, it is sometimes claimed that Henry Rodney had served as commander of the Royal Yacht of George I and it was after him that George was named, but this had been discounted more recently. George was sent to Harrow School, being appointed, on leaving, by warrant dated 21 June 1732, a volunteer on board Sunderland.
After serving aboard Sunderland, Rodney switched to Dreadnought where he served from 1734 to 1737 under Captain Henry Medley who acted as a mentor to him. Around this time he spent eighteen months stationed in Lisbon, a city he would return to several times, he changed ships several times, taking part in the navy's annual trip to protect the British fishing fleet off Newfoundland in 1738. He rose swiftly through the ranks of the navy helped by a combination of his own talents and the patronage of the Duke of Chandos. While serving on the Mediterranean station he was made lieutenant in Dolphin, his promotion dating 15 February 1739, he served on Namur, the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Sir Thomas Mathews. The War of the Austrian Succession had broken out by this point, in August 1742, Rodney had his first taste of action when he was ordered by Matthews to take a smaller vessel and launch a raid on Ventimiglia, where the Spanish army had stockpiled supplies and stores ready for a planned invasion of Britain's ally the Republic of Genoa, which he accomplished.
Shortly after this, he attained the rank of post-captain, having been appointed by Matthews to Plymouth on 9 November. He picked up several British merchantmen in Lisbon to escort them home, but lost contact with them in heavy storms. Once he reached Britain his promotion was confirmed, making him one of the youngest Captains in the navy. After serving in home waters learning about convoy protection he was appointed to the newly built Ludlow Castle which he used to blockade the Scottish coast during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. Two of Rodney's midshipman aboard Ludlow Castle were Samuel Hood to become a distinguished sailor, Rodney's younger brother James Rodney. In 1746 he obtained command of the 60-gun Eagle. After some time spent blockading French-occupied Ostend and cruising around the Western Approaches, where on 24 May he took his first prize a 16-gun Spanish privateer, Eagle was sent to join the Western Squadron; the Western Squadron was a new strategy by Britain's naval planners to operate a more effective blockade system of France by stationing the Home Fleet in the Western Approaches, where they could guard both the English channel and the French Atlantic coast.
Eagle continued to take prizes while stationed with the Squadron being involved directly, or indirectly, in the capture of sixteen enemy ships. After taking one of the captured prizes to Kinsale in Ireland, Eagle was not present at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre when the Western Squadron commanded by Lord Anson won a signif
John Hoppner was an English portrait painter, much influenced by Reynolds, who achieved fame as a brilliant colourist. Hoppner was born in Whitechapel, the son of German parents – his mother was one of the German attendants at the royal palace. King George showed a fatherly interest and patronage of the young boy that gave rise to rumours, quite unfounded, that he may have been his illegitimate son. Hoppner became a chorister at the royal chapel, showing strong inclination for art, in 1775 he entered the Royal Academy. In 1778 he took a silver medal for drawing from life, in 1782 the Academy's highest award, the gold medal for historical painting, his subject being King Lear. Hoppner first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780, his earliest love was for landscape, but necessity obliged him to turn to the more lucrative business of portrait painting. At once successful, he had throughout life the most fashionable and wealthy sitters, was the greatest rival to the growing attraction of Thomas Lawrence.
He attempted ideal subjects, though a Sleeping Venus, Jupiter and Io, a Bacchante and Cupid and Psyche are recorded among his works. The Prince of Wales visited him often, many of his finest portraits were hung in the state apartments at St James's Palace, notably those of the prince himself, the Duke and Duchess of York, Lord Rodney and Lord Nelson, his other sitters included Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington, Henry Bartle Frere and Sir George Beaumont. According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica: Competent judges have deemed his most successful works to be his portraits of women and children... He was confessedly an imitator of Reynolds; when first painted, his works were much admired for the brilliancy and harmony of their colouring, but the injury due to destructive mediums and lapse of time which many of them suffered caused a great depreciation in his reputation. The appearance, however, of some of his pictures in good condition has shown that his fame as a brilliant colourist was well-founded.
His drawing is faulty, but his touch has qualities of breadth and freedom that give to his paintings a faint reflection of the charm of Reynolds. In 1803 he published A Series of Portraits of Ladies, engraved after his paintings by Charles Wilkin, in 1805 a volume of translations of Eastern tales into English verse. Unusually Hoppner painted the background and more of a full-length portrait of Charlotte, Countess Talbot by Thomas Gainsborough in 1788, the year in which Gainsborough died, it is now in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Hoppner was a man of great social power, had the knowledge and accomplishments of a man of the world, he married the daughter of American-born sculptor Patience Wright. They had five children, although little is known about the youngest: Catherine Hampden Hoppner, East India Company Richard Belgrave Hoppner, British Consul general, Wilson Lascelles Hoppner, artist Henry Parkyns Hoppner, officer of the Royal Navy, Arctic explorer, draughtsman/artist youngest unknown Hoppner In his years Hoppner suffered from a chronic disease of the liver.
He died on 23 January 1810. Hoppner, John. Oriental Tales. Lee, Sidney, ed.. "Hoppner, John". Dictionary of National Biography. 27. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 342. Cole, Timothy. Old English Masters p. 91 ff. Skipton, H. P. K. John Hoppner McKay, William & Roberts, William. John Hoppner 162 paintings by or after John Hoppner at the Art UK site John Hoppner on ArtCyclopedia Profile on Royal Academy of Arts Collections The Sackville children Portrait of William Locke Portrait of Anne, Lady Grenville
HMS Sans Pareil (1794)
HMS Sans Pareil was an 80-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was the French ship Sans Pareil, but was captured in 1794 and spent the rest of her career in service with the British. Sans Pareil was built at Brest to a design by Groignard, she spent less than a year in service with the French navy. She sailed into the Atlantic in May 1794, under the command of Captain Courand, as part of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Joseph-Marie Nielly, she was Nielly's flagship for the operation, which aimed to meet a corn convoy inbound from North America, under Pierre Jean Van Stabel. Neilly failed to make contact with the French convoy, but on 9 May 1794 the squadron came across a British one, escorted by HMS Castor, under the command of Captain Thomas Troubridge; the squadron attacked and captured Castor, a number of the convoy's ships. Castor was only in French hands before HMS Carysfort retook her on 29 May. However, Troubridge remained a prisoner on Sans Pareil until the battle of the Glorious First of June.
In May, Sans Pareil captured a number of British merchantmen: Gordon, master, sailing from Antigua to London. The same report credits Sans Pareil with capturing HMS Alert, though the actual captor was Unité. Having made contact with the approaching convoy, the squadron began the return voyage. During this, a French fleet under Admiral Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse was intercepted by a British fleet under Lord Howe, a series of sporadic actions took place on 28 and 29 May. Neilly brought some of his larger ships, including Sans Pareil, to join Villaret, sending the convoy on ahead under the escort of frigates; the fleets clashed in force at the Glorious First of June, where Sans Pareil formed part of the French rear. During the battle HMS Royal George, flagship of Vice-Admiral Alexander Hood, broke the French line ahead of Sans Pareil, bringing down her fore and mizzen masts with a broadside. HMS Glory passed across her stern, shooting away her main mast. Disabled and unmanageable, Sans Pareil drifted out of the line.
Aboard her were found officers of the Castor. They were helped to bring the damaged Sans Pareil into Spithead. Sans Pareil had lost as many as 260 of her crew killed, with another 120 wounded. Sans Pareil was commissioned into the Royal Navy, was commanded from March 1795 by Captain Lord Hugh Seymour, promoted to Rear-Admiral on 1 June 1795, the first anniversary of the Glorious First, he was succeeded in the command by Captain W. Browell in August 1795, but she continued to serve as Seymour's flagship, with the Channel Fleet, she was present as part of a fleet under Admiral Hood at another engagement with Villaret, the Battle of Groix on 22 June, where she engaged the French ships Formidable and Peuple, losing ten killed and two wounded. Formidable was subsequently taken. Seymour left the ship after this, being appointed to the Board of Admiralty in autumn 1795. Sans Pareil continued to sail off the French coast, using her French build to her advantage by flying the French ensign and luring privateers to come within range.
Seymour returned on a number of occasions. By January 1799 Captain Atkins had taken command of Sans Pareil, but by August Captain Charles Penrose had replaced him, she sailed to the West Indies, again as Seymour's flagship. At some point in 1800 or 1801, Sans Pareil captured Guachapin, which the British took into service under that name; the London Gazette reports that on 9 April 1800, Sans Pareil captured the Spanish trader Guakerpin, of 165 tons burthen, ten guns and 38 men. She belonged to Saint Andero, was sailing from there to Vera Cruz with a cargo of iron and linens. On 27 March, Sans Pareil captured two small French privateer schooners. One was Pensee, of 65 men, she had set out on cruise from Pointe-à-Pitre when she was captured. The second was Sapajon, of 48 men. Both had set out on cruise from Pointe-à-Pitre when they was captured. Seymour contracted a fever and died on 11 September 1801. Penrose too had to return to Britain. Sans Pareil came under the command of Captain William Essington, served as the flagship of Admiral Richard Montague.
She returned to Plymouth on 4 September 1802. After her return to Plymouth the Lords of the Admiralty wished to recommission her as a guardship, but she was put into ordinary instead because she was so in need of repair. In 1805 she was ordered repaired; the subsequent major refit lasted for 18 months and cost £35,000. This turned her into a prison hulk, by 1807 she was used to hold French prisoners-of-war, she was reduced to a sheer hulk at Plymouth in October 1810, spent another 32 years in service. Sans Pareil was broken up in October 1842. Notes Citations References Colledge, J. J.. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. Hepper, David J.. British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot. ISBN 0-948864-30-3. Lavery, Brian The Ship of the Line — Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650–1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8. Lyon and Winfield, The Sail and Steam Navy List, All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889, pu
Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, 1st Baronet, GCB was an officer of the British Royal Navy, who saw action in several battles during an extensive career, punctuated by a number of controversial incidents. Curtis served during the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolutionary Wars and was praised in the former conflict for his bravery under fire at the Great Siege of Gibraltar, where he saved several hundred Spanish lives at great risk to his own, his career suffered however in the aftermath of the Glorious First of June, when he was criticised for his conduct by several influential figures, including Cuthbert Collingwood. His popularity fell further due to his involvement in two controversial courts-martial, those of Anthony Molloy in 1795 and James Gambier in 1810. Curtis' career stalled as more popular and successful officers secured active positions, he died in 1816, his baronetcy inherited by his second son Lucius who became an Admiral of the Fleet. Modern historians have viewed Curtis as an over-cautious officer in a period when dashing, attacking tactics were admired.
Contemporary opinion was more divided, with some influential officers expressing admiration of Curtis and others contempt. Roger Curtis was born in 1746 to a gentleman farmer of Wiltshire named Roger Curtis, his wife Christabella Blachford. In 1762 at 16, Curtis travelled to Portsmouth and joined the Royal Navy, becoming a midshipman aboard HMS Royal Sovereign in the final year of the Seven Years' War. Curtis did not see any action before the Treaty of Paris in 1763, was soon transferred aboard HMS Assistance for service off West Africa. Over the next six years, Curtis moved from Assistance to the guardship HMS Augusta at Portsmouth and to the sloop HMS Gibraltar in Newfoundland. In 1769, Curtis joined the frigate HMS Venus under Samuel Barrington before moving to the ship of the line HMS Albion in which he was promoted to lieutenant. Shortly after his promotion, Curtis joined the small brig HMS Otter in Newfoundland and there spent several years operating off the Labrador coastline, becoming familiar with the local geography and the Inuit peoples of the region.
In a report he wrote for Lord Dartmouth, Curtis opined that although the inland regions of Labrador were barren, the coast was an ideal place for a seasonal cod fishery. He formed a good opinion of the native people, applauding their healthy and peaceful lifestyle. Curtis made numerous exploratory voyages along the Labrador coast and formed close links with the Inuit tribes and Moravian missionaries in the region, his notes and despatches were presented to the Royal Academy by Daines Barrington in 1774, although accusations surfaced that many of his observations were plagiarised from the notes of a local officer, Captain George Cartwright. During his time in Newfoundland, Curtis became friends with Governor Molyneux Shuldham who became Curtis' patron and in 1775 assisted his transfer into HMS Chatham off New York City; the following year, with the American Revolutionary War underway, Curtis was promoted to commander and given the sloop HMS Senegal. Curtis performed well in his new command and a year was again promoted after being noticed by Lord Howe.
Howe made Curtis captain of his own flagship HMS Eagle, the men became close friends. In 1778, Curtis returned to Britain in Eagle, but refused to carry out an order to sail the ship to the Far East, a refusal which earned the enmity of Lord Sandwich. In December of the same year he was married to Jane Sarah Brady; as punishment for his disobedience Curtis was unemployed for the next two years, before he secured the new frigate HMS Brilliant for service in the Mediterranean in 1780. Ordered to Gibraltar, Brilliant was attacked by a superior Spanish squadron close to the fortress and was forced to escape to British-held Menorca. Curtis's first lieutenant Colin Campbell complained extensively about his captain's refusal to leave port while enemy shipping passed by the harbour, but Curtis was waiting for a 25-ship relief convoy which he met and safely convoyed into Gibraltar, bringing supplies to the defenders of the Great Siege of Gibraltar in progress. Although Curtis was opposed to British possession of Gibraltar, he took command of a marine unit during the siege, in the attack by Spanish gunboats and floating batteries in September 1782, Curtis took his men into the harbour in small boats to engage the enemy.
During this operation, Curtis witnessed the destruction of the batteries by British fireships and was able to rescue hundreds of burnt and drowning Spanish sailors from the water. This rescue effort was carried out in close proximity to the enemy force and in constant danger from the detonation of burning Spanish ships, which showered his overcrowded boats with debris and caused several casualties amongst his crews; when Lord Howe relieved the siege, he brought the much-celebrated Curtis back to Britain, where he was knighted for his service and became a society figure, featuring in many newspaper prints. He came under attack however from Lieutenant Campbell, who published a pamphlet accusing him of indecision and a lack of nerve during his time in Brilliant. During 1783, Curtis was sent to Morocco to renew treaties with the country and remained in Gibraltar, accepting the Spanish peace treaty delegates at the war's end. Brilliant was paid off in 1784, although Curtis remained in employment during the peace, commanding HMS Ganges as guardship at Portsmouth.
In 1787 he was placed on half-pay, although it has been speculated that during this period he conducted a secret mission to Scandinavia to ensure British supplies on naval materials from the region in the