1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Duckworth, Sir John Thomas

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

DUCKWORTH, SIR JOHN THOMAS (1748-1817), British admiral, was born at Leatherhead, in Surrey, on the 28th of February 1748. He entered the navy in 1759, and obtained his commission as lieutenant in June 1770, when he was appointed to the “Princess Royal,” the flagship of Admiral Byron, in which he sailed to the West Indies. While serving on board this vessel he took part in the engagement with the French fleet under Count D’Estaing. In July 1779 he became commander, and was appointed to the “Rover” sloop; in June of the following year he attained the rank of post-captain. Soon afterwards he returned to England in charge of a convoy. The outbreak of the war with France gave him his first opportunity of obtaining marked distinction. Appointed first to the “Orion” and then to the “Queen” in the Channel Fleet, under the command of Lord Howe, he took part in the three days’ naval engagement with the Brest fleet, which terminated in a glorious victory on the 1st of June 1794. For his conduct on this occasion he received a gold medal and the thanks of parliament. He next proceeded to the West Indies, where he was stationed for some time at St Domingo. In 1798 he commanded the “Leviathan” in the Mediterranean, and had charge of the naval detachment which, in conjunction with a military force, captured Minorca. Early in 1799 he was raised to the rank of rear-admiral, and sent to the West Indies to succeed Lord Hugh Seymour. During the voyage out he captured a valuable Spanish convoy of eleven merchantmen. In March 1801 he was the naval commander of the combined force which reduced the islands of St Bartholomew and St Martin, a service for which he was rewarded with the order of the Bath and a pension of £1000 a year. Promoted to be vice-admiral of the blue, he was appointed in 1804 to the Jamaica station. Two years later, while cruising off Cadiz with Lord Collingwood, he was detached with his squadron to pursue a French fleet that had been sent to the relief of St Domingo. He came up with the enemy on the 6th February 1806, and, after two hours’ fighting, inflicted a signal defeat upon them, capturing three of their five vessels and stranding the other two. For this, the most distinguished service of his life, he received the thanks of the Jamaica assembly, with a sword of the value of a thousand guineas, the thanks of the English parliament, and the freedom of the city of London. In 1807 he was again sent to the Mediterranean to watch the movements of the Turks. In command of the “Royal George” he forced the passage of the Dardanelles, but sustained considerable loss in effecting his return, the Turks having strengthened their position while he was being kept in play by their diplomatists and Napoleon’s ambassador General Sebastiani. He held the command of the Newfoundland fleet for four years from 1810, and at the close of that period he was made a baronet. In 1815 he was appointed to the chief command at Plymouth, which he held until his death on the 14th of April 1817. Sir John Duckworth sat in parliament for some time as member for New Romney.

See Naval Chronicle, xviii.; Ralfe’s Naval Biography, ii.