Gower, Erasmus (DNB00)

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GOWER, Sir ERASMUS (1742–1814), admiral, eldest son of Abel Gower of Glandoven in Pembrokeshire, entered the navy in 1755, under the care of his maternal uncle, Captain Donkley. After serving through the war on the North American and home stations, he passed for lieutenant in 1762, and was then lent for service in Portugal, against which the allied houses of Bourbon had declared war. After the peace he was appointed as master's mate of the Dolphin with Commodore John Byron [q. v.], and again as lieutenant of the Swallow with Captain Philip Carteret [q. v.] Towards the end of 1769 he was appointed to the Swift with Captain George Farmer [q. v.], with whom he returned to England in the Favourite. He was directly afterwards appointed to the Princess Amelia, going out to Jamaica with Sir George Rodney's flag. In 1777 he served in the Levant frigate with Captain George Murray in the Mediterranean; in 1779 he was selected by Rodney as first lieutenant of his flagship, the Sandwich, and, on the capture of the Spanish convoy off Cape Finisterre on 9 Jan. 1780, was promoted to command the Guipuscoa prize, commissioned as the Prince William. After holding some temporary appointments in the Channel and on the home station, Gower was in November 1781 appointed to the Medea frigate for service in the East Indies. At Cuddalore, on 30 Jan. 1783, she captured the Vryheid, a Dutch ship of 50 guns, lying under the batteries, and apparently trusting for safety to their protection (Beatson, Nav. and Mil. Mem. v. 606), and a few weeks later recaptured the Chaser sloop with important despatches to Suffren. She was afterwards present in the last engagement between Suffren and Sir Edward Hughes [q. v.] off Cuddalore. From 1786 to 1789 Gower served as flag-captain to Commodore (afterwards Rear-admiral) Elliot on the Newfoundland station, and from 1792 to 1794 commanded the Lion, taking out to China Lord Macartney and his embassy [see Macartney, George, Earl of Macartney], for which service he was rewarded with the honour of knighthood. In November 1794 he was appointed to the Triumph, one of the ships with Cornwallis in his celebrated retreat, 17 June 1795 [see Cornwallis, Sir William]. During the mutiny at the Nore he hoisted a broad pennant on board the Neptune, one of the ships commissioned for the defence of the Thames, and continued to command her as one of the Channel fleet until his promotion to the rank of rear-admiral on 14 Feb. 1799. He had no further service, but became vice-admiral on 23 April 1804, and admiral on 25 Oct. 1809. He died at Hambledon in Hampshire on 21 June 1814.

[Gent. Mag. 1814, vol. lxxxiv. pt. ii. p. 289.]

J. K. L.