Irby, Frederick Paul (DNB00)

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IRBY, FREDERICK PAUL (1779–1844), rear-admiral, born on 18 April 1779, was second son of Frederick, second lord Boston, and brother of Captain Charles Leonard Irby [q. v.] He entered the navy in 1791, served on the home and North American stations, and, as midshipman of the Montagu, was present in the battle of 1 June 1794. On 6 Jan. 1797 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Circe frigate, in which he was present at the battle of Camperdown. He was afterwards in the Apollo, which was wrecked near the Texel on 7 Jan. 1799. On 22 April 1800 he was promoted to command the Volcano bomb; in the following year was moved into the Jalouse, was employed in the North Sea, and was advanced to post rank on 14 April 1802. In 1805 he had command of the sea-fencibles in the Essex district, and towards the end of 1807 was appointed to the Amelia, a 38-gun frigate, on the home station, one of the squadron under Rear-admiral Stopford, which, on 24 Feb. 1809, drove ashore and destroyed three large frigates near Sables d'Olonne [see {{sc|Stopford, Sir Robert]. The Amelia, being the lookout ship of the squadron, first sighted them, engaged them in a running fight, and received little material support from her consorts. Irby's gallantry and the good conduct of his men elicited the special approval of the admiralty. For the next two years he continued actively employed on the coast of France, and on 24 March 1811 he assisted in driving on shore and destroying the French frigate Amazone. Still in the Amelia, Irby was afterwards sent as senior officer of the squadron on the west coast of Africa, which was employed in the suppression of the slave trade and the support of our settlements. In the end of January 1813, as he was on the point of leaving Sierra Leone for England, two French 40-gun frigates, Aréthuse and Rubis, arrived on the coast. Each of them was of rather more than the nominal force of the Amelia, whose crew was, moreover, worn and reduced by the two years of African climate, while the enemy's ships were newly come from France. Irby, however, at once put to sea, meaning to keep watch on them, while he collected such force as was on the station; but coming in sight of them at anchor on 6 Feb., the Aréthuse weighed and stood out to meet him. Irby, who did not know that the Rubis had been on shore and was disabled, made sail off the land in order to draw the Aréthuse away from her consort, and it was not till the evening of the next day, 7 Feb., that he turned to meet the French ship. One of the most equal and gallant actions of the war then followed. After four hours of stubborn fight, both frigates had received such injuries that they were unable to continue. They separated to repair damages, and neither was willing to renew the combat. Each reported that the other had fled, though, in the damaged state in which they both were, flight was impossible. Irby was naturally in momentary apprehension of the Rubis joining her consort, and at the same time felt sure that the Aréthuse would be compelled to return to France, and that the Rubis would go with her. He thus felt justified, for the sake of his many wounded, in leaving the coast. The Amelia was paid off in May 1813, and Irby had no further service. He was made a C.B. in 1831, became a rear-admiral in 1837, and died on 24 April 1844. He was twice married, and left a numerous issue.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. iii. (vol. ii.) 488; Men of the Reign; James's Naval History, ed. of 1860, vi. 42; Chevalier's Histoire de la Marine Française sous le Consulat et l'Empire, p. 399; Foster's Peerage.]

J. K. L.