Price, David (1790-1854) (DNB00)

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PRICE, DAVID (1790–1854), rear-admiral, born in 1790, entered the navy in January 1801 on board the Ardent, with Captain Thomas Bertie [q. v.], and in her was present in the battle of Copenhagen on 2 April. He was afterwards in the Blenheim, which, on the renewal of the war in 1803, went out to the West Indies. In 1805 he was in the Centaur with Sir Samuel Hood [q. v.], and again in 1806, being present in the action off Rochefort on 25 Sept., and at the capture of the Sewolod on 26 Aug. 1808. In April 1809 he was appointed acting-lieutenant of the Ardent, and during the following summer was twice captured by the Danes: once while away in command of a watering party, and again in a prize which was wrecked; each time, however, he was released after a short detention. The confirmation of his rank as lieutenant was dated 28 Sept. 1809. He continued in the Ardent till February 1811, when he was appointed to the Hawk brig, with Captain Henry Bourchier, employed on the north coast of France. On 19 Aug. the Hawk drove four armed vessels and a convoy of fifteen merchantmen on shore near Barfleur. Price, in command of the boats, was sent in to finish the work, and succeeded in bringing out an armed brig and three store ships; the others were lying over on their sides, completely bilged (James, Naval History, v. 216). Two months later, on 21 Oct., Price was severely wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to cut two brigs out of Barfleur harbour. It was nearly a year before he was able to serve again; and in September 1812 he was appointed to the Mulgrave of 74 guns off Cherbourg. In January 1813 he joined his old captain, Bourchier, in the San Josef, carrying the flag of Sir Richard King (1774–1834) [q. v.] off Toulon. On 6 Dec. he was promoted to command the Volcano bomb, which, in the summer of 1814, he took out to the coast of North America, and in the same year he engaged in the operations against Baltimore, in the Potomac, and at New Orleans. At the last place, on 24 Dec., he was severely wounded in the thigh. ‘I trust,’ wrote Rear-admiral (afterwards Sir) Pulteney Malcolm [q. v.], ‘his wound is not dangerous, as he is a gallant young man and an excellent officer.’ On his return to England Price was advanced to post rank on 13 June 1815. From 1834 to 1838 he commanded the Portland in the Mediterranean, during which time his services to the Greek government obtained for him the order of the Redeemer of Greece, as well as complimentary letters from Sir Edmund (afterwards Lord) Lyons [q. v.]

For the next six years he lived in Brecknockshire, for which county he was a J.P. In 1846 he was made superintendent of Sheerness dockyard, where he continued until promoted to be rear-admiral on 6 Nov. 1850. In August 1853 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Pacific, and arrived on the station shortly before the declaration of war with Russia. In July 1854 the two squadrons, English and French, had met at Honolulu, and on the 25th sailed to search for two Russian frigates which were reported to be at sea. On 29 Aug. they arrived off Petropaulovski in Kamchatka, where the two frigates were lying dismantled. An examination of the place showed that it was well fortified against a casual attack, but it was determined to attempt it next day, 30 Aug. On the forenoon of that day, as the ships were preparing to move in, Price shot himself with a pistol, and died a few hours after. Sir Frederick Nicolson succeeded to the command, but the attack was postponed till 4 Sept., when it met with a decisive repulse. On 1 Sept. Price was buried on shore, on the opposite side of the bay, beneath a tree, on which the letters ‘D. P.’ were rudely cut with a knife. Price's suicide was generally assigned to his dread of the responsibilities of his position. This seems impossible, for he was a hale, cheerful man of sixty-four, to whom the sight of an enemy was no new thing. In July 1844 Price married Elizabeth, daughter of John Taylor and niece of Admiral William Taylor.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Navy Lists; Annual Register, 1854, pt. i. p. 403, pt. ii. pp. 199, 540.]

J. K. L.