Spry, Richard (DNB00)

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SPRY, Sir RICHARD (1715–1775), rear-admiral, second son of George Spry (1684–1730) of Place in Cornwall, by his wife Mary, daughter of Richard Bullock of Helston, was baptised at St. Anthony in 1715. He entered the navy in 1733 as a ‘volunteer per order’ on board the Exeter, and in the following year was appointed to the Swallow, in which he served for four years on the home station. He was afterwards for two years in the Canterbury, and passed his examination on 26 June 1740, being then, according to his certificate, ‘more than 22.’ On 27 Sept. he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Deptford Prize, a small vessel employed in cruising and convoy service in the chops of the Channel, till early in 1743, when he was appointed to the Superbe, which in October went out to the West Indies, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore (afterwards Admiral) Sir Charles Knowles [q. v.] On 21 Sept. 1744 he was promoted by Knowles to command the Comet bomb, and sent to Boston to refit. On 12 Feb. 1745, as he was approaching Antigua on his way back, he fell in with a large Spanish privateer, the Galga, to which, after a stubborn action, he was forced to strike. The Comet was so completely disabled that the Spaniard gave orders to remove her people and sink her; but before this could be done the approach of some ships which put to sea from English Harbour compelled the Galga to forsake her prize and to fly, taking off Spry, however, as a prisoner, and landing him two months later at Havana. There he was treated with civility. In June he was sent to Charlestown in a cartel, and in September he joined Rear-admiral Peter Warren [q. v.] at Louisbourg; by him he was promoted, on 23 Sept., to be captain of his flagship, the Superbe. Returning to England early in 1746, he was appointed to the Chester, in which Warren flew his flag till the end of the year, and Rear-admiral Chambers in the following summer. In November, still in the Chester, he went out to the East Indies with Boscawen, took part in the siege of Pondicherry [see Boscawen, Edward, (1711–1761)], and returned to England in 1750.

In October 1753 Spry was appointed to the Garland, and in June 1754 to the Gibraltar, in which he went out to North America with Commodore Augustus (afterwards Viscount) Keppel [q. v.] He was sent home in the following spring, and was immediately appointed to the Fougueux, one of the squadron sent out to North America with Boscawen. In the winter he was left senior officer at Halifax, and through the summer of 1756 was with the squadron under Commodore Charles Holmes [q. v.], blockading Louisbourg. By the death of his elder brother, in 1756, he succeeded to the family estates in Cornwall. In January 1757 he was moved into the Orford, in which he served on the coast of North America under Vice-admiral Francis Holburne [q. v.], at the reduction of Louisbourg by Boscawen in 1758, and in the operations in the St. Lawrence under Vice-admiral (afterwards Sir) Charles Saunders [q. v.] in 1759. In 1760, and again in 1761, the Orford was one of the grand fleet in the Bay of Biscay under Boscawen or Hawke, and in November 1761 Spry was moved into the Mars, on the same station, till August 1762, when he went out as commodore and commander-in-chief on the coast of North America. In December 1763 he was appointed captain of the Fubbs yacht, and in April 1766 of the Jersey, in which in May he went out to the Mediterranean as commodore and commander-in-chief. He returned to England in November 1769. On 18 Oct. 1770 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, and in 1772 commanded a squadron in the Channel. In 1773 he held a command in the fleet when the king reviewed it at Portsmouth, and was knighted on 24 June. He became rear-admiral of the red on 31 March 1775, and died, unmarried, a few months later, 25 Nov. 1775, at Place House, and was buried in St. Anthony church. He was officially known as a good officer of respectable service, but in private as an inveterate perpetrator of disagreeable hoaxes.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. v. 414; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; Burke's Hist. of the Commoners, iv. 695; official letters and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.