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A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Bremer, James John Gordon

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BREMER, K.C.B., K.C.H. (Captain, 1814. f-p., 26; h-p., 27.)

James John Gordon Bremer, born 26 Sept. 1786, is only son of Lieut. Jas. Bremer, R.N. (who was lost in the Halswell East Indiaman, off the coast of Dorset, 6 Jan. 1786), by Ann, daughter and co-heir of the late Capt. Jas. Norman, R.N.; grandson of Capt. Jas. Bremer, R.N., who died 9 July, 1774; nephew of the late Capt. Thos. Elphinstone, R.N. (1797); and a near relative both of Commander Wm. Jas. Hughes Bremer, R.N. (1811), who died 6 Jan. 1835, and of the present Henry Bremer, Esq., First-Lieutenant, R.M.

This officer entered the Navy, towards the close of 1794, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Sandwich, flag-ship at the Nore of Rear-Admiral Skeffington Lutwidge, from which he was discharged in June, 1795; became, 8 Oct. 1797, a student of the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth; and re-embarked, 2 April, 1802, as Midshipman, on board the Endymion 40, Capt. Philip Chas. Durham. He afterwards, until July, 1805, served in the Isis 50, flagship in succession of Vice-Admiral Jas. Gambler and Rear-Admiral Edw. Thornbrough, on the Newfoundland and North Sea stations – Windsor Castle 98, and Defiance 74, both commanded by Capt. Durham, under whom he latterly saw much boat-service in the Bay of Biscay – and Prince George 98, Capt. Geo. Losack. He was then (having but a short time previously passed his examination) appointed Sub-Lieutenant of the Rapid gun-brig; and, on 3 Aug. 1805, was made full Lieutenant into the Captain 74, Capt. Stephens, part of the Hon. Wm. Cornwallis’s force in his ensuing pursuit of the French fleet into Brest. Mr. Bremer’s next appointments appear to have been – 9 May, 1806, to the Diana 38, Capt. Thos. Jas. Maling, on the Mediterranean station, whence he afterwards proceeded to Davis Strait – 6 Oct. 1806, to the Imogene 16, Capt. Thos. Garth, in the Mediterranean – and, 28 May, 1807, to the Psyche 36, Capt. Wm. Wooldridge, stationed in the East Indies, where he was advanced, 13 Oct. following, to the command of the Rattlesnake 18. Returning to England early in 1810, Capt. Bremer, on 13 Aug. 1812, joined the Bermuda of 10 guns, in which sloop, when in company with the Dwarf and Pioneer, he captured, 11 Sept. 1812, off Boulogne, Le Bon Génie of 16 guns and 60 men; and, on 1 Jan. 1813, he assumed command of the Royalist 18. While in that vessel he took four large American schooners, and aided at the capture of four others; was also present (and bore a very conspicuous part) at the gallant defence of Castro, when besieged, in May, 1813, by a French army of at least 10,000 men;[1] further, on 21 Oct. following, co-operated with the Scylla 18, at the capture, in sight of the Rippon 74, of the French frigate Le Weser of 40 guns and 340 men, after a severely contested action, and a loss to the Royalist of 2 killed and 9 wounded;[2] and, in April, 1814, participated in the operations at the entrance of the river Gironde under Rear-Admiral Chas. Vinicombe Penrose. Capt. Bremer, whose Post-commission bears date 7 June, 1814, was nominated a C.B. 4 June, 1815, and subsequently appointed – 20 Aug. 1815, to the Lee, on the Irish station – 30 May, 1816, to the Comus 28, In which he was wrecked on a reef of rocks off St. Shotts, Newfoundland, 24 Oct. 1816 – and, 18 Sept. 1823, to the Tamar 26. In Feb. 1824, he was sent to establish a colony on Melville Island, Australia; whence he afterwards proceeded to India, and there joined in the closing scenes of the Burmese war. On 25 Jan. 1836, we find Capt. Bremer created a K.C.H.; and, on 12 July, 1837, appointed to the Alligator of 28 guns. After again visiting New Holland, and founding the settlement of Port Essington as it at present exists, he once more arrived in India, where, on the death of Sir Fred. Lewis Maitland, in Dec. 1839, he became Commander-in-Chief, and continued to discharge (with the exception of a few months, from 7 July to 30 Nov. 1840, during which period he was relieved by Rear-Admiral Hon. Geo. Elliot) all the duties of that important post until 7 Oct 1841, latterly with his broad pendant in the Wellesley 72. To place on record here the various distinguished achievements that in design owed their birth, and in execution their success, to the presiding genius of Sir Gordon Bremer, from the organization of the expedition that left Singapoor in 1840 on its mission of triumph and glory to China, until the final capture of Canton in 1841, would be to compile a history of the war itself – a task beyond our compass.[3] Suffice it, therefore, to state – that his name, as it does throughout this work will ever stand forth as connected with the brightest occurrences of that memorable epoch – that Her Majesty testified her gracious approbation of his valour in conflict and his discretion as her Plenipotentiary in Council, by conferring on him the dignity of a K.C.B. – and that the voice of the country was echoed in a vote of thanks to him from both Houses of Parliament. He went on half-pay in the latter part of 1841, from which period he remained unemployed until 30 April, 1846, when he was appointed to the command, jointly with Sir Fras. Augustus Collier, of the Channel squadron, with his flag on board the Queen 110. Since 24 Nov. in the latter year, the Commodore has had the superintendence of Woolwich Dockyard, and the command of the William and Mary yacht.

Sir J. J. G. Bremer is a magistrate for Devonshire. The honour of knighthood was conferred upon him 23 Feb. 1836. He married, 27 March, 1811, Harriet, relict of the Rev. Geo. Henry Glasse, rector of Hanwell, co. Middlesex, and daughter and heir of Thos. Wheeler, Esq., of Waterford, an officer in the Royal Marines, by whom, who died 1 March, 1846, he has issue two sons and four daughters. Of the former, the elder, Edw. Gordon, is a Commander, R.N.; and of the daughters, the eldest is married to Capt. Augustus Leopold Kuper, R.N., C.B., and the second to Capt. Henry Sabine Browne, of the 85th Light Infantry. Agent – J. Hinxman.


  1. Vide Gaz. 1813, p. 1014.
  2. Vide Gaz. 1813, p. 2102.
  3. Vide Gaz. 1840, p. 2990, and Gaz. 1841, passim.