A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Green, William Pringle

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GREEN. (Lieut., 1806. f-p., 21; h-p., 30.)

William Pringle Green died in Nov. 1846, at the age of 61.

This officer entered the Navy, 9 July, 1796, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Resolution 74, Capt. Fras. Pender, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Geo. Murray on the Halifax station, where, towards the close of the same year, he became Midshipman of the Cleopatra 32, Capt. Chas. Vinicombe Penrose. While next attached, from Aug. 1797 until Oct. 1801, to the Topaze 36, Capt. Stephen G. Church, he appears to have seen much active boat-service in the West Indies; to have been also in action, off the Havana, with a Spanish ship of the line, as well as with the batteries in Gibraltar Bay; and to have accompanied the Duke of Kent from Halifax to England as his Naval Aide-de-Camp. On leaving the Topaze Mr. Green successively joined the Circe frigate, Capt. Isaac Wolley, and Sans Pareil 80, and Trent 36, both commanded, the former as flag-ship to Rear-Admiral Robt. Montagu, by Capt. Jas. Katon, and all stationed in the West Indies, whence, after having passed through scenes of awful mortality, and been employed for 14 months as Master’s Mate, he returned to England in June, 1803. He was then at once draughted into the Conqueror 74, Capt. Israel Pellew, under whom, in the capacity last mentioned, he cruized for some time in the Channel, and ultimately shared, on his return with Lord Nelson from a pursuit of the combined fleets to the West Indies, in the glories of Trafalgar, 21 Oct. 1805. The Conqueror, on that day, had the honour of taking possession of the Bucentaure, the French Commander-in-Chief’s ship; and Mr. Green, we are informed, had command of the boats, which were twice sunk in their attempt to take the prize in tow. On 8 Jan. 1806 this officer, whom the exigencies of his profession had deprived of an opportunity of passing his examination earlier than 1805, was promoted, for his conduct at Trafalgar, to a Lieutenancy in the Formidable 98, bearing the flag in the Channel of Earl St. Vincent. His subsequent appointments were – 28 Nov. 1807, through the interest of the Duke of Kent, to the Décade frigate, commanded on the Home station by Capt. John Stewart – 4 June, 1808, as First, to the Eurydice 24, Capt. Jas. Bradshaw, employed, during the American embargo of that year, as a ship of observation on the American lines adjoining Nova Scotia – 11 June, 1812, again through the Duke of Kent, to the command of the Kesoldte 14, in which vessel, stationed until Oct. 1815 off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland, he put into practice a mode of training the crew afterwards adopted throughout the whole Navy – 16 Dec. 1826, to the Transport service, in which he officiated as Agent Afloat until 21 March, 1827 – 19 Aug. 1829 to the Astraea packet, Capt.Wm. King, on the Falmouth station – 3 Nov. 1829 to the command of the Frolic, another Falmouth packet, in which he continued until paid off, 26 Nov. 1832 – and 10 May, 1842, to the Victory 104, Capt. Wm. Wilmott Henderson, guard-ship at Portsmouth. He was superseded in the latter appointment in the spring of 1843, and not afterwards employed.

Lieut. Green was an officer of great mechanical powers. Although his exertions, rewarded in general with the most blasting ill-luck, seldom fructified into good to himself, he nevertheless unflinchingly devoted the greater portion of his life to the promotion of inventions and improvements connected with the service, many of which indeed are so valuable as to have been universally introduced into the Navy. In 1808 he suggested to Sir John Borlase Warren, then Commander-in-Chief on the North American station, the expediency of a change in the construction, armament, and discipline of British ships of war, in order that they might be rendered capable of more equally coping with the enemy. He afterwards submitted to the Navy Board a plan for lowering and fidding topmasts, an imitation of which, at a later period, procured another person, we understand, a reward from the Admiralty of 5000l. The Society of Arts, in 1823, presented him with a silver medal for his improvements in rigging ships; as they subsequently did for his “tiller for a disabled rudder,” and his “gun-carriage and jointed ramrod for naval use.” In 1837 he took out a patent for an “invention of improvements in capstans and machinery employed in raising, lowermg, and moving ponderous bodies and matters.” He had previously, in 1833, published a work, entitled ‘Fragments on Electricity, Magnetism, Aerolites, &c.’ Lieut. Green, who died Senior of 1806 [errata 1], has left a widow with three sons and seven daughters. His second son, John, is a Clerk of the Victory; and his youngest, Gilbert Elliot, Second Master of the Dragon steam-frigate. Agent- J. Woodhead.


  1. Original: Senior of 1841 was amended to Senior of 1806 : detail