A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Monk, John

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MONK. (Lieut., 1814. f-p., 11; h-p., 30.)

John Monk entered the Navy, 5 July, 1806, as A.B., on board the Dictator 64, Capts. Jas. Macnamara and Donald Campbell; under the latter of whom he enacted a Midshipman’s part in the expedition of 1807 against Copenhagen; whence he returned to England in charge of one of the enemy’s captured vessels. In Aug. 1808, having rejoined Capt. Macnamara on board the Edgar 74, he served in a boat under that officer at the capture of the forts of Nyeborg, on the occasion of the embarkation thence of the Spanish General the Marquis de la Romana and his patriot troops; whom, in command of the Danish man-of-war prize Fama, he assisted in convoying as far as Gottenborg. After the operations against Flushing, where he received a wound in the left hand and had two of his fingers broken, he followed Capt. Macnamara, as Master’s Mate, in Feb. 1810, into the Berwick 74; in which ship he continued employed, under Capts. Sir Robt. Laurie and Edw. Brace, until July, 1816. At first he was very actively engaged in the vicinity of Cherbourg, and while so stationed was present, 25 March, 1811, at the self-destruction of the French 40-gun frigate L’Amazone. Proceeding next to the Mediterranean, he there participated in much boat-service on the coasts of Spain, France, and Italy. On 16 May, 1813, we find him aiding, in the boats of his own ship and the Euryalus 36, under Lieut. Henry Johnston Sweedland, and mentioned for his conduct, at the capture and destruction of La Fortune xebec of 10 guns, 4 swivels, and 95 men, and of 22 vessels collected under the enemy’s batteries (which were likewise taken) in the harbour of Cavalarie.[1] On the evening of 11 Dec. following, with a view to the capture of a convoy in the port of Negaye, he landed at that place at the head of a party of seamen, and, assisted by a body of marines, succeeded, without the loss of a man, in obtaining possession of a martello tower, and of the enemy’s castle and forts. This part of the business being accomplished, and the concerted signal being made for the boats to advance, he received orders from the First-Lieutenant, Sweedland, to take charge of the launch and second barge, and proceed to the attack of the vessels. Being unexpectedly met by a terrific fire from two national schooners, Lieut. Sweedland gave orders for a retreat; heedless, however, of which, Mr. Monk and his party with three cheers dashed alongside the first schooner, and, after a bloody struggle, carried her. She was found to be armed with long 18-pounders, and to have on board 200 barrels of powder and 1400 stand of arms. Her guns being immediately turned against her consort, the latter, we believe, was sunk. Unfortunately, at this juncture a heavy and unaccountable fire was opened by those who had been left in the batteries; in consequence of which Mr. Monk was under the necessity of ordering the cable of his prize to be cut, and of making the best of his way out of the harbour. On his road he picked up the gig with Lieut. Sweedland and the whole of her crew killed! In the second barge the loss was also most fearful, two-thirds of the crew being either slain or wounded, including, among the former, Mr. Jas. Hawkins Whitshed, Midshipman, son of the present Admiral of the Fleet. The captured vessel, we may add, was commanded by a son of the celebrated French General, Bertrand, whose life Mr. Monk had the good fortune on three occasions to save. He afterwards acted as Flag-officer to Lord Wm. Bentinck in the operations against Naples, Leghorn, and Genoa; and in March, 1814, commanded a party of seamen with scaling ladders at the reduction of the forts in the Gulf of Spezia. In consequence of his Lordship’s strong recommendation he was nominated, on 24 of the ensuing month, Acting-Lieutenant of the Berwick – an appointment to which the Admiralty accorded its sanction 13 June in the same year. After further serving at the bombardment of Gaeta in 1815, and accompanying Lord Exmouth in the early part of 1816 in his visits to Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, Lieut. Monk was appointed with Capt. Brace, in July, 1816, to the Impregnable 104; in which ship, on 27 of the proximate Aug., he bore a warm part under the flag of Rear-Admiral David Milne in the bombardment of Algiers; where he was wounded and burnt, and sustained serious injury in the eyes, resulting in the loss of the sight of one of them. He was discharged from the Berwick in Oct. 1816; and has since been on half-pay.

Although their efforts were not attended with success, it may be as well here to record the fact, that after the battle of Algiers a memorial praying for Lieut. Monk’s promotion was drawn up by the Mayor and Corporation of Chester for presentation to the Lords of the Admiralty; and others, with the same intent, by the Mayor, Corporation, and Merchants of Liverpool, to Mr. Canning, Lord Sandon, and Mr. Huskisson; by the last-mentioned of whom he was personally introduced to H.R.H. the Lord High Admiral. From 1818 until 1844 Lieut. Monk was employed in command of his own ships in trading to all parts of the globe.

  1. Vide Gaz. 1813, p. 1805.