A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Saumarez, Richard

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SAUMAREZ, K.L.A. (Captain, 1824.)

Richard Saumarez is nephew of the late Admiral Lord de Saumarez, G.C.B.;[1] and cousin of Commander Henry Dumaresq, R.N. His brother, Acting-Commander Thos. Saumarez, died at the island of Ascension 19 May, 1823, seven days only after his appointment to the Bann 20.

This officer entered the Navy, in Sept. 1806, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the San Josef 110, Capt. John Conn, bearing the flag in the Channel of his uncle, then Sir Jas. Saumarez, with whom he shortly afterwards removed to the St. George 98. Becoming Midshipman, in Nov. of the same year, of the Spartan, of 46 guns and 258 men, Capt. Jahleel Brenton, he assisted in that ship at the destruction of the castles of Pesaro and Ceseratico, the reduction of Lusin, an island on the coast of Croatia, and the capture of Zante, Cephalonia, and Cerigo. He was also, 3 May, 1810, present in a brilliant and single-handed victory gained by the Spartan, in the Bay of Naples (after a contest of more than two hours, in which the British sustained a loss of 10 men killed and 22 wounded), over a Franco-Neapolitan squadron, carrying altogether 95 guns and about 1400 men. In Aug. of the year last mentioned he removed, as Master’s Mate, to the Daphne 20, Capt. Philip Pipon, attached to the force in the Baltic, where, until Sept. 1812, he had constant charge of a watch, and “conducted himself with so much care and ability, and displayed such knowledge of his profession, both as a sailor and a navigator,” that, on leaving, he had the satisfaction of being strongly recommended by his Captain as “a young officer of great promise, and highly deserving of promotion.” During his servitude in the Daphne he witnessed an attack made by the enemy upon Danzig, and conveyed to the Commander-in-Chief the official despatches relative to the battle of Borodino. After serving for a few weeks as Acting-Flag-Lieutenant to Sir Jas. Saumarez in the Victory 100 and Pyramus 36, he was presented with a commission bearing date 5 Dec. 1812; and he was next, 2 Feb. 1813, appointed to the Bacchante 33, Capts. Wm. Hoste and Fras. Stanfell. While under the former of those officers in the Adriatic he conducted a considerable body of Croatian troops from the Bocco di Cattaro to Fiumé, where he arrived at a period when a force of the kind was most urgently required both for the protection of the town and for the purpose of co-operating with the army under General Nugent at the siege of Trieste. On the surrender of the latter place he was sent by Rear-Admiral Thos. Francis Fremantle to Prince Maximilian with the terms of the capitulation. On his passage afterwards with despatches to Capt. Hoste, the transport vessel in which he was embarked not being able, from contrary winds and strong currents, to proceed to the place of rendezvous, he quitted her in an open boat, and by pulling along the coast, from Lissa to the anchorage off Melida, arrived in Nov. 1813, not, however, without having incurred much risk, and been forced by violent gales to take refuge for three days upon a barren and uninhabited island between Lissa and Curzola. Through these means the despatches were delivered, which led to the immediate attack, and ultimate surrender, of the fortress of Cattaro; where Lieut. Saumarez was the chief officer of the Bacchante engaged on shore in the direction of the batteries, and, under the instructions of Capt. Hoste, carried on the capitulation with General Gauthier. In Jan. 1814 he contributed to the reduction of Ragusa; and on proceeding, in the course of the same year, to the coast of North America, was there very actively employed, particularly at the capture of Castine, Belfast, and other places, in Penobscot Bay. In Dec. 1818, Lieut. Saumarez, who had been paid off from the Bacchante about July, 1815, received an appointment to the Sybille 44, bearing the flag of Sir Home Popham in the West Indies. He was there, 19 May, 1819, made Commander into the Beaver sloop -, and on 17 April, 1824, he was advanced to Post-rank. He accepted the Retirement 1 Oct. 1846.

In Aug. 1815 Capt. Saumarez was presented with the Honorary Medallion of the Royal Humane Society, for “his meritorious and highly laudable conduct,” in having, in May, 1814, under circumstances of the greatest peril, risked his own life to save that of Robert Taylor, a seaman, who had fallen overboard between Malta and Sicily; and in 1818 the Cross of the Order of Leopold of Austria was conferred upon him “for the signal services he had rendered during the campaign of 1813.” On his return in the Beaver from the West Indies he submitted to the Admiralty some observations on the yellow fever, by which he had been three times attacked in the course of one year, and had the gratification of receiving their Lordships’ approbation for the attention he had given to the subject. The thanks of the Committee of West India merchants were conveyed to him in April, 1821, “for the interesting information conveyed in his letter of the 16th” of that month, as to the most eligible track to be pursued by their homeward-bound shipping. Capt. Saumarez married 12 Feb. 1825, and has issue three sons and one daughter. His second son, Thomas, is a Lieutenant R.N.


  1. Lord de Saumarez, originally Mr. James Saumarez, was born 11 March, 1757, at Guernsey; and entered the Navy in 1770 on board the Montreal, Capt. Alms. For his conduct in the Bristol 50, Commodore Sir Peter Parker, in the attack upon Fort Sullivan, near Charlestown, South Carolina, he was nominated Acting-Lieutenant of that ship; and after having taken part with the same officer in the expedition against Long Island, and, in the Chatham 74, in the attempt upon Rhode Island, he was officially promoted by a Commission dated in Feb. 1778, He subsequently commanded the Spitfire galley with great activity on the coast of North America; was in the Fortitude 74, bearing the flag of Sir Hyde Parker, in the action off the Doggerbank 5 Aug. 1781; and, in acknowledgment of his services on that occasion, was promoted to the rank of Commander and appointed to the Tisiphone fire-veaael. In the following Dec. he proved chiefly inatrumental to the capture, by Rear-Admiral Kempenfeld, of part of a French convoy under M. de Guichen; and on his arrival in the West Indies with the intelligence of the latter having left port he was appointed, by Sir Sam. Hood, the Commander-in-Chief, to the Russell 74. In that ship he bore a distinguished part in Rodney’s action with the Comte de Grasse 12 April, 1782. Between 1787 and the date of his promotion to the rank of Rear-Admiral, which took place 1 Jan. 1801, he commanded the Ambuscade 33, Raisonnable 64, Crescent of 42 guns and 257 men, Marlborough and Orion 74’s, and Caesar 80. In the Crescent he made prize, 20 Oct. 1793, of La Réunion of 36 guns and 320 men, 120 of whom were either killed or wounded, without any casualty whatever to the British. His gallantry on this occasion procured him the honour of Knighthood, and the merchants of London presented him with an elegant piece of plate. In Dec. of the same year the Crescent formed part of an expedition under Earl Moira and Rear-Admiral M‘Bride to the coast of Normandy and Brittany; and on 8 June, 1794, she was in action with an enemy’s squadron of very superior force, from whom she escaped by a series of the most bold and masterly manoeuvres. While in command of the Orion, Sir James Saumarez fought with distinction in Lord Bridport’s action, in the engagement off St. Vincent, and at the battle of the Nile. His bravery on each of the two latter occasions obtained for him a gold medal; and on the last the city of London presented him with a piece of ornamental plate valued at 200l. In 1799 he was appointed a Colonel of Marines; in the early part of 1801, with his flag on board the Caesar, he commanded a division of the grand fleet off the Black Rocks, with such unwearied zeal, that no square-rigged vessel of any description either left or entered the port of Brest; and on 14 June in the same year (the very day after he had been raised to the dignity of a Baronet) he sailed from Plymouth with a squadron consisting of five sail of the line, one frigate, a brig, and a lugger, destined for the blockade of Cadiz, off which port he was joined by two more sail of the line. On 6 of the following month Sir James, with six sail of the line under his orders, made an unsuccessful attack (which lasted for five hours and terminated with the loss to the British of the Hannibal 74) on a French squadron, consisting of two 80-gun ships, one 74, and a frigate, lying under the protection of several strong batteries in the neighbourhood of Algeciras. Six days afterwards, having by means of the greatest exertion partially refitted his squadron at Gibraltar, he proceeded, witn five ships of the line, two frigates, a polacre, and an armed brig, in pursuit of the above French squadron, which had been joined by two Spanish ships of 112 guns, one of 96, one of 80, and one of 74, also by another, a French 74, and by two frigates and a lugger, and which, with the Hannibal, making in all 10 ships of the line, was now on its way from Algeciras to Cadiz. Notwithstanding the fearful superiority of this force, the valour and genius of Sir James Saumarez enabled him to achieve a most glorious victory. The two Spanish three-deckers were destroyed; one French 74, the St. Antoine, was captured; and the remainder of the enemy’s ships were put to flight. As a mark of the sense entertained by his Majesty and the country of the important service he had rendered, Sir James was created a Knight of the Bath, was voted the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, with a pension of 1200l. per annum for life, and was presented with the freedom of the city of London, accompanied by a handsome sword. After serving at the blockade of Cadiz and superintending the cession of Minorca to the Spanish he returned, in 1802, to England. On retiring for a while to his native island he received from the inhabitants an elegant vase, in testimony of their unfeigned respect and esteem for his public and private character; and he was also gratified with the thanks of the States of the neighbouring island of Jersey, in 1803, after his flag had been flying for a short time at the Nore, he was appointed to the chief command on the Guernsey station; where he remained until promoted, 13 Dec. 1806, to the rank of Vice-Admiral. He was then nominated second in command of the Channel fleet under Earl St. Vincent. In the ensuing Aug. he resumed his former command off Guernsey. Being next, in March, 1808, appointed to the chief command in the Baltic, he was for four years and a half employed on that station in affording protection, under circumstances the most difficult, to the commerce of Britain, in maintaining friendly relations between her and Sweden, and in otherwise, by his conciliatory and judicious conduct, improving her position with the northern powers. On leaving Gottenborg in 1812 he received from the King of Sweden (who also created him a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Swedish military order of the Sword) a most superb sword, the whole of the hilt of which was set with brilliants of exquisite workmanship and great value. He received, too, the personal thanks of the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, on the occasion of their subsequent visit to England; as well as the acknowledgments of Prince Metternich, the Austrian Minister; and, above all, the approbation of his own Government, He became a full Admiral 4 June, 1814; was appointed in 1819 Rear-Admiral and in Nov. 1821 Vice-Admiral, of Great Britain, the latter of which posts he retained until constituted, in Feb. 1832, a General of Marines; held the chief command at Plymouth from 1824 until 1827; and was elevated to the Peerage by letters patent dated Sept. 1831. He died 9 Oct. 1836.