A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Wormeley, Ralph Randolph

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WORMELEY. (Capt., 1814. f-p., 14; h-p., 34.)

Ralph Randolph Wormeley was born 29 Oct. 1785, in Virginia, where his family, both on his father’s and his mother’s side, had been seated since the period nearly at which that colony was established. His maternal grandfather, John Randolph, was Attorney-General at the commencement of the war of independence, and was under the necessity of flying to England, with the loss of a fine property of which he and his ancestors had been in possession for 150 years. Capt. Wormeley had an uncle of his own name, who served with distinction in the southern campaign as Captain of one of the loyal American corps.

This officer entered the Navy, 30 Oct. 1799, as Midshipman, on board the London 98, in which ship and the Royal George 100, both commanded by the late Admiral John Child Purvis, he served in the Channel until March, 1801. He was afterwards, until promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 22 Jan. 1806, employed, on the Home, Newfoundland, and Cadiz stations, part of the time as Master’s Mate, in the Magicienne 32, Capts. Wm. Ogilvie and Henry Vansittart, Aurora 28, Capt. Micajah Malbon, Dreadnought 98, Capt. J. C. Purvis, and Prince of Wales 98, flag-ship of Sir Robt. Calder. In the Prince of Wales he saw 52 sail-of-the-line formed in three columns off Ushant; and he was on board of her when, with 20 of those ships, she was detached in pursuit of the French fleet under Admiral Villeneuve, and succeeded in reaching Cadiz in time to reinforce Admiral Collingwood before the battle of Trafalgar. After cruizing for a short time in the Downs in the Otter sloop, Capt. John Davies, Mr. Wormeley was appointed, in June, 1806, Flag-Lieutenant to Rear-Admiral Purvis, with whom (deducting an interval of five months in 1807-8, occasioned by ill-health) he continued employed off Cadiz in the Minotaur 74, Queen 98, Atlas 74, Terrible 74, and Atlas again, until nominated, 22 Nov. 1809, Acting-Commander of the Minstrel 18, in the Mediterranean. While he was in the Atlas, that ship was for 6, 8, 10, and 12 months at a time off the port mentioned without letting go an anchor. On one occasion, when the French army was rapidly advancing upon Cadiz, Mr. Wormeley was sent with 350 men to the Caraccas to rig and rescue from their grasp five Spanish ships-of-the-line. This service he accomplished in three weeks; and for his exertions he received the thanks of Lord Collingwood. On 16 Feb. 1810 he was confirmed a Commander in the Minorca 18, in which vessel, stationed in the Mediterranean, he remained for upwards of four years, conducting himself in a manner that secured for him the favourable consideration of his Commanders-in-Chief, Sir Edw. Pellew and Sir Chas. Cotton. In the winter of 1813-14 he escorted in safety from Malta to Gibraltar although harassed for three days by the presence of a French privateer-schooner, a convoy of 18 sail one of the richest that had ever left the above island. Another convoy, which had left a month earlier, reached Gibraltar on the same day only. Capt. Wormeley had previously, 4 June, 1810, captured the Sans Peur, a felucca-privateer of 1 long gun, 2 swivels, and 39 men. He paid the Minorca off in May, 1814; and was advanced to Post-rank 7 June following. His efforts to procure employment since have been as constant as they have been unavailing.

Capt. Wormeley married, 3 Oct. 1820, Miss Caroline Prehle, of Boston, and has issue one son and three daughters.