Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Anderson, James (1760-1835)

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ANDERSON, JAMES (1760–1835), captain in the navy, having served through the war of American independence as a midshipman, and through the first French revolutionary war as a lieutenant, was, in 1806, made a commander, and employed for several years in command of the Rinaldo brig against the enemy's privateers in the Channel. He was advanced to the rank of post-captain in 1812, and in August 1814 was appointed to the Zealous, of 74 guns, and sent out with stores to Quebec, where he was ordered to winter. The ship was old and rotten, very badly manned, and inadequately equipped; and Captain Anderson, judging that it was impossible to stay at Quebec without sacrificing the ship, returned to England; on the charge of this action being contrary to his orders, he was tried by court martial, and acquitted of all blame. Lord Melville, then first lord of the admiralty, was extremely dissatisfied at this decision, and said to Anderson: ‘If Canada fall, it will be entirely owing to your not wintering the Zealous at Quebec;’ to which Anderson replied: ‘I rather think it will be in consequence of proper supplies, in proper ships, not having been sent out there at a proper season of the year.’ The fact seems to be that Lord Melville had meant to sacrifice the Zealous, in order to have a ready excuse for any disaster that might happen in Canada, and was annoyed that his subterfuge had been destroyed by her captain's promptitude and resolution. The difference of opinion with the first lord of the admiralty, combined with the reduction of the navy at the peace, deprived Anderson of any further service. He employed his leisure in scientific and literary pursuits, and is said to have contributed several articles to different magazines. The only one which bears his name is ‘Some Observations on the Peculiarity of the Tides between Fairleigh and Dungeness,’ in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for 1819, p. 217. He died 30 Dec. 1835.

[Ralfe's Naval Biography, iv. 323; Marshall's Royal Naval Biography, supplement, part iii. (vol. vii.) 15; Gent. Mag., 1836, i. 211.]

J. K. L.