Carew, Benjamin Hallowell (DNB00)

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CAREW, Sir BENJAMIN HALLOWELL (1780–1834), admiral, son of Benjamin Hallowell, commissioner of the American board of customs, was born in Canada in 1760, and entered the navy at an early age. On 31 Aug. 1781 he was appointed by Sir Samuel Hood as acting lieutenant of the Alcide, and served in her in the action of the Chesapeake five days later. He was shortly afterwards moved into the Alfred, and was in her in the engagements at St. Christopher's and of Dominica [see Bayne, William]. He was, however, not confirmed in his rank till 25 April 1783, and after seven years of uneventful service he was made commander on 22 Nov. 1790. During the two following years he commanded the Scorpion sloop on the coast of Africa, and in 1793 went to the Mediterranean in the Camel storeship, out of which he was posted on 30 Aug., and appointed to the temporary command of the Robust of 74 guns. He afterwards for a short time commanded the Courageux during the absence of Captain Waldegrave, sent home with despatches; and on being superseded 'from her, served as a volunteer, 'wherever he could be useful,' in the sieges of Bastia and Calvi. 'Hallowell and myself,' wrote Nelson on 9 July 1794, 'each take twenty-four hours at the advanced battery;' and acknowledged Hallowell's zeal in terms repeated more formally on 8 Aug., and embodied in Hood's despatch of 5 Aug. Hallowell was then appointed to the Lowestoft frigate, and a few months later to the Courageux, which he commanded in the action off the Hyères Islands on 13 July 1795. He continued in her, attached to the fleet under Sir John Jervis, during the trying year 1796. On 19 Dec., when the fleet was in Gibraltar Bay, the Courageux was blown from her anchors in a terrific gale of wind, was driven over to the African coast, and dashed to pieces at the foot of Apes' Hill. Out of her crew of six hundred about one hundred and twenty only escaped. At the time of the Courageux being driven to sea, Hallowell was absent at a court-martial, and though he was anxious to return at once to his ship, the president refused him permission. It has been said, but quite without proof, that the loss of the ship was entirely owing to his absence (Brenton, Life of Lord St. Vincent, i. 302), While waiting on board the Victory for an opportunity to return to England, Hallowell was present in the battle off Cape St. Vincent on 14 Feb. 1797. He was afterwards sent home with the duplicate despatches and a strong recommendation from Jervis, which led to his being immediately appointed to the command of the Lively frigate, ordered back to the Mediterranean, he was shortly afterwards transferred to the Swiftsure of 74 guns, one of the inshore squadron off Cadiz under Captain Troubridge, which in May 1798 was detached to join Rear-admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. The Swiftsure was thus one of that small fleet which during July scoured the Mediterranean and crushed the French in Aboukir Bay on the night of 1-2 Aug. The Swiftsure, with the Alexander [see Ball, Sir Alexander John], had been detached on the evening of 31 July to look into Alexandria, and was thus somewhat later than the other ships in getting into action. It was already dark, and as she was standing in under a press of sail she met a ship leaving the battle, and Hallowell was on the point of firing into her. He had happily given strict orders that not a shot was to be fired till the anchor was down and the sails clewed up; this strange ship was the English Bellerophon, which had been compelled to haul off for a time. The Swiftsure took her place, but with better judgment, and, together with the Alexander, devoted herself to the destruction of L'Orient, which blew up about two hours later.

When Nelson returned to Naples Bay, the Swiftsure was one of the ships left on the coast of Egypt under the command of Captain Samuel Hood, and she remained there for the next eighteen months. She rejoined Nelson at Palermo on 20 March 1799, and a couple of months later Hallowell astonished the whole fleet by sending him a coffin, certified to be entirely made of wood and iron from the wreck of L'Orient, together with the following note, 23 May 1799: 'My lord, herewith I send you a coffin made of part of L'Orient*s mainmast, that when you are tired of this life you may be buried in one of your own trophies; but may that period be far distant is the sincere wish of your obedient and much obliged servant, Ben. Hallowell.' It is stated, on the authority of his brother-in-law, that, fearing the effect of all the flattery lavished on his chief, he determined to remind him that he was mortal (Nelson Despatches, iii. 88); but the grim humour of the gift seems also to remind us of Hallowell's American education.

For the next three months the Swiftsure remained on the coast of Italy, where Hallowell was actively employed, under Troubridge, in the reduction of Saint Elmo, Capua, and Civita Vecchia; in acknowledgment of which services he received from the king of Naples the order of St. Ferdinand and Merit, and a snuffbox bearing the royal cipher in diamonds. Towards the end at the year the Swiftsure joined Rear-adminal Duckworth at Minorca, and accompanied him to Lisbon, on which station and off Cadiz she remained. In May 1800 Rear-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton hoisted hit flag on board her, and in November went in her to the coast of Egypt. He then transferred his flag to the Kent, and the Swiftsure was in the following June sent in charge of a convoy to Malta. On the way thither Hallowell, having learnt the proximity of a powerful French squadron, which had been endeavouring to land troops near Tripoli, resolved to make the best othis way to reinforce Sir John Borlase Warren, and accordingly left the convoy to shift for itself He was thus alone when, on 24 June 1801, he fell in with the French squadron, was surrounded, and captured an obstinate resistance (James, Naval History, 1860, iii. Hallowell was vary shortly afterwards released on parole, and on 18 Aug. was tried at Port Mahon by a Court-martial, which approved of his conduct in every respect, pronounced that his leaving the convoy was dictated by sound judgment and zeal for the service of his king and country, that the defence of the Swiftsure was meritorious, that her loss was unavoidable, and that Hallowell had displayed great judgment in his endeavours to avoid so superior a force. He was therefore honourably acquitted of all blame.

In 1802 Hallowell commanded the Argo of 44 guns on the coast of Africa, with a broad pennant, and touching at Barbadoes on his return to Europe, an learning there that war had again broken out, he placed his services at the disposal of Commodore Sir Samuel Hood, then commanding-in-chief on the Leeward Island station. He was thus in the reduction of St. Lucia and Tobago in June 1803, and was warmly thanked Hood in his despatches. On his return to England he was sent out, still in the Argo, on a special mission to Aboukir. He was afterwards appointed to the Tigre, in which he joined the the fleet off Toulon under lord Nelson, and under his command took part in the chase of the French fleet to the West Indies in May and June 1806. In September the Tigre was with the fleet off Cadiz, but was one of the ships detached to Gibraltar under rear-admiral Louis on 30 Oct., and had thus no share in the battle of Trafalgar. Continuing in the Tigre, Hallowell in 1807 the command of the naval art of the expedition to Alexandria; he afterwards was with the fleet off Toulon and on the coast of Spain till his advancement to flag rank on 1 Aug. 1811. In January 1812 he hoisted his flag on board the Malta of 80 guns, again in the Mediterranean, where he remained till the peace. In June 1815 he was made a K.C.B. During 1816-18 he was commander-in-chief on the coast of Ireland, and became vice-admiral on 12 Aug. 1819. From 1821 to 1824 he was commander-in-chief at the Nora, with his dag in the Prince Regent. On the death of his cousin, Mrs. Anne Paston Gee (28 March 1828), he succeeded to the estates of the Carews of Beddington, and pursuant to her will assumed the name and arms of Carew, to which family, however, he was not in an degree related. The estates had come to Mrs. Gee by the will of her husband’s brother, and now came to Hallowell very much in the nature of a windfall; but to a friend who congratulated him on it he answered, ‘Half as much twenty years ago had indeed been a blessing; but I am now old and crank’ On 22 July 1830 he attained the rank of admiral, and on 6 June 1831 was made G.G.B. He died at Beddington Park on 2 Sept. 1834.

Hallowell is traditionally described as having been a man of gigantic frame and vast personal strength, and several stories are to of the summary manner in which he, by arm and fist, quelled some symptoms of mutiny which appeared on board the Swiftsure while off Cadiz. He married in February 1800 a daughter of Captain John Nicholson Inglefield, for many years commissioner of the navy at Gibraltar, and left issue.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog, ii. (vol. i. pt. ii.) 465 ; Gent. Mag. (1834), vol. civ. pt. ii. p. 537; United Sarvice Journal, 1834, pt. iii. 874, and 1835, pt. i. 95.]

J. K. L.