Clements, Michael (DNB00)

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CLEMENTS, MICHAEL (d. 1796?), captain in the royal navy, was, in May 1757, first lieutenant of the Unicorn frigate when she engaged and captured l'Invincible, a large Malouin privateer. The captain of the Unicorn was killed, and Clements, after conducting the fight to a successful issue, brought the prize into Kinsale, and went out again in pursuit of the privateers consort, which he also captured and brought in (Beatson, Nav. and Mil. Mem. ii. 78). For this good service Clements was immediately promoted to the command of the London buss, and four months later (29 Sept.) to post rank and the command of the Actaeon frigate. He continued in her, attached to the Channel fleet, till the summer of 1759, when he was moved into the Pallas of 36 guns, also with the fleet blockading Brest and Quiberon Bay, and specially employed, with the other frigates, in cruising against the enemy's privateers and in communicating with the home ports. By a fortunate accident, the Pallas, in company with the Æolus and Brilliant, put into Kinsale in the last days of February 1760, just as a message came from the Duke of Bedford, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, that Thurot's squadron was at Belfast. They immediately put to sea again, and, coming off Belfast on the morning of the 28th, succeeded in capturing all Thurot's ships [see Elliot, John] with but little loss. The Pallas continued on the same service till towards the end of the year, and was then sent to the Mediterranean, where she remained till after the peace, and returned to England in December 1763. On paying off this ship Clements refused to give a certificate to the master, whom he reported as 'inattentive to his duty.' The master in revenue laid an accusation of waste and malversation of stores against his captain. After a full and tedious inquiry the navy office the charge was, in November 1765, pronounced groundless and malicious. In 1769 he commanded the Dorsetshire of 70 guns, guardship at Portsmouth, but which in 1770 was sent up the Mediterranean as part of the answer to a threatening armament of the French at Toulon. In March 1778 he was appointed to the Vengeance of 74 guns, which he commanded in the action off Ushant on 27 July and in the October cruise under Admiral Keppel. He was afterwards a witness for the defence in the admiral's trial, and spoke very strongly in the admiral's favour (Minutes of the Court-martial, p. 147), which, with the admiralty constituted as it then was, did not tend to his advantage. A few months later he was compelled by failing health to resign his command, and he never got another. His correspondence during 1780 shows, however, that he was still in delicate health. In July he applied for leave to go abroad with his family. Tuscany he conceived to be a proper place, if their lordships should approve, and finally asked for a passport for himself, his wife, and daughter for Ostend. 'When my health shall be re-established,' he added, 'I shall be happy to return and follow my profession with every zeal to regain that reputation which at present appears to me so much sullied.' It was not a sentence likely to commend him to Lord Sandwich.

His name continued on the list of captains till 1787, when there was a very large retirement. Then, or a year or two later, he was made a rear-admiral on the superannuated list, and is believed to have died about 1796.

[Official letters, &c, in the Public Record Office; Charnock's Biog. Navalis, vi. 220.]

J. K. L.