Cole, Christopher (DNB01)

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COLE, Sir CHRISTOPHER (1770–1837), post-captain, born at Marazion in Cornwall on 10 June 1770, was the youngest son of Humphrey Cole of Marazion. He entered the naval service in 1780 as mid-shipman on board the Royal Oak, commanded by Sir Digby Dent, where his second brother, John Cole (afterwards rector of Exeter College, Oxford), was chaplain. In the same year he was removed to the Raisonnable, and he subsequently served in the Russell and the Princessa, the flagship of Sir Francis Samuel Drake [q. v.] The Princessa formed part of the fleet under Sir Samuel Hood (afterwards Viscount Hood) [q. v.] in the actions off Martinique and the Chesapeake on 29 April and 5 Sept. 1781. She also had a share in Hood's manoeuvres off St. Christopher's in January and February 1782, and in Rodney's battles of 9 and 12 April.

At the peace of 1783 Cole joined the Trepassey of 12 guns, commanded by his brother, Captain Francis Cole, and accompanied him from the West Indies to Halifax, where he removed into the sloop Atalante, under Captain Thomas Foley, with whom he continued on that station until 1785. In the following year he proceeded to Newfoundland in the Winchelsea of 32 guns, under (Sir) Edward Pellew (afterwards first Viscount Exmouth) [q. v.] In this vessel he remained until 1789, when, in consequence of the recommendation of Sir Francis Samuel Drake, he was placed on the Crown of 64 guns, under Commodore (Sir) William Cornwallis [q. v.], with whom he proceeded to the East Indies.

In 1793 he was promoted lieutenant, and in October 1794 appointed first lieutenant of the Cerberus, a new 32-gun frigate, at the particular request of the captain, John Drew. In the following year he joined the Sanspareil of 80 guns, bearing the flag of Lord Hugh Seymour [q. v.] In 1799 he accompanied Seymour to the West Indies as his flag-lieutenant. On the surrender of Surinam in August 1800, Cole was appointed commander of one of the prizes, the Hussar, a corvette of 20 guns, which was rechristened the Surinam. In this command he distinguished himself by his activity in pursuing the enemy's privateers and his good care for the health of his men, which Seymour made the subject of an official recommendation to the admiralty. He gained the good opinion of Seymour's successor, Sir John Thomas Duckworth [q. v.], who promoted him into his flagship, the Leviathan of 74 guns, and afterwards appointed him to command the Southampton frigate. His post commission was confirmed by the admiralty on 20 April 1802.

After the conclusion of the treaty of Amiens in 1802, the Southampton was ordered home and paid off in September. In June 1804 Cole was appointed to the Culloden of 74 guns, the flagship of his old friend and commander, Sir Edward Pellew, who had been appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies. On 25 Sept. 1806 he captured the French corvette, 1'Emilien, and on 27 Nov. assisted to destroy thirty Dutch sail in the Batavia Roads. In April 1808, in command of the Doris and two other frigates, he escorted Colonel (Sir) John Malcolm [q. v.] to Bushire on his mission to the Persian court, and remained at Bushire for the protection of the embassy. On his return he received the thanks of the governor-general in council and a present of 500l. During 1808 and 1809 he was principally employed in cruising in the Straits of Malacca and the China seas. Upon the arrival of the news of the political changes in Spain, he was despatched by Pellew's successor, Rear-admiral Drury, to conciliate the governor of the Philippine Islands, a mission in which he was completely successful.

In 1810 Cole was removed at his own request into the Caroline of 36 guns, and was soon after despatched to relieve the garrison at Amboyna in command of a small squadron, consisting of the Caroline, the Piemontaise of 38 guns, the 18-gun brig sloop Barracouta, and the transport brig Mandarin. Leaving Madras on 10 May he arrived on the 30th at Prince of Wales Island, where he conceived a project of extraordinary daring the capture of Neira, the chief of the Banda Islands. He had on board a hundred officers and men of the Madras European regiment, who were destined to relieve the Amboyna garrison, and he obtained from the Penang government twenty artillerymen, two field-pieces, and twenty scaling ladders. He arrived off Neira on 9 Aug., but owing to unfavourable weather he was compelled to make the attempt with less than two hundred men. The Dutch had a garrison of nearly seven hundred regular troops, besides militia; but, undeterred, Cole landed under cover of the tempest, stormed a ten-gun battery, and carried by escalade the citadel Belgica. which was considered impregnable. The town and the rest of the garrison surrendered on the following morning. On his return to India Cole received the thanks of the governor-general in council, the commander-in-chief, and the lords of the admiralty. He was awarded a medal by the admiralty, and his action was the subject of a public order from the governor-general to the three presidencies. In the House of Commons Spencer Perceval [q. v.] described the enterprise as ' an exploit to be classed with the boldest darings in the days of chivalry.'

In 1811 Cole joined Drury on the Malabar coast, where an expedition against Java was being prepared. On the death of Drury, Cole was left in command for some months until the arrival of Captain William Robert Broughton [q. v.] The expedition sailed in June, and on its arrival at Java Cole again distinguished himself by promptly landing troops on his own responsibility before the enemy was prepared to receive them, and thus avoiding considerable loss. In 1812 the Caroline was paid off, and on 29 May Cole was knighted and presented with a sword by his crew. On 10 June he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the university of Oxford, and subsequently was presented with a piece of plate of the value of three hundred guineas by the East India Company.

Early in 1813 he was appointed to the Rippon, a new vessel of 74 guns. He continued cruising in the Channel until the end of 1814, when he was put out of commission. On 2 Jan. 1815 he was nominated K.C.B., and on Dec. 1817 he was returned to parliament for Glamorganshire. He did not sit in the parliament which met in 1818, but he was again returned on 16 March 1820, and retained the seat until 1830. In 1828 he was appointed to command the yacht Royal Sovereign, and in 1830 he was nominated colonel of marines. He died at Killoy, near Cardiff, on 24 Aug. 1836. On 28 April 1815 he married Mary Lucy (d. 3 Feb. 1855), daughter of Henry Thomas Fox-Strangways, second earl of Ilchester, and widow of Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam Park, Glamorganshire. He was a knight of the Austrian order of Maria Theresa, and of the Russian order of St. George.

[Marshall's Naval Biogr. 1824, ii. 501-17; Gent. Mag. 1811 ii. 165-6, 1836 ii. 543-4; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Osier's Life of Lord Exmouth, 1835, pp. 226, 230, 407-12; Kaye's Life of Malcolm, 1856, i. 417; James's Naval Biogr. 1886, pp. 194-202; Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornub.; Official Returns of Members of Parliament.]

E. I. C.