Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macnamara, James

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MACNAMARA, JAMES (1768–1826), rear-admiral, born in 1768, entered the navy in 1782 on board the Gibraltar of 80 guns, bearing the broad pennant of Sir Richard Bickerton [q. v.] In the Gibraltar he went out to the East Indies, where he was taken by Sir Edward Hughes [q. v.] into the Superb, his flagship, in which he was present at the action off Cuddalore, 20 June 1783. He afterwards served in the Europa flagship at Jamaica, and was promoted to be lieutenant on 1 Dec. 1788. In 1790 he was in the Excellent with Captain Gell, and afterwards in the Victory, on board which Lord Hood hoisted his flag. He was again with Hood in the Victory in 1793, and on 22 Oct. was promoted by him to be commander. He was shortly afterwards appointed acting captain of the Bombay Castle ; from her he exchanged into the Southampton frigate, which he commanded during 1796-6, for the most part under the immediate orders of Nelson, in the Gulf of Genoa. His post rank was confirmed to 6 Oct. 1795. In the battle of Cape St. Vincent, 14 Feb. 1797, the Southampton was the repeating frigate of the centre of the line. A few months later she returned to England and was paid off. Macnamara was then appointed to the Cerberus on the coast of Ireland, later on in the Bay of Biscay, and afterwards in the West Indies, everywhere maintaining his character as a gallant and successful cruiser. After the peace of Amiens the Cerberus was for some time employed on the coast of San Domingo, and was paid off in February 1803. On 6 April 1803 Macnamara fought a duel at Chalk Farm with a Colonel Montgomery. The quarrel arose out of an acciental encounter between the two men's dogs in Hyde Park the same morning. Both parties were wounded, Montgomery mortally; and the coroner's inquest bringing in a verdict of manslaughter, Macnamara was arrested, and was tried at the Old Bailey on 22 April. His defence was that the provocation and insult came from Montgomery. He called many naval officers, including Hood, Nelson, Hotham, Hyde Parker, and Troubridge, as witnesses to his being 'an honourable, good-humoured, pleasant, lively companion, exactly the reverse of a quarrel-some man. The jury returned a verdict of 'not guilty.'

On the renewal of the war Macnamara was appointed to the Dictator, which he commanded in the North Sea for two years. He afterwards commanded the Edjjar in the Baltic, and in the Great Belt with Sir Richard Goodwin Keats [q. v.] in 1808. In the following year he was appointed to the Berwick, again for service in the North Sea and on the north coast of France. On 24 March 1811 he chased and, in concert with a small squadron of cruising frigates [cf. Loring, Sir John Wentworth], drove on shore and destroyed the French frigate Amazone, near Cape Barfleur. He was promoted to be rear-admiral on 4 June 1814, but had no further service. He died on 15 Jan. 1826. He married, in January 1818, Henrietta, daughter of Henry King of Askham Hall, Westmoreland, and widow of Colonel the Hon. George Carleton, killed at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1814 (Foster, Peerage, s.n. 'Dorchester').

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. ii. (vol. i.) 685; Nicolas's Despatches and Letters of Lord Nelson, freq. (see Index at end of vol. vii., where, however, he is confused with an older officer of the same name) ; James's Nav. Hist. (edit, of 1860), v. 211.]

J. K. L.