Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shortland, John

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SHORTLAND, JOHN (1769–1810), captain in the navy, born in 1769, was elder son of Commander John Shortland (1736–1803), and was elder brother of Thomas George Shortland [q. v.] He entered the navy in 1781 under his father, then employed in transport service to and from North America. He was afterwards in the Surprise, and from 1783 to 1787 in the Latona frigate in the West Indies. On his return to England in 1787 he joined the Sirius with Captain John Hunter (1738–1821) [q. v.], and in her went out to New South Wales, made the voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, and was wrecked at Norfolk Island, whence he returned to England in company with Hunter in April 1792. On 10 Oct. 1793 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Arrogant, and in 1795 was selected by Hunter to be first lieutenant of the Reliance, in which he was going out as governor of New South Wales. As Hunter's duties detained him on shore, Shortland was thus in acting command of the ship, in which he made several voyages to the Cape of Good Hope, Tahiti, and New Zealand. He returned to England with Hunter in 1801, and having been promoted to be commander on 1 Jan. 1801, was appointed transport agent for the expedition to Egypt. In the following year he commanded the Dolphin, from which he was moved to the Trompeuse, going out to the Guinea coast, where he was promoted, on a death vacancy, to be captain of the Squirrel. On his return to England his commission as captain was confirmed, to date from 6 Aug. 1805. He was then sent out to the Halifax station, where, in February 1809, he was transferred to the Junon. In September he sailed for the West Indies, being then a hundred men short of complement, and on 13 Dec. fell in with four large frigates sailing under Spanish colours. They proved able to answer the private signals, and Shortland consequently stood towards them to gain intelligence of the enemy. But when the Junon was well within gunshot, they struck the Spanish colours, hoisted French, and poured in their broadsides. Notwithstanding the tremendous odds against him, Shortland defended his ship with the utmost gallantry, till he was carried below most dangerously wounded; the Junon, which had lost ninety men killed and wounded, was then boarded and taken possession of, but she was such a complete wreck that she was cleared out and set on fire. Shortland had both legs shattered and his left arm; he had also a severe wound in the side, and others less serious. His mangled body was taken on board one of the French frigates, and was afterwards sent, thirteen miles in a canoe under a blazing sun, to the hospital at Guadeloupe, where he died on 21 Jan. 1810, and where he was buried with military honours. He was unmarried.

[Naval Chron. xxiv. 1; James's Naval Hist. (ed. 1860), v. 47; Troude's Batailles Navales de la France, iv. 78; Navy Lists.]

J. K. L.