Inglefield, John Nicholson (DNB00)

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INGLEFIELD, JOHN NICHOLSON (1748–1828), captain in the navy, was born in 1748. He entered the navy in 1759; and after passing his examination was, in April 1766, rated 'able seaman' on board the Launceston, going out to North America with the flag of Vice-admiral Durell (pay-book of Launceston). In May 1768 he was moved into the Romney, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Samuel (afterwards Viscount) Hood [q. v.], and in October was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and sent back to the Launceston. In the following July he returned to the Romney, and from that time his service was very closely connected with that of Hood. With Hood he quitted the Romney in December 1770, served with him in the Marlborough and Courageux, and in 1778 in the Robust, with Hood's brother Alexander, afterwards Lord Bridport [q.v.] In the Robust he was present in the action off Ushant on 27 July. In June 1779 he was promoted to the command of the Lively sloop. On 11 Oct. 1780 he was posted to the Barfleur of 90 guns, in which his patron, Sir Samuel Hood, hoisted his flag, and went out to the West Indies as second in command. He thus had an important share in the skirmish with the French fleet off Fort Royal of Martinique on 29 April 1781. In the following August he was moved by Hood into the Centaur of 74 guns, and commanded her in the action off the Chesapeake on 5 Sept., in the action with De Grasse at St. Kitts on 25 Jan. 1782, in the skirmish on 9 April, and in the decisive action of 12 April 1782. In August the Centaur sailed for England with the convoy, under the command of Rear-admiral Thomas (afterwards Lord) Graves [q. v.], and after much bad weather was overtaken by a hurricane on 16 Sept. Many of the ships lay-to on the wrong tack (see Nautical Magazine, xlix. 719), the Centaur apparently among the number. In a violent shift of the wind she was dismasted, lost her rudder, and was thrown on her beam ends. With great difficulty she was kept afloat till the 23rd, when towards evening she went down almost suddenly. The sea ran very high, but Inglefield, with the master, a midshipman, and nine seamen, got into the pinnace, and after sixteen days' wild navigation and fearful suffering reached Fayal, one of the men dying a few hours before they sighted land. These eleven men were all that remained of the crew of the 74-gun ship. On returning to England, Inglefield, with the other survivors, was put on his trial and fully acquitted. He was then appointed to the Scipio guardship in the Medway. In 1788-9 he commanded the Adventure on the coast of Africa, and from 1790 to 1792 the Medusa on the same station. In 1793 he commanded the Aigle frigate in the Mediterranean, and in 1794 succeeded Sir Hyde Parker as captain of the fleet. Towards the close of the year he returned to England with Lord Hood, and had no further service afloat, accepting the appointment of resident commissioner of the navy, and being successively employed in Corsica, Malta, Gibraltar, and latterly at Halifax. In 1799 he declined promotion to flag rank, and was placed on the list of retired captains, retaining his civil appointment till 1811. He died in 1828. He is described by Sir William Hotham [q. v.] as 'a remarkably handsome man, very good natured, and kind in his manners.' 'Though he lived to a considerable age,' he adds, 'he never altogether recovered the effects of the miraculous escape' (Hotham MS.} Inglefield married, about 1775, a daughter of Sir Thomas Slade, and had issue a daughter, who married Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew [q. v.], and a son, Samuel Hood Inglefield, who died, rear-admiral and commander-in-chief in China, in 1848, and was father of the present Admiral Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield, K.C.B.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. iii. (vol. ii.) 62; O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict. p. 564; Commission and Warrant Books in the Public Record Office; Inglefield's Narrative concerning the Loss of his Majesty's Ship the Centaur (published by authority), 1783; information from Sir E. A. Inglefield.]

J. K. L.