MacBride, John (d.1800) (DNB00)

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MACBRIDE, JOHN (d. 1800), admiral, son of Robert MacBride, presbyterian minister, of Ballymoney, co. Antrim [see under MacBride, John, 1651?–1718], was brother of David MacBride [q. v.] After serving for some years in the merchant service he entered the navy, about 1754, as able seaman on board the Garland, apparently in the West Indies. As ‘A.B.,’ midshipman, and master's mate he continued in her for rather more than three years, and after a few months in the Norfolk, the flagship in the Downs, he passed his examination on 6 Oct., and was promoted to be lieutenant on 27 Oct. 1758 (Passing Certificate). In 1761 he was in command of the Grace cutter, and in August distinguished himself by cutting out a privateer from the roadstead of Dunkirk. On 7 April 1762 he was promoted to the command of the Grampus fireship, from which he was moved on 14 Oct. 1762 to the Vulture, and on 27 May 1763 to the Cruiser, all on the home station. On 20 June 1765 he was posted to the Renown frigate. In 1766 he commanded the Jason in a voyage to the Falkland Islands. In August 1767 he was appointed to the Seaford; in March 1771 to the Arethusa; in August 1771 to the Southampton; and in April 1773 to the Orpheus; all for service on the home station. On 6 Nov. 1776 he was appointed to the Bienfaisant of 64 guns. In her he took part in the action off Ushant on 27 July 1778 [see Keppel, Augustus, Viscount], and in the subsequent court-martial gave evidence strongly in favour of the commander-in-chief (Minutes of the Court-martial, pp. 148–9).

Notwithstanding this, and the adverse nature of his evidence at the trial of Sir Hugh Palliser [q. v.], Macbride continued to command the Bienfaisant through the summer of 1779 [see Hardy, Sir Charles, the younger], and in December sailed with Sir George Rodney for the relief of Gibraltar. In the action off Cape St. Vincent on 16 Jan. 1780 he played a very prominent part, the Bienfaisant being actually engaged with the San Domingo when she caught fire and blew up, and he afterwards received the surrender of the Phœnix, the flagship of the Spanish admiral, Don Juan de Langara. There were several cases of small-pox on board the Bienfaisant, and Macbride, in order to protect his prisoners—Langara and other Spanish officers—from the risk of infection, permitted them to remain on board the Phœnix, although by a formal convention they agreed to consider themselves, so far as the chances of their liberty went, as being on board the Bienfaisant, irrespective of anything that might happen to the Phœnix. According to the privately expressed opinion of Montague Bernard [q. v.], the international lawyer, this agreement was practically worthless. Fortunately, however, no difficulty arose, and both ships arrived safely at Gibraltar. Macbride was sent home with Rodney's despatches, but afterwards, rejoining the Bienfaisant, was sent in the summer to look out for a large privateer, the Comte d'Artois of 60 guns and upwards of six hundred men, which was infesting the fairway on the south coast of Ireland. He had the Charon of 44 guns in company, but at some distance off, when he met the French ship on 13 Aug. As the Comte d'Artois was much superior in the number of men, she attempted to close with the Bienfaisant and carry her by boarding. The attempt was unsuccessful, and exposed her to the heavier and better sustained fire of the Bienfaisant's great guns. After a sharp action of a little over an hour, the Charon came up, and d'Artois struck her colours.

In January 1781 Macbride was appointed to the Artois, a 40-gun frigate, in which he took part in the action on the Doggerbank, 5 Aug. [see Parker, Sir Hyde, the elder]. On 3 Dec. he captured two Dutch privateers, each of twenty-four guns, ‘the compleatest privateers,’ he wrote, ‘I ever saw.’ He was afterwards stationed on the coast of Ireland, and employed on shore, regulating the impress service, while the Artois cruised under the command of her first lieutenant. After the peace he commanded the Druid, and in 1784 was returned to parliament as member for Plymouth. In 1785–6 he was on a commission for considering the proposals to increase the fortifications of Portsmouth and Plymouth [see Jervis, John, Earl of St. Vincent], proposals which he condemned and voted against, both in the commission and in parliament. In 1788 he was appointed to the Cumberland guardship at Plymouth, and in 1790 in Torbay with the fleet under Lord Howe. He was promoted to be rear-admiral on 1 Feb. 1793, and during the year was commander-in-chief in the Downs, with his flag on board the Quebec frigate. In the end of 1793 and the beginning of 1794 he commanded a frigate squadron off Brest, with his flag in the Flora. On 4 July 1794 he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral, and in 1796, with his flag in the Russell, had command of a squadron in the North Sea, and watched the Dutch fleet in the Texel. He attained the rank of admiral on 24 Feb. 1799, and died of a paralytic seizure, at Spring Garden Coffee-house, 17 Feb. 1800. His portrait, by Northcote, has been engraved.

MacBride married Ursula, eldest daughter of William Folkes of Hillington Hall, Norfolk, leaving an only son, John David MacBride [q. v.] MacBride wrote a ‘Journal of the Winds and Weather … at Falkland Islands from 1 Feb. 1766 to 19 Jan. 1767,’ London 1770?, 4to, which was republished in Dalrymple's ‘Collection of Voyages, chiefly in the Southern Atlantick Ocean,’ 1775, 4to.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. vi. 555; Naval Chronicle, xix. 265, with an engraved portrait after Smart; Ralfe's Nav. Biog. i. 401; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; Gent. Mag. 1800, pt. i. p. 285, 1868, i. 393.]

J. K. L.