Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/317

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


which in the following year he went out to the Mediterranean, took part in the occupation of Toulon, in the reduction of Corsica, and in the action of 14 March 1795, when he was severely wounded in the right arm, and lost his right eye. He was invalided for the recovery of his health, and on 9 Nov. 1795 was promoted to the rank of commander.

In 1797 he had command of the Good Design armed ship, convoying the trade from Leith to the Elbe, or to Elsinore. In December 1799 he was appointed to the Racoon brig, which he commanded in the Channel, the Mediterranean, and the West Indies, where, on 18 Nov. 1802, he was posted to the Santa Margarita. He returned to England in the course of 1803, and, remaining in the Santa Margarita, was attached to the Channel fleet. On 4 Nov. 1805 he was in company with Sir Richard John Strachan [q. v.], when he fell in with the French ships which, under Dumanoir, had escaped from Trafalgar, but now, hampered by the frigates Santa Margarita and Phœnix, were brought to action and all taken. Rathborne almost immediately afterwards received his appointment to the Foudroyant, much to his disgust, as he conceived that a cruising frigate was likely to give him greater opportunities of distinction and prize-money. He appealed to the admiralty, and Captain John Wentworth Loring [q. v.], who was appointed to succeed him in the Margarita, amiably held back his commission till the pleasure of the admiralty could be known. In the end Loring was appointed to the Niobe, and Rathborne remained in the Santa Margarita till December 1807, when the ship, being quite worn out, was paid off. For the next two years Rathborne commanded the sea fencibles of the Essex coast, and from 1810 to 1813 had charge of the impress service in the Tyne. In 1810 he was granted a pension for the loss of his eye, and this was afterwards increased to 300l. a year. In 1815 he was nominated a C.B. In 1822 he was appointed superintendent of the ordinary at Chatham, a post which he held till his death in the summer of 1831. He married, in 1805, a daughter of John French of Loughrea, and left issue. His sister was the mother of John Wilson Croker [q. v.]

[Ralfe's Naval Biogr. iv. 347; Marshall's Royal Naval Biogr. iv. (vol. ii. pt. ii.) 739; Service-book in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.

RATSEY, GAMALIEL (d. 1605), highwayman, son of Richard Ratsey, a well-to-do inhabitant of Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, took to evil courses as a boy, and in 1600 enlisted in the army which accompanied Sir Charles Blount (afterwards Earl of Devonshire) to Ireland. On returning to England about 1603, Ratsey robbed of 40l. the landlady of an inn at Spalding, but, when arrested, he escaped from prison, and, stealing a horse of a serving-man on the road, entered into partnership in Northamptonshire with two reckless thieves named respectively Snell and Shorthose. Ratsey's exploits on the highway, which were thenceforth notorious, were equally characterised by daring and rough humour. He usually wore a mask in which the features were made hideously repulsive. Gabriel Harvey referred to him as Gamaliel Hobgoblin. Ben Jonson wrote in his ‘Alchemist’ (i. 1) of a ‘face cut … worse than Gamaliel Ratsey's.’ In ‘Hey for Honesty’ (1651), assigned to Thomas Randolph, an ugly woman is similarly described (Randolph, Works, ed. Hazlitt, p. 470). On one occasion Ratsey and his friends successfully robbed a large company of nine travellers. Before he relieved a Cambridge scholar of his property, he extorted a learned oration from him. To the poor he showed a generosity which accorded with the best traditions of his profession. But within two years his partners betrayed him to the officers of the law, and he was hanged at Bedford on 26 March 1605.

Some literary interest attaches to his career. He is the hero of several ballads, none of which are now known, and of two pamphlets, each of which is believed to be extant in a unique copy. One, which is in the Malone collection at the Bodleian, was licensed for the press to John Trundle on 2 May 1605. This copy has no title, but it is described in the ‘Stationers' Register’ as ‘The Life and Death of Gamaliel Ratsey, a famous thief of England, executed at Bedford the 26th of March last past.’ A portrait of Ratsey, which is no longer accessible, is said to have formed the frontispiece. A poem in Spenserian stanzas, headed ‘Ratseys Repentance, which hee wrote with his owne Hand when he was in Newgate,’ concludes the tract, and, with some vagueness but with much poetical fervour, relates his adventurous life. The popularity extended to this little volume led another publisher (Valentine Simmes) to obtain, on 31 May, a license for a second part, which he christened ‘Ratseis Ghoaste, or the second part of his Madde Prankes and Robberies.’ It is a collection of imaginary adventures on the road. The only known copy is in the John Rylands Library at Manchester. The most interesting chapter reports a speech which it is pretended