Reynolds, Robert Carthew (1748?-1811) (DNB00)

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REYNOLDS, ROBERT CARTHEW (1748?–1811), rear-admiral, born about 1748, entered the navy in 1759 under the patronage of Captain Edgcumbe of the Hero, and may have been present in the battle of Quiberon Bay and in the operations in the Bay of Biscay during the following years. He was afterwards, for a few months, in the Brilliant, with Captain Loggie; for three years in the Pearl, with Captain Saxton; and for nearly a year in the Venus, with Captain Barrington. The Venus was paid off in June 1769, and on 1 May 1770 Reynolds passed his examination, being described in his certificate as ‘more than twenty-one.’ He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 26 Feb. 1777, and during the next five years served principally in the Channel fleet: in the Royal George, the flagship of Vice-admiral Harland; in the Barfleur; and in the Britannia, with Vice-admiral Barrington. In 1783 he was in the West Indies, where, on 18 April, he was promoted to the command of the Dauphin armed store-ship, and from 1786 to 1788 he commanded the Echo sloop on the Newfoundland station. On 24 Sept. 1790 he was advanced to post rank, and in November was appointed temporarily to the command of the Barfleur. He was then living at Penair, near Truro, whence many of his earlier and later letters are dated. In 1795 he commanded the Druid frigate, and in 1796 the Amazon, one of the flying squadron under the command of Sir Edward Pellew, afterwards Viscount Exmouth [q. v.] In January 1797 he was still with Pellew when, on the 13th, they fell in with the French 74-gun ship Droits de l'Homme, which they engaged in a gale of wind and drove on shore in Audierne Bay on the morning of the 14th. The Droits de l'Homme was utterly wrecked, with great loss of life; the Amazon also was wrecked, but, with the exception of six men, her officers and crew got safely to shore, where they surrendered as prisoners of war. In the following September Reynolds was exchanged; was tried by court-martial for the loss of his ship, and honourably acquitted. Soon afterwards he was appointed to the Pomone, a 24-pounder frigate of the largest class, captured from the French in 1794. He continued in her in the Channel or the Bay of Biscay till the end of 1800, when he was moved into the 74-gun ship Cumberland, from which, in 1801, he again moved to the Orion, in the Channel fleet. In 1803 he was one of the captains in command of the Cornish Sea Fencibles; in 1804 he commanded the Dreadnought in the Channel, and the Princess Royal from 1804 to 1807.

On 28 April 1808 he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and early in 1810 he hoisted his flag on board the 98-gun ship St. George, and followed Sir James Saumarez (afterwards Lord de Saumarez) [q. v.] to the Baltic, as second in command of the fleet on that station. He was employed on the same service in 1811, and on 1 Nov. sailed from Hanö in charge of a large convoy for England. Three times were they obliged by stress of weather to put back; it was 12 Nov. before they could finally proceed. On the 15th they had anchored for the night in the Belt, when a large merchant ship broke adrift and fell on board the St. George, which parted her cable and drove on shore, where she lost her rudder and was forced to cut away her masts. By great exertions she was got off and taken to Wingo Sound, where she was refitted as well as circumstances would allow with jury masts and jury rudder, and was, in the opinion of the officers, quite capable of making the voyage. She sailed accordingly on 17 Dec., the 74-gun ships Defence and Cressy in company, with orders to attend her on the passage. The weather set in wild and stormy, and on the morning of the 24th, in a fierce storm from the north-west, the St. George was driven, helpless, towards the coast of Jutland, struck on a bank some three hundred yards from the shore, near Ringkjöbing, and broke up. Of the 850 men who formed her crew, twelve only were saved. The Defence was lost with the St. George; the Cressy escaped. Reynolds's body was not recovered. He was a widower, and left two daughters and a son, Sir Barrington Reynolds [q. v.], who is separately noticed.

Another son, Robert Carthew Reynolds (d. 1804), when lieutenant of the Centaur off Fort Royal of Martinique, on 4 Feb. 1804, commanded the boats which cut out the Curieux brig from under the batteries in Fort Royal Harbour. For his conspicuous gallantry on this occasion Reynolds was promoted to the command of the prize; but his severe wounds proved mortal, and he died early in September [see Bettesworth, George Edmund Byron] (James, Nav. Hist. iii. 245–8).

[Official letters and other documents in the Public Record Office; Naval Chronicle, xxvii. 44–6, 113; Gent. Mag. 1812, i. 175; Steele's Navy Lists.]

J. K. L.