Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rowley, Joshua

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ROWLEY, Sir JOSHUA (1730?–1790), vice-admiral, eldest son of Sir William Rowley [q. v.], was probably born in 1730. After serving with his father in the Mediterranean, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 2 July 1747. In 1752 he was serving as lieutenant of the Penzance. On 4 Dec. 1753 he was posted to the Rye frigate, apparently for rank only. In March 1755 he was appointed to the Ambuscade, attached, later on, to the squadron under Sir Edward Hawke, in the Bay of Biscay. In January 1756 he was moved into the Harwich of 50 guns. In October 1757 he commissioned the Montagu, a new ship of 60 guns, in which he accompanied Admiral Osborn to the Mediterranean, and took part in the capture of the squadron under the Marquis Duquesne on 1 March 1758. Shortly afterwards he returned to the Channel and joined the squadron under Lord Howe. In the unfortunate affair at St. Cas he commanded a division of the boats, and, having landed to direct the re-embarkation of the troops, he was wounded and made prisoner. He was shortly afterwards exchanged and reappointed to the Montagu, which during 1759 he commanded under Hawke off Brest and in the battle of Quiberon Bay. In 1760 he went out with Sir James Douglas to the West Indies, where in November he moved into the Superbe, and returned to England in the following year. In 1762, in the Superbe, with two frigates, he convoyed the East and West Indian trade to the westward, and successfully protected it from the assault of a superior French squadron under M. de Ternay. For this service he was presented with handsome pieces of plate by the East India Company and by the city of London.

In October 1776 he was appointed to the Monarch, in which in the beginning of 1778 he convoyed some transports to Gibraltar. When he afterwards put into Cadiz, he was treated with a scant courtesy which was a clear indication of the coming storm in the relations of England and Spain. On his return to England he was attached to the fleet under Keppel, and led the van in the action of 27 July [see Keppel, Augustus, Viscount]. In the end of the year he was moved into the Suffolk, and sent out to the West Indies in command of a squadron of seven ships, as a reinforcement to Byron, whom he joined at St. Lucia in February 1779. On 19 March he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, and in that capacity was with Byron in the action off Grenada on 6 July [see Byron, John]. In March 1780, on the arrival of Sir George Rodney to command the station, Rowley shifted his flag to the Conqueror, in which ship he commanded the rear in the action off Martinique on 17 April, and the van in the encounter of 15–19 May [see Rodney, George Brydges, Lord]. Rowley was afterwards sent to Jamaica with ten ships of the line to reinforce Sir Peter Parker (1721–1811) [q. v.], to provide for the safety of the island, and a convoy for the homeward-bound trade. In 1782 he succeeded to the command of the Jamaica station, where he remained till the peace. Of his judgment in this office Lord Hood, who wrote somewhat contemptuously of him as ‘our friend Jos,’ formed a poor opinion (Letters of Sir Samuel Hood, Navy Records Soc., pp. 146–7). Rowley had the reputation of being a good and brave officer; but he had no opportunity for distinction during his command, and after his return to England in 1783 he had no further service. On 10 June 1786 he was created a baronet, and on 24 Sept. 1787 was promoted to be vice-admiral of the white. He died at his seat, Tendring Hall in Suffolk, on 26 Feb. 1790.

He married, in 1759, Sarah, daughter of Bartholomew Burton, deputy-governor of the Bank, and by her had a large family. His eldest son, William, who succeeded to the baronetcy, was sheriff of Suffolk in 1791, M.P. for Suffolk 1812–30, and died in 1832. His second son, Bartholomew Samuel, died vice-admiral and commander-in-chief at Jamaica, on 7 Oct. 1811; the fourth son, Charles [q. v.], is separately noticed. One of the daughters, Philadelphia, married Admiral Sir Charles Cotton [q. v.]

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. vi. 107; Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. i. 170; Naval Chronicle (with a portrait), xxiv. 89; Commission and Warrant Books in the Public Record Office; Foster's Baronetage.]

J. K. L.