Royal Naval Biography/Herbert, Massy Hutchinson

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Third son of Arthur Herbert, Esq., of Brewsterfield, near Killarney, co. Kerry (an old family residence), by Barbara, sister of the late Massy Hutchinson, Esq., of Mount Massey, near Macroom. His grandfather, Bastable Herbert, was married to Barbara Fitzgerald, sister of the late, and aunt to the present Knight of Kerry; and he is related to the Pembroke, Powis, and Carnarvon families.

This officer was born at Brewsterfield, in June, 1788; and entered the navy in Oct. or Nov. 1799, as midshipman on board the Magnificent 74, Captain (afterwards Admiral) Edward Bowater, under whom he served, in company with the Channel fleet, until paid off in the spring of 1802. He then joined the Neptune 98, Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Francis W. Austen, stationed as a guard-ship at Portsmouth; and, in Oct following, the Loire frigate, Captain (now Sir Frederick L.) Maitland. On the 17th Aug. 1804, he assisted at the capture of the French frigate-built privateer Blonde, of 30 long 9-pounders, and 240 men, after a running fight of fifteen minutes, during which the enemy had two men mortally, and five badly, wounded: the Loire two severely and four slightly.

On the night of June 1st, 1805, three of the Loire’s boats, commanded by her first lieutenant (the late Sir James Lucas Yeo), Mr. Clinch (midshipman), and the subject of this memoir, most gallantly attacked and carried two Spanish privateers, the largest a felucca, armed with three long 18-pounders and four 4-pounder brass swivels; the other, a lugger, with two long 6-pounders; both vessels moored under a 10-gun battery, in the bay of Camarinas, near Cape Finisterre. In his official report of this dashing enterprise. Captain Maitland says, “the loss on board the lugger,[1] cannot be ascertained. When the crew of the felucca was mustered, nineteen out of fifty were missing; some of whom had jumped overboard, but the greatest part were killed by the pike and sabre, there being no other weapons used. When we call to mind the inequality of force, there being not more than 35 of the Loire’s, officers included, opposed to 82 Spaniards, with their vessels moored to the walls of a heavy battery, it must be allowed to confer the greatest credit on the officers and men employed on this service,” – in the performance of which the British had not a man slain, and only three wounded.

On the 3d of the same month. Lieutenant Yeo was sent in the captured felucca, with Mr. Herbert and about thirty men, to reconnoitre the Spanish coast. In the performance of this duty, he was attacked by seven armed luggers, which had come out from Finisterre for the express purpose of taking him; but, after a sharp action, this very superior force sheered off, and sought protection under the land batteries.

On the following day, Mr. Herbert assisted at the capture of the French privateers Confiance and Belière; the former a very long corvette, pierced for 26 guns; the latter a brig with 20 ports; both lying in Muros Road, protected by a fort mounting 12 long Spanish 18-pounders, on travelling carriages, and a 2-gun battery. In the execution of this service, and in partially destroying the fort, the Loire had two officers and 13 men wounded; the enemy twelve killed and 30 wounded,[2] The Confiance was taken into the British service, and Lieutenant Yeo promoted to the command of her as a sloop of war.

On the 24th Dec. 1805, the Loire, in company with the Egyptienne frigate, captured off Rochefort, after an action of half an hour, the French national ship Libre, of 40 guns and 280 men: twenty of whom were killed and wounded. On this occasion the Loire, although the first in action, had not a man hurt; her consort one mortally, two badly, and five slightly wounded.

For other services, in which Mr. Herbert participated while belonging to the Loire, we must refer our readers to the memoir of his enterprising and indefatigable captain, whom he appears to have successively followed into the Volontaire and Emerald frigates. In Mar. 1807, he was removed into the Hibernia 110, flag-ship of Earl St. Vincent; and about three months afterwards to the Confiance, in which ship he served until Oct. 19th, 1807; when he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant for his gallant conduct at the capture of a privateer on the coast of Spain, which service was thus officially reported by his commander, in a letter addressed to Admiral Lord Gardner, Aug. 18th preceding:–

“I have the pleasure to acquaint you, that in prooeeding to Oporto agreeable to my orders, I received information of a Spanish lugger privateer, lying in La Guardia, that had been committing great depredations on our trade on the coast of Portugal: it being calm, and we within a few miles of that port, I despatched the boats, under the command of Lieutenant William Hovendon Walker, assisted by Messrs. Herbert (master’s-mate), and Forder (midshipman), to cut her out, which they performed in a most gallant manner, two forts and the privateer being perfectly prepared to receive them, and the former having opened a heavy fire on our boats long before they reached the vessel, which was moored under them, and from the prisoners’ account mounted, the one four long 24-pouuders, the other six 18-pounders, with 150 troops. the lugger proves to be El Reitrada, of three guns and thirty men, one of whom was killed, several wounded, and the rest jumped overboard. I am happy to add, this service was accomplished without any loss on our side. Lieutenant Walker speaks in the highest manner of Messrs. Herbert and Forder, as also of all the seamen and marines of the party.”

Lieutenant Herbert’s first appointment was to the Cossack 24, Captain George Digby. On the 22d June, 1808, he was engaged as a volunteer in a very hazardous and important service at St. Andero, on the north coast of Spain, as will be seen by the copy of an official letter given in Suppl. Part I. p. 384, et seq. We next find him most actively employed, during the whole of a long and tempestuous night, in embarking and bringing off the remains of Sir John Moore’s gallant army, at Corunna.

In June and July, 1810, the Cossack formed part of a squadron under Captain (afterwards Sir Robert) Mends, whose active operations on the north coast of Spain, between St. Sebastian and St. Andero, have been noticed in Vol. II. Part I. p. 272 et seq. and Part II. p. 949 et seq. She was afterwards ordered to the Mediterranean, where Lieutenant Herbert continued to serve in her, latterly under Captain Francis Stanfell, until June, 1812, when he applied to be superseded, and was accordingly put on half-pay.

In April 1813, he joined the Antelope 50, Captain Samuel Butcher, attached to the Baltic station; and during the summer of that year, he commanded her boats at the capture of several Danish privateers, which attempted by night-time to molest the British trade going through the Great Belt. On one of these occasions, he received a blow of a sword on the head, and was only saved by having a silk handkerchief in his hat, which was cut down to the very brim.

On the 1st Mar. 1814, the Antelope, then under the orders of Admiral William Young, commanding the North Sea fleet, forced the channel between Flushing and Cadsand, accompanied by a Russian frigate and the Resolution hired cutter, under a heavy fire from all parts of the extensive chain of works which, since the Walcheren expedition, had been thrown up on both sides of the Hondt. Whilst thus running the gauntlet, the Antelope received several shot in the hull, and had a few men badly wounded, one of whom was a Dutch pilot, whose comrade, on witnessing his misfortune, lost no time in concealing himself below. The Russian frigate lost no men, nor had she any wounded; but, unfortunately, the Resolution’s gaff-top-sail sheet was shot away, which occasioned her to fall astern of the ships, instead of continuing a-head, and directing their course by her soundings. When arrived abreast of Breskins, a thick fog coming on, the marks could no longer be seen. The tide was then setting over on the Cabot; on which, should the ships by any chance have been thrown, inevitable destruction must have been the result. This, together with the wind having occasionally headed them, induced Captain Butcher to approve the suggestion of the master of the fleet, then on board the Antelope, and sanction her being kept on the weather shore. Having, at length, passed the batteries, and had it reported to him that the Antelope was nearly advanced far enough to anchor, to await the arrival of a pilot from one of the frigates at Borselen, Captain Butcher was busily employed on the quarter-deck in reducing the heavy press of sail, which it had been necessary to carry, when all at once the water shoaled from seven to four fathoms. The helm was instantly put a-weather, and the after-sails ordered to be taken off, but before this could be done, or the ship could be influenced by the helm, she grounded on the tail of the Hoogplaat, between two spits of sand, where, notwithstanding every possible exertion, she remained immovable, within range of the enemy’s mortar batteries, from about 5 p.m. on that day until 10 a.m. on the third, a period of forty-one hours. In his official report of this trying accident. Captain Butcher, after acknowledging the very great assistance he received from Captain John Hancock, of the Nymphen frigate; and the zeal, ability, and unbounded exertions of Commanders Payne and Warde, of the Cretan and Banterer sloops, says:– “The constant attention and activity of Mr. Herbert (first lieutenant), and every other officer and person on board the Antelope, can never be surpassed. During upwards of thirty-six hours, not an individual had a moment’s relaxation from the severest toil, even to admit the taking of the smallest sustenance; and at the expiration of that time two hours only (while waiting the return of tide) until, on the third, the ship was hove off.

In Oct. 1814, the Antelope being then at Quebec, Lieutenant Herbert volunteered to take the command of a party of seamen going to Lake Ontario, where he joined the St. Lawrence 98, bearing the broad pendant of Sir James Lucas Yeo. In Oct. 1815, he was appointed by Sir Edward W. C. Owen, then commodore on the Canadian Lakes, to act as commander of the Star, which brig-sloop he paid off at Kingston in Sept. 1816. On his return home, as passenger on board the Prevoyante store-ship, he failed in obtaining promotion; nor was he advanced to the rank of commander until Aug. 12th, 1819.

This officer married. Feb. 21th, 1827, Elizabeth, daughter of the late Major Edward Orpen, of Killowen, co. Kerry, by whom he has issue. His eldest brother, Bastaple, is vicar of Kilgaroon, co. Kerry. Another, Emanuel Hutchinson, who died in India, and to whose memory a monument has been erected by his brother officers, “as a mark of their esteem,” was a cadet in the Hon.E.I.C. service. Another, named Arthur, junior to himself, was a lieutenant in H.M. 3d regiment of foot, and killed at the battle of Albuera. The next in succession, Robert, is a lieutenant, R.N., and his youngest brother, Edward, in holy orders. His eldest sister, Hannah, is unmarried. The second, Barbara, is widow of the late Captain David Murphy, of the Kerry militia. The third, Lucinda, is married to Francis Christopher Bland, Esq., of Derriquin Castle, co. Kerry, who was called to the Irish bar. The fourth, Margaret Agnes, to Captain William Hilliard, of the Limerick militia. And the youngest, now alive, is the lady of the Hon. Colonel Philip Cocks, formerly of the Guards, brother to Earl Somers.

  1. Boarded by Mr. Clinch, but abandoned by order of Lieutenant Yeo, in order to secure the felucca.
  2. See Vol. II. Part I. pp. 389–391.