Royal Naval Biography/Hext, William

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Second son of the late Francis John Hext, Esq. formerly an attorney-at-law, but latterly residing at Tredethy, near Bodmin, co. Cornwall, [an estate he possessed in right of his wife, Margaret, daughter of E. Lang, of Plymouth, co. Devon, Esq.], and a junior branch of the family of the same name, settled at Lostwithiel and Tremarren, near St. Austle.

This officer was born at Bodmin, July 5th, 1780; and received us midshipman on board the Russel 74, by that distinguished character, the late Rear-Admiral John Willet Payne, in 1793. He was consequently present at the defeat of the French republican fleet, on the glorious 1st of June, 1794; and, under the command of Captain Thomas Larcom, an officer of equal merit, at the capture of three ships of the line, near l’Orient, June 23d, 1795[1]. He afterwards served under Captain Payne, in l’Impetueux 74; the Hon. Robert Stopford, in the Phaeton frigate; and Captains Sampson Edwards and Sir Edward Pellew, in l’Impetueux; of which latter ship he was appointed a lieutenant, Aug. 8th, 1799. His subsequent appointments were, in June, 1802, to the Clyde frigate, Captain John Larmour, on the North Sea station; – May, 1804, to the command of the Sheerness, hired armed cutter, employed off Brest; – and, Jan. 1805, to be senior lieutenant of the Santa-Margaritta frigate. Captain Wilson Rathborne, under whom he assisted in capturing four French line-of-battle ships, on the 4th Nov. following[2]. In the beginning of 1808, he sailed for India, as passenger on board the Barracouta sloop; and on his arrival at Madras, joined the Culloden 74, bearing the flag of Sir Edward Pellew, then commander-in-chief on that station, where he also served for some months as first lieutenant of the Blanche frigate. Captain George Bell. In Jan. 1809, he was appointed acting commander of the Wilhelmina, hospital-ship at Pido-Penang, where he continued until Feb. 1810. His commission as commander bears date April 28th, 1809.

After his supercession in the command of the Wilhelmina, the subject of this sketch returned home in an Indiaman, and was not again employed until June, 1813, when he was appointed to the Vesuvius bomb, but ordered to assume the pro-tempore command of the Unicorn frigate, and to assist Captain John Hancock, of the Nymphen, in escorting the outward bound trade to Portugal; after which he proceeded, with some merchantmen under his convoy, to Gibraltar. His subsequent services in the Gironde river were most highly spoken of by the late Sir Charles Penrose, and have been briefly noticed at p. 287 et seq. of Suppl. Part II.

Commander Hext married, in Sept. 1812, Barbara, youngest daughter of the late James Read, M.D., of Tremeare, near Bodmin, and sister to Lieutenant John Read, R.M., who was killed at the attack upon Cayenne by Sir James Lucas Yeo, in 1809. His eldest and only surviving brother, the Rev. F. J. Hext, is rector of Helland, near Bodmin. The next, Samuel, a major of the 83d regiment, who served with great credit in Egypt, under Abercrombie; throughout the peninsular war, under Wellington: and subsequently at the Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon; died after entering the River Thames, on his return home, in 1822. His youngest brother, Lieutenant George Hext, of H.M.S. Barrosa, a most promising young officer, was shot by a rifleman while leading the boats of that frigate to the attack of some American vessels. His eldest sister married the late Rev. C. Kendall, of Pelyn, near Lostwithiel, brother to the late Captain Edward Kendall, R.N.