Royal Naval Biography/Thornbrough, Edward Le Cras

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[Post-Captain of 1827.]

Is the only surviving child of Admiral Sir Edward Thornbrough, G.C.B.; and was born at Portsmouth, in the year 1795[1]. He entered the royal navy as midshipman on board the Kent 74, Captain Thomas Rogers, Feb. 14th, 1806; and served under his father’s flag, in the Prince of Wales 98, Ville de Paris 110, and Royal Sovereign of similar force, on the Mediterranean station, from June 1806, till the year 1809. He then joined the Apollo frigate. Captain Bridges Watkinson Taylor, and continued in that ship during the remainder of the war. On the 13th of Feb. 1812, he assisted in capturing under the batteries of Corsica, the French frigate-built store-ship Merinos, of 850 tons, pierced for 36 guns, mounting 20 long 8-pounders, with a complement of 126 men; of whom 6 were killed and 20 wounded. the Apollo appears not to have sustained any loss on this occasion, although, in consequence of being nearly becalmed, exposed to the fire of the batteries for above four hours. She was subsequently employed in the Adriatic, where we find her capturing the French national xebec Ulysse, of 6 guns and 56 men, attached to the Corfu flotilla. On the 21st of December in the same year, her boats and those of the Weazle, sloop, captured and blew up the strongest tower between Brindisi and Otranto, containing a telegraph, three guns, and three swivels. On the 29th of Jan. 1813, the island of Augusta, with a garrison of 139 men, surrendered to a small naval and military force under Captain Taylor and Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson; and on the 3d of the following month, the island of Curzola was obliged to capitulate after three hours’ firing, during which the Apollo had her main-mast much injured by shot from the sea-batteries, her yawl sunk, and a quantity of rigging cut, one man killed, one drowned, and one slightly wounded. The ordnance and vessels taken on these occasions consisted of one mortar, seven long 18-pounders, two 8-pounders, and eight smaller guns, all mounted in battery; a despatch boat, a privateer which had greatly molested the trade of the Adriatic, two of her prizes, and seven trabacolos, &c. principally laden with grain for the garrisons of Ragusa and Cattaro; the captors had also the satisfaction of rescuing a quantity of church-plate and other valuable property, which the French were about to send away from Augusta and Curzola[2].

On the 11th of April, Captain Taylor took temporary possession of a small island near Corfu, thereby enabling his boats, in conjunction with those of the Cerberus frigate, to surprise and capture two vessels laden with grain. On the 14th, he reduced the island of Malero, where the enemy had scuttled eight vessels with similar cargoes; and on the 24th, a felucca was cut out from St. Cataldo, after the French troops had been dislodged from a strong position, with the loss of 26 men taken prisoners, one killed, and several wounded. On the 28th of May, the Apollo intercepted part of a convoy under Turkish colours, bound with supplies to Corfu; and on the 10th of the following month, her boats captured a gun-vessel mounting one long twelve and a six-pounder, with an engineer officer on board, who had been employed in improving the defences of Parga and Pado[3].

Early in Feb. 1814, Captain Taylor proposed measures “for commencing hostilities against Corfu, and, as a preliminary, to take the island of Paxo. On the 13th,” says he, “we landed, under the lee of the island, in a hard southerly gale and rain, with a few of the 2d Greek light infantry, from Cephalonia, a party of seamen and marines of the Apollo, a detachment of the 35th regiment, and of the Royal Corsican Rangers, making the whole 160 men. The movements of the troops, under Lieutenant-Colonel Church, through the length of this rugged island, were so rapid, that we gave the enemy barely time to prepare for resistance, and, in consequence of their confusion, succeeded without firing even one musket.” Their force was 122 men, exclusive of militia.

Shortly after this. Captain Taylor was unfortunately drowned, by the upsetting of his boat near Brindisi, where he had previously caused the destruction of the French frigate Uranie, by threatening to enter the harbour and attack her. His death was universally lamented.

On the 12th of Dec. 1814, Mr. Thornbrough was made a lieutenant; and, on the 2d of the following month, appointed to the Phoebe frigate. Captain James Hillyar. In May, 1815, he quitted that ship, and during the ensuing three years, served as flag-lieutenant to his father, then commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. His promotion to the rank of commander took place May 25th, 1818; and his commission as captain bears date April 17th, 1827; at which latter period he was serving in the Ringdove sloop, on the Halifax station.

Captain Thornbrough married, Nov. 30th, 1820, Emily, second daughter of Daniel Garrett, of Honiton, co. Devon, Esq., formerly a Commissioner of His Majesty’s Customs.

Agents.– Messrs. Booth and Pettet.

  1. Erratum in Vol I. Part 1. p. 172, last line but one, for Taunton read Teignton.
  2. See Commander George Bowen.
  3. See Commander William Henry Nares.