Sartorius, George Rose (DNB00)

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SARTORIUS, Sir GEORGE ROSE (1790–1885), admiral of the fleet, born in 1790, eldest son of Colonel John Conrad Sartorius of the East India Company's engineers, and of Annabella, daughter of George Rose, entered the navy on the books of the Mary yacht in June 1801. In October 1804 he joined the Tonnant, under the command of Captain Charles Tyler [q. v.], and in her was present at the battle of Trafalgar. He was then sent to the Bahama, one of the Spanish prizes, and in June 1806 to the Daphne frigate, in which he was present at the operations in the Rio de la Plata [see Popham, Sir Home Riggs]. On 5 March 1808 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Success, which, after a season in protection of the Greenland fishery, went into the Mediterranean, where she took part in the reduction of Ischia and Procida and in the defence of Sicily against the invasion threatened by Murat. Sartorius, on different occasions, commanded the boats in bringing out trading vessels from under a heavy fire on shore. The Success was afterwards employed in the defence of Cadiz, and on 1 Feb. 1812 Sartorius was promoted to the rank of commander. In August he was appointed to the Snap, on the home station; in July 1813 was moved to the Avon, and was posted from her on 6 June 1814. On 14 Dec. he was appointed to the Slaney of 20 guns, in the Bay of Biscay, which was in company with the Bellerophon when Bonaparte surrendered himself on board her. She was paid off in August 1815.

In 1831 Sartorius was engaged by Dom Pedro to command the Portuguese regency fleet against Dom Miguel, and in that capacity obtained some marked successes over the usurper's forces. The difficulties he had to contend with were, however, very great; he was met by factious opposition from the Portuguese leaders; the supplies which had been promised him were not forthcoming, and his men were consequently mutinous or deserted at the earliest opportunity. Sartorius spent much of his own money in keeping them together, and threatened to carry off the fleet as a pledge for repayment. Dom Pedro sent two English officers on board the flagship with authority, one to arrest Sartorius and bring him on shore, the other to take command of the squadron. Sartorius, being warned, made prisoners of both as soon as they appeared on board, a summary measure which went far to conciliate his men. Such a state of things, however, could not last; and without regret, in June 1833, Sartorius handed over his disagreeable command to Captain Napier, who, warned by his predecessor's experience, refused to stir till the money payment was secured [see Napier, Sir Charles]. All that Sartorius gained was the grand cross of the Tower and Sword, together with the grand cross of St. Bento d'Avis and the empty title of Visconte de Piedade. His name had, meantime, been struck off the list of the English navy, but was restored in 1836.

On 21 Aug. 1841 he was knighted, and at the same time appointed to the Malabar, which he commanded in the Mediterranean for the next three years. In 1842 he received the thanks of the president and Congress of the United States for his efforts to save the U.S. frigate Missouri, burnt in Gibraltar Bay. In July 1843 off Cadiz he received on board his ship the regent of Spain, Espartero, driven out of the country by the revolutionary party. The Malabar was paid off towards the end of 1844, and Sartorius had no further service afloat, though he continued through the remainder of his very long life to take great interest in naval matters. As early as 1855 he was said to have proposed to the admiralty to recur to the ancient idea of ramming an enemy's ship; and though the same idea probably occurred to many about the same time, there is little doubt that he was one of the earliest to bring it forward as a practical suggestion. He became a rear-admiral on 9 May 1849, vice-admiral 31 Jan. 1856, admiral 11 Feb. 1861; K.C.B. on 28 March 1865; vice-admiral of the United Kingdom in 1869; admiral of the fleet on 3 July 1869, and G.C.B. on 23 April 1880. He died at his house, East Grove, Lymington, on 13 April 1885, preserving to the last his faculties, and to a remarkable extent his physical energy, joined to a comparatively youthful appearance. He married, in 1839, Sophia, a daughter of John Lamb, and left issue three sons, all in the army, of whom two, Major-general Reginald William Sartorius, and Major-general Euston Henry Sartorius, C.B., won the Victoria Cross; the other, Colonel George Conrad Sartorius, is a C.B.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Times, 14 April 1885; Army and Navy Gazette 18, 25 April 1885.]

J. K. L.