Sawyer, Herbert (DNB00)

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SAWYER, HERBERT (1731?–1798), admiral, born about 1731, entered the navy in 1747, and having served for six years, more than half the time in the Gloucester with Commodore George Townshend [q. v.], on the Jamaica station, passed his examination on 30 Aug. 1753, when he was certified to be ‘more than 22.’ On 4 March 1756 he was promoted to be lieutenant. In 1757 he was serving in the Grafton, one of the fleet off Louisbourg, under Vice-admiral Francis Holburne [q. v.] On 19 May 1758 he was promoted to the command of the Happy sloop, from which, in October, he was moved to the Swallow, one of the squadron on the coast of France, under the orders of Lord Howe. On 26 Dec. he was posted to the Chesterfield, and in February 1759 was appointed to the Active, of 28 guns, in which he continued during the war, and in which off Cadiz on 21 May 1762, in company with the Favourite sloop, he captured the Spanish treasure-ship Hermione, homeward bound from Lima in ignorance of the declaration of war. Her cargo consisted of 530,000l. in cash and bullion, and altogether was of the value of 544,648, of which Sawyer's share amounted to 65,053l. 13s. 9d., probably the largest amount ever realised at one haul.

In 1777 Sawyer was appointed to the Boyne, in which next year he joined Rear-admiral Samuel Barrington [q. v.] in the West Indies, and took part in the defeat of D'Estaing at St. Lucia on 15 Dec., and in the action off Grenada, under Vice-admiral John Byron [q. v.], on 6 July 1779. In the autumn of 1779 he returned to England, and in 1780–1 commanded the Namur in the Channel, and at the relief of Gibraltar in April 1781, but quitted her when she was ordered to the West Indies in December. From 1783 to 1785 he commanded the Bombay Castle, guardship at Plymouth; was afterwards commodore and commander-in-chief at Halifax, and on 24 Sept. 1788 was promoted to be rear-admiral. He became vice-admiral on 1 Feb. 1793, and admiral on 1 June 1795, but his failing health did not permit him to accept any command. He died at Bath on 4 June 1798. He was married and left issue (Marshall, Roy. Nav. Biogr. i. 337). His eldest son, Sir Herbert Sawyer, died an admiral and K.C.B. in 1833.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. p. 336; Gent. Mag. 1790, i. 540; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; pay-books and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.