Young, William (1751-1821) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


YOUNG, Sir WILLIAM (1751–1821), admiral, born in 1751, entered the navy in April 1761 as captain's servant in the Guernsey with Mark Milbanke [q. v.] In December 1762 he was moved into the Wasp, and in October 1764 into the Guernsey with Commodore (Sir) Hugh Palliser [q. v.] He passed his examination on 10 Jan. 1769; was promoted to be lieutenant on 12 Nov. 1770; and in May 1771 was appointed to the Trident, going out to the Mediterranean as flagship of Sir Peter Denis [q. v.] In 1775 he was in the Portland, flagship of Vice-admiral James Young [q. v.], at the Leeward Islands, and on 10 May 1777 was promoted to the command of the Snake sloop. On 23 Sept. 1778 he was advanced to the rank of captain; commanded the Hind frigate till April 1782, and the Ambuscade till the peace. From October 1787 to May 1790 he commanded the Perseverance, and the Crescent till November 1790. In January 1793 he was appointed to the Fortitude, in which he went out to the Mediterranean with Lord Hood, when he took part in the occupation of Toulon [see Hood, Samuel, Viscount]; and on 8 Feb. 1794, being one of a small squadron detached under Commodore Linzee, the Fortitude was sent in to destroy a tower on a small promontory in Mortella Bay, immediately south of Pte. de la Mortella on the northwest coast of Corsica. The tower, however, advantageously placed, proved too strong for the ship; the Fortitude, after suffering very heavy loss, and being set on fire by red-hot shot, was obliged to haul off (James, i. 208–209), and the tower was eventually taken by guns from a commanding height on shore. The affair gave rise to a rather exaggerated opinion of the strength of such towers, great numbers of which, under the name of ‘martello towers,’ were built on the south coast of England. The Fortitude was still with the fleet in the actions of 14 March, 13 July 1795 [see Hotham, William, Lord], and returned to England with convoy in the autumn. Young was promoted to be rear-admiral on 1 June 1795, and in December he was appointed a lord of the admiralty, in which post he remained until 1801. In April 1797 he was one of the committee of conciliation which visited Portsmouth and arranged for the removal of the seamen's grievances (James, ii. 27–8). He became vice-admiral on 14 Feb. 1799, and admiral on 9 Nov. 1805. From 1804 to 1807 he was commander-in-chief at Plymouth, where he was said by Lord Dundonald (Autobiography of a Seaman, i. 171–2, 178–9) to have shown undue greed for prize-money. The charge seems unfounded; for cruisers sailing from Plymouth were necessarily under the orders of the commander-in-chief at the port, and his claim to issue the orders was in accordance with the etiquette and routine of the service. In 1809 he was a member of the court-martial on James, lord Gambier [q. v.], and is said to have shown an undue bias in favour of the accused (James, iv. 425). From 1811 to the end of the war he commanded the fleet in the North Sea, blockading the Scheldt and the whole of the Dutch and German coast, as a counter-measure to the Berlin and Milan decrees. In July 1814 he was nominated a K.B., which on the reconstruction of the order of the Bath in the following year became G.C.B. In 1819 he was appointed vice-admiral of the United Kingdom. He died in London on 25 Oct. 1821. His portrait, by Beechey, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1804.

[Annual Biog. and Obit. 1823, p. 315; James's Naval Hist. (crown 8vo edit.); Pay-books, &c., in the Public Record Office. The exact situation of the Tour de la Mortella is shown in M. Hell's Plan du Golfe de St. Florent, 1828.]

J. K. L.