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Help and advice for Plymouth, James Lillicrap, 1849

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James Lillicrap


William O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849

Transcribed by Deborah O'Brien

[James LILLICRAP bapt 13 Oct 1770 Plymouth Charles, died 9 Jul 1851 Plymouth]

(Rear-Admiral, 1846) James LILLICRAP, native of Plymouth is uncle of James Lillicrap MARCHANT, Esq., Purser and Paymaster R.N., one of whose brothers died a Midshipman, and another a lieutenant, R.N.

This officer entered the Navy 5 Sep 1780 as Captain's Servant on board the Cambridge 74, Capt. Francis John HARTWELL, lying at Plymouth, where his name during several months 1782-3, was borne on the books of the Dunkirk, Capt. MILLIGAN. Joining in Sep 1784 the Racehorse sloop, Capt. Thomas WILSON, he was for two years and a half, employed in that vessel on the Halifax Station, and in the suppression of smuggling on the coast of Scotland. On leaving her he became for a short period attached to the Termagant, another sloop, Capt. Rowley BULTEEL; and he was next between 1788 and 1793 stationed at Home and in the Mediterranean as Midshipman in the Cumberland 74, Capt. John McBRIDE, Syren 32, Capt. John MANLEY, St. George and Windsor Castle 98s, flagships of Rear-Admiral Phillips COSBY, and Victory 100, bearing the flag of Lord HOOD. On the 30th Oct in the year last mentioned (1793), after having served onshore at the occupation of Toulon, Mr. LILLICRAP was promoted to a Lieutenancy in La Mosselle 20, Capt. Richard Henry Alexander BENNETT; in which vessel he continued until 7 Jan 1794, when he had the misfortune to be taken prisoner in the jolly-boat while voluntarily reconnoitring the harbour at the above place subsequently to its evacuation by the British. Being exchanged in 1795, He embarked at Marseilles, and proceeded to Genoa whence he returned overland to England via Cuxhaven bringing him dispatches from Mr. DRAKE, the British Minister at Genoa. On his arrival he was appointed in the same year to the Trusty 50, Capts. John OSBORNE and Andrew TODD under the former of whom he partook of a variety of services in the North Sea and Channel and assisted in conveying Lord MacCARTNEY to the Cape of Good Hope. During the mutiny which broke out on that station in 1797, Mr. LILLICRAP was placed by Rear-Admiral PRINGLE in charge of the Rattlesnake sloop; which vessel he succeeded in placing so close under the guns of the Amsterdam battery, in Table Bay, that the ring leaders were obliged to surrender. Returning to England in the early part of 1799 on board the Trusty, he next, in the following April joined the Venerable 74, Capts. Sir William George FAIRFAX and Samuel, and thus was afforded an opportunity in sharing in an attack which was soon afterwards made by Rear-Admiral Charles Morice POLE on a Spanish squadron in Aix roads and also participating in Sir James SAUMAREZ actions of 6 and 13 July 1801 off Cadiz and in the Gut of Gibralter. In consideration of his distinguished conduct as the Venerable's First-Lieutenant, on the latter occasion and in the most able manner in which he supported Capt. HOOD, Mr. LILLICRAP was awarded with a Commander's position dated 18 Aug 1801. His first appointment in his new rank was on 1 Apr 1804 to the Vesuvius bomb, employed under Sir William Sidney SMITH on the Boulogne Station ; where in Nov 1805 he had one man killed and several wounded in an attack upon the enemy's flotilla. While next in the Despatch 18 to which he removed 25 Sep 1806, Capt. LILLICRAP in the course of 1807 sailed from the Downs in command of a light squadron and with a large fleet of transports under his protection, having on board two divisions of the King's German Legion. These his indefatigable exertions and active measures enabled him to land in safety on the island of Rugen at a time when the French Army was besieging Stralsund, the capital of Swedish Pomerania. After he had for some time discharged the duties of senior officer in Pert Bay, Capt. LILLICRAP conducted the last division of troops under Lord ROSSLYN from Rugen to Zealand where he rendered good service by the mode in which he superintended their disembarkation in Kioge Bay. During the operations against Copenhagen, he was the Senior Commander employed in the in-shore squadron under Commander PAGET and until its surrender was in constant action with the enemy. Although, in the general promotion which followed in the capture of the Danish Fleet, 17 commanders, all junior to him obtained superior rank, Capt. LILLICRAP not withstanding the important nature of his services was set forth in the strongest manner by Lord CATHCART, the Earl of ROSSLYN, Sir Charles Morice POLE, and the commanding officers of the German Legion, was passed over and not promoted until three years afterward; two of which he spent generally in command of a detached squadron on a West India station on his passage whither he affected the capture 2 Oct 1808 of La Dorade, French Privateer of 1 gun and 20 men. (1807 James LILLICRAP. In the spring of 1807 DISPATCH convoyed a fleet of transports carrying two divisions of the King's German Legion from the Downs to the island of Rugen off the German Baltic coast where the French were besieging Stralsund, then the capital of Swedish Pomerania. She remained off the coast with a small squadron under Capt. LILLICRAP to protect the troops and, with ROSAMOND, cover the eventual evacuation of King Gustavus in a Swedish frigate. On one occasion DISPATCH, MUTINE and CENSOR fired broadsides at the French outposts near Griefswald. On 21 August DISPATCH escorted the last troops to leave Rugen to Kioge Bay in Zealand to join the rest of the army which had landed five days earlier to prepare for the attack on Copenhagen.

When DISPATCH joined Ad. GAMBIER off Copenhagen Capt. LILLICRAP was ordered to mount four long 18-pounders and join the inshore squadron as senior commander under Capt. PUGET. The sloop was then engaged with the enemy gunboat flotillas nearly every day. On 31 August the armed transport CHARLES was blown up close to her by a shell from the Danish battery at Three Crowns with the loss of 10 killed and 21 wounded.

[Although many commanders received promotion Capt. LILLICRAP did not receive post rank for another three years and DISPATCH sailed for Jamaica. On the night of 2 October 1808, while off Nevis with a convoy of merchantmen he captured a small French privateer schooner DORADE armed with one brass gun and carrying 20 men and retook a captured British merchant ship. While on the station he visited the interior of Haiti. Capt. LILLICRAP was promoted to post captain on 21/10/10, the fifth anniversary of Trafalgar but did not receive official notification until March 1811. He sailed for home in NAIAD. - from a website on sailing vessels of the Royal Navy]

On 24 Jan 1815 Capt. LILLICRAP whose advancement to Post-rank had at length taken a commission dated 21 Oct 1810 assumed command of the Hyperion 42; in which frigate he visited Lisbon and escorted a large fleet of merchantmen home from Oporto. Subsequently to his appointment 8 Apr following, to the Eurotas 38 we find him while lying in Plymouth Sound, invested by Lord KEITH, with the command of the boats of the fleet, for the purpose of nightly guarding Napleon BUONAPARTE, at the time on board the Bellerophon. On his return to Plymouth after witnessing the ex-emperor's removal, to the Northumberland off Berry Head, he was ordered to Malta, there to deliver Generals SAVERY and LALLEMAND with three colonels and several other officers late belonging to BUONAPARTE's suite into the hands of Sir Thomas MAITLAND. The Eurotas being paid of 20 Jan 1816, Capt. LILLICRAP did not again go afloat until re-appointed 6 Apr 1821 to the Hyperion. In the following Sept. he sailed with Lord Charles SOMERSET for the Cape of Good Hope, where he had no sooner arrived than he hoisted a broad pendant. He continued for about 12 months to fill the post of commodore on the same station; during which period 10 Apr 1822, the officers and seamen under his orders were so thoroughly the means of saving the Albion, an Indianman of immense value from being lost in a gale in Simon's Bay, that the Hon. Company awarded the sum of 500 pounds to be distributed among them. Capt. LILLICRAP was himself presented with the same amount. Proceeding next for the West Indies he cruised for a time off Cuba with a detachment under his orders for the suppression of piracy, and 24 Oct 1823, was appointed to the Gloucester 74, bearing the broad pendant of Sir Edward W. C. R. OWEN. He returned home with the latter officer in March 1824 [from this I have deduced the probable birthdate of his son Owen to be about 1825] and was lastly 6 Apr 1830 until 4 Jun 1833 employed as Captain-Superintendant of the Ordinary at Portsmouth. He was admitted to the out-pension of Greenwich Hospital 17 Feb 1837, and advanced to his present rank 1 Oct 1846.

Rear-Admiral LILLICRAP while in the Ordinary at Portsmouth, transmitted to the Admiralty a model for rendering the numerous warping or transporting buoys available to the preservation of life. [Webster defines "warp" -" naut. - a rope or line run from a boat to a dock, buoy, anchor or line etc. and used to warp the vessel into position." Could this mean that he invented the life ring - a circular life preserver, tied by a line to a boat and thrown to a person overboard?] The plan was at once adopted; and the Royal Humane Society to mark its appreciation of its utility and excellence forwarded him their medallion. He married 30 Dec 1811, Frances Adams, youngest daughter of Giles WELSFORD, Esq., of Plymouth by whom he had issue six sons and three daughters. One of the former, Walter Welsford is a First-Lieutenant Royal Marines (1838).

"It appears by the register kept for the Parish of Charles in the town of Plymouth and County of Devon, that James Lillicrap, son of Walter and Elizabeth Lillicrap was baptized the 13th day of October in the year of our Lord 1770. Witness my hand the 16th day of February 1791. Robert Hawker, Vicar." [From documents relating to the passing certificates of Lieutenants in the Royal Navy.]