Collins, David

, judge advocate and historian of the new settlement in South Wales, the son of gen. A. T. Collins, and of Harriet Frazer, of Pack, in the king’s county, Ireland, was born March 3, 1756, and received a liberal education at the grammar-school of Exeter, where his father then resided. In 1770 he was appointed lieutenant in the marines; and, in 1772, was with the late admiral M’Bride, in the Southampton frigate, when the unfortunate Matilda, queen of Denmark, was rescued from the dangers that awaited her by the energy of the British | government, and conveyed to a place of safety in the king her brother’s Hanoverian dominions. On that occasion he commanded the guard that received her majesty, and had the honour of kissing her hand. In 1775, he was at the battle of Bunker’s-hill; in which the first battalion of marines, to which he belonged, so signally distinguished itself, having its commanding officer, the gallant major Pitcairne, and a great many officers and men, killed in storming the redoubt, besides a very large proportion of wounded. In 1777, he was adjutant of the Chatham division; and, in 1782, captain of marines on-board the Courageux, of 74 guns, commanded by the late lord Mulgrave, and participated in the partial action that took place with the enemy’s fleet, when lord Howe relieved Gibraltar. Reduced to half-pay at the peace of 1782, he resided at Rochester in Kent (having previously married an American lady, who survives him, but without issue); and on its being determined to found a colony, by sending convicts to Botany Bay, he was appointed judge advocate to the intended settlement, and in that capacity sailed with governor Philip in May 1787 (who also appointed him his secretary), which situation he filled with the greatest credit to himself and advantage to the colony, until his return to England in 1797. The History of the Settlement, which he soon after published, followed by a second volume, is a work abounding with information, highly interesting, and written with the utmost simplicity. The appointment of judge advocate, however, proved eventually injurious to his real interests. While absent, he had been passed over when it came to his turn to be put on full pay; nor was he permitted to return to England to reclaim his rank in the corps; nor could he ever obtain any effectual redress; but was afterwards compelled to come in as junior captain of the corps, though with his proper rank in the army, and died a captain instead of a colonel-commandant, his rank in the army being merely brevet. He had then the mortification of finding that, after ten years’ distinguished service in the infancy of a colony, and the sacrifice of every real comfort, his only reward had been the loss of many years’ rank, a vital injury to an officer. A remark which his wounded feelings wrung from him at the close of the second volume of his History of the Settlement, appears to have awakened the sympathy of those in power; and he was, almost immediately after its publication, offered the government of | the projected settlement on Van Diemen’s land, which he accepted, and sailed once more for that quarter of the globe, where he founded his new colony; struggled with great difficulties, which he overcame; and, after remaining there eight years, was enjoying the flourishing state his exertions had produced, when he died suddenly, after a few days’ confinement from a slight cold, on, the 24rth of March, 1810. 1

1 Gent. Mag. 1910, Part H,