Shovel, Sir Cloudesley

, an eminent English admiral, was born near Clay, in Norfolk, about 1650, of parents in middling circumstances, and put apprentice to some mechanic trade, to which he applied himself for som.e time. He is said to have early discovered an inclination for the naval service, and at length went to sea, under the protection of sir Christopher Mynns, as a cabbin-boy, and applying himself very assiduously to the study of navigation, became an able seaman, and quickly arrived at preferment. In 1674, our merchants in the Mediterranean being very much distressed by the piratical state of Tripoly, a strong squadron was sent into those parts under the command of sir John Narborough, who arrived before Tripoly in the spring of the year, and found considerable preparations for defence. Being, according to the nature of his instructions, desirous to try negotiation rather than force, he thought proper to send Shovel, now a lieutenant, to demand satisfaction for what was past, and security for the time to come. Shovel went on shore, and delivered his message with great spirit; but the Dey, despising his youth, treated him with much disrespect, and sent him back with an indefinite answer. Shovel, on his return to the admiral, acquainted him with some remarks he had made on shore. Sir John sent him back with another message, and well furnished him with proper rules for conducting his inquiries and observations. The Dey’s behaviour was worse the second time, which Shovel made a pretence for delaying his departure that he might complete his observations. On his return he assured the admiral it was very practicable to burn the ships in the harbour, notwithstanding their lines and forts: accordingly, in the night of the 4th of March, Shovel, with all the boats in the fleet, filled with combustibles, went boldly into the harbour, and destroyed the vessels in it, after which he returned safe to the fleet, without the loss of a single man; and the Tripolines were so disconcerted at the boldness and success of the attack, as immediately to sue for peace. Of this affair sir John Narborough gave so honourable account in all his letters, that the next year Shovel had the command given him of the | Sapphire, a fifth rate; whence he was not long after *e* moved into the James galley, a fourth rate, in which he continued till the death of Charles II. Although he was known to be unfriendly to the arbitrary measures of James II. yet that prince continued to employ him, and he was preferred to the Dover, in which situation he was when the Revolution took place, and heartily concurred in that event. In 1689, he was in the first battle, that of Bantry-bay, in the Edgar, a third-rate; and so distinguished himself by courage and conduct, that when king William came down to Portsmouth, he conferred on him the honour of knighthood. In 1690, he was employed in conveying king YVilr liam and his army into Ireland, who was so highly pleased with his diligence and dexterity, that he did him the honour to deliver him a commission of rear-admiral of the blue with his own hand. Just before the king set out for Holland, in 1692, he made him rear-admiral of the red, at the same time appointing him commander of the squadron that was to convoy him thither. On his return, Shovel joined admiral Russell with the grand fleet, and had a share in the glory of the victory at La Hogue. When it was thought proper that the fleet should be put under command of joint admirals in the succeeding year, he was one; and, as Campbell says, “if there had been nothing more than this joint commission, we might well enough account from thence for the misfortunes which happened in our affairs at sea, during the year 1693.” The joint admirals were of different parties; but as they were all good seamen, and probably meant well to their country, though they did not agree in the manner of serving it, it is most likely, “that, upon mature consideration of the posture things were then in, the order they had received from court, and the condition of the fleet, which was not either half manned or half victualled, the admirals might agree that a cautious execution of the instructions which they had received was a method as safe for the nation, and more so for themselves, than any other they could take.” On this occasion sir Cloudesley Shovel was at first an object of popular odium; but when the affair came to be strictly investigated in parliament, he gave so clear and satisfactory an account of the matter, that it satisfied the people that the commanders were not to blame; and that if there was treachery, it must have originated in persons in office at home. The character of sir Cloude&ley remaining unimpeached, we find him. | again at sea, in 1694, under lord Berkley, in the expedition to Camaret-bay, in which he distinguished himself by his dextrous embarkation of the land forces, when they sailed on that unfortunate expedition; as also when, on their return to England, it was deemed necessary to send the fleet again upon the coast of France, to bombard Dieppe, and other places. In 1702 he was sent to bring the spoils of the Spanish and French fleets from Vigo, after the capture of that place by sir George Rooke. In 1703, he commanded the grand fleet up the Streights; where he protected our trade, and did all that was possible to be done for the relief of the protestants then in arms in the Cevenues; and countenanced such of the Italian powers as were inclined to favour the allies. In 1704 he was sent, with a powerful squadron, to join sir George liooke, who commanded a grand fleet in the Mediterranean, and had his share in the action off Malaga. Upon his return he was presented to the queen by prince George, as lord high admiral, and met with a very gracious reception; and was next year employed as commander in chief. In 1705, when k was thought necessary to send both a fleet and army to Spain, sir Cloudesley accepted the command of the fleet jointly with the earls of Peterborough and Monmouth, which sailed to Lisbon, thence to Catalonia, and arrived before Barcelona on the 12th of August and it was chiefly through his activity, in furnishing guns for the batteries, and men ta play them, and assisting with his advice, that the place was taken.

After the unsuccessful attempt upon Toulon, in which sir Cloudesley performed all in his power, he bore away for the Streights; and soon after resolved to return home. He left sir Thomas Dilkes at Gibraltar, with nine ships of the line, for the security of the coasts of Italy: and then proceeded with the remainder of the fleet, consisting of ten ships of the line, four fire-ships, a sloop, and a yacht, for England. Oct. 22, he came into the soundings, and had ninety fathom water. About noon he lay-by; but at six in the evening he made sail again, and stood away under his courses, believing, as it is supposed, that he saw the light on St. Agnes, one of the islands of Scilly. Soon after which, several ships of his fleet made the signal of distress, as he himself did; but the admiral’s, and some more, perished with all oil-board. How this accident happened has never been properly accounted for. Sir Cloudesiey | Shovel’s body was thrown ashore the next day upon the island of Scilly, where some fishermen took him up; and, having stolen a valuable emerald ring from his finger, stripped and buried him. This coming to the ears of Mr, Paxton, who was purser of the Arundel, he found out the fellows, declared the ring to be sir Cloudesley Shovel’s, and obliged them to discover where they had buried the body; which he took up and carried on-board his own ship to Portsmouth. It was thence conveyed to London; and buried in Westminster-abbey with great solemnity, where a monument (a most tasteless one indeed) was afterwards erected to his memory by the queen’s direction.

Sir Cloudesley Shovel wasj at the time of his death rearadmiral of England, admiral of the white, commander in chief of her majesty’s fleets, and one of the council to prince George of Denmark, as lord high admiral of England. He married the widow of his patron sir John Narborough, by whom he left two daughters, co-heiresses, the eldest of whom married lord Romney, and the other sir Narborough D’Aeth, bart. 1


Biog. Brit. Campbell’s Lives of the Admirals.