WOBO: Search for words and phrases in the texts here...

Enter either the ID of an entry, or one or more words to find. The first match in each paragraph is shown; click on the line of text to see the full paragraph.

Currently only Chalmers’ Biographical Dictionary is indexed, terms are not stemmed, and diacritical marks are retained.

a brave English admiral, descended of an ancient Shropshire family,

, a brave English admiral, descended of an ancient Shropshire family, reduced in fortune by its adherence to Charles I. was born about the year 1650, at Coton-hill, Shrewsbury, an ancient house now occupied by Mr. Bishop, a maltster of that place. His father, colonel John Benbow, dying when he was very young, this son had no other provision than being bred to the sea, a profession which he eagerly adopted, and in which he was so successful, that before he was thirty he became master, and partly owner, of a ship called the Benbow frigate, employed in the Mediterranean trade, in which he would have probably acquired a good estate, if an accident had not brought him to serve in the British navy. In the year 1686, he was attacked in his, passage to Cadiz by a Sallee rover, against whom he defended himself, though very unequal in' the number of men, with the utmost bravery, and, although the Moors boarded him, they were quickly beat out of the ship again, with the loss of thirteen men, whose heads captain Benbow ordered to be cut off, and thrown into a tub of pork pickle. When he arrived at Cadiz, he went ashore, and ordered a negro servant to follow him, with the Moors heads in a sack. He had scarcely landed before the officers of the revenue inquired of his servant, what he had in his sack? The captain answered, “Salt provisions for his own use.” The officers insisted upon seeing them, which captain Benbow refused. The officers told him that the magistrates were sitting, and he might appeal to them, but that it was not in their power to act otherwise. The captain consented to the proposal, and the magistrates treated him with great civility, told him they were sorry to make a point of such a trifle, but that since he had refused to shew the contents of his sack to their officers, the nature of their employments obliged them to demand a sight of them; and that as they doubted not they were salt provisions, the shewing them could be of no great consequence. “I told you,” said the captain sternly, “they were salt provisions for my own use. Caesar, throw them down upon the table, and, gentlemen, if you like them, they are at your service.” The Spaniards were exceedingly struck at the sight of the Moors’ heads, and no less astonished at the account of the captain’s adventure, who with so small a force had been able to defeat such a number of barbarians. This anecdote, in our opinion, reflects but little credit on the feelings of our seaman, nor does it clearly appear why he should think this barbarous display necessary for his reputation. These magistrates, however, sent an account of the matter to the court of Madrid, and Charles II. then king of Spain, invited Benbow to court, where he was received with great respect, dismissed with a handsome present, and his Catholic majesty wrote a letter in his 'behalf to king James, who, upon the captain’s return, gave him a ship, which was his introduction to the royal navy. After the revolution he was constantly employed, and frequently at the request of the merchants, was appointed to cruize in the channel, where he ably protected our own trade, and annoyed and distressed that of the enemy. He was likewise generally made choice of for bombarding the French ports, in which he shewed the most intrepid courage, by going in person in his boat to encourage and protect the engineers, sharing in all their hardships. It is certain that several of those dreadful bombardments spoiled several ports, and created a terror on the French coast, notwithstanding all the precautions their government could take to keep up their spirits. This vigour and activity recommended Benbow so effectually to king William, that he was very early promoted to a flag, and intrusted with the care of blocking up Dunkirk; the privateers from thence proving extremely detrimental to our trade during all that war. In 1695, we find him thus employed with a few English and Dutch ships, when the famous Du Bart had the good luck to escape him, with nine sail of clean ships, with which he did a great deal of mischief, both to our trade and to that of the Dutch. Rearadmiral Benbow, however, followed him as well as he could; but the Dutch ships having, or pretending to have no orders, quitted him, which hindered from going to the Dogger-bank, as he intended, and obliged him to sail to Yarmouth roads; and here he received advice that Du Bart had fallen in with the Dutch fleet of seventy merchantmen, escorted by five frigates, and that he had taken all the latter, and thirty of the vessels under their convoy; which might probably have been prevented, if the rear-admiral could have persuaded the Dutch to have continued with him. As it was, he safely convoyed a great English fleet of merchantmen to Gottenburgh, and then returned to Yarmouth roads, and from thence to the Downs, for a supply of provisions. He afterwards resumed his design of seeking Du Bart; but his ships being much cleaner than the rear-admiral’s, he escaped him a second time, though once within sight of him. In 1697, he sailed the 10th of April, from Spithead, with seven third-rates and two fireships, and after some time returned to Portsmouth for provisions; after which he had the good fortune to convoy the Virginia and West-India fleets safe into port. He then repaired to Dunkirk, where he received from captain Bowman two orders or instructions from the lords of the admiralty; one to pursue M. Du Bart, and to destroy his ships if possible, at any place, except under the forts in Norway and Sweden; the other to obey the king’s commands, pursuant to an order from his majesty for that purpose. On the 30th of July, rear-admiral Vandergoes joined him with eleven Dutch ships, when he proposed that one of the squadrons should be so placed, as that Dunkirk might be south of them, and the other in or near Ostend road, that if Du Bart should attempt to pass, they might the better discover him: but the Dutch commander objected that his ships being foul, they were not in a condition to pursue him. Rear-admiral Benbow being disappointed in this project, immediately formed another; for, observing in the beginning of August that ten French frigates were hauled into the bason to clean, he judged their design was to put to sea by the next spring-tide; and therefore, as his ships were all foul, he wrote up to the board, to desire that four of the best sailers might be ordered to Sheerness to clean, and that the others might come to the Downs, not only to take in water, but also to heel and scrub, which he judged might be done before the next spring-tide gave the French an opportunity of getting over the bar. But this was not then thought advisable, though he afterwards received orders for it, when it was too late. By this unlucky accident, the French had an opportunity of getting ut with five clean ships; which, however, did not hinder the admiral from pursuing them as well as he was able, and some ships of his squadron had the good luck to take a Dunkirk privateer of ten guns and sixty men, which had done a great deal of mischief. This was one of the last actions of the war, and the rear-admiral soon after received orders to return home with the squadron under his command. It is very remarkable, that as the disappointments we met with in the course of this war occasioned very loud complaints against such as had the direction of our maritime affairs, and against several of our admirals, there was not one word said, in any of the warm and bitter pamphlets of those times, to the prejudice of Mr. Benbow. On the contrary, the highest praises were bestowed upon him in many of those pieces, and his vigilance and activity made him equally the favourite of the seamen and the merchants; the former giving him always the strongest marks of their affection, and the latter frequently returning him thanks for the signal services he did them, and for omitting no opportunity that offered of protecting their commerce, even in cases where he had no particular orders. With respect to political parties, he never seems to have had any attachments, which probably made him be respected by them all. On one occasion king William consulted him about a question agitated in those times, respectingthe expediency of preferring tars, as they were called, or gentlemen in the navy; and though Mr. Benbow considered himself, and was considered by all the world, as one of the former, yet he told the king it was safest to employ both, and that the danger lay in preferring gentlemen without merit, and tars beyond their capacities.

a brave English admiral, the second son of Hugh, lord viscount

, a brave English admiral, the second son of Hugh, lord viscount Falmouth, was born in 1711, and having early embraced the naval service, arose, through the usual gradations, to be captain of the Shoreham of 20 guns, in 1740, and distinguished himself as a volunteer under admiral Vernon, in November, at the taking and destroying the fortifications of Porto Bello. At the siege of Carthagena in March 1741, he had the command of a party of seamen, who resolutely attacked and took a fascine battery of fifteen twenty-four pounders, though exposed to the fire of another fort of five guns, which they knew nothing of. Lord Aubrey Beauclerk being killed March 24, at the attack of Bocachica, capt. Boscawen succeeded him in the command of the Prince Frederic of 70 guns; and on the surrender of that castle, was entrusted with the care of its demolition.

a brave English admiral, was the third son of sir John Monson,

, a brave English admiral, was the third son of sir John Monson, of South Carlton, in. Lincolnshire, and born in 1569. For about two years he studied at Baliol college, Oxford: but, being of an active and martial disposition, he soon grew weary of a contemplative life, and applied himself to the sea-service, in which he became very expert. In the beginning of queen Elizabeth’s war with Spain, he entered on board of ship without the knowledge of his parents; but in 1587 we find he went out commander of a vessel, and in 1588, he served in one of the queen’s ships, but had not the command of it. In 1589, he was vice-admiral to the earl of Cumberland, in his expedition to the Azores islands, and at the taking of Fayal; but, in their return, suffered such hardships, and contracted such a violent illness from them, as kept him at home the whole year 1590. “The extremity we endured,” says he, “was more terrible than befel any ship during the eighteen years’ war: for, laying aside the continual expectation of death by shipwreck, and the daily mortality of our men, I will speak of our famine, that exceeded all men and ships’ I have known in the course of my life. For sixteen days together we never tasted a drop of drink, either beer, wine, or water;and though we had plenty of beef and pork of a year’s saltirxg, yet did we forbear eating of it for making us the drier. Many drank salt water, and those that did, died suddenly, and the last words they usually spake, was, ‘drink, drink, drink’ And I dare boldly say, that, of five hundred men that were in that ship seven years before, at this day there is not a man alive but myself and one more.