Memoirs of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, Knt. Rear-Admiral of England, Etc.
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It is a just Observation, that Virtue alone creates Nobility. He, who enjoys a Title by Birth, derives it from the Virtue of his Ancestors; and he who raises himself into high Rank, supplies the Want of Ancestors by Personal Merit. Under all free Governments, the later ought to be encouraged, as well as the former respected; for, as every such Government must flourish, or decline, according to that Portion of Public Spirit, which is found among its Subjects; so, the only Means by which this Spirit can be either excited or maintained, is the proper Distribution of Rewards, and the strict Punishment of Criminals. Where Virtue is neglected, and Vice unpunished, Corruption is at the Height, and the Dissolution of that State near at Hand.
We were not in any such Situation, at the Time this brave Man was born, which was about the Year 1650. His Parents were but in midling Circumstances; and as they had some Expectations from a Relation whose Name was Cloudesley, they saw fit to bestow that Name upon their Son, as a probable Means of Recommending him to this Relation's Notice. But, whether they were disappointed in their Views, or, from what other Accident it arose, I am not able to say; but so it was, that the young Cloudesley Shovel was put out Apprentice to a mean Trade, I think to that of a Shoe-Maker, to which he applied himself for some Years; but being of an aspiring Disposition, and finding no Appearance of raising his Fortune in that Way; he betook himself to the Sea, under the Protection of Sir Cristopher Mynns; with whom, I speak it to his Honor, he went as a Cabin-Boy, but applying himself very assiduously to Navigation, and having naturally a Genius for the Art, he soon became an able Seaman; and as those were stirring Times, in which Merit always thrives, he quickly arrived at Preferment. This, he in some Measure, owed to the Favour of the famous Sir John Narborough, a Man who having raised himself to the highest Honours of his Profession, by mere dint of Capacity, was a generous Patron of all who discovered any extraordinary Degree of Worth, which was what recommended Mr. Shovel to his notice.
After the Close of the second Dutch War, our Merchants, in the Mediterranean, found themselves very much distressed by the pyratical State of Tripoli, which, nonwithstanding several Treaties of Peace that had been concluded with them, began to commit fresh Depredations as soon as the Dutch War broke out. As soon, therefore, as the King found himself at Leisure, he ordered a strong Squadron into those Parts, to depress the Insolence of these Corsairs, under the Command of Sir John Narborough, who arrived before Tripoli in the Spring of the Year 1674, where he found all Things in very good Order for his Reception. The Appearance of the Enemy's Strength, joined to the Nature of his Instructions, which directed him to try Negotiation rather than Force, determined him to send a Person in whom he could confide, to the Dey of Tripoly, to propse Terms of Accomodation, and those too, very moderate in their Nature; for he desired only Satisfaction for what was past, and Security for the Time to come. The Admiral entrusted Mr. Shovel with this Message, who accordingly went on Shore, and delivered it with great Spirit. But the Dey, despising his Youth, treated him with much Disrespect, and sent him back with an indefinite Answer. Mr. 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 with proper Rules for conducting his Enquiries and Observations. The Dey's Behavior was worse the second Time; but Mr. Shovel bore it with Patience and made Use of it as an Excuse for staying some time longer on Shore. When he returned, he assured hte Admiral, that 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, Lieutenant Shovel, with all the Boats in the Fleet, filled with combustible Matter, went boldly into the Harbour, and as I have already related in another Place, destroyed the Enemy's Ships, with a Degree of Success scarce to be conceived; of which, Sir John Narborough, gave so honorable an Account, in all his Letters, that the next Year Mr. Shovel had the Command given him of the Sapphire, a fifth Rate, from whence, he was not long after removed into The James Galley, a fourth Rate, in which he continued to the Death of King Charles II, who first raised, and had always a great Kindness for him.
There were Reasons which engaged King James to employ Captain Shovel, though he was a Man far enough from beng in his Favour; accordingly he was prefered to the Command of The Dover, a fourth Rate Ship, in which Situation he was, when the Revolution took Place. this was very fortunate for Captain Shovel, as well as very agreeable to his way fo thinking; which, together with his Activity in hte Service (for he was in every Engagement almost that happened, during that Reign) made him very conspicuous, and made his Rise in the Navy as quick as he could wish. He was in the first battle, I mean that of Bantry-Bay, in The Edgar, a third Rate, and gave such signal Marks of his Courage and Conduct, that when King William came down to Portsmouth, he was pleased, on the Recommendation of Admiral Herbert, who, for that Action was raised to the Dignity of Earl of Torrington, to confer upon him, and Captain Ashby of The Defiance, the Honour of Knighthood. this was soon followed by further Services, as they were by additional Rewards; for Sir Cloudesley, after cruizing in the Soundings, and on the Coast of Ireland, during the Winter of the Year 1690, and the ensuing Spring, was, in the Month of June, employed in convoying King William, and his Army, into Ireland, who was so highly satisfied with his Diligence and Dexterity (for without Question, in Matters of this Nature, he was one of the Ablest Commanders ever put to Sea) that he was graciously pleased, not only to appoint him Rear-Admiral of the Blue, but did him also the Honor, with his own Hands to deliver him his Commission.
After performing this Service, it was intended he should have joined the grand Fleet; but on the 10th of July, King William receiving Information, that the Enemy intended to send upwards of twenty small Frigates, the biggest not above thirty-six Guns, into St. George's Channel, to burn the Transport-Ships, he was order to cruise of Scilly, or in such a Station as he should judge most proper for preventing that Design; and to sent Frigates to ply Eastward and Westward, to gain Intelligence of the Body of the French Fleet, so that he might be the better able to provide for his own Safety. And they, upon meeting with Vice-Admiral Killegrew, in his Return from the Streights, were to give him Notice of all Circumstances, that so he m ight likewise take care not to be intercepted. He cruized up and down in the aforesaid Station, till the 21st of July, without meeting any thing remarkable; and then The Dover and Experiment joined him from the Coast of Ireland, with a Ketch that came out of Kinsale, on Board of which was Colonel Hacket, Captain John Hamilton, Archibald Cockburn, Esq; Anthony Thompson, Esq; Captain Thomas Power, Mr. William Sutton, and six Servants, who were following King James to France, in order to their accompanying him in his intended Expedition to England. They gave Sir Cludesley an Account, that King James took Shipping at Duncannon, and failing to Kinsale; but not staying there above two Hours, he proceded to France, with two Spanish Frigates, that had lain for that Purpose a considerable Time; and htat he carried with him, the Lord Powis, Sir Roger Strickland, and Captain Richard Trevanion.
He sailed afterward to Kinsale, and, as I have shewn in the former Volume, did all the Service that could Reasonably have been expected from him, in regard to what was prescribed by his Orders, and yet without much Success. But an Opportunity offered of demonstrating his Zeal and Affection for the Service. General Kirke, with a handful of Troops, was before the strong Town of Waterford, which he could not take, on Account of the numerous Garrison in Duncannon Castle, commanded by General Bourk, who professed his Resolution to defend both Town and Fort, as long as one Stone remained upon another; Sir Cloudesley rightly guessed, that a good Part of this Bravery proceded from certain Intelligence, that Mr. Kirke had not a single Piece of Cannon; upon which, he sent him Word, that he was ready to assist him from his Squadron, not only with Guns, but with Boats and Men; which he accordingly did; and then General Bourk was so prudent, as to surrender the Place, before there was so much as one Stone beat from another. The Remainder of the Year 1691, was spent for the most Part in cruizing, till he was ordered to make Part of Sir George Rooke's Squadron, which conveyed the King to Holland, and from which Service he did not return into the Downs till the Month of January following. It was his Felicity, that, as his Services were well intended, so, generally speaking, they were well received; and, if Sir Cloudesley Shovel any Time missed of Success, nobody ever pretended to fix Impunations upon his Conduct; his Courage, and his Sincerety, were alike unquestionable; and though this was not the most credulous Age, yet there was never such an Infidel heard of, as one who did not believe Shovel had both. On this Account, most Peole were very well satisfied, when the King, int he Spring of the Year, and just before he set out for Holland,d eclared him Rear-Admiral of the Red; and at the same time, Commander of the Squadron that was to convoy him thither. On his return from thence, he joined Admiral Russel, with the Grand Fleet, and had a great Share in the Glory of the famous Victory at La Hogue. For the French, after some Hours engaging, breaking their line and Tourville being discovered to tow away Northward, when the Weather cleared up, the English Admiral gave the Signal for chasing, and sent Notice to all Ships, that the Enemy was retiring. At the same time, several Broadsides were heard to the Westward, and though the Ships that fired could not be seen, it was concluded, they were the Blue Squadron, that by a shift of the Wind, had weathered the French; it proved however to be the brave Sir Cloudesley Shovel, Rear-Admiral of the Red, who had, with wonderful Pains and Diligence, weathered their Admiral's own Squadron, and got between them and their Admiral of the Blue; but after he had fired upon the French for some time, Tourville, as well as the said Admiral, came to an Anchor with some of the Ships of their Division; but could not discover one another by reason of the Thickness of the Weather.
When it was thought requisite, as we have had Occasion more than once to observe, that the Fleet should be put under the Joint Admirals, in the succeeding Year, and perhaps, if there had been nothing more than this joint Commission, we might well enough Account from thence, for the Misfortunes that happened in our Affairs at Sea, during the Year 1693. This, the Intelligent Reader will the more easily credit, when he is put in mind, that these Joint Admirals were of different Parties, that is to say, Killegrew and delaval were declared Tories, and Shovel a determined whig. Yet, as they were all good Seamen, and very probably all meant their Country well, 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 Orders they had received from Court, and the Condition of the Fleet, which was not either half manned, or half victualed, the Admirals might agree, that a cautious Execution of the Instructions they had received, was a Method as safe for the Nation, and more so for themselves, than any other they could take. There was, therefore, no great reason for that Piece of Dutch Wit played off upon this Occasion, in a picture, wherein the taking of the Smyrna Fleet was represented at a Distance, and Sir Cloudesley Shovel on Board his own Ship, with his Hands tied behind him, one end of the Cord being held be each of his Colleagues; to insinuate, that he would have prevented this Misfortune, if the Admirals Killegrew and Delaval, had not hindered him. But, when the Affair came to be enquired into in Parliament, Sir Cloudesley Shovel, at the Bar of the House, defended his Colleagues, as well as himself, and gave so clear and plain an Account of the Matter, that it satisfied every body who were capable of being satisfied, of the Innocence of the Commanders, I mean in Point of Treachery, which had been asserted by a Vote of the House of Commons; for which, if there was any Foundation, it must have lain either among the inferior People at the Admiralty, or Secretary of States Office, who were bribed to give Intelligence to the French.
The Character of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, remaining abosolutely unimpeached, we find him again at Sea, in the Year 1694, in the Channel, and on the French Coast, where he had the Honour to command as Vice-Admiral of the Red, under Lord Berkley, Admiral of the Blue, int eh famous Expedition to Camaret-Bay; of which I have already given so large an Account, that I think it altogether needless to repeat it here; and, therefore, shall only say, that Sir Cloudesley distinguished himself by his speedy and dextrous Embarkation of the Land-Forces, when they failed upon that unfortunate Expedition; as also, when, on their return to England, it was thought necessary to send the Fleet again upon the Coast of France, to bombard Diep, and other Places. Toward the end of the Season, the Command devolved upon Sir Cloudesley Shovel, by Lord Berkley's going to London; and then he received his Majesty's express commands to undertake the Bombardment of Dunkirk; which he attempted, as I have shewn in the Naval History of that Year, to no Purpose, throught he Fault of the Engineer, who had promised more than either he, or any other Man, could perform. Sir Cloudesley Shovel, however, took Care to demonstrate from his Conduct, that there was no Fault lay with him; for he went with a Boat, within the Enemy's Works, and so became an Eye-witness of the Impossibility of doing what his Orders directed; and, therefore, on his coming Home, he was perfectly well received, and continued to be employed, as a Man who would command Success, where it was possible, and omit nothing in his Power, where it was not so. He had his Share in the remaining Part of the War, and after the Peace of Ryswick, was always consulted by his Majesty, whenever Maritime affairs were under Consideration.
In the Beginning of the Reign of Queen Anne, he was not much in Favour; and, therefore, I do not find him employed, though he was then Admiral of the White, in any Affair of Importance, till he was sent to Vigo, after the taking that Place by Sir George Rooke, to bring home the Spoils of the Spanish and French Fleet. This was in the latter End of the Year 1702, and he performed all that was expected from him, with that Zeal and Expedition which he shewed upon all Occasions: For, arriving at Vigo on the 16th of October, he got all Things into such forwardness, that he carried off whatever could possibly be brought Home; burnt the rest, and, notwistanding the stormy Season of the Year, the foulness of his Ships, and his being embarassed with Prizes, arrived safely in the Downs, on the 7th of November, which was considered as so remarkable a Service by the Court, that it was immediately rsolved to employ him in Affairs of the greatest Consequence for hte future. Accordingly, he commanded the grand Fleet up the Streights, in the Year 1703, where he did every Thing it was possible for an Admiral to do, whose Instructions were very large; and who yet wanted Force to accomplish almost any Part of those Instructions. It is in such Conujunctures as these, that the Skill and Capacity of an Admiral cheifly appear; and in this Expedition; Sir Cloudesley gave as great Proofs of his Courage and Conduct, as any Admiral could do; for he protected our Trade from all Attempts of the French, he did what was possible to be done for the Relief of the Protestants, then in Arms in the Cevennes; he countenanced such of the Italian Powers, as was inclined to favour the Cause of the Allies; and he struck such a Terror into the Friends of the French, that they durst not perform what they had promised that Court. All this he did with a Fleet very indifferently manned, and worse victualled; so that, nonwithstanding the Management of our Affairs at Sea was feverently censured that Year in the House of Commons, yet all Parties agreed, that Sir Cloudesley Shovel had done his Duty in every Respect, and deserved the high Trust and Confidence that had been reposed in him.
In the Year 1704, Sir George Rooke commanded the Grand Fleet in the Mediterranean, to reinforce which, Sir Cloudesley Shovel was sent with a powerful Squadron; and he took such Care, not only to execute his Orders, but to distinguish in what manner they ought to be executed; that by joining the Fleet in the midst of the Month of June, he was very instrumental in the Success that followed; as by that very Action, he effectually disappointed all the French Schemes, though that court had boasted, they should be able to restore their Maritime Power, and give Law to the Confederates at Sea, that Summer. He took his part in the glorious Action of Malaga; in which he behaved with the utmost Bravery, as Bishop Burnet very justly observes; and yet, he had the good Luck to escape extremely well in that Action, though, as he said himself in his Letter, he never took more Pains to be well beat in his Life; but he was very far from taking to himself, what some have since endeavoured to confer upon him, the Glory of beating the French Fleet, while Sir George Rook only looked on, or fought at a Distance. This was not at all in Sir Cloudesley's Nature, he would no more be guilty of an Act of Injustice of this Sort, than he would have been patient in bearing it. He knew very well his own Merit, and his Admirals; and he did Justice to both, in the Letter he wrote on that Occasion, and of which, the Reader may find an Extract in our former Volume. This Battel was fought on the 13th of August, 1704; Sir Cloudesley Shovel and Sir John Leake, led the Van; Sir Cloudesley's Division consided of nine Ships, The Barfleur, Eagle, Orford, Assurance, Warspite, Swiftsure, Nottingham, Tilbury, and The Lennox; in which they had only one Officer killed, viz. the first Lieutenant of The Lennox, and seven wounded, 105 private Men killed, and 303 wounded. After this Victory, the French never durst think of fighting our fleets; and upon Sir Cloudesley Shovel's return, he was presented to the Queen by Prince George, as Lord High Admiral of England, and met with a very Gracious Reception; and was the next Year employed as Commander in Chief.
Sir Cloudesley had no Concern in the Arts made use of to lessen the Reputation of Sir George Rooke, in order to pave the way for laying him aside; but after this was done, and it became necessary to send both a Fleet and Army to Spain; Sir Cloudesley thought it reasonable to accept the Command of the Fleet jointly, with the Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth; and accordingly arrived at Lisbon, with the Fleet, which consisted of twenty-nine Line of Battel Ships, in the Month of June, and towards the latter end of the same month, sailed from thence for Catalonia, arriving before the City of Barcelona on the 12th of August, where the Siege of the Place was undertaken, though the English Army was very little, if at all, superior to the Garrison within the Town. There certainly, never was an Admiral in a more untoward Situation that Sir Cloudesley Shovel found himself in here. The Scheme itself appeared very impracticable; the Land-Officers divided in their Opinions; the Prince of Hoffe, upon whom King Charles principally depended, was not in speaking Terms with the Earl of Peterborough; all Things necessary for hte Siege, were in a manner wanting, and all Hopes of Supply depended on Admiral Shovel; who on this Occasion gave the most signal Proofs, not only of his Vigilance, Desterity, and Courage, but of his Constancy, Patience, and Zeal for the Public Service. He furnished Guns for the batteries, and Men to ply them; he landed for the Use of the Army, almost all the Military Stores of the Fleet; he not only gave prudent Advice himself, in all Councils of War, but he moderated the Heats and Resentments of others; and in short,w as so useful, so ready, and so determined in the Service, and took such Care, that everything he promised, should be fully and punctually performed, that his Presence and Councils, in a manner, forced the Land-Officers to continue their Siege, till the Place was taken, to the Surprize of all the World; and, perhaps, most of all to the Surprize of those by whom it was taken; for, if we may guess at their Sentiments, by what they declared under their Hands, in several Councils of War, they scarce believed it practicable to reduce so strong a Place, with so small a Force, and that so ill provided. How great a Sense the Queen had of this important Service, and how much she was persuaded it would contribute to the Advantage of the Common Cause, the Reputation of her Arms Abroad, and the Satisfaction of her Subjects at Home, may appear from her going expressly to Parliament upon this Occasion, uon the 27th of November, 1705; where, being seated on the Throne, She sent for the House of Commons, on purpose to communicate to them the News of this important Success, which she did in the following Speech, that deserves for its Singularity, as well as for its Relation to the Subject in Hand, a Place in this History.
My Lords and Gentlemen
Having newly received Letters from the King of Spain, and the Earl of Peterborough, which contain a very particular Account of our great and happy Successes in Catalonia, and shewing at the same time the reasonableness of their being immediately supported; I look upon htis, to be a Matter of such Consequence in itself, and so agreeable to you, that I have ordered a Copy of the King of Spain's Letter to my self, and a Letter from the Junta of the Military Army of Catalonia, and another Letter from the City of Vich, and also, an Extract of the Earl of Peterborough's Letter to me, to be communicated to both Houses of Parliament.
I recommend the Consideration of them to You, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, very particularly, as the speediest Way to restore the Monarchy of Spain, tot he House of Austria; and therefore, I assure myself, you will enable me to prosecute the Advantages we have gained, in the most effectual Manner, and to improve the Opportunity which God Almighty is pleased to afford us, of putting a prosperous End to the present War.
My Lords and Gentlemen.
I must not lose this Occasion of desiring You to give as much Dispatch to the Matters before You as the Nature of them allow, that so in our Preparations for next Year, you may be early, which cannot fail of being great Advantage to us.
The next Year, Sir Cloudesley again commanded the Fleet, but it failed very late, so as not to reach the River of Lisbon till the Month of November; and, even when it arrived there, the Disputes which arrose among the Lords of King Charle's Council, and his Generals, with the Delays of the Portugeze, who were far from being hearty in his Cause, disappointed all the great Designs of the Maritime Powers, and the Effects that might have reasonably expected from the powerful Reinforcement of Troops which were embarked on Board the Grand Fleet. In this uneasy Situation, Sir Cloudesley Shovel did all that could be expected from a wise and vigilant Commander; for he not only closely attended to the proper Duties of his own Charge, but left no Method untried to prevail upon the Generals and Favourites of King Charles, to come to such an Agreement, as might secure the Advantages already obtained, and effectually fix their Master, who was then at Madrid, upon the Throne of Spain. But, though the Care and Concern of the Admiral had very little Effect on this Side, yet his representations in Portugal, met with greater Regard. It seems, that one of the young Princes of the Royal Family, who was of a very wild Temper, had committed some odd Insults on the Seamen as they came a-Shore from the Fleet and the Forts, at the Entrances of the River, and fired upon some of our Men of War; upon which, Sir Cloudesley made his Representations ot the Ministry; and having received a very dissatisfactory Answer, he immediately demanded a Conference with a Person of great Distinction, who was then at the Head of their Councils, and told him plainly, that the Seamen, so long as he bore the English Flag, should maintain the strictest Discipline while in the Harbour of Portugal; and, therefore, he expected it should receive those Marks of Friendship and Respect, which were do to so great a Princess as the Queen his Sovereign; or, in case of any failure, he should think himself obligated to do his Seamen, and the Honour of his Country, Right, and not suffer the English Flag to be insulted, while he had the Honour to wear it. This, Sir Cloudesley expressed in such a Manner, and seconded in his Words with so brisk a Resentment, when the first-mentioned Affront was next repeated, that the Crown of Portugal thought fit to issue such Orders as he desired; and Things wore another Face, in that Part of the World, ever afterward; which was entirely oweing to the Courage and Conduct of Sir Cloudesley, who knew very well how to distinguish between the Complaisance due to an Ally, and that complying Forbearance which is unworthy of an English Admiral.
The beginning of the Year 1707 wore but an indifferent Aspect for Sir Cloudesley. He had disposed all Things in such a Manner, as that he might be able to succor Alicant, and very probably had succeded therein, if not prevented, when the Troops were on the Point of Embarking, by an Order from England. This Order was obtained by the pressing Instances of the Court of Portugal, which represented here, that the Forces might be more effectually employed in Conjuction with their Army. Orders were sent to this Purpose, and a Memorial was drawn up, containing the Terms upon which her Britannic Majesty would consent to the Proposition made by the Portugeze, being either unwilling, or unable, toc omply with those Demands, it was resolved in a Council of War, to resume the former Project, and to land them at Alicant; for which, orders soon after arrived from England; according to this Resolution, the Confederate Fleet failed on the 7th of January, with the Land-Forces from Lisbon to Alicant, where they arrived on the 28th of the same Month, and were actually landed. But, through the Delays the Expedition met with (an Account of which we have formerly given) the Troops, which at their sailing from England, were little, if any thing, short of 10,000 Men, were not found to be scarce 7,000; and Sir Cloudesley, finding that his Presence would be of little Use there, and that the Fleet stood in need of Repairs, left Alicant on the 17th of February, and returning to Lisbon, where he arrived on the 11th of March following. There he received Orders to prepare for the Expedition against Toulon; of which, we have already said much, and therefore, shall be the more concise in what we are obliged to add upon that Subject here.
The Instructions which Sir Cloudesley Shovel received in relation to this Important Affair, which, if it had succeeded, must have put an End to the War, by obliging hte French king to abandon the Support of his Grandson in Spain, were sent him to Lisbon; and, in Obedience to them, the Admiral made such Dispatch, that on the 10th of May, he sailed for Alicant; where, having joined Sir George Byng, he sailed for the Coast of Italy, and in the latter End of the Month of June, came to an Anchor between Nice and Antibes; where he watied the Arrival of the Duke of Savoy, and Prince Eugene, who actually came on Board the 29th of that Month, and were entertained by Sir Cloudesley with the utmost Magnificence. The Enemy were at that Time strongly intrenched on the River Var, and had extended their works above four Miles into the Country. These Entrenchments were defended by 800 Horse, and six Battalions of Foot, and a Reinforcement was daily expected, of three Battalions more, under the Command of Lieutenant-General Dillon, an old Irish Officer, from whose Courage and Conduct the French had Reason to expect as much as from any man in their Service; and indeed, if he had arrived in those Lines, it is very doubtful, whether the Confederates could have forced them. But, Sir Cloudesley having observed tothe Duke, that Part of the French Lines were so near the Sea, that it was in his Power to cannonade them; and that he would land a Body of Seamen who should attack the highest and strongest of their Intrenchments; his Royal Highness consented that htey should be attacked immediately. Accordingly, on the first of July, Sir Cloudesley ordered four English and one Dutch Man of War, to enter the Mouth of the River Var, where they began to cannonade the French Lines; soon after which, six hundred English Seamen landed in open Boats, under the Command of Sir John Norris, who was quickly followed by the Admiral; and having begun the Attack, the Enemy were so terrified with such an unexpected Salutation, that htey thre down their Arms, after a Short Dispute, and abandoned their Works.
This great Push made by the English, not only procured an easy Passage, where the greatest Resistance was expected, but totally disconcerted the French Schemes, since their Troops had scarcely quitted these Intrenchments; but they met, in their Retreat, Lieutenant-General Dillon, at the Head of his twelve Battalions, and he was so astonished, that he suffered himself to be persuaded to abandon the Town of St. Paul, and to conclude his Retreat. On the 14th, a Council of War was held on Board The Admiral, in which it was resolved, to prosecute the March to Toulon, which the Duke of Savoy promised to reach in six Days. It appears from this Account, that, whatever there was of Zeal and Spirit in the Conduct of this Affair, it proceeded from the Diligence and Activity of Sir Cloudesley. He propsed forcing the Passage of the Var, and executed it; he induced his Royal Highness of Savoy to pursue his March immediately; and, as soon as that Resolution was taken, the Admiral sailed with his Fleet for the Islands of Hieres, laving ten or twelve Frigates to interrupt the Enemies Correspondence with Italy. The Story, therefore, that is told of Sir Cloudesley's detaining a Sum of Money, must be without Foundation: For, before the Attack, his Royal Highness must have been perfectly satisfied, otherwise he would not have undertaken it; and he marched as soon as Prince Eugene joined him, with the Remainder of the Forces, Sir Cloudesley Shovel seeing no more of him till he reache dToulon. But instead of six, his Royal Higness made it full twelve Days before he incommoded the Place; and then never pretended to lay any Blame upon Sir Cloudesley, but threw it on Prince Eugene, who commanded the Emperor's Forces, and who had Orders not to expose them. It is true, that when Sir Cloudesley went first to compliment the Duke upon his safe Arrival, and to receive his Commands about landing Artillery and Ammunition, his Royal Higness told him, he was glad to see him at last, for the Maritime Powers had made him wait a long while, when Sir Cloudesley answered, that he had not waited a Moment, since it was in his Power to wait upon his Royal Higness; he replied smiling, I did not say You, but the Maritime Powers had made me wait: for this Expedition I concerted so long ago as 1693; and fourteen Years is a long Time to wait, Sir Cloudesley.
The Admiral ordered immediately a hundred Cannon to be landed from the Fleet, for the Service of the Batteries, with two hundred Rounds of Powder and Shot, and a considerable Number of Seamen to serve as Gunners; neither was he wanting in any Thing that was desired from him, during the whole Affair; but rather exceeded what hte Duke and Prince Eugene could reasonably expect, as well with regard to his personal Attendance, as to the Service of the Fleet. Besides there was not any Misfortune on this Side, but it fell amongst the Land-Troops altogether, who were beat from their Posts with very great Loss, on the 15th of August, N. S. On the 16th, the Fleet began to cannonade the Town, and throw Bombs into the Night, which was continued till such Time the Siege was raised, and which obliged the French to sink their capital Ships, and Distress that more than countervailed hte whole Expence of this Service, great as it was. As the Duke of Savoy never would have undertaken this Affair without the Assistance of the Fleet, commanded by Sir Cloudesley; as he did nothing, when before Toulon, but by the Aid of the Fleet, from whence he had all his Military Stores, so he could not possibly have made a safe Retreat, if it had not been covered by the Confederate Fleet, which attended them again to the Var. There some new Disputes happened, in which Sir Cloudesley had little or no Concern. Her Britannic Majesty's Minister laboured to persuade Prince Eugene to take upon him the Command of the Troops in Spain, in which the Duke of Savoy likewise concurred, and Sir Cloudesley offered to transport his Royal Higness, with a Body of Troops under his Command, to Spain; but this Proposition being rejected, his Excellency bore away for the Streights; and soon after, resolved to return Home, which was the last Act of his Life.
He left Sir Thomas Dilkes at Gibralter, with nine Ships of the Line; three Fifth Rates and one of the Sixth, for the Security of the Coasts of Italy, and then proceded with the Remainder of the Fleet, consisting of ten Ships of the Line, five Frigates, four Fire-ships, a Sloop, and a Yacht for England. On the 22d of October, he came into the Soundings, and in the Morning had ninety Fathom Water. About Noon he lay by; but, at fix in the evening, he made Sail again, and stood away under his Courses, believing, as it is prsumed, that he saw the Light on Scilly. Soon after which, several Ships of his Fleet made hte Signal of Distress, as he himself did; and it was with much difficulty, that Sir George Byng, in The Royal Anne, saved himself, having one of the Rocks under her main Chains. Sir John Norris, and Lord Dursley, also ran very great Risks; and, as we have shewn elsewhere, serveral Ships besides the Admiral's, perished there with him, on Board The Association, his Sons-in-Law, Sir John Narborough, and James his Brother, Mr. Trelawney, eldest Son to the Bishop of Winchester, and several other young Gentlemen of Quality. There is no saying how this Accident happened, or to whose Fault it was owing, though a Report prevailed immediately after it happened, that a great Part of the Crew had got drunk for Joy, that they were within Sight of Land. Sir Cloudesley's Body was thrown a-Shore the next Day upon the Island of Scilly, where some Fishermen took him up, and having taken a valuable Emerald Ring from his Finger, stripped and buried him. This Ring being shewn about, made a great Noise all over the Island, and coming to the Ears of Mr. Paxton, who was Purser of The Arundell, 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, in which it was transported to Portsmouth, convey'd from thence by Land to London, and buried from his House in Soho-Square, in Westminster-Abbey, with great Solemnity; where a fine Monument of white Marble was afterwards erected by the Queen's Direction, in order to do Honor to the Memory of so great a Man, and so worthy a Subject.
Sir Cloudesley Shovel, at the Time of his Death, was Rear-Admiral of England, Admiral of the White, and Commander in Chief of her Majesty's Fleet, one of the Council to Prince George of Denmark, as Lord High Admiral of England, Elder-Brother of Trinity-House, and one of the Governors of Greenwich Hospital; in all which Stations, he discharged his Trust with the greatest Honor and Integrity; and as, in his Public Character, he was an accomplished Sea-Officer, one who has always the Glory of his Queen, and the good of his Country at Heart; so in all Circumstances of private Life, as an Husband, Parent, Master of his Family, he conducted himself with such Prudence, Wisdom, nad Tenderness, that few Men lived more beloved, or died more lamented. Her Majesty expressed a very particular Concern for his Loss, and was pleased to tell Sir John Leake, when she made him Rear-Admiral of England, that hse knew no Man so fit to repair the Loss of the ablest Seamen in her Service.
Sir Cloudesley Shovel married the Widow of his Friend and Patron Sir John Narborough, by whom he left two Daughters, Coheiresses, the eldest of which married Lord Romney; and the other Sir Narborough d'Aeth, Baronet. It may not be improper to add to these Memoirs, his Monumental Inscription in Westminster-Abbey, since it is the only one of its kind, and stands there as a perpetual Memorial of the Services he rendered his Country, and of the grateful Sense retained of them by the Glorious Princess, by whom he was employed, and under whose auspicious Condut, the Arms of Great Britain, by Sea and Land, were ever Victorious. Thus it runs.
Sir Cloudesley Shovel, Knt. Rear-Admiral of Great Britain; Admiral, and Commander in Chief of the Fleet; the just Rewards of his long and faithful Services; He was deservedly beloved of his Country, and esteemed, though dreaded, by the Enemy; who had often experienced his Conduct and Courage. Being Shipwreckt on the Rocks of Scilly, in his Voyage from Toulon, the 22d of October, 1707, at Night, in the 57th Year of his age.
His fate was lamented by all; but especially the Sea-faring Part of the Nation, to whom he was a worthy Example. His Body was flung on the Shoar, and buried with others in the Sands; but being soon after taken up, was placed under this Monument; which his Royal Mistress has caused to be erected, to commemorate his steady Loyalty, and extraordinary Virtues.
Last updated January 9, 2014.