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Memorials of the professional life and times of Sir William Penn ... From 1644 to 1670 online

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"It is a thing greatly to be regretted," observes
the author of the " Life of Admiral Sir George
Ascue,'' in the " Biographia Britannica," " that
" so little care has been taken to do justice
" to the memory of so many great men as
* have served this nation ; some, at the expense
" of their lives, and others, of their liberties :
" their virtues surely deserve a better reward."
Joining heartily in sentiment with the writer
of this passage, it affords me a very high grati- .
fication to discharge the duty of removing ^rtbe*'
reproach which it conveys, as it be^^rir'upctt*
Admiral Sir William Penn (my great- granji-^
father), by rendering at lengths public jtistice** *
to his name and memory.

But, the gratification is very far from being
confined to that single object : in drawing out
the Professional Life of Sir William Penn, I
obtain, at the same time, an occasion for ren*
dering justice and honour to some of his gal-
lant and distinguished contemporaries, espe-
cially, the Vice-Admirals Sir William Batten

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and Sir John Lawson, the Rear-Admiral Sir
Richard Stayner, and the Vice-Admiral Sir
Joseph Jordan ; and, moreover, of bringing to
the knowledge of the present age, a generation
of valiant and patriotic sea-warriors, whom a
narrow and unworthy policy had nearly con-
firmed in the oblivion of their country, although
to them it owes the origin of that presetit naval
fame and pre-eminence, which constitutes the
chief and most favourite object of its pride.

Charnock, though a just and zealous bio-
grapher, has founded his Biographia Navalis^
generally, on that oblivious principle. He has
entitled it, " Impartial Memoirs of Officers of
;V/.-. " the Navy of Great Britain, from the year
.'/••* .** t^Q^Xq the present time'' With respect to
'••V <Si7K|iQ fe^* names among them, whose fame, ante-
•;.•;: .^i^dj^riitly to that date, had been too loudly re-
***]^yVed to be hushed to silence, he has briefly
adverted to their former achievements; but he
appears, in general, to have thought himself
interdicted from looking back beyond that
solemn epocha. And yet, the epocha of the
Restoration, however important a crisis of
change in our civil and political history, formed
no crisis of change in the professional history
of our Navy ; the victories that followed its

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date, were but the sequel and consequences of
those that had preceded it ; the heroes of those
victories, were still the same ; and their public
principles had continued uniform and un-
altered, amidst all the internal political con-
vulsions and vicissitudes of their country ; as
will be clearly seen in the following work. It
is a ffagrant injustice, therefore, to subject the
history of our Navy to the distinctions of our
civil history. By the bar which Charnock has
thus raised to his biographical retrospect, he
has excluded from record, and by consequence
from memory and just honour, not only the
earlier noble actions of many of those heroes
whom he does record, but, even the names of
many of the most gallant spirits that have ex-
pired in the service of their country, and whose
prowess contributed, at the time, as much as
that of any of their survivors or successors, to
raise her naval eminence to the exaltation to
which it has attained. To throw down, and
to efface, for ever, all vestige of that unjust and
unworthy barrier of separation, is one of the
objects, and I feel confident will be a per-
manent effect, of the following Memorials.

The principal sources whence these have
been drawn, are the following :

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!• The Papers and MS, documents of Sir William
Penn, remaining in the possession of his family.

2. The MS. books of the Council of State, during
the Interregnum, in the State -Paper OflSce. Of the
extracts given from these, some are official copies ; but
the remainder, and larger portion, were transcribed
by my own hand. Those important records are now
in course of publication, by authority.

3. The Acts of Council, in the Council Office.

4. The Pepysian Collection of MSS. in the Bod-
leian Library.

5* The Sloane, Lansdown, and Ascough MSS. in
the British Museum; and the voluminous printed
Collection, entitled '' King's Pamphlets," in the same

6. '' Sundry proceedings in parliament," &c.,
during the Interregnum, authenticated by the clerk
of the parliament.

7. Lords' and Commons' Journals.

8. Parliamentary History of England.

Charnock observes, " James duke of York
" has been omitted in every list of admirals
" we have hitherto been able to obtain ;" but
he adds, " probably, as having been the per-
" sonage under whose authority all naval com-
" missions were issued." That the lord high
admiral should not have been included in a
list of admirals subject to his authority, is

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surely not surprising ; but, that which is really
so is, that in the list published in ^ Beatson's
Political Index/' entitled, " Complete List of
** the Noblemen and Gentlemen who have been
" dignified with the rank of Admiral in the
" Royal Navy of Great Britain, from the
** Restoration of Charles II.,'' the name of
Sir Williwn.Penn is alone omitted. This will
appear the more surprising when it shall have
been seen, in the following Memorials, that
his peculiar and exclusive sphere of service
renders his biography, in a pre-eminent man*
ner, part and parcel of that early portion of
our naval history, which embraces our first
Dutch wars. Of the sequel of that history,
his contemporary, Samuel Pepys, was not a
very successful, nor a very complimentary pre-
sager to the service (though sufficiently com-
plimentary to his correspondent), when, in
1692, he ^ greatly suspected^ that the Dutch
" wars of 1665 and 1672 would prove the last
^ instance of the sea- actions of this nation,
" which will be either worth the telling at
" a//, or be worthy of such an historian as
** Mr. Evelyn:"' a suspicion, which certainly

1 Pepys' Correspondence, p. 182, 8vo. — Letter to Mr. Evelyn,
dated '< Easter Monday, 1692."

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does not lay the succeeding naval generations
of this nation under an obligation of much
respect, for his prescience or prudence; or of
much gratitude, for his anticipated estimate of
their skill or valour.

The discordant orthographies of the nume-
rous manuscript documents, aod old printed
tracts, here assembled, I have reduced to our
present standard, after the example of the
authors of the Parliamentary History, and
other historical compilers. In a repository of
antiquarian curiosity, the origihal spelling
ought to be preserved; but, in a work de-
signed for current reading, the uncouthness
of unsettled or unskilful orthographies ope-
rates obstructively and repulsively to an earnest
reader, who is only desirous to collect the
matter before him, with ease and convenience
to himself

But, though it is easy to reduce general
language to one standard of orthography, it is
not always so easy to determine the true his-
torical orthography of proper names; especially,
when they have been written differently by con-
temporary authors. It is not a sufficient rule,
to observe how the living representatives of
former eminent persons now spell their names

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Thus, the present ducal house of Set/mour has
changed, or restored, that well known and un-
varying historical name, to St Maur ; but, if
any author were now to write of Queen Jane
St. MauT^ it would be transgressing against
historical orthography; for, history knows no
such name. On the other hand, the name so
variously written, by Clarendon Moantague^ by
Heath and Evelyn Montague^ in Pepys' printed
Diary and Correspondence Montagu^ is, in all of
these instances, a departure from the autography
and therefore from the true orthography, of the
name of the distinguished person to whom those
diversities are severally assigned. It would na-
turally be supposed, that ^ Pepys' Diary" must
present an infallible standard for the correct
spelling of the family name of the first Earl of
Sandwich ; but, that is not the case. The auto-
graph of that eminent person cannot be rare,
since it was subscribed to so many public
orders and warrants during the Interregnum;
in these, he signed, in a very distinct hand,
^ Edw. MountagUj'^ which orthography of the

1 If any one should wish to be referred to a specific example of
that autograph, he will find it in No. 1708 of the Sloane MSS.
in the British Museum, where the name " Edw. Mountagu''
is very distinctly subscribed (as first commissioner for the admi-

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name is observed in all the lords' journals after
the Restoration. I have accordingly adopted it,
though I perceive, that, in a few instances, the
erratum Montagu has not been corrected.

It will be very evident, that the following
work has been drawn up with a view to the
naval service ; but yet, at the same time, under
a full conviction, that whatever can interest
the British Navy, must have interest also for
every sound and true-hearted Briton.

My young naval reader cannot fail to trace,
with professional interest, the most full and
complete naval career that, perhaps, exists on
record ; certainly, the most so of any during
the arduous and momentous times in which
it was parsed. " I feel pretty certain," says
^ Capt. Basil Hall, that if a young man really
^ have any talents within him which are
" backed by a hearty inclination towards his
^ profession, and that his character is held
" together by a genuine love of independence,
" he is in the fairest way to success. If all
" these feelings be accompanied by a proper

rally, in the absence of the Earl of Warwick with the fleet) to
" Instructions to Capt. William Penn, captain of the Assurance
" frigate^ and rear-admiral of the Irish squadron" dated 2d May,

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" acquaintance with his duty, the most certain
" way, not only of calling out his powers, but
" of giving stability to his energies and prac-
** tical eflScacy to all his virtuous resolutions,
^ is to load him as soon as possible, and as
" heavily as possible, with responsible duties,
" which are difficult in their execution, and
" creditable when well performed. If, also, he
** be rightly principled, that is to say, if, while
" he acts from a disinterested sense of duty, he
" have likewise a correct apprehension of how
" much he ought, and can perform single-
^^ handed, and how far he ought to distrust
" himself; such a man will either succeed
" in life, or secure the next best thing, the
" consciousness of having merited success.*'*
It would be difficult to find a more apt and
corresponding exemplification of the justness
of those observations, than in the subject of
these Memorials.

Although the collecting and adjusting the
numerous articles which compose the following
Documentary Biography (begun in 1803), has
been a work of long interrupted time and
labour, I have not been able to give to it all
the symmetry of form and connexion which

* Fragmente of Voyages, &c. First Series, vol. ii. p. 58.

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I could wish it to possess ; and I greatly fear,
that I shall discover, in its printed state, in-
advertencies which have eluded my closest
attention, in its state of manuscript; never-
theless, with some indulgence from the reader,
it will attain the main object sought in its
compilation, namely, to compact a lasting body
of irrefutable testimony, just and honourable
to the memory of Sir William Penn himself,
and of the whole naval generation in which he
held so distinguished a place/

In company with these Memorials, is re-
printed a Tract written by the eminent Sir
William Coventry, and published in 1687, en-
titled, "The Character of a Trimmer," &c.; the
cause of which reprint, will appear in the sequel
of the present work/

The impression on the title-page, is taken
from the office-seal of H. R. H. James Duke of
York, as Lord High Admiral.

G. P.

Richmond, December 1832.

1 One inadvertency, into which I find I have been mechanically
drawn in some passages, by the example of Heath and others of our
writers, is that of prefixing the particle Van to the name of the great
Dutch admiral, Tromp ; an adjunct of English introduction, and
which does not pertain to his name.

2 This Tract is printed separately ; yet, uniformly with the
Memorials, in case the reader may think fit to bind it with them.

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Preface v


Birth and Education of Sir William Penn, 1621 . Review of

the History of the Navy, from 1640 to 1644 1


Service in the Irish Fleet : — Contemporary "Naval Affairs,

from 1644 to 1650 82


Service in the Mediterranean, from 1650 to 1652 306


Service in the First Dutch War, 1652, 1653 395


A. Extracts from Smith's Sea-Omnmar, 1627 641

B. Extract from Dr. John Wallis^s Memoir, 1644 648

C. Remonstrance and Case of George Penn, 1658 660

D. English Attack on the Spanish Armada, 1588 556

E. Dutch Attack on the Spanish Armada, 1639 670

F. Armorial Honour granted to Lieut.-Ad. Tromp, by Charles I., 1642 674
0. Cesdon of the Honour of the Fhig by Holland, 1654, 1662, 1667, 1674 577

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Portrait of Sir William Penn, »t. 45 Frontispiece,

Portrait of Martin Harpertz Tromp, Lieut.>Ad. of Holland, 8Bt. 42.. Page 4ffJ













Mannerbyer {Maener Bifrr













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Birth and Education of Sir W. Penn— Review of the History of the Navy
from 1640 to 1644.

Sir William Penn, bom at Bristol, and baptised in
the church of St. Thomas the Apostle in that city,
on the 23d day of April, 1621, was the second and
youngest son of Giles Penn, a captain in the navy,
and for many years a consul for the English trade
in the Mediterranean. Giles was the second son of
William, only son of William Penn of Minety in the
county of Gloucester, and of Penn's -lodge in the

^ VOL. I. B

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county of Wilts, who, surviving his son William, died
in 1591, and lies buried before the altar in the church
of Minety;^ in which parish he inherited a patri-
monial estate, long ^ jssessed by his ancestors, but
which, soon after his death, was alienated to a branch
of the family of Pleydall.

Giles had two sons, between whose ages was a
difference of twenty years. His eldest son, George,
whom he brought up to commerce, became an opu-
lent merchant in Spain, and resided many years of
his life at Seville. His youngest son, William, the
subject of these Memorials, he educated with great
care, under his own eye, for the sea-service ; causing
him to be well grounded and instructed in all its
branches, practical and scientific, as is shewn by
sundry elementary and tabular documents, nautical
journals, draughts of lands, observations, and calcu-
lations, which still survive.^ In that age, the royal
and mercantile navies were not dissociated as they
now are: the royal navy, which was not numerous^
increased its numbers on every emergency by taking
up into the king's service armed merchants^ ships,
engaged for the season, or the occasion, many of
which were ftunished with 28 and 30 guns to
defend themselves and their cargoes against the
pirates from the Christian and Turkish states, who
then roved the Mediterranean and the bay of

* Atktn's Oloaoettenhire, p. S93.

* For a tommary of the nantical sdenoe of that day, see the last ofaapter of
'' A Sea-Orsmmar,** published in 1627 by *'*' Captain Smith, sometimes Gorer-
*^ nor of Virginia, and Admiral of New-EngUmd/' Appendix, A.

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Biscay, and came into our own seas, and even to
our own coasts. The owners and captains of the
ships so taken up by the government, were often
employed to command theiK? for the crown ; and
many of our first great seamen thus passed from
the mercantile into the royal service. Thus, also, it
was, that William Penn, after serving with his father
from a boy, in various mercantile voyages to the
northern seas and to the Mediterranean, became a
lieutenant in the royal navy, in which noble service
he thenceforth passed the whole of his active life.
It was, perhaps, the rarity of such an education for
the naval profession in that age, that led Clarendon
&lsely to affirm, th^^t Penn rose to naval command
from " a common man ;'' ^ and a writer quoted by
Cbamock to state,. that he rose from being ^' a cabin
** boy."* .After serving for some time as lieutenant,
his monument records, that he was made captain
at the age of twenty-one, or in 1642 ; but I do not
find the name of any ship to which he was com-
missioned until the summer of 1644, when he was
appointed to command the Fellowship, of 28 guns,
forming a part of the fleet under the command of
Captain Richard Swanley, admiral of the Irish seas.
It is jprobable, from the practice of the service of
that day, that his first command was in one of the
armed merchants' ships employed in the service of
the crown.

The period in which he obtained the command

1 life, ToL ii. p. 328, 0^0 edit. Oxford, 1827.
' Naral Architflctiire, Inlroductimi.

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of the Fellowship, was the most important and event-
ful crisis in the history of the English navy. The
struggle between the king and the parliament to
obtain the power of the fleet, had just been deter-
mined in favour of the, latter, who, towards the end
of the year 1643, had established the Earl of War-
vvick* in the office of lord high admiral, and Captain
William Batten in that of vice-admiral, of the navy
of England.

As the naval portion of our domestic history
during those turbulent times is almost entirely
unknown, having been very superficially and very
negligently noticed, or rather, having been wholly
overlooked and disregarded by all the writers of
our civil and political histories, it will be advisable, in
tracing the career of a commander whose professional
character was formed during those times, to recall
briefly to memory, so far as they bear immediately

* The annotator to Pepye* Diary lias fallen into a considerable error in
describing this gallant earl to the reader. Pepys is adverting to the contest for
the fleet, in 1642, when the Earl of Warwick was appointed vice^miral for
the parliament; the annotator sabjoins, for illustration^ '< Henry Rich, earl
*< of Warwick and Holland, beheaded for putting himself in arms to aid
*' Charles I. :** ihus making a compound personage of two brothers. Pepys is
speaking of Robert Rich, earl of Warwick, who served the parh'ament; his
brother Henry, earl of Holland, finally served the king, and was beheaded by
the parliament for that service in 1648, notwithstanding the intercession of his
brother. <* Robert was the eldest son of Robert Rich, first earl of Warwick,
^ (so created, 16 Jac 1618); Henry, the second son, was created Lord Ken-
'* sington, 20 Jac, and Earl of Holland, 22 Jac** — (Duodals's Baronage,
vol. ii. p. 387, 8.) The annotator appears also not to be aware, that Captain
William Batten, vice^miral of England from 1642 to 1647, and Sir William
Batten so often mentioned by Pepys, were one and the same person; for he
describes the latter only as *^ a commisslbner of the navy, and in 1661 M.P. for
** Rochester," which is much the least signal part of Batten*s history.

Online LibraryGranville PennMemorials of the professional life and times of Sir William Penn ... From 1644 to 1670 → online text (page 1 of 46)