John Charnock.

Biographia navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the navy of Great Britain, from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement online

. (page 17 of 45)
Online LibraryJohn CharnockBiographia navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the navy of Great Britain, from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement → online text (page 17 of 45)
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tvbat is (lill more extraordinary, no perfon was killed on
board the Swallovv but the boatfwam's mate!!!'* The
objeflions to the literal authenticity of this account ai*6
very numerous J. The circumftances reported as attend*
ingthe aAion, are in the higheft dtgrcQwonderful, if not im-
probable ; and we can fcarcely credit that an inferior of.
peer, efpecially fo young in the fervice, would have had,
tvhatever might be his opinion, the temerity or impru.
dehce, to have anfwered his commander in fo difrefpeaful
d manner. To this we may add, the good opinion which
Continued to be entertained of captain Enfome by the lord
t\igh admiral, an opinion which would certainly have beejl
(haken, and in all probability have prevented his further
employment, had he been in any degree rcprehenfible, al
he has been reported. His continuance, and even pro*
motion in the Service, together with his cpndu£l at th^
moment of his unfortunate death, ftrongly militate againft
all idea of criminality on his part. Thus far has the mer^
ivilh of doing every juftice to the memory of deceafe4

' • Four guns.

i Piohably in rcfpefl to their not being tacfl at ■raUy but on tbi
piratf's civil fOablifhrnent. j

,' t Let it not be fun^Msfed we have the rmalleft intention of Tapping
tr fohn*« eharaf)cr for intrepidity, by unwarrantably Ittrminng any
tiling to h>t difadvaniage. We are* notwithftaoding'oitr feefiticiliiis
very ready co admit he might, and did behave, with the moft conCfr^
euoua galltiury oa this occasion, though not prosifdy in the way juft

* bfavAry,

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Inravciy, compelled usm fome mealurc to'detraA from
ihofe praifes which we confcicntiotifly think have been
improperly beftowcd on fir John ; but he will ever con»
tinue to wear thofc neVer-fading honours which remam
fixed^ far abov'e thfe malicious doubt of the hiftorian* On •
the 17th of September 1665, he was made commander of
the Swallow ketch*, and was very foon afterwards removed
into the Little Mary. While in the Swallow he was very
fuccefsful in capturing feveral valuable prizes from the
enemy, and ftill more fo after he removed into the Nfary^
in wnich ftip, it is reported, he took no fewer' than
thirty- two prizes in four months. In 1666 he was pro-
moted to the Guinea, a fourth rate, by the joint corri*
manders-in-chief> prince Rupert and the duke of Albe-
marle. In the following year he experienced a further
promotion to the Coronation, a third rate of fifty-flx
guns, hired from the merchants. In this fhip he waS^
almoft immediately on his appointment, difpatcned to tbe
Weft Indies, where, our pofleflions were then mtWh
threatened by the joint fquadrons of France and Holland.
Tlie force under fir John Berry confiftcd of ten (hips of
war and one firefhip ; that of the enemy of twenty fhips
of war, and ten or twelve flrefliips, tranfports, aud
Unders t. On the 19th of May the fleets met ; and after


* At the time his old captain, Enfome, wa« removed into the Con*
fiant Warwick,

f The following account of the operationa previous to the z&xoa
was publilhed by authority. ,

" Before the arrival ot oar ten En^lifh men of war at Barbadoci^
the French bad enteruined a dcGgn ot attacking Kevis with a bod^ of
4000 men, which they intended to hare drawn out of MartinicOy
Guadeloupe, and St. Cbriflopher's, and 1500 Indiana; but
accident intercepted a floop, fent by lieutenant-general Willoughby
to the governor of Nevis, with intelligence that within ten days the
ten (hips fliould be fent him, together with all neceflary fupplies, the
Fiench, by a miftake, apprchenaing the fhips were to arrive the nexl
day, deiifled from the further profecution of their defign. The ten
flups arriving at Ntvis, the commander-in-chief having taken order
for the fecarity of that iflaod, fent away fix of his fhips to Gua4e*
loopCf wiiere they took and brought awav with them eight French
«lhips. By this time the French having received aa additional f)r«ngth
from France, of fix men of war, befidesfour Dutch men of war newly
flfffifed trom Surinam, they revived their old defign of attempting

L t Ncviii

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the aftion had continued for fome hours» with thegteateft
fuiy on both fides^ the Engliih* by a Ikilful manoeuvre,
weathered the enemy. The adion was now renewed,
if poiTible, with greater obftinacy than before^ till in the
end the eneniy were obliged to take (belter under the
town of BafTe Terre*, having had an almoft incredible
pumber of their men killed and wounded, and their (hips
miferably torn and difabled. In this long conteft the
Englifh are faid to have had no more than twenty-four
men killed and twenty-eight wounded, and only one (hip,
not 'indeed belonging to the fouadron, but a merchant
vefTet of Briftol, who, endeavourmg to adift in the aAion,
. took fire from the flaih of her own guns, and was blown
up. In her, moft of the feamen, and thirty foldiers, who
were put on board as a reinforcement to her crew, unfor-
tunately perifhed. But this melancholy accident is by no
means to be taken as diminifhing the limre of this adion,
which has been extravajgantly magnified by fome, as well
in refpeA to the lofs fuftained by tne enemy t, as to other


Nevii, and fitted up a fleet of thirty-two fail, whereof tweoty ncie
ihips of con(iderabIe force ^ of wnicb the Englifh commander at
Nevis being advertifed, he ^tttdently refolved, with the addition of
Ibme men drawn out of the ifland, whkb he put on board hie (hipi,
to engage them, as he accordingly did, with that fucceft, that after a
. (harp dupute he chafed them home to St. Chriftopher's; which done
he returned again to Nevis; and having received a recruit of fix hun*
dred frefli men, Tent him by lieutenant-general Willoughby, he
. formed the refolution of finding out the enemy and engtting them
in their own barboars: but they having intelligence of bis defign,
confulted their own (afety, and prevented him by getting away-*-*
N.B. to Martinico."— Gazette, No. 184.

* St. Chriflopher's, then in the enemy's pofleflion.

f Campbell relates, '** that as commodore Berry failed round the
PBUft of the ifland of Nevis, one of his 6eft (hips blew up, which
nriking his men with aflonifhment, he is reported to have faid,
** Now you ktKoeften an Eng!i/hjk^ blow itp, lei us try if we cannot 6lom
Irp Frenchmen -, there they are, and if we do not heat them they will beeU nr .**
And further, after having driven the enemy under St. Chriftopher'f
that he feot in a firelhip and burnt the French admiral. On this occa*
fion he exultingly exclaimed, ^' I told you in the mornings thatwcjheuld
hum a Frenchman before night ; to-morrow we will try what zae can do
nnth the refi^ But, while he was refitting his (hips, the enemy wifely
ftole away, the French to Martinico, the JDutch to Virginia.** There
if a note infcrtcd in Campbell's Memoirs of him, containing an ex-


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ciitnimftuices relative to it. The account ♦c^havc juft
eiven of it we confcientioufly believe to be corred. Sir
John Harman arriving in the Wed Indies on the eighth of
Tune foUo\lring, took upon him the command ; and virhen
he failed from Nevis in fearch of the French fquadron>
kft o^mmodore Berry behind to prote& our iflands from
any defultory attack that might be attempted by the enemy
from any unexpeded quarter. Captam Berry returned
to Europe in the autumn. In the year 1668 he was ap-
pointed captain of the Pearie, and fent to the Streights in
the month of June 1669^ under the command of fir Tho-
mas Allen, who was difpatched thither, with a powerful .
fleet, fpr the purpofe of overawing, and reducing the
Algerines to reafon. On the 7th of September, being on
a cniiie oifFcape Tenes, in company with the Portland,
and Nonfnch, they fell in with a large Algerine frigate,
which the Pearl immediately engaged, the Portland and
Nonfuch keeping their wind for the Durpofe of inter-
cepting her, if (he ihould attempt to efcape by the fame
manoeuvre. The conteft was long and obftinate ; during .
which the Pearl had only two men wounded, notwith*
(landing fbe had taken the lee gage in order to prevent the
corfair's cfc^pe. At length &e Nonfuch and Portland
bore down to her affiftance, perceiving the Algerine had
received fo much damage as prevented her from bying
clofe to the wind, if (he (hould attempt it. The conteft
was now brought to a very fpeedy iiiue, by forcing on
flioie and burning their antagonift, which was called the
Giit Lime-tree, and mounted thirty-(ix guns. Captain
Berry had afterwards confiderable (uccefs in taking and
retsdcing feveral vefTels of inferior confequence to the
foregoing. In 1670 he was promoted to the Nonfuch;
and ftill continuing in the Mediterranean, diligently jper*
formed every thing that could be expected from an adtive
I . . »^. I.I ,

trad from the Pkilofophicil Tranradi^nt, relative to a tornado wkich
took place on tbe i9tb of Aagufl, and which captain Berry, by attend*
ing to the advice givep him by a captain Laylbrd, happily ercapr<i tbe
ill effeds of. Campbell infers, thea^Uon above alluded toiooR place
about that rime ; but the fa^ really is, it happened three monim be*
fore. Captain B is, in the Philot Tranf (tiled fir John, but he did *
not receive the honour of knighthood till five years afterwards

Sec J.owUiorp>i Abricig. Philof. Trtfif. Vel. 11. p. 106.
L 3 and

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and atteni^v^ officer, in a fervice, where a tmot being
concIudecKwith the corfairs, nothing farther was oxpe&ed»
than preventing them » byacarefulprotedionof our c<W)«
merce, from committing any depredation on it . In 1 67 1 he
removed into the Dover, and returned to England* On
the projpcA of a Dutch war, in 167a, he wal appciotcd
to the Gloucefter, but was quickly removed into the Re^^
folution, as we find him commanding her, with a nc^uta-
tion every way confonant to her nam«> at tho battle. of
Solebay, infomuch that he received, on this occafidn, the
honour of l^ighthood, with the following compltmeot
from king Charles the Second* '^ As our thoughctf^have
been now upon honour, wc will hereafter think of .proBt ;
for I would not have fo brave a man a. poor knifht^'*
Campbell reports, ** that in this battle, captain Berry
obferving his royal highnefs the duke of York very hara
prefTed, left his flation and came in to his relief, where
the fervice proved fo hot, that in leis than -two! hours, he
had no fewer than one hundred-and-twenty men killed^
as many more wounded, and his (hipfcarcely able to flomt:
upon this he was towed out of the line, flopped his leakfl^
and fell into his ftation again in an hour." Thidfe parti-
culars we are much inclined to credit, in confequcnce of
the high efiimation in which he was ever afterwards held
b^ the duke of York. Abhough thele very honounble
circumflances of valour do not appear in the account of
the adton publifbed by authority, which fimply ftates that
** bis roytu highnefi continued on his tuay, attcndei by ibt
Phctnix i'head and the Fairfax and ViSary a-Jiemy ttii ^ter^
viardSf capthin Berry in the-ReJobiticny andjir Fm Holies in
the Cambridge i came aljo a^hetid, but were both,on dif^
abled,** On the loth of March 1672-3, he captured^
about 80 leagues to the weftward of Scilly, a very large
Dutch privateer, of thirty guns. In the a<5Vi0n which
took place on the a8tb of May following, between prince
Rupert and De Ruyter, he particularly Hgnalized himfelf«
His (hip, together with the Cambridge, commanded by
captain Herbert, afterwards earl of 1 or€ington> being io
much difabled, that they were fent into port by the prince,
though at that time his force was inferior to that of the
enemy. On ihe 9th of March 1674-5, he was appointed,
by king Charts, to command the Swallow ; and, on the


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NAVAV «»FIC^M P^ aRSAT ^]t!tAIK. Ift

aBtU of April f(|lbving removed into the Briftol. He*
(idled foon afterwards for the S(reighU« aS we find him.
djciv^n into Genoa, together with two (hips under his
convoy^^in a violent gale of wind, on the nth of De-
^^caber foUowine, Retifrning from thence, he was feot,
lb thie^iiviotb of January 1676-7, with a few frigates, aodt
a fmali body of land forces, to Virginia, which colony
tjic Indian! had, a little time before, given confiderable
diihirbance to. But thefe commotions had, in a grea^
pieafure^ fubfi^ied, before fir John arrived. On the 71!^
of Jaamry 1677-8, he was appototed to cotuinand the
Preackioiight, and fcnt to Tangier as convoy to a rein*^
forcement of troops, in the month of April 1679. M<J
{ailed from Kinfale, with five (hips und'^r his commandi
QD the 23d of May, and arrived in the Downs, on !iL»
ntuim from the Streights, with a fleet of merchant-ihips
under his convoy, on the t4th of Auguft follov^ing. Oi*
the 27th of January 1679-80, he was app lintcd to the
I^eopardj and a^ain failed for the Stieighis in the montf
l^f Mai'ch enfuing. He contioued in the Mediferrar
Qeao for a confidmble time, for in the month of Odo^
i^r we find him convoying fome merchant-lhips froiA
Smyrna to Malaga. The precife tln>e of his return !s
fioi known, nor have we any thing further to communi-
iale relative to him till the 8th of April 1682, when he
9m appointed commander of the Glouccller, the (hip
;Wfiich, in the month following, wa<^ appointed to attend
Agtjftlke.of York, who had refolved to go to Leiih by
Je^. Siir John Berry was the comnfiodore of this fmaj
i<)iudron^ confuting of four or five frigates ; an appoinb-
Bicnt fcarcely worth notice, but o . account of the fatal
.accident which befel that (bip on her paifage, and which
ias been very unjuftly made the ground of much obl.quy
'thrown on ur John, by authors*, and hidorians of that
defeitption, who appear to delight mod ih aggravating
misfortune and inhancing diftreis, by the pn^poga'i'^n of
calumny. In refutation of wbivh, as well as in juftice to
fir Jphnj we have fubjoined a lull account of tliis unfof-

• Burnet and otbers.

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tunateaecident, as publifhed by authority*, together with
that given of it by the good and learned bifnop, utrum


* The (hip beat along the fand, not firting fafi; vhile our rother
lield wc bore away weft, and upon tvtty lilt of the Tea went off; at
hA a terrible blow ftrtick off the rother, and, as waa believed, finxfc
oat a plank nigh the poft, as the fhip made eight feet water io an tn«
fiant : upon which fir Jdin Berry humblv defired his royal highoefii
tp have his barge boified out, to preferve his royal perfon, which his
Bi^bnefs was oawilling to confeiu to, hoping, as fir John did, the ibip
saight be faved i but the water encreafinr (although we employed ail
our pumps and materials for bailing) ana do maaoer of hope bcsaj|
left, fir Joho did again, with all manner of earneflnefs, requeft bu
royal bigbnefsto gp off in his boats to the yachu; to which bis royal
highnefs confenting, the barge was hoiflcd out, ttid his royal highneft
took as many perfons of quality with him in the boat asJhtamUcarry'^
the government of the wip being now loft, and every one crying est
for bclp. Yet, amidft all this diforder and confufion, the great dnty
and concern which the ppor feamen had for bis royal highnefs's pre^
fervation, was mod remarkable \Jor when ike barge toot Soijiti cut and
kmertddown into the water ^ not one manfo wmck as offered to mn intd ker^
kmi in tku tkeif trouMe and dying condition, did thank God kit mat
^knefs mas pnferved. His rcyal kigknefi keing gone into tke faary
yaickt^ ordered all tke yacku to anckor^ and to send off TH£ia
aoATS, in the mean time the Glouccfter dill beat on the fand, the
water encreafing as high as the gun deck : h<)wever the lifting of the
fea forced her off the land, and Uie went into fifteen fathom water be-
Ibre we rould let go our anchor, which proved the lofs of many poor
mens lives, the water encreafing fo faft, that it was three feet above
the gun deck ke/hre *we endeaxMmred tofyme our/elves^ She funk fio faft^
that h- foie the boats could takeout tne men, although tkerewaigreai
diligence ufed, the fhip was under water, and feveral menperilbed with
bcs fir John Berry hardly efcaping, by a rope over the Aern, into
eapiain Wyborn's boat. ALt the perfons oif quality are faved, ex-
cept the earl of Roxburgh, the lord 0*Brien, the laird Hoptoo, fir
Jofeph Doug la fs, and Mr. Hide, who zoitk feveral of tke duk^sfer^
vaniSf and one hundred and thirty feamen, are loft." — The account
given by Burnet is, that *' The duke got into a boat, and took care
of his dog«, and fome unknown perfons who were taken, from tint
earncft care of his, to be his prieus. Tke long boat went efwiik ^fery
iew in Aer^ tkougkjhe ndgkt kave carried eigkty more tkanjke did. One
T^undred and fifty perfons perilhed, fome of them men of great quality."
V^hen we confider the Complexion of the i^oud biibop's politics, and
retain in our mind?, fbat the account firil given was publiQied by tbe
authority of government, which certainly would have been very cau*
tious in Hating any ihing, fo near home, in which it was likely to un*
dcrgo the difgrace of being contradi^ed, we Ihall not long befiiate
whkh of the two we are to pay the grraiefl credit to. From the fame
M^OQntt, we alfo fee the flory of fir John relktive to bis having flood

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kmm moMij ^e^f for the hiftoriaii and the Gaxittttr
are by no means in the (ame ftory. It not being pofliUe
Ibr the moft inveterate malice to impute any (hare ofolame^
in the lofs of this fliip, to fir John, he was, on the 1 5th of
June in the fame year, appointed commander of the Hen-
hetta, and failed from the Downs, on the 3d of Sept«n-
ber fbllowiog, for Tangier, with a convoy, and arrived
fjnm thence on the i8th of November. He failed again
{or Tangier early in the enfuii^ ^'i'^S' ^^^ arrived in
the Downs, in his return, on the 5th of Jime following.
On the 23d of Auguft he failed from Plymouth as fecond
in command of the fleet fent out, under the command of
lord Dartmouth, to difmantie the city of Tangier,'
which was at length found,, by king Charles, not worth
the expence of dletending any longer, a^infl the reiterated
attacks of the Moors.. The demolition of the works
being fpecially entnifted to the earl of Dartmouth, the
temporary command of the fleet, and, confequently, that
of embarcing the inhabitants and their ttkctSy devolved
upon fir John« He acquitted himfelf in this troublefome
KTvice, with fo much attention to the people, and fatif.
fiidion to the king, that he is faid to have been made a
commiflioner of the navy immediately on his return,
which happened in the month of April 1684. Soon
after the acceflion of king James, fir John was one of the
perfons chofen, by that monarch, 'as additional commif-
uoner, on whofe **fijU andxnpimnu^' as Campbell ex-
prefies it, he could depend for the radical reform of
thofe numerous abu£sa that had found their way into the
management of the navy during the preceding reign. He
was alfo, on the 30th of June, .again appointed to com-
mand the Henrietta. The high lervice rendeied by the
new commiflioner is apparent from the excellent ftate'to
^ich the royal navy was raifed at the time of the revo*
lution. On 4he firft rumour of the invafion, fir John
Berry was appointed, on the 24th of September 1680, to
ferve as rear-admiral of the fleet; and on. the 13th of
* - ' ■ ■ ■

in the ftcrn of che boat, with his fword drawn, to prevent the men from
crowdios in, and which is admitted by Campbell, is equally unfounded*
Campbell appears alfo to be mtfinformed m faying three buodred per*
fbas periflied with ths fliip.


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O^dbr {oliiMngf win pfMMdi to 1^ idcft^toUtl <(
Itl^ rame fleets und^r th^ loti OMtmQiulh# He h^UWdt
hk dug 00 board the Eii»ihethf % third Me# He hiA
ieen p«iri<Hifl): nuich CMfiittd by the.kui|> diirihg thct
fiifi^ fir Roger Stfiiskland held d^ cctmoasid $ and the ad*
vke given by him# Ihewedac onee tie ioUdity of iua
|udgin<iiit^ and his h^neft attact^nt to his^ryvmiy Sbve«
feign* After the tandiog of king Wittlaoiy awt the tq«.
<^remem of the lord X>airtniQulht» the: chief coauAand «f
tjhe fleet devolved uo(^ bim« * TJuBhccmlixwsitobcidf
ii\ Ae fieverity of the ieafon reftdenedibe di%>erfion of thd
4ee.t| to the feVvral dock«>yardii, neceiffiuy^ in order (er
^quip for the approachinp ivafi vith Fxancef whtdi
tta* ooW| 1)y conibioo opinibn» deemed ineTiiaUe* We
l^ehold. in the condu^ of lie. JohnJSecry, wthis QccafieOf
thegenuiee chara£bep of A patrioti .and a. man 6f hoiuaif^
On Qfte hajidr he defected hot the canfe of the fpvereifQ
Ifvlio h^d rjaifed him Co the elovaited cahk he dien faoze ; ral
on theoth^fi he fuSdrelnotthegfiUitude.diieito a paitron
to glofs over the political erimea c£ lit daliti(|iieiit aM>«
tmnciif ot indtice hifii*te^fo^thiaiiiifLdtityto.thecountrjr
which' gave himbirtht .Faithful fe )iisi^roft> while be
IvholieAoived ii remained: feithful tohimfelf^ he was evev
ready to.affift hiJH, with his beft advice, iandpfomotehia
inteteft by his perifonaL (ervioe. When atlaft, that per#
fonege^ obftinate in errofi who^ as a tilan» he certaiid|
loy^di would not be xedaimed by a4yite> warned 1^ ex*
' emplei or deterred by impending danger; he then 1^ hin|
(q ihofe future miierjea his condwQ b^ brcaiAhtapon liinii
aid quitted the jGerviqe of tbe fovereign whole aseafiiies he
difkpiproved^ but whomi he. hadi^too nkuch^rtueto h^cayi
His known integrity^ hi^ fpodels ckarader^ and, pep«
bapAi above ally nif recent fair, apji prudent briiaviour in
th« i:rbit:al hour of .-political ferment, procured him the
knu^diate^ favour of king WiUiam/who wa&himfetf rod
ttHi^h a jTua of bouour, not to adtnire the fteady virtui
even of a deQlared:£o$. He is laid to have twtinued Unl
in the agpointipcnt oj €onimi£ioner o f the turuyf which he had
held fri tn.e preceding reign : of this piece, of private hif-
tOfy we entertain (bme doubts; but W-e find him, imme-
diately after the revolmion, comptroller of the vlBuallmg
accounts* His known experience, prpdeA0Q,.and integrity^


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\teA hmt^M honour of being' very frequently coo-

ilted by his (.new fovereigo. Once in {>afticulsir» at
Campbell i^eports^ the king was engaged with him in fob
dofe and eaivieft a converfationy that it took up the whoto
tught ; and fir John, was not difoiiiied the royal clofet till
il was pretty far advanged in the iDOrning. Tiiefe matkt
of royal atteotion might ^e. vf ry Mattering to him as 4^
anan* bqt they were not jprpdu<Hive of any thing further
dian mere honour ; thoie appointments* he had enjoyed
in the beginning of the reign^ be continued to retain^
without experieiiciiig any further promotion, or being
again called into the line of adkive feivice. His deaths
which happened on the 14th of February 1691, is fajd to
have been attended by many myllerious circnmiUnces
which have never yet been developed. He hud been or»
dered to Portfmouth early in the month of February^ to
pay off fome (hips there ^ and while on tK>ard otne of
them, was fuddenly taken ill. Being carried on (hore, it
was reported he had died of a fever ; but the phyficiaos
and furgeonsy who wene prefent at opening the body* dC'*
glared he did jtKt die a natural death, b»it bad b^tn taken
off by poifon ; by whom, or for what reafon> is not known.
This is the account given by Campbell of his deaths
£ut when we confider the high eftimation in which he
was univerfally heM by all ranks of people, as well as the
inoffenftvenefs and complacency of his manners both iJi
his public. oorupations and his private life, we are led. to '
hope, for the honour of mankind, the opinion given bjr
the phyficiaos was ill founded, and that the appearances, 00
opening the body, were produced by the violent eSkSts of
an highly inflammatory natural diforder, inilead of ihe fatal
coniequences of an artificial one, moft wickedly raifed*
His corpfb was, according to his own diredioo, removed to
London, and decently interred in the chancel of Stepn^,
church, where a monument has fmce been ere£^ed to his

Online LibraryJohn CharnockBiographia navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the navy of Great Britain, from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement → online text (page 17 of 45)