Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:39 pm 
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I am looking for instances of babies born on board warships.

So far we have had Henry Horatio Giles, who seems to have been born on board the Bellerophon in the Mediterranean six months after the Battle of the Nile, on 14th February 1799.

We have also had Maria Wall/Freeman, born in 1777 on a British Man of War in the Bay of Biscay - possibly on board HMS Worcester.

While researching Henry Horatio Giles, I came across Owen Nile Reardon Smith, supposedly born on board the Romulus at the Battle of the Nile. He checks out less well than Henry Horatio, as the Romulus was a frigate and was not at the Battle of the Nile. His 1861 census return (under the name Owen Riordean) simply states born at the River Nile, and his age puts his birth in 1801 or 1802. (I have checked and this is the same man - he is the grandfather of Sir William Reardon Smith, founder of the Reardon Smith shipping line.) I think the Romulus may have been used as a troop ship in the Mediterranean. Does anyone have info on her movements or on Riordan/Riordean/Reardon Smith?

The best documented birth seems to be Daniel Tremendous McKenzie, born on the Tremendous (believe it or not!) shortly before the Glorious First of June. Years later his claim for a Naval General Service medal for the action was allowed, and he is listed in the medal roll with a rating of 'Baby' at the time of the action. A 27 year old able seaman listed in the ship's muster, Daniel McKenzie, is presumably his father.

Other than that, documented instances seem hard to come by, although there are a quite a number of census entries where people have claimed to be born on board a warship.

Has anyone come across other mentions of babies born on board ship?

[Post edited 10/12/09 to correct the details about Daniel Tremendous McKenzie]

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:42 pm 
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Tony:

Frederick Lloyd, in his 1806 biography of Nelson, records the birth of a baby aboard Minotaur in the bay of Leghorn. The mother was a washerwoman and the father a seaman aboard the ship and their son was named Horatio Nelson. The events were narrated by a Colonel Tyrwhitt, who observed a little boy playing in Plymouth not long after Nelson's death, and heard his friends call him 'Nelson'. On further enquiry, the mother produced a baptism certificate from Leghorn, signed by Nelson and Sir William and Lady Hamilton. 'His Lordship, when he stood sponsor,' records Lloyd, 'promised, when he grew up, to give the boy a nautical education and put him to sea. When he sailed for England, he desired these poor people to write to him when they should be settled, but this, through ignorance, they had neglected to do.'

The upshot was that Colonel Tyrwhitt himself undertook the responsibility of the boy's education.

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:32 am 
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Tony,

In haste, but look at Jack Tar pages 176-8! We did find other instances that we were unable to use.

Lesley

http://www.adkinshistory.com


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:57 am 
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Hope I'm not breaching copyright, Lesley! Here are a few quotes from 'Jack Tar':

'Mary Campbell, whose parents were Thomas Watson and Mary Buek, was born at sea on board the 'Ardent' during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and spent her early years with her mother aboard navy ships.'

'Aaron Thomas noted in his journal 'A girl called Peg Robinson who lives with [William] Woodcock, a gunner's mate, had a premature birth this day.'' [12 July 1798]

'Two months later, Robert Bailey noted in his journal that 'Sept 4th The Wife of Wm. White a midshipman was delivered of a girl at 4 o'clock in the morning.'

Samuel Leech, in the frigate 'Macedonian' in 1812 mentions two more births: 'Sailing from Madeira, we next made St Michael's. At this place we had an increase to our crew in the person of a fine, plump boy - born to the wife of one of our men.....this birth was followed by another.' Soon after, 'all women were ordered home to England by a ship returning thither. Before this, one of our little Tritons had died, and found a grave under the billows, leaving its disconsolate mother in a state a little short of distraction. A man of war is no place for a woman.'

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:02 am 
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I wasn't going to quote anything because I would love everyone to go out and buy a copy or add it to their Christmas wish list. :) I hope the quotes prove enticing enough.

Lesley

http://www.adkinshistory.com


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:39 pm 
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Thank you Lesley and Anna. I don't know why I forgot to look in my copy :D of 'Jack Tar', nor why I forgot to list Horatio Nelson, born on board the Minotaur, and who you have mentioned before, Anna.

A more detailed account of the washerwoman's son, born on board the Minotaur, is found in the Naval Chronicle for December 1805 (vol 14), and includes the facts that the baptism had been at the British Factory Chapel, Leghorn, in July 1800, and was attested by the Clergyman, Rev. Mr. Cummins, and also that a public subscription was then being organised by 'Mrs. Admiral Sutton'. The level of detail makes it a very convincing story, but sadly there is no hint as to the surname of the family!

Quote:
BENEVOLENT TRAIT OF THE LATE LORD NELSON.

Plymouth, Nov. 13.

A MOST curious circumstance respecting the ever-to-be-lamented Lord Nelson, happened on Monday last : As Colonel Tyrwhitt, Vice Warden of the Stannaries, Cornwall, and Devon, was, with other gentlemen, looking through a telescope at the French prizes going up the harbour, he observed a fine little boy, of an open countenance, cheering with his play-fellows, and heard him several times called Nelson. This raised (on being often repeated) his curiosity to know who the boy was. Colonel Tyrwhitt went to his father's cottage, who was a quarry-man, and lived at Rusty Anchor, under the West Hoe. By this time the boy was returned, first appearing shy, but on a little conversation, this wore off, and the boy said, Lord Nelson was his godfather, but he was shot and killed the other day in a great battle. The Colonel then entered the hut, and found the father, who had lost a limb in the Minotaur, in the battle of the Nile, and his wife and four children, clean, though poorly dressed. Colonel Tyrwhitt then asked if the circumstance was true of Lord Nelson's being godfather to this little boy, and was answered yes : the mother then produced the certificate of his baptism, at the British Factory Chapel, Leghorn, July 1800, attested by the Clergyman, Rev, Mr. Cummins - and signed

EMMA HAMILTON,
WM. HAMILTON,

and BRONTE.

The child was named Horatio Nelson. His mother was washerwoman on board the Minotaur, of 74 guns, Captain Louis : when the child was born in the bay of Leghorn, his Lordship, Sir Wm. and Lady Hamilton, said they would stand sponsors. He had promised when the boy grew up to put him to sea, and give him a nautical education. But after the Peace of Amiens, these poor people, through ignorance, forgot (though desired by his Lordship when he sailed for England) to write him where they were settled. The Minotaur was paid off at this port, and the father of the boy, with his small pension and by hard work, contrived to maintain his family ever since. After talking over the circumstance of the intended kindness of Lord Nelson to this poor little boy, if he had known their situation and place of abode, Colonel Tyrwhitt, determined to follow up his Lordship's good wishes, has taken the boy as his protégé, and with his usual humanity had him directly clothed, and has put him to school, meaning to give him a regular nautical education to fit him for the naval service of his country. A little purse, by way of subscription for present purposes, has been opened under the patronage of Mrs. Admiral Sutton, which will no doubt be soon filled, out of respect to the memory of a Hero, beloved, admired, and almost adored, and whose memory will be cherished and entwined round the heart-strings of every lover of British naval virtue and heroism.

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:06 pm 
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Hello Tony, Anna,

I was in a hurry earlier, but one story that Anna didn't cite from Jack Tar was that of the baby Tommy Phelan. I think I've mentioned him in another thread, but his father and mother were both killed in battle, on board the Swallow, in 1812. This story was mentioned most of all by the reviewers of JT, and they obviously found it heartbreaking (which it is). The Daily Mail ran an excerpt of JT last year, and they gave his mother the name of, I think, Louisa, even though her name was not actually known. There must be family historians out there who can fill in a few gaps, as Tommy (who had been born on board the Swallow three weeks previously) survived the battle and was looked after by the seamen.

It's a fascinating topic, Tony, as I'm sure there are many stories slightly submerged in the archives and waiting to be rescued.

Lesley

http://www.adkinshistory.com


Last edited by Lesley on Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:45 pm 
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And for the goat's part in the story, you'll have to buy your own copy of 'Jack Tar'...

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:13 pm 
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Tony

Can you provide a bit more info. - i.e. what period you are interested in.

I have a little "trick" which might help develop this line of research.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:03 am 
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Mark, I was really interested in anything during Nelson’s time. I am looking for more examples that might tie in with other historical records that identify the individuals in later life. I am intrigued as to your 'little trick'...

Here are some of the census returns that caught my eye – either because of date and the ship concerned, or just because of the words used:

    William Brown born abt 1798 'on board of the old defence 74 guns' – The Defence took part in the Battle of the Nile in 1798. I love the way he refers to the ‘old Defence’, which was wrecked in 1811. This was the 1851 census, by which time the ‘new’ Defence, also a 74-gun ship, was now a prison hulk.

    Eliza Thorn abt 1797 ‘On Board H.M.S. Victory (Latitude Unknown), At Sea’ - This of course was Jervis’s flagship at Cape St Vincent that year.

    Susannah Johnson abt 1805 ‘Truely Off Boulogne On Boucer [Bouncer?] H M Ship, France’

    Mary Jones abt 1803 ‘Born in A Storm Going in H M S Halifax’

    Septimus Ocean Lamle abt 1804 ‘At Sea Off Coast of Spain On Board H M S Ocean’ - What a name!

    John Thomas abt 1804 ‘Between Torbay & Plymouth on board H M S Dreadnought’ – What a precise location!

    There was husband & wife in Brixham who both claimed to have been born at sea, although the husband seems a little unsure:
    William Sherry abt 1809 ‘On Board Either of H M Ships Caledonia or Hibernia Long & Lat Unknown’
    Mary Sherry abt 1810 ‘on board H.M.S. Defiance lat & long unknown’

    I liked this name:
    Mary A Passenger - living in Kensington in 1851, born abt 1807 'on board ship' – Was she disowned at birth?

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:52 am 
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Tony

Sorry - I didn't mean to get your hopes up - but you have obviously already found the "trick".

i.e. you can go into the census section of Ancestry.com and search in the "Parish or Place" field. (I think it is from the 1861 census on)

You can pick up on any individual word or words that have been put in that field.

At one end of the spectrum you can just search on "At Sea". From memory I think all the censuses had more than 2000 people who had included those words in their Place of Birth.

Then of course you can try things like "H M S" or "H M Ship". One day I was having a bit of fun and tried all the different seas and oceans and just about every search brought up some kind of result.

I did print out one or two examples at the time - I'll see if I can find them.

One thing I am sure you have realised is that the Ancestry.com records have many, many transcription errors in them. Names of ships etc. are sometimes way, way off.

Slightly off topic but I am sure I found somebody who had put "near the field of the Battle of Waterloo". The estimated birth year was 1816. That MIGHT be one of the ones that I printed out.

Please let us know any more interesting ones that you come up with.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:35 pm 
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Thanks for your post, Mark. The Ancestry.co.uk search has changed, and now does not work at all well for this kind of search. You can only search on a single combined 'birthplace' field, and it applies some sort of 'fuzzy logic' which completely messes up this sort of thing. The fact that you had had some success made me go back and have another look, and I found a link to 'Old Search', which works very much better, thank you!

You are right about the transcription errors. The examples I posted before are heavily corrected! The transcribers were obviously pretty well tuned in to British place names, but anything out of the ordinary completely threw them! Unfortunately it makes a search on a ship's name a bit of a waste of time!

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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:15 am 
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Tony

I don't have access to Ancestry.com on my home computer.

But I am pretty sure that if you search on Victory in the Parish/Place field it will bring up more results.

May not be the exact era you are looking for - but interesting nevertheless.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 5:43 pm 
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My great great great grandfather John Robert boon was born on board the hms talavera in 1819. I know nothing about this other than his father was a rope maker.


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 Post subject: Re: Born on board a British man of war
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:13 pm 
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The latest edition of the Nelson Dispatch has an article on the Naval General Service Medal which was awarded long after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. The youngest claimant (and recipient) was Daniel Tremendous McKenzie who was born in HMS Tremendous at the height of the battle of St Vincent.

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