Henry How Douglas


Henry How Douglas, born 27 October, bapt. at Salwarpe, co. Worcester, 21 November 1858; died at Poona, India, on Wednesday, 3 September 1890

Naval Cadet 15 July 187 1, Sub-Lieutenant 27 October 1877, Lieutenant 20 September 1880;

From a biography in MSS. written by his Mother for her children we take the following extracts:

In the Naval Cadet Examination 1871 he came out fourth. His father obtained a nomination for him, & he joined the Britannia on 31 August in that year. “ On July 19th, 1873 Harry came home having passed out 2nd from the Britannia, & gained his promotion to Midshipman and a year’s service. He brought three prizes, a handsome desks mother-of-pearl inkstand, & a ‘certificial horizon,’ a midshipman’s dirk being also given him as having been chief captain, best of all he brought away a very high character in all respects.’’ He was then 15 years old. He was appointed to the “” Bellerophon” through the good oflices of Admiral Wellesley whose flagship it was, to be on the North America station, & there he remained until 1877, when he passed his examination for 2nd Lieut. In 1878 he was appointed to the “ London ” “ which was stationed at Zanzibar for putting down the slave trade. While ther he got very interested in the Universities Mission, which his brother Arthur afterwards joined.

We now quote from a copy of a letter he wrote to Captain Earle—188o.


Pinnace of HMS 'London' chasing a slaving dhow
Pinnace of HMS 'London' chasing a slaving dhow ©

I have the honour to inform you that on Friday the 16th Inst., whilst cruising in the Steam Pinnace off Pemba for the suppression of the Slave Trade, I observed the Dhow at about 9.30 a.m. standing in from westward. Thinking that she could not weather three islets, the wind being southerly, I ran down past Mapanga Island to cut her off she passed through Kokota Gap. As I rounded the Eastern point of Kashani Island , I lost sight of her. I steamed up along the island & discovered her ashore on the sandy beach on the south western extreme of Kashan Island . I anchored the Steam Pinnace off the reef, and landed with interpreter at the Dhow. After searching her, I found no signs of having carried slaves. The captain of the Dhow informed me, he had tried to beat through the gap between Kashani & Vikunguni Islandi, as it was high tide, & he could get over the reef, but failed in his attempt & consequently ran ashore.
I then looked for foot marks on the sand, but the rain washed traces of them away. I then left her, & went out to the Steam Pinnace. We weighed anchor, & proceeded down to Mapanga to the steam cutter which was lying there, (according to orders from the senior officer Pemba ). I was at anchor off Mapanga till about 4 p.m., when I proceeded to Vikunguni Islands , where I was ordered to anchor for the night. Observing the Dhow again as I passed, I thought her proceedings were of very suspicious nature. So after I anchored I landed again by the Dhow in the Dingy with the Interpreter & Leading Stoker Wilson leaving hand in charge of the Dingy. We then made a more thorough search in her, but found nothing by which I could detain the Dhow; the captain and the crew were having tea on the beach at the time.

We then proceeding in shore, & found a track, which led passed some fishermen’s huts; but no one was there except one old man, who would, or could, tell us nothing.

were returning to the boat, when L.S. WIison discovered another small track, which led in a different direction. We followed this up for some distance & found that it led into thick bush. We had difficulty in following it, as the track was very small & indistinct, and the bushes overhead made it very dark. However we managed to keep on it (we had to crawl on hands & knees for some distance, & it was fearfully and and wet work, as it had rained all day) and eventually discovered fourteen slaves with some Arabs in the middle of the bush.

We were within a yard of the Arabs before they ran off, but could not catch  them & were afraid to fire on account of the slaves, who were running towards us from all sides. We left the slaves in charge of the interpreter; & Wilson & I went further on to see if we could come on the track of the Arabs; but failed to do so on account of the darkness, as it was past sunset. We then returned with the slaves to the Dhow; and I sent the leading stoker on board the Pinnace at once, to get up steam, and ran down to the steam cutter, which we had left at Mapanga, to tell her to cruise about all night, & prevent any communication between the fishing canoes & Kashani Island. I then put the slaves & three of the the Dhow on board (the captain & the other two of the crew having rum away); & at about p.m., I went with three hands to the fishermen’s huts to see if the Arabs had taken shelter there, as it was raining in torrents; but could find no trace of them, so returned to the Dhow.  We stopped on shore till high tide about 10 p.m. to get the Dhow off the leach; but failed to do so, as the tide did not come up high enough. So leaving three hands well armed in charge of the Dhow the remainder returned to the Pinnace for the night. (We had a very uncomfortable night as everything was wet, & we were very crowded having seventeen more hoard than usual). The next morning at daylight, I landed with L.S. Wilson & with two of the three hands already on shore, we went off into the bush to try and find the Arabs, and two slaves who were missing (sixteen having been landed altogether). Wilson & I took one direction following the same track as the previous evening, & the interpreter & the two hands went off another way. In about two hours Wilson & I were startled by some men rushing off just ahead of where we were. The bush was too thick to see them, though they were about two yards off.  This we could see from the hushes moving. We pursued them for some distance, but could not find them; so determined to collect all the men together, & follow them up into the eastern corner of the island. We returned to the Dhow, as it was nearly high tide, & would want all hands to get her off the beach. We succeeded at last in doing so, & anchored her off the Pinnace. We then landed again with two of the crew of the Steam Cutter, &  in the course of the day were fortunate enough to capture one Arab, & Swahili man both owning one or more of the slaves. We returned to the Pinnace about 3.30 pm. & took the Dhow in tow down to Mesal Island .
On the way we discovered the Captain of the Dhow swimming between Mapanga & Kashani Islands , & brought him on board. The next morning I left the Dhow in charge of Launch No. 6, & proceeded to rp to the Senior Officer at Pemba .

For this exploit Henry got his Lieutenancy age of 21. The following letter was received by his father from Sir A. Cooper Key:

My dear Sir,
I am not quite sure of your proper address, but I write to tell you that we promoted your son Henry H. Douglas to Lieutenant, in consequence of his conduct in rescuing slaves on the east coast of Africa . I have had much pleasure in furfhering his promotion, as I formed so, high opinion of  his character, when he served under my flag in the Bellerophon,

Very faithfully yours,
A. Cooper Key

After this, he sailed with the reserve squadron the Baltic for a summer cruise. The flag ship Hercules was commanded by the Duke of Edinburgh, consequently they had a very gay voyage. Most of the rest of his naval work was surveying, a good deal in Chinese Waters, and he became a 1st class assistant surveyor in 1888.

He married Winifred, daughter of the Rev. Ruggles Fisher, Rector of Lyston, on Tuesday, 9th February 1888. He died at Poona, India , on Wednesday 1st September 1890, suddenly of typhoid.

The handsome memorial cross over his grave cemetery at Poona was put up at their own request by his brother officers of the “Investigator.” There is a memorial brass to his memory in the Chancel of Salwarpe Church.

Adrfion (sic) (?administration) granted in the Principal Registry 6 December 1890, to Winifred Douglas, relict.

 He had issue:
1.  Henry, born and died in the winter of 1888.

2.  Winifred Mary, born at Falmouth , Cornwall on Sunday 27 October 1889, baptized at Salwarpe, died 12 June 1898, and buried at Salisbury cemetery.

The widow of Lt. Henry How Douglas RN married secondly Colonel A. E. Leslie of of the Indian army.
He died, and she married thirdly, 2 July 1913 Arthur Henry Dopping Creagh

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