Rear Admiral Peter John Douglas R.N.
PETER JOHN DOUGLAS was born 30 June, 1787. His father, Admiral
Billy Douglas, who died in 1817, commanded the STATELY 64, at the reduction
of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1795, and afterwards at the surrender of the Dutch
squadron in Saldanha Bay, 17 Aug. 1796.
This officer entered the Navy, 17 Jan. 1797, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the
AGAMEMNON 64, Capt. Robt. Devereux Fancourt; and during the next six years
served, on the Channel, Cape of Good Hope, and North Sea stations, chiefly as
Midshipman, in the FIRM 12, Capt. Patrick Campbell, SANDWICH 98, Capts. Billy
Douglas and A. Guyott, THESEUS 74, Capt. John Bligh, ENDYMION 40, Capts. Philip
Chas. Durham and Henry Garrett, CONCORDE 36, Capts. Robt. Barton and John Wood,
JUPITER 54, Capt. Geo. Losack, and GALYKHEID and RUBY 64's, flag-ships of
Rear-Admiral Edw. Thornbrough.
In March, 1804, he was appointed Acting-Lieutenant of the BEAVER 18, Capt.
Chas. Pelly; and for his conduct in proceeding up the river Elbe with the boats
of that sloop, and capturing five vessels which had forced the blockade, he was
confirmed, 11 June following, into the SURVEILLANTE 38, Capt. John Bligh, at
Jamaica. On next joining the FRANCHISE 36, Capts. Hon. John Murray and Chas.
Dashwood, we find him frequently landing at Curaçoa, where he received a
lasting injury in the foot from the receding of a gun, while in the act of
dragging it up a steep acclivity, 20 June, 1805. On 25 Oct. following Mr.
Douglas commanded one of the ship's boats at the capture, on the north side of
Jamaica, of Le General Ferrand privateer, of 1 gun and 2 swivels; and, on the
night of 6 Jan. 1806, he had charge of the barge, and elicited the highest
approbation for his promptitude and gallantry, as second in command under Lieut.
John Fleming, at the taking, in Campeachy Bay, of El Raposa Spanish corvette,
carrying (besides swivels and co-horns) 12 guns and 75 men, which, after an
obsti-nate conflict of 10 minutes' duration, and &-loss to the enemy of 5
men killed and 26 wounded, was boarded and carried by the British, who, in three
boats, with 64 men, of whom only 7 were wounded, had also to contend against a
brig of 20 guns, a schooner of 8 guns, and seven gun-vessels.
Being among the wounded on the latter occasion, Mr. Douglas was presented by
the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund with a sword valued at 50 guineas. Prior to leaving the
FRANCHISE he further served in the boats at the capture of El Carmen Spanish
schooner, on being sent to cruize in which vessel he succeeded in making two
prizes, and in driving an armed vessel on shore. When afterwards detached in the
BRUTUS, a prize schooner of 1 gun and 30 men, he engaged, 1 July, 1806, and beat
off, with a loss on his own side of 7 men wounded, two of the enemy's vessels
(the larger mounting 5 guns, with a crew of 60 men) which had been sent from
Curaçoa for the express purpose of re-capturing the BRUTUS.
After serving for three months on board the LARK 18, Capt. Fred. Langford,
Mr. Douglas was re-warded for his gallantry at the capture of El Raposa by being
promoted to the acting-command, 9 Oct. 1806, of the SHARK 18, bearing the flag
at Jamaica of Vice-Admiral Jas. Rich. Dacres. Previously, however, to the
receipt of his Commander's commission, which bears date 17 Feb. 1807, he appears
to have been again employed, from March to July in that year, as Lieutenant and
Acting-Commander, in the FERRET 18, Capt. Hon. Geo. Cadogan. Assuming at length
the official command, on 24 of the following Aug., of the. REINDEER 18, Capt.
Douglas had the good fortune to capture four privateers within as many months.
He subsequently served under Capt. Chas. Dashwood at the capture, towards the
close of 1808, of the town of Samana, St. Domingo-made prize, on his passage to
England, of La Mouche French man, of war schooner, 9 March, 1809-and co-operated
with Commodore Owen's advanced division in the East Scheldt during the ensuing
expedition to the Walcheren.
Having returned to the West Indies, he was there promoted to the command, 26
Nov. 1811, of the POLYPHEMUS 64, which ship he brought home and paid off 16 Nov.
1812. From that period Capt. Douglas was unable to re-procure employment until
19 Jan. 1836, when he commissioned the MELVILLE 74, and hoisted the flag of
Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Halkett, Commander-in-Chief in North America and the West
Indies, on whose promotion to the rank of full Admiral he returned to England in
On 30 March, 1838, he was next appointed Commodore of the second class on the
Jamaica station, with his broad pendant in the MAGNIFICENT 74. In Nov. following
he was nominated Commodore of the first class; and being sent in command of a
large squadron to the Gulf of Mexico, for the purpose of mediating between the
French and Mexican governments, had the fortune to effect an amicable adjustment
of their differ-ences, for which service he was rewarded with the approbation of
the Admiralty. He afterwards, during the intervals occasioned by the premature
deaths of Vice-Admirals Sir Chas. Paget and Sir Thos. Harvey, officiated, from
29 Jan. to 24 May, 1839, and from 28 May to 1 Oct. 1841, as Commander-in-Chief
on the North America and West India station.
In acknowledgment of his services Commodore Douglas-who also received an
address from the merchants and a vote of thanks from the House of Assembly at
Kingston, besides a letter in his favour to Lord Stanley from Sir Chas.
Metcalfe, the Governor-in-Chief-was allowed to return to Spithead with his red
pendant flying, which he ultimately hauled down on 7 Nov. 1341. He has not since
He married Lydia, eldest daughter of Vice-Admiral Sylverius Moriarty, by whom
he has issue, with four daughters, two sons, of whom the eldest, William
Manners Wellington, is a Commander R.N. His eldest daughter is wife of Capt.
Win. Campbell Onslow, Superintendent of Coorg, in the East Indies; his second,
of Robt. Pollock, Esq., second son of the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; and
his third, of Alex. Henry Gordon, Esq., of the Indian Navy.
Born on 30 Jun 1787 in Portsmouth, England. He died on 17 Dec 1858 in
Southsea, Hampshire, England. He married Lydia MORIARTY on 13 Apr 1809 in
Chatham, kent, England.
They had the following children:
There is a memorial to him and Lydia in St Andrew's Church, Hamble, Hampshire,
'Sacred to the memory of/Lydia, the beloved wife of Vice Admiral
Peter John Douglas/who died at Southsea August 2nd [or 4th] aged 69 years/Also
Vice Admiral Peter John Douglas who died December 17th 1858/aged 71'
great grandson, Colin Langslow Douglas, son of Onslow Gordon Douglas and Kate
Douglas, of Launceston, Tasmania, was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.
1. The Lloyd's Patriotic Fund issued 15 swords worth 30
pounds each, to midshipmen, masters' mates and Royal Marine lieutenants. Also,
91 swords worth 50 pounds each went to naval lieutenants and Royal Marine
captains. It issued 35 swords worth 100 pounds each to commanders and naval
captains. In addition, it issued 23 swords worth 100 pounds each to 23 naval
captains who fought at Trafalgar. In addition, some 60 officers requested a
piece of plate of equal value instead of a sword. Lastly, a number of officers
opted for cash instead, either for themselves or to distribute to their crew.
One engagement might result in multiple awards. When a cutting-out party
from HMS Franchise captured the Raposa in 1806, naval lieutenants John Fleming
and Peter Douglas, and Lieutenant of Marines Mend, each received a sword worth
50 pounds, while Midshipman Lamb received one worth 30 pounds.