Admiral Sholto Douglas, CB

1833 - 1913



The following is thought to be his naval service
Date from Date to Service
4 March 1856   Lieutenant in Calcutta, commanded by William King Hall, flagship of Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour, East Indies
(November 1856)   Lieutenant commander in Coromandel, East Indies (including 2nd Anglo-Chinese War)
27 February 1858   Lieutenant in Calcutta, commanded by William King Hall, flagship of Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour, East Indies and China (at capture of Peiho River forts)
21 August 1860 April 1864 Commander in Espoir (from commissioning at Plymouth until paying off at Plymouth), west coast of Africa
14 February 1870 21 August 1872 Captain in Malabar
21 August 1872 20 April 1874 Captain in Aurora (until paying off at Plymouth), 1873 detached squadron, then temporary flagship at Queenstown
(October 1875) May 1877 Captain in Achilles, Coast Guard, Liverpool
16 May 1877 1 April 1878 Captain in Resistance (from commissioning at Plymouth), Coast Guard, Liverpool

Nominated Rear-Admiral 24 May 1881 - or was this when he was nominated as a CB? Yes CB on this day, when a Captain - see London Gazette of this date.

He had a least two sons, his 2nd being Vice-admiral Sir Henry Percy Douglas. He was married to Maria Louisa Bickford, the only daughter of William Bickford, of Stonehouse, Devon.

He may have been appointed to Caledonia as a cadet in 1848.

His retirement was announced on December 27th ????

There was some form of 'disturbance' on board the Aurora, whilst Douglas was in command, resulting in 'several petty officers and able seamen, in the various messes, who,' as a result were 'dismissed the ship and disrated.'


Snippets for evaluation:

1867; es of late Admiral Sholto Douglas, CB, South- sea, Hants; m. 1896, Bessie
(d. 1938), yd of late J. Koran, St. John's, Newfoundland; one 5. ...
Times online and memorial inscription contribution = Admiral Sholto Douglas died 26th December 1913 and is buried in Highland Road Cemetery in Southsea with his first wife Maria and his son Frederick.

Snippets for evaluation:

On the 26th, (?1914) (died) aged 80, Admiral Sholto Douglas, CB ; had served with distinction in the Russian and Chinese Wars, and on the West Coast of Africa.

He was concerned about slavery - see his letter>>>


MAN WHO LIBERATED TWELVE HUNDRED SLAVES. The death is announced at the age of 80 at of Admiral Sholto Douglas, C.B. The deceased admiral entered the Royal Navy 1847, at the age of 14. He saw service during the Kaffir and Burmese wars, for which he received medals, and then, on ... 29 December 1913 - Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser


From The memories of Sir Llewelyn Turner


Amongst my many old naval friends — alas, I must add, amongst the few of them who survive — is my friend whose name heads this page, whose kind hospitality in her Majesty's ship Achilles, an iron-clad of 10,000 tons, it was my lot on different occasions to enjoy. I have special reason to recollect one occasion, as it was from this ship that I went to pay a visit to the house from which I subsequently carried off the lady who has shared my lot for nearly a quarter of a century, and whose love and affection probably did more than all other things combined to lead me through, what I was very far from singular in believing, was the " valley of the shadow of death " on several occasions. I had once piloted her parents through Carnarvon Castle, and made her acquaintance at a bazaar which I had been invited to open in St. George's Hall, Liverpool, at which she had a stall.

I had the pleasure of Captain Douglas' company at Parkia on different occasions. The admiral, as he now is, was born in 1833 (very juvenile in comparison to those of whom I have been writing). He joined the Navy in 1847, and was in the Kaffir War in 1853, when he received a medal (extra African-Burmah war 1854 medal) ; China during part of 1854 ; Baltic (war with Russia), 1874-5 ; China, Canton, Patshan, 1857 '; Pei-ho, 1858 (medal). He commanded the Espece on the west coast of Africa, from 1860 to 1864, engaged in suppressing the slave trade, and liberated over 1200 slaves. Captain Sholto Douglas commanded the troopship Malabar, the first ship that took troops to India through the Suez Canal. Subsequently he was captain of the Aurora, 50-gun frigate, in the Flying Squadron, and from 1875 to 1878, H.M.S. Achilles, and afterwards H.M.S. Resistance, iron-clads, with the internal arrangements of both which I was well acquainted. Captain Douglas passed through the grades of rear- and vice-admiral ; he attained that of admiral, and got the C.B., retiring in 1888.


From The Times, 18 April 1864
The screw steam gun-vessel Espoir, 5, Commander S. Douglas, from Sierra Leone February 4th, Goree, February 20th, Cape Verd Islands March 6th, and the Western Islands April 4th, arrived on Saturday morning in Plymouth Sound. When she left the station the Rattlesnake was at Sierra Leone, the Zebra at Cape Coast, the Speedwell, the Snake, and the Pandora in the Bights, and the Investigator at Lagos. The Espoir spoke on the 11th of April, in lat. 48 24 N., long. 15 40 W. the brig Eaglet, steering west; 14th, lat. 49 39 N., long. 11 17 W., the bark Juno, outward bound, and lat. 49 32 N., long. 11 40 W., a large steamer steering west. Off Fayal she encountered a heavy gale from the eastward, but sustained no damage.

The Espoir was commissioned at Devonport by Commander Sholto Douglas August 21,1860, and left England on September the 27th. On the coast she was first engaged up the River Gambia in settling native disputes. She then conveyed a portion of the troops wrecked in the Perseverance from Navy Island to Sierra Leone. During the passage fever broke out, and on arrival three-fourths of the ship's company were on the sick list; she therefore proceeded to the Bananas to recruit. On the 19th of November, 1860, off Gallinas River, she captured a Spanish brig, and subsequently, near Ascension, the bark Clara Windsor, with 750 slaves. The Espoir was occupied until July, 1861, in suppressing the slave trade. She was then engaged in escorting the Sunbeam up the Niger to Onitsha, and while performing this duty she fired at and burnt the village of Kpetema, and bad two men killed in the action. She then cruized on the North coast until May, 1862, when she was ordered to the south, where she captured, July the 22d, off Corigo, the bark Traviata; in October, 1862, the Dutch bark Jane or Fleet Eagle; in November,1862, the Portuguese launch E, with 1200l for the purchase of slaves; and in August, 1863, the brig Haidee, with 590 slaves. For the remainder of the commission she was employed in visiting the forts on the coast with Major Clarke, R.E., who has come home a passenger in her. During her commission she has lost Lieut. Stephenson and Mr. Teppett, gunner, by fever, and Mr. Hersee, assistant engineer, by consumption; including the above she has lost 11 by death. The total amount of her prize money will amount to 10,000l. The Espoir will to-day discharge powder and ammunition, and after inspection will proceed from the Sound into Hamoaze to be dismantled. Her crew will be paid off at Devonport.



As the King can do no wrong, there is no legal way of claiming compensation from the State in case of tort - that is in case of mistaken orders, negligent execution of duty, misunderstanding, delay, and the like. In all these respects individual officers ma be prosecuted, only for personal misbehaviour, but there is no claim for compensation against the Crown. The leading case on this point is Tobin v. the Queen (1864).

A man-of-war engaged in the suppression of the slave trade under Captain Sholto Douglas seized, on the coast of Florida, a merchant vessel under strong suspicion that the ship had been used for slave trading, the evidence being that it contained appliances for putting up a second deck under which the slaves were to be hidden. The ship ought to have been taken to St. Helen, but in view of the bad weather Captain Douglas used the power given by the Act of 5 Geo. IV, c. 113, s. 73, and sank the ship. An action was brought in which the owners tried to prove that the ship was engaged, not in slave trading, but in perfectly honest trade. The question as to whether Captain Douglas had, as a matter of fact, made a mistake or not is immaterial, the juridical problem was whether a petition of right would lie, that is whether the Crown as such could be made liable for compensation, and the judgment of the Court of King's Bench was emphatically against granting redress in this way. It held that the officer had acted within his legal power, and in using his discretion he was acting on his personal responsibility, so that any action for damages should have been directed against him and not, by petition of right, against the Queen. The economic aspect of this decision was that, supposing he had acted wrongly he would have been adjudged to pay some £20,000 compensation which he probably was quite unable to do. In other words, the remedy would be nugatory. Indeed in that very Act which enabled the officer to destroy a slave ship, there is a clause (s. 73) to the effect that the Crown may recompense or reinstate an officer to the value lost in damages which he might incur by committing a mistake. But such instance on the part of the Crown would have been a pure act of grace.



DOUGLAS, Sholto, Admiral (on Retired List),
C.B. 1881
; b. 1833; s. of late Commander H. R. Douglas ;
m. 1st, 1864, Maria Louisa (d. 1882), d. of late William Bickford of Stonehouse, Devon ;
2nd, 1883, Harriet Emilie (d. 1894), widow of D. R. Catterson.
Educ. : R.N. School, Newcross.
Entered R.N. 1847 ;
served in China, then in Baltic (Russian War); China, 1857-58; West Coast of Africa, 1860-64; Slave Trade Blockade; captured and liberated over 2000 slaves;
commanded Indian troopship "Malabar," frigate "Aurora," and ironclads "Achilles" and "Resistance";
not served as Admiral.
Baltic medal, Burmah medal, S.A. medal, China medal (3 clasps).
Address : Wilton Lodge, Southsea. Club : R.N. Portsmouth.

Died 26 Dec. 1913.




The Coromandel was also the name of a ship used for convict transport.  See item on convicts shipped to Australia.



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