Francis Reynolds-Moreton 3rd Lord Ducie

1739-1808. He was born on 28 March 1739 at Strangeways, Manchester, the second son of Francis Reynolds, heir to a South Sea Company director, and of Hon. Elizabeth Moreton, eldest daughter of the 1st Lord Ducie. He was the nephew of Matthew, 2nd Lord Ducie.

Having served under Captain Lord Richard Howe aboard the Magnanime 74, Reynolds was commissioned lieutenant on 28 April 1758, seeing further service on the Melampe 36, Captain William Hotham, in the North Sea.

He was promoted commander on 21 November 1760, joining the Weasel 16 in the Channel and taking the privateer Duc de Bourbon on 18 October 1761. He was posted captain of the Garland 24 on 12 April 1762, serving off the coast of France and, prior to being paid off at the peace, off Africa.

Francis_Reynolds-Moreton,_3rd_Baron_Ducie

Francis Reynolds-Moreton

In April 1763 he recommissioned the Flamborough 24, going out to the Mediterranean in August and commanding the Faversham 44 in the Mediterranean from 1764. He later had the frigate Quebec 32 in the Leeward Islands from the summer of 1769 until paid off in August 1772.

He recomissioned the Augusta 64 in the autumn of 1776, going out to North America in the following March. During the Philadelphia campaign of August-November 1777 this vessel was destroyed by fire at Mud Island on 23 October, with Reynolds being personally saved by Captain Andrew Snape Hamond’s barge from the Roebuck. At the court-martial into the loss of Augusta presided over by Captain George Ourry aboard the Somerset 64 off Billingsport on 26 November Reynolds was acquitted of any failure in her loss. He returned to England shortly afterwards aboard the transport Dutton with Vice-Admiral Lord Howe’s dispatches,

His next command was the Jupiter 50, which he joined in August 1778. Off Cape Finisterre on 20 October, and being in company with the Medea 28, Captain James Montagu, he fell in with the French Triton 64 commanded by the Comte de Ligondés. A ferocious night time engagement took place over the next couple of hours in squally weather, but the Medea was forced out of action within thirty minutes, and the difficulties of fighting in the darkness prevented Reynolds from driving home a victory. The French vessel suffered thirteen killed and thirty wounded including her commander who had been obliged to leave the deck, the Jupiter three killed and eleven wounded, three of them fatally. Curiously stories later surfaced in the press that the Jupiter had surrendered and had been carried as a prize to Brest.

Combat_naval_vaisseau_français_le_Triton_contre_vaisseau_anglais_le_Jupiter_et_la_frégate_la_Médée_près_de_Lisbonne_20_octobre_1778

The Jupiter and Medea take on the French 64 Triton Pierre-Julien Gilbert , via Wikimedia Commons

On 26 May 1779, having left for the Mediterranean with the trade two months earlier and then undertaken a cruise, the Jupiter again found herself in action off Cape Finisterre. On this occasion she fell in with a French convoy escorted by men-of war including sail of the line under the command of Admiral La-Motte Picquet. Even so, Reynolds pitched into the middle of the enemy in the hope that he could take a prize and gain intelligence of their destination. Despite coming under hot fire from the Blanche 32 and personally sustaining splinter wounds he did manage to capture one vessel and put a prize crew aboard before being driven off without his capture by seven of the enemy.

He later commanded the Jupiter in the Channel fleet retreat of August 1779 and subsequently saw service in the North Sea. On 3 October, having been sent to the River Shannon with a squadron of frigates to bring home an East India convoy, and being in company with the Apollo 32, Captain Philemon Pownall, and the Crescent 28, Captain Charles Hope, he took two French cutters off the Lizard, these being added to the navy under their own names, Pilote and Mutine.

Towards the end of 1780 Reynolds was appointed to the Monarch 74, joining Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood’s reinforcements going out to the West Indies at the end of October in the place of Captain Adam Duncan who did not wish to serve on that station on account of his health. He was present at the capture of St. Eustatius on 3 February 1781 and was selected by Admiral Sir George Rodney to take three vessels in pursuit of the Dutch sail of the line Mars 60 and a richly-laden thirty-strong convoy which had departed the island the day before. On 4 February he brought the Mars to action and she struck after her senior officer, Rear-Admiral Willem Crul, was slain. On 29 April 1781 the Monarch fought in the action with the French off Martinique, and on 5 September was engaged at the Battle of the Chesapeake.

Returning to the West Indies with Hood, Reynolds commanded the Monarch 74 at the Battle of St. Kitts on 25-26 January 1782, and at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April 1782 where his casualties of sixteen men killed and thirty-three wounded were amongst the highest in the fleet. Having sailed to North America in September under the orders of the new Leeward Islands commander-in-chief, Admiral Hugh Pigot, he returned to England in the following summer and was paid off.

Reynolds was MP for Lancaster from 1784 and following the death of his brother Thomas he acceded to the reformed title of the 3rd Lord Ducie of Tortworth on 11 September 1785, whereupon he resigned from the navy and parliament. He assumed the additional name of Moreton in 1786, and died at Tortworth, Glocestershire, on 19 August 1808.

On 10 October 1774 Reynolds married Mary Provis of Shepton Mallet, by whom he had two sons before her early death in 1779. Twelve years later he married Sarah, the widow of the MP for Wells, Robert Child, although she too met an early two years later on 23 May 1793. His second wife was the mother of Lady Westmoreland who also died young, having eloped with the earl against her rich father’s wishes.

Ducie Island in the Pitcairn Island group was named in his honour by Captain Edward Edwards who had served under him on the Augusta, and who rediscovered the island when searching aboard the Pandora for the Bounty mutineers in 1791.