Robert Linzee

1739-1804. He was the youngest of ten children of a mayor of Portsmouth, Edward Linzee, and his wife Anne Newnham. He became the brother-in-law of Admiral Lord Hood through the marriage in 1749 of his sister Susanna.

He was commissioned lieutenant on 29 January 1761 and promoted commander of the Viper 10 on 25 November 1768, serving at Boston and retaining her until posted captain on 3 October 1770 when he joined the Romney 50 with the broad pennant of his brother-in-law, Commodore Samuel Hood in North America in order to bring him home.

In February 1775 he commissioned the new Surprise 28, going out to the Newfoundland station in May and then sailing from Plymouth in the following spring to serve under Captain Charles Douglas at the relief of Quebec on 6 May 1776, where he captured the rebel privateers Maria on 7 May and Gaspee eight days later. He sailed for Newfoundland again during January 1777 and April 1778, capturing the rebel privateer Harlequin in September 1778. In April 1779 he sat on the court-martial of Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser following the politically-charged recriminatory aftermath from the Battle of Ushant on 27 July 1778.

Captain Linzee was a witness to the loss of Captain Moutray’s convoy in 1780

In 1780 he joined the Thetis 32, being part of Captain John Moutray’s escort to a richly laden convoy that was picked off by the Franco / Spanish fleet on 9 August 1780. Linzee returned to England with news of that catastrophe. In November 1780 he went out to the Leeward Islands with Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood’s squadron, but in a hurricane on 12 May 1781 the Thetis was wrecked off St. Lucia.

In November 1781 he recommissioned the Magnificent 74, going out to the Leeward Islands in February 1782 and arriving at Carlisle Bay, Barbados on 20 March before sailing to join Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood at St. Lucia. He was despatched in company with the Agamemnon 64, Captain Benjamin Caldwell, to monitor the French fleet at Martinique and on 8 April sent news of their sailing from that island to Admiral Sir George Rodney at St. Lucia. On 12 April 1782 he commanded the Magnificent at the Battle of the Saintes, providing valuable assistance to the beleaguered Warrior 74, Captain Sir James Wallace, and finding herself in the thick of the action around the French flagship. He was later present with Hood’s squadron in the Mona Passage in pursuit of the French stragglers, forcing the surrender of the Aimable 32 after a forty minute running engagement that saw his vessel lose four men killed and eight wounded.

On 23 July the Magnificent grounded off Savannah le Mar but was hove off successfully with her chain pumps constantly employed. Later in the year he took her north with Admiral Hugh Pigot’s fleet whereupon arriving at Halifax in September she underwent repairs. When returning to the Leeward Islands at the end of the year the Magnificent lost her mizzen-mast in a storm which brought down her main topsail-yard and lead to the death of five seamen. Cruising in company with the St. Albans 64, Captain Charles Inglis, and Prudent 64, Captain Andrew Barkley, he captured the French frigate Concorde 36, Captain Chevalier du Clesmaur, off St. Kitts on 15 February 1783 after a fifteen minute action. He took his prize into St. John’s, Antigua. The Magnificent then sailed for England with nine other sail of the line on 21 April and was paid off at Portsmouth on 27 June 1783.

During the Nookta Sound dispute of 1790 he commissioned the new Saturn 74 in May, retaining her until paid off in September 1791.

In December 1792 he joined the Alcide 74, taking her out to the Mediterranean in April 1793, and serving at the occupation of Toulon from 27 August 1793. In September he raised his broad pennant aboard this ship with Captain John Woodley as his flag-captain and was detached in command of two sail of the line, a 64, and two frigates to attempt, unsuccessfully as it transpired, to incite a Royalist rebellion at Ville Franche. He then made for Corsica to try the same tactics but the principal cities refused to join the royalist cause so Linzee attempted to attack Fornelli, near San Fiorenzo. Although his squadron easily took the formidable Martello Tower he did not promptly follow up his success with an attack on San Fiorenzo, and he was forced to withdraw rather ignominiously after an unsuccessful bombardment on 1 October.

A Mortella tower of the type attacked by Commodore Linzee in 1794

A Mortella tower of the type attacked by Commodore Linzee in 1794

In November 1793 he undertook a diplomatic mission to the Bey of Tunis, but believing himself not authorised to use force he achieved little. Early in the following year he was sent to Fornelli again with a force of three sail of the line and two frigates, together with troops under Major-General Dundas. An initial attack on the Martello Tower by the Fortitude and Juno on 8 February 1794 was beaten off, but the Army artillery proved more adept and successful campaigning by Captain Horatio Nelson and others led to the island’s capture.

Remaining in the Mediterranean fleet he became a rear-admiral on 12 April 1794, initially flying his flag aboard the Alcide 74, Captain Thomas Shivers, and then exchanging with Vice-Admiral Phillips Cosby in July to the Windsor Castle 98 with Captains Edward Cooke and Captain William Shield. On 11 November the crew mutinied against both their senior officers, and the new commander-in-chief, Vice-Admiral William Hotham, surprisingly sided with the men. Despite being acquitted at his requested court-martial, Captain Shield was replaced by the newly posted Captain John Gore with no action being taken against the mutineers.

Rear-Admiral Linzee fought at the Battle of Genoa on 13-14 March 1795, where his flagship suffered six men killed and thirty-one wounded, and again on 13 July, although his ship barely got into the action. He later flew his flag from October to December 1795 aboard the Victory 100, Captain John Knight, the Egmont 74, Captain John Sutton, and the Princess Royal 98, Captain John Child Purvis. He did not remain long under the command of Admiral Sir John Jervis after this officer assumed command of the Mediterranean fleet in the late autumn of 1795 however.

He was further promoted vice-admiral on 1 June 1795 and admiral on 1 January 1801. He died on 4 October 1804 at Wickham in Hampshire, being buried in the churchyard.

He married Anne Redston, daughter of a Royal Naval surgeon from the Isle of Wight on 9 October 1781, and after her death on 26 July 1781 he remained a widower for over ten years before marrying Mary Grant, a woman of about twenty-one years of age, on 2 February 1792. She survived him and remarried. His son Edward from his first marriage entered the clergy.