Skeffington Lutwidge

1737-1814. He was born on 13 March 1737, the son of Thomas Lutwidge of Whitehaven and his wife, Lucy Hoghton.

He was commissioned lieutenant of the Echo 24, Captain John Laforey, on 25 August 1759, commanded the cutter Cholmondely 4 in this rank from April 1763 until 1765 off the Mersey, and was promoted commander on 21 January 1771.

406px-Skeffington_Lutwidge,_by_Philip_Jean

Skeffington Lutwidge

In June 1771 he recommissioned the bomb-vessel Carcass, serving in the Irish Sea until paid off in April 1773. He then recommissioned her in the same month, serving under the orders of Captain Hon. Constantine John Phipps in an expedition to the North Pole, and employing the young Horatio Nelson as a midshipman and coxswain of his gig. Departing the Nore on 4 June the expedition penetrated the ice fields to a latitude of 80 degrees 48 minutes north before returning to England in September. On the 15th October Lutwidge was posted captain, whilst another result of the expedition was the opportunity in later years to tell the story of the young Nelson confronting a polar bear.

In August 1775 Lutwidge recommissioned the Triton 28, sailing for Canada in March 1776 with transports carrying part of the 49th Regiment, and arriving with this valuable reinforcement to supplement those which had effected the relief of Quebec on 6 May. In early 1777 he was commanding the naval vessels on Lake Champlain, and he was warmly praised for leading the pursuit of American forces retreating from Ticonderoga. He returned to Quebec and the command of the Triton in September and took the American rebel privateer Pompey on 13 June 1778. After returning for a refit and coppering in England the Triton served with the Channel fleet during the retreat of August 1779, took the American privateer Gates on 29 September, and was present at the Moonlight Battle on 16 January 1780, During the autumn he was serving on the North American station.

In November 1780 he assumed command of the Yarmouth 64 from the dismissed Captain Nathaniel Bateman in which he was ordered to embark about seventy prisoners including notable American privateer and Continental Congress officers such as Joshua Barney. The prisoners were somewhat ill-treated both physically and mentally whilst being conveyed to Plymouth in early 1781, and such was their condition on arrival that they had to be transported out of the ship in a sling.

After paying the Yarmouth off in March he commissioned the new Perseverance 36 in the same month, going out to North America in July with Rear-Admiral Hon. Robert Digby’s squadron. On 29 July 1781 he captured the French frigate Lively 26 which, with her consort, the Hirondelle 16, had fallen in with the British fleet on passage to North America. The French vessel suffered casualties of six killed and ten wounded in the brief action. Remaining on the North American station until the peace, the Perseverance took the rebel privateers General Green on 30 August 1781, Raven on 1 April 1782, and Diana on 29 August. She was paid off in September 1783.

During the peace he commanded the guard-ship Scipio 64 from November 1786 to November 1789 in the Medway, in addition to forming part of Rear-Admiral Hon. John Leveson-Gower’s squadron of observation in 1787, and flying a broad pennant during the latter part of his command. In December 1792 he commissioned the new Terrible 74, sailing to join the Mediterranean fleet in April, and being present at the occupation of Toulon from 27 August 1793.

He was advanced to the rank of rear-admiral on 12 April 1794, remaining in the Mediterranean with his flag in the Terrible 74, Captain George Campbell, and being present at the reduction of Corsica from 8 February 1794.

Lutwidge was promoted vice-admiral on 1 June 1795, and following the mutiny which erupted at the Nore on 12 May 1797 he became commander-in-chief of that station in succession to Vice-Admiral Charles Bucknor. To him fell the burden of trying the mutineers, and he spent much time embroiled with various captains over their wish to have certain men released. His flag on the station flew in the Sandwich 90, Captain James Mosse, transferring from October to the Zealand 74, Captain Thomas Parr.

In April 1799 he transferred to the command of the more strategically important Downs station, flying his flag aboard the Overyssel 64, Captain John Bazely. It was to the Nore that the neutral Dutch frigate Freja was brought following her encounter with the Nemesis 28, Captain Thomas Baker, on 25 July 1800. Lutwidge handled the affair diplomatically but by then the damage had been done, and war with the Netherlands soon followed. He continued to command in the Downs until the peace.

He was promoted admiral on 1 January 1801, and died on 16 August 1814 at his estate of Holmrook Hall in Cumbria.

He married Catherine Harvey or Bateson but she predeceased him in 1810 without having had children. His nephew, Henry Lutwidge, entered the service with him in June 1794 on the Terrible, was a prisoner of France from 1804-14, and eventually reached the rank of commander.