Panton was commissioned lieutenant on 1 November 1772, and whilst serving in the East Indies was promoted commander of the sloop Swallow at Bombay on 22 February 1776. At the beginning of the following year he was serving in the Red Sea, having aboard the famous geographer and first hydrographer of the Admiralty, Alexander Dalrymple.
He was further advanced to post captain on 26 June 1777, and he commanded Seahorse 24 in the action with the French off Pondicherry on 10 August 1778. During September 1779 he arrived with the Seahorse at Canton to attempt the collection of debts on behalf of creditors from Madras, although his appearance was regretted by the East India Company which feared the effect on its own trade. He left two months later having made no collections.
Panton died at Malacca in early 1781 whilst still in command of the Seahorse.