Christopher Atkins

1728-1791. He was baptised at Saint Mary’s, Portsea.

Atkins was commissioned lieutenant on 6 April 1757, and promoted commander of the Happy 8 for purposes of rank only on 20 November 1763. Some months earlier he had been appointed to the chief command of the Sardinian Navy in order to assist its officers’ transition from a galley fleet to one of square-rigged vessels, and he took personal command of the San Vittorio 34, which had been purchased from Britain. This vessel had began life as the Spanish frigate Hermione 26 prior to being captured on 21 May 1762 whilst in passage from Lima to Cadiz with a huge amount of treasure by the Active 28, Captain Herbert Sawyer, and the sloop Favourite, Commander Philemon Pownall. Atkins later assumed command of another purchase from Britain, this being the ex-Spanish Asuncion 50 which had been renamed the San Carlo 44, and he continued in his role with the Sardinian Navy until 1769.

Henry_Gray_-_The_Morning_After_the_Attack_on_Sullivan's_Island,_June_29,_1776_-_Google_Art_Project

HMS Actaeon in flames t – 29 June 1776

Returning to the British Navy, Atkins joined the Scorpion 14 at Chatham during April 1772 in succession to Commander James Cook, going out to the Mediterranean in April and leaving her after being posted captain of the Pallas 36 on that station on 18 September in succession to the indisposed Captain George Watson. He removed to the Montreal 32 on 8 December, which vessel was paid off at Chatham in March 1773 after returning to Portsmouth in the previous month and entering quarantine.

In June 1775 he commissioned the newly-built Actaeon 28. Her first voyage boded ill for her future, for after departing Portsmouth on 29 August for North America she was forced back into dock three days later after grounding on the Shingles sandbank. After departing Cork on 17 February 1776 for North America with a convoy she then went aground once more, and she was later abandoned and set on fire the day after Commodore Sir Peter Parker’s unsuccessful attack on Charleston on 28 June 1776, having driven onto a shoal through the ignorance of the pilot.

In October 1776 Atkins commissioned the Aeolus 32, sailing for Jamaica with a convoy in the following February, and on 12 September 1777 he captured the privateer sloop Swallow off Turks Island. The Aeolus was back at Jamaica by November, whilst her tender, the Dolphin, remained at sea scoffing prizes, and she later assisted the Ruby 64, Captain Michael John Everitt, in the capture of French Prudente 36 in the Bay of Gonave off Haiti on 2 June 1779. During the action Captain Everitt was one of only two men to be killed. After a refit and coppering during the ensuing winter the Aeolus was serving off Portugal in the summer of 1780 with Commodore George Johnstone’s squadron, and Atkins left the ship in October of that year.

Captain Atkins died on 21 January 1791.