George Vandeput

Died 1800. He was the illegitimate son of Sir George Vandeput, 2nd Baronet, who lost a great deal of his wealth fighting an election for the high-profile parliamentary borough of Westminster in 1749.

Having previously served as a midshipman in the St. Lawrence and at the siege of Quebec aboard the Neptune 90, flagship of Vice-Admiral Charles Saunders, Vandeput was commissioned lieutenant of the Shrewsbury 74, Captain Hugh Palliser, on 24 September 1759, and he remained with her until the peace of 1763.

He was promoted to the command of the sloop Goree on 17 April 1764, going out to serve off Senegal, and was posted to the Surprise 24 on 20 June 1765. In August of the following year he moved to the Boreas 28, and in June 1767 joined the newly commissioned Carysfort 28, serving for the next three years in the Mediterranean after sailing there in September, and returning to Portsmouth from Cadiz in November 1769. A further three years from June 1770 were spent with the Solebay 28 in home waters, and in April 1773 he was appointed to the Southampton 32 before receiving orders in the following month to pay her off and turn her crew over to the Orpheus 32, Captain John MacBride, at Harwich. From October to December he was briefly in command of the Thames 32.

In December 1773 Vandeput was appointed to the Asia 64, which at the end of February 1774 put out of Portsmouth for the Barbary Coast, and was able to unwittingly outrun a fast vessel that had been sent out to recall her. She arrived back at Portsmouth from the Canary Islands towards the end of May and was immediately docked.


HMS Asia

At the end of October 1774 the Asia set sail in the company of the Scarborough 20, Captain Andrew Barkley, for Boston where her boats supported the army at the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June. Assuming a station in the Hudson River, New York, Vandeput fired a broadside at a mob on 24 August which was in the process of removing the cannon from the New York City Battery, causing no little alarm to the civilians, many of whom fled to Long Island and New Jersey. At the end of the year he felt constrained to advise his friends to vacate the city as he daily expected to receive orders to bombard it. Remaining off New York, Vandeput commanded a division of boats in the landings on Long Island during the British campaign to take possession of the city in July – October 1776.

Whilst still on the North American station the Asia had a fortunate escape one evening in 1776 when an American prize laden with gunpowder was ordered to anchor some distance away, prior to her cargo being removed to the Asia. It later transpired that one of the rebel crew had laid a charge in the expectation that the powder barrels would have been immediately taken aboard the Asia, and being aware that he and his fellow prisoners were about to be blown to Kingdom Come the culprit quickly confessed.

After returning to Portsmouth with Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton a passenger on 27 February 1777, the Asia was refitted and sent out on a cruise at the end of August, and in the following spring she was attached to the Channel Fleet at Portsmouth under the newly installed commander-in-chief, Admiral Hon. Augustus Keppel.

At the end of April 1778 the Asia was sent out with a convoy to the East Indies to join Commodore Sir Edward Vernon’s squadron, arriving off Pondicherry in August, and carrying with her a good deal of luggage belonging to Vice-Admiral Hon. John Byron, who had been due to follow as the new commander-in-chief in the East Indies, but instead was diverted to North America. Remaining for some time on that station, the Asia returned to the Downs with the homeward-bound East India convoy under the orders of Commodore Vernon in February 1781.

Vandeput remained unemployed for the next twelve months before being appointed to the newly-commissioned Atlas 98 at Chatham in February 1782, serving in the Channel fleet, and in which he participated in Admiral Lord Howe’s relief of Gibraltar on 18 October and at the subsequent engagement off Cape Spartel, losing two men killed and three wounded. When the fleet returned to port the Atlas was ordered to be fitted out for service in the West Indies, whereupon Vandeput gave up the command. From 31 December until succeeded by Captain Hon. William Cornwallis on 22 January 1783 he was the captain of the Ganges 74.

In February 1783 he was appointed to the royal yacht William and Mary in the River Thames, and he retained her for the next half dozen years whilst occasionally taking the yacht Princess Augusta to sea, as in August 1783 when he delivered Prince William to the continent, and in the spring of 1785 when he took Prince Edward Augustus to the Baltic to commence his military education in modern-day Germany. By 1789 he was the assigned captain of the Princess Charlotte, during the Russian Armament of 1791 he was a regulating captain, and in October of that year he was presented to the King by Rear-Admiral John Dalrymple, the commander-in-chief at the Nore.

On 1 February 1793 Vandeput was promoted rear-admiral, but although it was reported that he would be given a command in the Grand Fleet following the commencement of the French Revolutionary War, this did not transpire, and it was not until he was raised to the rank of vice-admiral on 4 July 1794 that he hoisted his flag aboard the Saturn 74, Captain William Lechmere, in the Downs shortly afterwards. During April 1795 he commanded a small squadron in the North Sea with his flag flying on the Jupiter 50, Captain Lechmere, and from May-July held the temporary command of the Downs station when Vice-Admiral Joseph Peyton was re-assigned to Portsmouth to preside over the court-martial of Captain Anthony James Pye Molloy in relation to his conduct at the Battle of the Glorious first of June.

At the end of August 1795 Vandeput joined Admiral Adam Duncan’s fleet in the North Sea with his flag aboard the Leopard 50 Captain William Swaffield, and at the end of November he struck his flag once more in favour of Peyton to set off for Plymouth in order to take on the command of that port in the absence through sickness of Admiral Sir Richard King. He remained at Plymouth over the winter months.

On 16 February 1796 Vandeput raised his flag at Sheerness aboard the St. Albans 64, Captain Lechmere, with reports indicating that he was to command a squadron of several sail of the line in the Bay of Biscay. Instead, on 7 April, he sat on the court-martial of Vice-Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis at Portsmouth, relevant to that officer’s failure to sail for his Leeward Islands command on a frigate, and then he immediately put to sea with his flagship and several frigates to escort the trade out to Portugal. After arriving at Lisbon on 10 May he remained in the Tagus or occasionally cruised off the coast, and when the outward-bound Mediterranean convoy arrived in August Vandeput escorted it to Gibraltar before returning to Lisbon where his presence was a comfort to a local populace fearful of a Spanish invasion. In late November his reduced squadron captured a richly laden Spanish ship from Havana but was deprived of a treasure-filled ship of the line, suggested to be the richest ever to cross the Atlantic, by the unhelpful intervention of an American vessel.

On 23 February 1797, having witnessed the arrival in the Tagus of Admiral Sir John Jervis’ victorious Mediterranean fleet following the Battle of Cape St. Vincent nine days earlier, Vandeput departed Portugal aboard the St. Albans for Halifax to replace the sickly Rear-Admiral Hon. George Murray. After raising his flag at Halifax on 25 May aboard the Resolution 74, Captain Lechmere, he promptly posted all his ships off the Chesapeake to blockade two frigates under the command of the American Joshua Barney, who had joined the French service, and to prevent any juncture with a French squadron that had been sent to relieve him.

During his command of the North American station Vandeput wintered ashore in the Chesapeake when the port of Halifax became iced up, but otherwise enjoyed himself in country pursuits and in the charming acquaintance of two local sisters, the Misses Tabbs, who were renowned for both being over six feet tall. In the early summer of 1798 he shifted his flag into his old command, the Asia, 64, Captain Robert Murray, he was promoted admiral on 14 February, and in April of that year his squadron visited Bermuda for the first time

Shortly after it was announced that Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker had been appointed to succeed him, Admiral Vandeput died suddenly at sea whilst cruising off North America on 14 March 1800. The Cleopatra 32, Captain Israel Pellew, conveyed his body to Providence, Rhode Island, where he was buried.

He left a wife by the name of Emily by whom he had no issue, but he did have an illegitimate son, George. A kindly unassuming gentleman, who ran a happy ship, Vandeput could nevertheless be intimidating on first acquaintance. Subsequent to his father’s death he considered himself to have inherited the family baronetcy, as did his own son on Vandeput’s death, although with both men being illegitimate their inheritance was not officially recognised. He was a lover of the arts, particularly maritime painting.