Hon. Robert Allaster Forbes
c1766-95. He was the second of four sons of James, 16th Lord Forbes, and of his wife, Catherine Innes. His brother James, 17th Lord Forbes, achieved the rank of general in the Army, and his youngest brother, William, died as a lieutenant in the Navy in 1792.
Forbes was commissioned lieutenant on 28 June 1782 and promoted commander on 26 August 1789, whereupon he immediately commissioned the sloop Zebra 16. During the Spanish Armament in 1790 he was stationed off Cadiz in watch over the Spanish fleet, and he later reported that it was at sea off Cape St. Vincent. He retained the Zebra until he was posted captain on 22 November in a general promotion of junior officers.
In March 1793 he recommissioned the Southampton 32 which returned to Portsmouth from a cruise in early June, and which was present at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. During September he was attendant on the royal family at Weymouth prior to being released at the end of the month to return to Portsmouth and from thence to join the Channel Fleet.
After leaving the Southampton in April 1795 Forbes commissioned the new Dryad 44 at Deptford in July with orders to join Rear-Admiral Thomas Pringle’s squadron in the North Sea. Thereafter his health deteriorated to such an extent that on 7 October, whilst the Dryad was off Flekkeroya, Norway, his speech became ‘wild and incoherent’. The ship’s surgeon tried to placate his troubled mind by having a lieutenant sit with him, whilst a servant was instructed to remain in the cabin at all times. Nevertheless, when the servant was distracted Forbes jumped overboard, and in bringing the frigate about to collect him a boat was lowered but sank and her crew had to be rescued. Eventually the Dryad’s consort, Kite 16, Captain Micajah Malbon, picked up Forbes, yet despite the best efforts of both ship’s surgeons he could not be saved.
Captain Forbes’ body was interred in a vault in Kristiansand on the southern coast of Norway.