Jahleel Brenton (1)
1729-1802. He was born in Newport, Rhode Island on 22 October 1729, the fourth son and one of a dozen children of Jahleel Brenton, who died in 1766, and of his wife, Frances Cranston. He was the father of Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton and Captain Edward Brenton, and of Lieutenant James Wallace Brenton, who died of wounds incurred in a boat action when first lieutenant of the Peterel 16 off Barcelona in 1799.
Brenton passed his lieutenant’s examination on 6 December 1752, but he was not commissioned until 6 April 1757.
In 1775 tensions between the contending rebel and loyalist factions in Rhode Island escalated, and in rebutting attempts by the Americans to persuade him to enter their service, Brenton sought the protection of Captain James Wallace of the Rose 20, which vessel was stationed at Newport. During this difficult period his wife continued to live at their properties in Rhode Island with their brood of young children.
On 30 May 1776, Brenton was appointed to command the Pembroke 60, fitting out at Chatham as a hospital ship to serve at Halifax. Sailing from the Downs to Portsmouth in July, his ship was left wind-bound off St. Helens, and it was not until late August that she departed for Nova Scotia. Upon arrival she was hulked at Halifax, and Brenton immediately returned to England.
He was promoted commander of the armed storeship Tortoise 26 on 23 August 1777, which vessel had recently been fitted out at Chatham, and which was sent express from the Admiralty to Spithead from the Downs several days later. She then put to sea from Spithead bound for New York on the 29th in a convoy under the orders of Captain William Peere Williams of the Venus 36. On 14 December she left New York with a convoy for Rhode Island, and she was later at Falmouth, Massachusetts, before returning to England.
In October 1778 the Tortoise took a convoy from the Downs to Ireland via Spithead, and she later sailed for New York on Boxing Day, departing under the orders of Vice-Admiral Lord Shuldham with a heavily armed fleet which saw the respective convoys to a safe distance.
On 16 April 1779, by which time Brenton appears to have left the Tortoise, Commodore Sir George Collier appointed him to the bomb Strombolo 14 in North America. During December New York froze up and the Termagant was iced in, as were several other vessels, and so Brenton served ashore with the army in defence of the city. Meanwhile, his family had fled Rhode Island when the British evacuated in October, and it appears likely that Brenton left the command of the Strombolo in early April 1780 to join them in England.
He was appointed to the hired armed ship Queen 20 on 19 September 1780, serving in the North Sea in the following year, and he was posted captain of the Termagant 26 on 3 September 1781, bringing seventy sail of the West India convoy over to Falmouth from Cork in October. At the end of January1782 his command came out of dock at Sheerness only to be ran afoul by the frigate Albemarle 28, Captain Horatio Nelson, necessitating her to return to dock for a new foretopmast. She was in the Downs two weeks later, and on 20 April she arrived at Portsmouth with a convoy from the Downs. Brenton retained the Termagant until 13 May when she was re-rated as a sloop.
He did not thereafter see any further service at sea, but he was the captain of the Impress Service at Greenock and later at Leith near Edinburgh through the French Revolutionary War from 1793, and he was promoted rear-admiral in line with seniority on 1 January 1801.
Rear-Admiral Brenton died on 30 January 1802 in Stafford Place, Pimlico, London.
He married Henrietta Cowley of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire on 29 November 1765, and in addition to the officers mentioned above, they had another seven children.