Jemmett Brown Mainwaring

1763-1800. He was the third surviving son of Benjamin Mainwaring of Whitmore in Staffordshire, and the brother of Lieutenant-General John Montagu Mainwaring. Through his grandmother, he was a distant relative of Admiral Sir Thomas Pye.

On 24 June 1789, Mainwaring was commissioned lieutenant of the Royal George 100, Captain Richard Goodwin Keats, having seen earlier service aboard the Andromeda 32, Captain Prince William Henry, where on one occasion he had almost caused the loss of the ship after his ‘infirmity of speech’ had prevented an order to shorten sail reaching the crew.

He was the third lieutenant of the Russell 74, Captain John Willett Payne, at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, and the senior lieutenant of the Jupiter 50, Captain William Lechmere, which flew Payne’s broad pennant when collecting Princess Caroline from Cuxhaven on 28 May 1795, prior to her marriage to the Prince of Wales. In honour of the occasion Mainwaring was promoted commander on 6 April 1795, being one of several officers who were advanced. During May he gave evidence in favour of Captain Anthony Molloy at the court martial which investigated that officer’s conduct at the Battle of the Glorious First of June, and he held the temporary command of the Espiegle 16 in the North Sea during June.

Captain Mainwaring lost his life when commanding the Babet, depicted here at her capture from the French in 1794

He was next appointed to the captured French brig Victorieuse 12 in December 1795, in which he returned to Portsmouth from a cruise in early January 1796. His command then went out to the Leeward Islands in February with a convoy to participate in Rear-Admiral Hugh Cloberry Christian’s campaign of April – June, and he was active at the capture of St. Lucia.

Remaining in the Leeward Islands, Mainwaring was posted captain on 7 July 1796 and appointed to the frigate Aimable 32. Fifteen days later he attempted to engage the French frigate Pensée 36 off Guadeloupe, but the enemy fled from the initial two-hour-long engagement that evening. On the next morning the action briefly resumed with a ferocious broadside from the Aimable, but again the French vessel retreated, and by outsailing her pursuer she reached the neutral Danish island of St. Thomas, having lost twenty-eight men killed and thirty-six wounded in return for three wounded on the Aimable. Curiously, the two captains later dined together on the island. Returning to sea, the Aimable took the French privateer Iris 6 off Guadeloupe on 15 September.

In June 1797, Mainwaring exchanged with Captain William Granville Lobb into the Babet 20, being stationed off Tortola in the Leeward Islands and taking a number of prizes. By December his command was at Barbados, and on 16 January 1798 Lieutenant Samuel Pym led twenty-four men in the becalmed Babet’s boats to the capture of the French schooner Desiree 6 in a bloody encounter off Dominica, with Pym losing one man killed and five wounded. The Babet returned home in the summer with a convoy to reach Spithead on 7 July with eight transports, and Mainwaring was rewarded by the masters of the merchant ships in the port of London for his safe conduct of their vessels. Meanwhile, the Babet was docked at Portsmouth for a refit.

On 22 September 1798 the Babet sailed from Portsmouth, and in October she proceeded up the eastern coast of Scotland in search of a French squadron that had reportedly come out of Dunkirk. By the middle of December, she was in the Downs, where in addition to making the occasional cruise she appears to have been stationed through to the following summer. She later flew the flag of Vice-Admiral Andrew Mitchell when the flag officer wished to cross into the Zuider Zee during the invasion of the Netherlands from August 1799, and after returning troops from the Helder to Shields on 16 November, the Babet was back in the Downs by early December.

On 7 December 1799 the Babet sailed for the Nore before undergoing a refit at Sheerness, from where she departed on 2 March 1800 to rejoin the Downs station. She then undertook convoy duty to Portsmouth prior to going out on a cruise in April, and the rest of the summer was spent in similar employment. During July it was reported that Mainwaring was to join the Andromeda 32 in place of Captain Henry Inman, but remaining instead with the Babet, he took a convoy out of the Downs at the end of August.

On 14 September the Babet sailed from Portsmouth for the West Indies with Major-General John Knox, the governor designate of Jamaica, and on 24 October she departed Martinique on the final stage of her voyage. Despite various reports that she had arrived safely, or that she had been captured by the Spanish, the Babet was never seen again.

Captain Mainwaring was unmarried.