John Drew

Died 1798. He came from Stockaton near Saltash, and his twin brother was Commander James Drew. Another brother who took holy orders became the mayor of Saltash, and he was the uncle of Lieutenant John Drew.

Drew was commissioned lieutenant on 19 September 1777. After being wounded when serving at the Battle of Negapatam on 6 July 1782 aboard the Sultan 74, Captain James Watt, he was promoted commander on 12 October, and remaining in the East Indies he was further posted captain of the Seahorse 24 on 6 February 1783. This vessel returned home over the winter and was paid off in March 1784, whereupon Drew’s promotions were confirmed by the Admiralty on 14 April.

In September 1787 he commissioned the new Squirrel 24 for service at Cork, on which station he remained for the next two years. After recommissioning the Trusty 50 in November 1789 he took her out to the Leeward Islands in the following March to serve as the flag captain to Vice-Admiral Sir John Laforey. He was still on that station at the commencement of the French Revolutionary War in 1793, and was present in this capacity at the capture of Trinidad during the campaign of March-June. Upon returning to England his command was paid off at Plymouth in September.

Drew next commissioned the eighteen-pounder frigate Cerberus 32 as her first commander in the autumn of 1794, going out to the Irish station in the following year and assisting the Santa Margarita 36, Captain Eliab Harvey, in the capture of the Jean Bart 18 on 25 March. In September he escorted seven troop transports to Cork and then returned to Plymouth with a Dutch East Indiamen under convoy from the Shannon. He undertook further escort duty into the following year, entering Portsmouth from Ireland with a convoy in February 1796.

The Cerberus subsequently went out on a cruise between Cape Clear and the Scilly Islands in the mid-summer of 1796, and she took the privateer Indemnité 14 on 28 August in company with the Diana 38, Captain Jonathon Faulknor, and the Seahorse 38, Captain George Oakes, together with several other prizes including the cutter Hirondelle 10 on 5 November, and the Granville-based Didon 4 on 29 December, which was taken into Plymouth. Having escorted the Newfoundland and West Indies trade out into the Atlantic Drew’s frigate then captured the Dunkerquoise 18 on 11 May 1797 on her return. Soon afterwards, rumours that the Cerberus had become disaffected by the general mutinies were refuted when her crew drew the coaches containing Drew and his lieutenants around Plymouth Dock and to the captain’s home at Saltash some four miles away.

Returning to Cork, the Cerberus took the lugger Neptune 12 on 12 September in company with the Diana, the French brig Epervier 16 off Ireland on 12 November, and the Renard 20 two days later. An attempt to run down the Bayonne-based privateer Buonoparte 32 was thwarted when after causing her enemy considerable damage with her bow-chasers the Cerberus lost her steering sails and main topgallant mast, and had the mortification of seeing the Frenchmen make good her escape.

Drew’s life ended tragically when upon arriving at Plymouth on 11 January 1798 his barge overset and he drowned along with his passenger, Captain John King Pulling, a nephew, Acting-Lieutenant James Drew, and all but two of her crew. He was succeeded in the command of the Cerberus by Captain James Macnamara. On 25 May a further tragedy struck the Drew family when his brother, Commander James Drew, and thirty-eight of his crew were drowned when their vessel, the De Braak 18, foundered in the Chesapeake.

Drew was unmarried. His nephew, Lieutenant John Drew, died from what was described as ‘a violent cold’ on 16 October 1804.