John Inglis

1743-1807. Born of Scottish descent on 20 March 1743 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his father, John Inglis, was a merchant who had re-located to America, and his mother was Catherine M Call.

Inglis entered the service in 1758 aboard the Hussar 28, Captain John Elliot, and was commissioned lieutenant on 22 October 1761. He commissioned the newly acquired revenue cutter Sultana 8 in July 1768, going out to North America in the following month and seeing service off Boston and Rhode Island in the following years before returning home to pay her off in December 1772.

Having been promoted commander on 11 April 1778, he went out to North America aboard the Trident 64, Captain Elliot, and arrived in June to join the Senegal 14. This vessel was unfortunately captured by the Comte d Estaing s fleet on 14 August during the Rhode Island campaign, although interestingly she was retaken by the Zephyr 14 and a privateer in the Gambia River on 2 November 1780 with the British commander on that occasion being his namesake, John Inglis.

In the spring of 1779 Inglis joined the Delight 14, in which he went out to North America in June, taking the American letter of marquee Industry on 18 February 1780 and the privateer Macaroni on 16 April. He later served under Captain Andrew Barkley of the Blonde 32 in an expedition from Charleston to clear the Americans from the Cape Fear River in January 1781.


The highlight of Inglis’ career was the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 where disdaining the admiral’s signals he resolved to go straight into the fight

He was posted captain on 23 August 1781 and commanded the Squirrel 20, taking the French privateers Furet on 15 February 1782 and Aimable Manon 18 on 21 June off Lands End prior to being paid

In June 1795, after many years unemployment, he commissioned the ex-merchantman Coromandel 56, armed with 28 carronades, although this vessel was handed over to the Transport Board in May 1796. During the same month he recommissioned the Belliqueux 64 for the North Sea fleet, this ship being prominent at the mutiny on that station from 27 May, and sailing to join the mutiny at the Nore which had commenced earlier on 12 May.

Following the return to duty Inglis commanded the Belliqueux at the Battle of Camperdown on 11 October 1797 where it has been stated that he threw down his signal book prior to the action in response to the signals flying up his commander-in-chief s halyards, vowing instead to sail straight into the middle of the fight. This incident was probably apocryphal but was no doubt indicative of his character. At the end of the battle the Belliqueux s casualties of twenty-five men killed and seventy-eight wounded were the second highest in the fleet.

Having taken a break from duty to recover from his own injuries incurred at the Battle of Camperdown Inglis rejoined the Belliqueux in October 1798 after Captain Henry Inman had held the acting command from December 1797 and Captain Robert England from June 1798. However, he had left her by the following May

Inglis was promoted a rear admiral on 1 January 1801, a vice-admiral on 9 November 1805, and he died at Edinburgh on 11 March 1807.

He married his cousin, Barbara Inglis, the co-heiress of Auchindinny and Langbyres. The couple had three sons and two daughters with the second son, George Inglis, entering the navy and achieving the rank of lieutenant. The eldest daughter, Jane, married Captain James Coutts Crawford, and the youngest son, Archibald, became a lieutenant-colonel in the Madras Army.

Inglis, who was a prot g of Admiral John Elliot, succeeded to the estate of Redhall and purchased a share of Auchindinny and Langbyres. He was renowned for having a short temper, possibly as a result of his injuries at the Battle of Camperdown.

For additional information on this biography I am indebted to Jim Tildesley, whose biography of Inglis titled I am determined to live and die on my ship: The Life of Admiral John Inglis an American in the Georgian Navy is due for publication on 28 May 2019.