Joseph Bullen

1761-1857. He was born on 14 April 1761, the second son of Rev. John Bullen, rector of Kennet in Cambridgeshire and Rushmoor-cum-Newburn in Suffolk.

Bullen joined the service in November 1774 aboard the Pallas 36, Captain Hon. William Cornwallis, serving off West Africa, and from 1776 in the West Indies from where the frigate returned to England with the Jamaica convoy. Removing with Cornwallis to the Isis 50 in the early months of 1777, he went out to North America and saw active service in the Delaware and in the Philadelphia Campaign from August to November. After a short period with Cornwallis aboard the Bristol 50, Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Parker’s flagship, he returned home with his patron who was carrying dispatches aboard the Chatham 50.

Bullen heroically rescued three hundred abandoned Spanish and Neapolitan soldiers at the evacuation of Toulon in 1793

On 5 August 1778 Cornwallis was appointed to the Lion 64, going out to the Leeward Islands under the orders of Commodore Joshua Rowley, and arriving off St. Lucia with a convoy on 3 April 1779. Bullen subsequently fought at the Battle of Grenada on 6 July, during which action his ship was badly mauled and had to run before the wind to Jamaica with only her foremast standing, having suffered fifty-one casualties. Shortly afterwards he joined the Hinchingbrooke 28, Captain Horatio Nelson, serving in the disastrous San Juan expedition in January 1780 before returning to Cornwallis and the Lion. This vessel was subsequently commanded by Captains William Fooks and James Pigot, and having been commissioned lieutenant with seniority from 6 March 1781 Bullen fought at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April 1782 aboard the Prince George 90, Captain John Williams,

During the peace Bullen saw service from May 1785 aboard the Plymouth based guardship Carnatic 74, Captain Anthony James Pye Molloy, and from July 1786 at the same port on the Bombay Castle 74, Captain Robert Fanshawe. In June 1790, during the Spanish Armament, he joined the Monarch 74, Captain Peter Rainier, which vessel continued in employment through the Russian Armament of 1791 until paid off in September.

In February 1793 he had the good fortune to be appointed to the Agamemnon 64, Captain Nelson, going out to the Mediterranean, where on 11 September he joined the Victory 100, Captain John Knight, the flagship of the commander-in-chief, Vice-Admiral Lord Hood. Seeing service at the Occupation of Toulon from August to December, he commanded Fort Mulgrave for three weeks and was promoted commander on 29 November. Initially appointed to the captured French corvette Mulette 20, he was then made acting commander of the captured frigate Proselyte 36. When on 19 December the remaining forts in British hands were blown up and the last of the troops evacuated, his ship hung back from the fleet to embark three hundred abandoned Spanish and Neapolitan troops, leaving Lord Hood to surmise that she had been lost.

Bullen remained with the Proselyte as a volunteer after being superseded by his friend, Commander Walter Serocold, but having joined the Corsican campaign which ran from February – August 1794 the vessel was set on fire by red-hot shot from the batteries at Bastia on 11 April. He thereafter saw action as one of three captains assisting Captain Nelson during the siege of Bastia, before he returned home invalided the end of the campaign.

Continuing as a volunteer with the permission of the first lord of the Admiralty, Earl Spencer, Bullen assisted with the main deck guns of the Santa Margarita 40, Captain Thomas Byam Martin, at her capture off Ireland on 8 June 1796, of the crack French frigate Tamise 36. He then served stints as the acting captain of the recently captured sloop Scourge 18, and the Alexander 74 off Brest, and on 24 November he was finally posted captain for purposes of rank only to the Lizard 28, an ancient frigate that was laid up at Portsmouth. Thereafter he was unable to secure any further sea-going employment.

On 26 September 1804 he was appointed to command the Lynn Regis Sea Fencibles, this being the previous name for the modern-day King’s Lynn in Norfolk, where he remained until 1810.

Having not obtained any further employment he retired from the service as a rear-admiral on 28 August 1819, but upon being re-instated in 1840 was promoted vice admiral on 12 November and became a full admiral on 23 November 1841.

Admiral Bullen died at Bath on 17 July 1857, by which time he had long been the senior commissioned officer in the navy with his birthday often being reported.

On 24 June 1801 he married Margaret Ann Seafe of Leages, Durham. She died in 15 January 1847 at Bath. Their address was given at 13 Raby Place, Bath.

It was said that Bullen participated in sixty-nine separate actions.