Matthew Henry Scott

1766-1836. The youngest of three sons of Hon. John Scott and of his wife, Lucretia Favell Gregory, he was born in July 1766 in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica, where his family owned estates and slaves.

Scott was commissioned lieutenant on 1 December 1787.

Upon leaving Britain for the Leeward Islands on 24 November 1793 aboard Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis’ flagship Boyne 70, Captain George Grey, Scott broke his arm when a block gave way, but this injury did not prevent him being promoted commander of the Rattlesnake 16 on 23 January 1794 in succession to Commander Alexander Mouat, who had died at Antigua during the previous October. Thereafter he participated in that year’s Leeward Islands campaign, transferring to the Rose 28 upon being posted captain on 4 April, and joining Captain Josias Rogers of the Quebec 32 at the capture of the Isle des Saintes later that month. Regrettably, the Rose was wrecked on Rocky Point, south-east Jamaica, on 28 June during a heavy gale a day after sailing from Port Royal, although Scott was praised for remaining aboard her until every last man had reached safety.

HMS Hebe

Having returned to England, he was appointed to the frigate Hebe 38 in January 1796 with orders to sail for the West Indies as soon as possible, and on 23 February this vessel departed St. Helens in escort of the merchant convoy to arrive at Barbados. On 6 April she reached St. Kitts with General Charles Leigh a passenger, and during the Leeward Islands campaign of April-June 1796 she engaged a battery on Pigeon Island, St. Lucia, thereby facilitating the landing of troops. Scott was subsequently dispatched under the orders of Captain Thomas Wolley of the Arethusa 38 to assist Lieutenant General Sir Ralph Abercromby in quelling insurrections on St. Vincent and Grenada, and in July he was sent by Rear-Admiral Henry Harvey from Martinique to Barbados to escort a convoy from that island to St. Kitts. Having endured a difficult passage home, the Hebe arrived at Portsmouth on 22 September with transports carrying soldier invalids, prisoners, and families, whereupon she underwent quarantine at the Motherbank before sailing for Spithead. During October she entered harbour at Portsmouth to be paid off.

In March 1798 Scott joined the thirty-nine-year-old Niger 32, which departed Portsmouth on 17 April to join Commodore Sir Richard Strachan in an attack on Le Havre, and she returned at the end of May with dispatches and wounded men. His command subsequently rejoined Strachan in the blockade of several French frigates in Le Havre before being ordered to Guernsey in October, Having reached Portsmouth on 1 December she was off Spithead nine days later when a boat carrying the surgeon and sixteen men from the Atlas 90, Captain Shuldham Peard, overset. Scott launched himself into the water and personally rescued three men, whilst the remainder were picked up by boats, although the surgeon sadly died having been ‘suffocated by salt water’. Shortly afterwards Scott left the Niger.

In January 1801 he joined the Indefatigable 44, and on 16 February, whilst cruising in the Bay of Biscay, his boats with those of the Excellent 74, Captain Hon. Robert Stopford, cut out a French gunboat with the loss of one of the Excellent’s lieutenants, and four seamen. The Indefatigable returned to Plymouth at the end of the month to land forty French prisoners prior to going out again days later, and she was back at Plymouth at the beginning of August after twenty-two weeks operating off the French coast. During this latter cruise she attempted to cut out a large French frigate from the Belle Isle Roads after exchanging several broadsides, but was deterred by the strength of the local batteries guarding the shallow waters into which the enemy vessel had warped.

At the end August 1801 the Indefatigable embarked eighteen bullocks and sailed to join Commodore Sir Edward Pellew off Rochefort, from whom she parted to enter Portsmouth on 31 October. She later sailed from the Hampshire port on 20 December for the Channel Fleet, and in March 1802 had a brief cruise off Portland before joining a number of other men-of-war in Plymouth Sound. In April orders were given for her to be paid off at Plymouth, and soon lurid but unconfirmed reports appeared in the newspapers claiming that her discharged crew had cut off the surgeon’s nose, the ears of a boatswain and a boatswain’s mate, and had stripped a lieutenant naked before leading him through the streets.

Scott remained unemployed during the peace, but after the resumption of hostilities in 1803 he joined the Niobe 38 when she was commissioned for service in August, and which as the French frigate Diane had been taken by a British squadron on 24 August 1800 in the Mediterranean. On 17 November she departed Portsmouth, and five days later was sheltering in Plymouth Sound from the tail-end of a hurricane before setting off to return to the former port with a convoy. By 29 November she was in Torbay, and she then entered Plymouth to take on board the flag of Rear-Admiral James Dacres, whom she carried to Portsmouth to arrive on 3 December prior to his departure for Jamaica. Thereafter going out on a cruise, the Niobe arrived at Plymouth on 28 December having lost her mizzen topmast in poor weather.

At the end of January 1804, the Niobe had to ride out further rough weather in Plymouth Sound before she delivered dispatches to the commander-in-chief of the Channel Fleet, Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis at Torbay on 2 February. Attached to the Channel fleet, she cruised off Rochefort in March prior to returning to Plymouth on 5 April, and on 1 May she sailed from that port with officers for the squadron blockading Ferrol, from where she returned to Portsmouth on 10 May with the recently promoted Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew and several other captains who had been advanced to flag rank. She then sailed for Plymouth from where she put out with dispatches for the fleet on 24 May, and leaving the Brest patrol on 2 June she returned to Plymouth. The shuttle service to the fleet continued with another delivery of dispatches that month. In July it was reported that she had been appointed the protecting frigate for the Cornish coast from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly, in the course of which duty she was frequently in an out of Falmouth as well as working with the local coastal telegraph stations towards the improvement of signals.

On 27 August 1804 the Niobe was to be found at Plymouth alongside a sheer-hulk having a new main-mast fitted, and on 11 September orders arrived for her to join Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez’ squadron at Jersey, to which island she sailed days later. On 17 November at Portsmouth she landed the diplomat and minister-resident to Hamburg, Sir George Rumbold, who had been infamously abducted by French troops and imprisoned and interrogated in the Temple, and who she had picked up from a small cutter which had put out of Cherbourg under a flag of truce following his release on Napoleon’s orders. On 20 November she was sent to monitor the French frigate Minerve 38 which was reportedly ready for sea in the Cherbourg Roads, and on 19 December, whilst in the Guernsey Roads, she survived a heavy gale by cutting away her fore and main masts and her mizzen top-mast, although not without twice fouling the Thisbe 28 en flute, Captain Lewis Shepheard. She eventually arrived at Plymouth under jury masts on 26 December.

At the end of January 1805 it was announced that the Niobe was ready for sea, and after joining the fleet off Brest she sailed so close inshore to count the French fleet in the following month that shot from the enemy batteries was seen to pass overhead. On 3 May she arrived at Cork from the Channel Fleet with dispatches for Rear-Admiral William O’Brien Drury, and returning to the fleet off Brest she was dispatched by Admiral Lord Gardner to Plymouth with the fleet’s ancillary vessels when it appeared that the French fleet was coming out. Towards the end of June, and with the Trafalgar Campaign gathering pace, she brought more dispatches into Plymouth from the Channel Fleet, and in September, in addition to making several small prizes and recaptures, she cut out the chasse-maree Victoire prior to arriving at Brixham on the 22nd. She then began fitting for foreign service at Plymouth which resulted in Scott being superseded by Captain John Wentworth Loring in November.

On 7 December 1805 Scott brought the Goliath 74 from the Channel Fleet into Plymouth, and she was paid off shortly afterwards in order that she could be refitted. He thereafter appears to have remained unemployed until succeeding Captain Edward Griffith aboard the Dragon 74 in July 1806, which vessel formed part of Rear-Admiral Charles Stirling’s squadron of seven sail of the line which went in search of Jerome Bonaparte’s squadron. On 5 January 1807 Scott brought her into Plymouth for a refit after a long stint off the French coast, and she then went around to Portsmouth a week later to be docked. Over the next few months she underwent such a thorough refit that her crew was removed to other vessels, and upon being ready for sea her manning was completed with the delivery of three hundred men from the recently paid-off Hero 74.

HMS Dragon

Returning to Plymouth in July 1807, the Dragon received orders to join the Rochefort station, on 10 November she entered Falmouth after serving off the Black Rocks at Brest, and she was again back at the Cornish port from Brest on 27 December. On 6 January 1808 she set off from Falmouth for the Channel Fleet once more, and following the escape of Rear-Admiral Allemand from Rochefort and Vice-Admiral Ganteaume from Toulon on 7 February she joined Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth in his fruitless chase to the Leeward Islands, Saint-Domingue, and the Chesapeake before returning empty-handed to Plymouth on 18 April. It was then announced that she would remain at Plymouth fitting out for a six-month secret mission under the orders of Rear-Admiral Michael de Courcy, but instead in mid-May she put out to patrol off Lorient from where she returned to Plymouth on 10 September. A further stint followed off Rochefort before she came back to Plymouth on 16 November, and at the end of December she received orders to be paid off.

In November 1810 Scott was appointed to the Marlborough 74 for service in the Channel Fleet, which vessel arrived at Plymouth on 3 January 1811 and was back there again at the beginning of February having been blown off her station on the French coast. She was still in Torbay a fortnight later, and having resumed her duties off the French coast was running fort Plymouth towards the end of the month in poor weather when she came upon two wrecks bottom up off the Eddystone, which were presumed to be neutrals. On 5 March she put out once more only for bad weather to send her scurrying straight back to port again, and four days later she sailed for Brest where she patrolled in the company of two frigates.

On 21 March 1811 the Marlborough reached Portsmouth, and on 26 April she sailed for Deal to take on board the flag of Admiral William Young, who was to command the fleet off Flushing. By 30 June she was back in the Downs from where she sailed a fortnight later with bullocks for the fleet, and where she remained until she reached Portsmouth on Boxing Day. At the beginning of March 1812 she sailed from Portsmouth to reportedly blockade Cherbourg, and early in April she departed the Downs with the fleet for the blockade of the Scheldt from where she soon returned.

Scott was promoted rear-admiral on 12 August 1812, and two weeks later he hoisted his flag at Portsmouth aboard the frigate Nieman 38, Captain Samuel Pym, to sail for the Downs, where after arriving on 31 August he attended a ball with several other dignitaries. Transferring his flag to the Chatham 74, Captain Robert Maunsell, he sailed for the Scheldt to continue serving under the orders of Admiral Young. On 6 October the fleet returned to the Downs, and eleven days later Scott sailed for the Texel with five sail of the line. This force soon ran into Hollesley Bay in Suffolk before returning to the Texel, and by December the Chatham was back in the Downs with Admiral Young.

In February 1813 Scott attended a levee held by the Prince Regent at Carlton House, and by April he was off the Scheldt once more. He came back to the Downs on 19 May where his officers entertained some Russian counterparts on board the Chatham, and there was further duty off the Scheldt from where he returned with the fleet under Admiral Young to the Downs on 10 September This was but a brief visit before another stint on the Dutch coast, and during December the fleet was at anchor off the island of Tholen. On 9 February 1814 Scott landed on South Beveland to take command of a party of seamen and marines, including two thousand Russians, and on 22 May, with the war drawing to a close, the Chatham arrived in the Downs where Scott struck his flag to be received once more at a huge levee towards the end of July.

During the Hundred Days of Napoleon’s return to France in 1815 Scott arrived at Deal on 26 March to hoist his flag the next day aboard the Mercurius 16, Commander Thomas Renwick, and on 8 May the Argo 44, Captain Donald M’Leod, arrived in the Downs to which vessel he transferred. Following Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo it was announced in August that the Downs station was to be discontinued and Scott went ashore, never to serve again.

He was further promoted vice-admiral on 12 August 1819, being presented at another levee shortly afterwards, and on his retirement he became a leading member of society in Southampton.

Admiral Scott died at Southampton aged 70 on 31 October 1836.

He married Mary Pinnock of Westbury House, Hampshire on 4 June 1799 and reportedly had about a dozen children. His elder brother Jack married Mary’s sister. For much of his life he had a residence at 11 Devonshire Place, Marylebone, London.