Robert Linzee

1739-1804. He was the youngest of ten children of Edward Linzee, who served several terms as the lord mayor of Portsmouth, and of his wife Anne Newnham. He became the brother-in-law of Admiral Lord Hood through the marriage in 1749 of his sister Susanna, and he was the cousin of Captain John Linzee.

Having passed his lieutenant’s examination on 19 August 1760 Linzee was commissioned lieutenant on 29 January 1761 and promoted commander of the Viper 10 on 25 November 1768. Serving at Boston, he retained her until posted captain on 3 October 1770 when he joined the Romney 50 with the broad pennant of his brother-in-law, Commodore Samuel Hood, in order to return home from North America. During December he sailed for the Downs from Portsmouth with orders to undertake the impressment of seamen before returning to Portsmouth in March where the Romney was paid off.

In February 1775 he commissioned the new Surprise 28 at Woolwich, going out to the Newfoundland station in May and then sailing from Plymouth in the following spring to serve under Captain Charles Douglas at the relief of Quebec on 6 May 1776. Here he captured the rebel privateers Maria on 7 May and Gaspee eight days later. He returned to Portsmouth in November after a three-week passage and sailed for Newfoundland again during January 1777, dropping off the Portuguese and Gibraltar convoys on passage. Returning once more to Portsmouth from Newfoundland in February 1778, he sailed for that station again at the end of April, being present at the capture of the islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre on 14 September, and taking the Salem-based privateer Harlequin 10 in Trinity Bay in the same month, which vessel was bought into the service. At the end of the year he returned to Portsmouth, having parted company with his convoy in a storm, but bringing in a Frenchman from St. Domingo valued at 20,000 guineas.

During April 1779, Linzee sat on the court-martial of Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser following the politically-charged recriminatory aftermath from the Battle of Ushant on 27 July 1778, and from April until September he appears to have been in nominal command of the Ajax 74, although the ship was port-bound throughout this period and not ready for sea.

In September 1779 he was appointed to succeed Captain John Gell in command of the Thetis 32, and in early 1780 was sent to hunt down the troublesome privateer Black Prince, which with her consort had been responsible for the capture of a number of merchant vessels off the northern coast of Ireland. Whilst on this ultimately unsuccessful task she ran aground on a reef of rocks due to pilot error, and after limping into Carrickfergus Bay she rescued the crews of two wrecked ships which had driven aground in the winter storms but could not do the same for a coastal vessel, nor a privateer which had parted her cables and was wrecked on 25 February after the majority of her crew had fled to escape impressment

The Thetis was later part of Captain John Moutray’s escort to a richly laden convoy that was picked off by the Franco / Spanish on 9 August 1780. Linzee returned to England with news of that catastrophe. In November he went out to the Leeward Islands with Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood s squadron, and together with Captains John Linzee and Hon. John Rodney he manned the batteries to successfully defend St. Lucia against a French attack on 11 May 1781. Unfortunately, the Thetis was lost The Franco / Spanish capture of Commodore Moutray's convoywhen trying to work into the harbour the next day and he was sent home from Barbados with Admiral Sir George Rodney s despatches to arrive at the Admiralty on 2 August, having taken passage on the sloop Scourge 16, Commander Isaac Smith.

In November 1781 he recommissioned the Magnificent 74, going out to the Leeward Islands in February 1782 and arriving at Carlisle Bay, Barbados on 20 March before sailing to join Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood at St. Lucia. He was despatched in company with the Agamemnon 64, Captain Benjamin Caldwell, to monitor the French fleet at Martinique, and on 8 April sent news of their sailing from that island to Admiral Sir George Rodney at St. Lucia. On 12 April 1782 he commanded the Magnificent at the Battle of the Saintes, providing valuable assistance to the beleaguered Warrior 74, Captain Sir James Wallace, and finding herself in the thick of the action around the French flagship. He was later present with Hood s squadron in the Mona Passage in pursuit of the French stragglers, forcing the surrender of the Aimable 32 after a forty-minute running engagement that saw his vessel lose four men killed and eight wounded.

On 23 July the Magnificent grounded off Savannah le Mar but was hove off successfully with her chain pumps constantly employed. Later in the year Linzee took her north with Admiral Hugh Pigot’s fleet whereupon arriving at Halifax in September she underwent repairs. When returning to the Leeward Islands at the end of the year the Magnificent lost her mizzenmast in a storm which brought down her maintopsail-yard and led to the death of five seamen. Cruising in company with the St. Albans 64, Captain Charles Inglis, and Prudent 64, Captain Andrew Barkley, she captured the French frigate Concorde 36, Captain Chevalier du Clesmaur, off St. Kitts on 15 February 1783 after a fifteen-minute action. The Magnificent then sailed for England with nine other sail of the line on 21 April and was paid off at Portsmouth on 27 June 1783.

During the Spanish Armament of 1790 Linzee commissioned the new Saturn 74 in May, retaining her through the Russian Armament of 1791 until paid off in September.

In December 1792 he joined the Alcide 74 at Portsmouth, being temporarily the senior officer at that port. He was nominated a colonel of marines in February 1793, and after putting to sea early in the year the Alcide was required to return to Portsmouth to repair a leak at the beginning of March. Linzee took her out to the Mediterranean in April, and was present at the occupation of Toulon in August. During September he raised his broad pennant aboard this ship with Captain John Woodley as his flag-captain and was detached in command of two sail of the line, a 64, and two frigates to attempt, unsuccessfully as it transpired, to incite a Royalist rebellion at Ville Franche. He then sailed for Corsica to try and ferment a rebellion there, but the principal cities refused to join the royalist cause so instead Linzee attempted to attack Fornelli, near San Fiorenzo. Although his squadron easily took the formidable Martello Tower he did not promptly follow up his success with an attack on San Fiorenzo, and he was forced to withdraw rather ignominiously after an unsuccessful bombardment on 1 October.

In November 1793 he undertook a mission to the Bey of Tunis, but believing himself not authorised to use force he achieved little. Early in the following year he was sent to Fornelli again with a force of three sail of the line and two frigates, together with troops under Major-General Sir David Dundas. An initial attack on the Martello Tower by the Fortitude and Juno on 8 February 1794 was beaten off, but the Army artillery proved more adept and successful campaigning by Captain Horatio Nelson and others led to the island’s capture.

Remaining in the Mediterranean fleet, Linzee became a rear-admiral on 12 April 1794, initially flying his flag aboard the Alcide 74, Captain Thomas Shivers, and then exchanging with Vice-Admiral Phillips Cosby in July to the Windsor Castle 98 with Captains Edward Cooke and Captain William Shield. On 11 November the crew mutinied against Captain Shield although they advised Linzee, who reportedly quelled the riot, that they would not harm him. The new commander-in-chief, Vice-Admiral William Hotham, surprisingly sided with the men, and despite being acquitted at a court-martial he has requested upon himself, Captain Shield was replaced by the newly posted Captain John Gore with no action being taken against the mutineers.

Linzee fought at the Battle of Genoa on 13-14 March 1795, where his flagship suffered six men killed and thirty-one wounded, and after being promoted vice-admiral on 1 June he fought at the Battle of the Hyères Islands on 13 July, although the Windsor Castle barely got into the action. He later flew his flag from October to December aboard the Victory 100, Captain John Knight, the Egmont 74, Captain John Sutton, and thereafter the Princess Royal 98, Captain John Child Purvis. In May 1796 he left for home with the Princess Royal and the Agamemnon 64, whose captain John Samuel Smith had died just previous to leaving Gibraltar, and with the Mediterranean and West India fleets in convoy he reached England in August 1796, having saluted the King aboard the San Fiorenzo 36, Captain Sir Harry Burrard Neale, off Weymouth during his passage.

Linzee did not undertake any further employment but was further promoted admiral on 1 January 1801, and he died on 4 October 1804 at Wickham in Hampshire, being buried in the churchyard.

He married Anne Redston, daughter of a Royal Naval surgeon from the Isle of Wight on 9 October 1771, and after her death on 26 July 1781 he remained a widower for over ten years before marrying Mary Grant, a woman of about twenty-one years of age and no small fortune, on 2 February 1792 at Portsmouth, with the couple spending their honeymoon in Southampton. She survived him and remarried. His son Edward from his first marriage entered the clergy.