Samuel Reeve

@1754-1814. He was of Irish extraction and the nephew by marriage of Admiral Sir Thomas Pye.

@1733-1803. He was one of eight children of Rev. William Reeve, the rector of Freston and Kreson in Suffolk, and of his wife, Hannah Smythies. His elder sister Clara was a novelist of repute.

Reeve was commissioned lieutenant on 3 January 1757. He saw service upon the Eagle 64, Captain Henry Duncan, flagship of Vice-Admiral Lord Howe in North America during 1776 and commanded a division of boats in the landings on Long Island during the New York campaign of July – October.

During the spring of 1777, having been promoted commander, he had the Scorpion 14 in North America in succession to Commander Hon. John Tollemache, and in May was appointed to the. Merlin 18, serving in the Philadelphia campaign of August-November 1777, where she had to be fired and destroyed following the unsuccessful attack on Mud Island on 23 October. The court martial into her loss was held aboard the Somerset 64 in the Delaware on 26 November with Captain George Ourry presiding, and Reeve was acquitted of any failure of duty.

On 1 February 1778 he was posted captain of the Nonsuch 64, carrying the broad pennant of Commodore Walter Griffith, and on 24 May 1778 he led a force consisting of the galley Pigot 8, Lieutenant Hon Henry Stanhope, and six boats that took a rebel galley north of the Bristol Ferry at Rhode Island. Returning to England, from 10 December Reeve held the acting command of the Shrewsbury 74 for Captain John Lockhart-Ross in Vice-Admiral Lord Molyneux Shuldham s squadron which provided an escort to the out-going convoys from Portsmouth and cruised for a short time thereafter.

He commanded the Surprise 28 from February 1779, which frigate had a large complement of Irishmen aboard. Going out to Newfoundland in April he took the brand new privateer Wild Cat 14 on 16 July after that vessel had captured the schooner Egmont, Lieutenant Name Gardner, earlier that day off Cape Spear, rescuing her commander and crew in the process. He later took the privateer Jason 18, commanded by Captain John Manly, after a long action on 1 October 1779, and further captures were the Monmouth 12 on 5 October and the Duguay-Trouin 20 on 29 January 1780.

After sailing for Newfoundland once more in the early summer of 1780 he retook the Margaret Christiane on 15 July, and the Lockhart Ross on 21 July, then returning to Newfoundland in May 1781 took in company with the Danae 32, Captain Thomas Lloyd, the American privateers Venus on 15 July, the Independence three days later, the Diana Brig 8 on 22 July, the Sturdy Beggar on 27 September, the Tiger 14 on 4 October, and the Sept Fr res on 9 January 1782. In early January 1782 he came into Portsmouth with part of the Lisbon convoy, and seeing further duty in the Channel he took the Duc de Chartres 18, but only escaped capture by a French 64 when he took shelter under the old fort in Mounts Bay, Penzance. When he left the frigate Reeve famously vowed to hang all the enemy flags he had taken from every tree in his father s garden.


The French ship of the line Ca Ira at the action of 14 March 1795, where she inflicted much damage on Captain Reeve’s command

In the spring of 1782 he was appointed to the newly commissioned Crown 64, and he commanded a flying squadron of four sail of the line and three frigates that was sent out into the Western Approaches before cruising in the Bay of Biscay, taking several prizes. After a cruise off Lisbon he commanded the Crown at the relief of Gibraltar on 18 October 1782 where he afterwards formed part of a small cruising squadron commanded by Captain John Harvey, and following the war he continued with her as a guardship at Plymouth, being paid off in 1786.

Recommissioning the Captain 74 at the beginning of 1793, Reeve went out to the Mediterranean with the fleet in May and was present at the occupation of Toulon from August 1793. He participated in the capture of the French frigate Modeste 36 on 5 October at Genoa, and then took the Imp rieuse 38 in Spezzia Bay on 12 October after raising her when she had been scuppered, this frigate being bought into the Navy as the Unit . He later had the Captain 74 in the Battle of Genoa on 13-14 March 1795 where by outstripping her consorts she was engaged and badly damaged by the Censeur 74 and a Ira 80, being towed clear of danger. He later commanded her in Hotham s second battle with the Toulon fleet on 13 July 1795.

Reeve left the Captain shortly afterwards, having promoted to flag rank on 1 June 1795. He became a vice-admiral on 14 February 1799 and retired to Ipswich. He lost his life on 5 May 1803 when the horse on his chaise bolted into a bank on the road and he was thrown to the ground, breaking his neck. His servant survived the accident.

Although he gave his men liberty ashore Reeve was a hard disciplinarian at sea, being renowned for not allowing the merest fault. He was a renowned and frequent raconteur.