Samuel Uvedale

1729-1808. He was born on 7 June 1729, the son of the Reverend Samuel Uvedale, the rector of Barking in Suffolk, and of his wife Sophia Spragge.

Having entered the Navy at the age of twelve under the patronage of a local nobleman, the Earl of Ashburnham, Uvedale was commissioned lieutenant on 5 May 1747.

On 16 January 1758 he was promoted commander and appointed to the Granado 8, which he commanded in operations against St. Malo, Cherbourg, and St. Cas before going out to the Leeward Islands in November. Here, under the orders of Commodore John Moore, he was present at the unsuccessful assault on Martinique on 19 January 1759 and the subsequent campaign against Guadeloupe in May.

Uvedale was posted captain of the Boreas 28 on 18 February 1760, and he departed Portsmouth shortly afterwards with the Jamaica convoy under the orders of Rear-Admiral Charles Holmes, although even as this fleet was passing Torbay an audacious French privateer took six vessels from its rear before the Boreas chased it off.

Once in the West Indies, the Boreas was sent to cruise off Saint-Domingue where she destroyed the privateer St. Michel after driving her aground near Cap St. Nicholas Mole on 30 August 1760. Upon intelligence being received by Admiral Holmes that a French convoy escorted by five frigates was leaving Cap François, the Boreas was dispatched with the Hampshire 50, Captain Coningsby Norbury, and the Lively 20, Captain Hon. Frederick Maitland, to intercept them. Sighting the convoy at sunrise on 17 October, the Boreas managed to bring the French frigate Sirène 32 to action at midnight after being delayed all day by light winds, but she was damaged aloft in the early exchanges and was unable to resume the action for a further fourteen hours. A three-hour engagement then ensued off the eastern end of Cuba with the Frenchman striking, having suffered eighty casualties in return for one man killed and one wounded aboard the Boreas. With the Lively capturing the Valeur 20 after taking to her sweeps, both French vessels, which had been carrying rich cargoes of indigo, were bought into the Navy. During the same action, the Hampshire drove the frigate Fleur de Lis 32 and privateer Prince Edward 20 ashore where they were burned.

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Uvedale was in the thick of the action at the Moonlight Battle in 1780

In December 1760 the Boreas’ boats assisted those of the Trent 28, Captain John Lindsay, in the cutting out of the privateer Vainqueur from Cumberland Harbour, the modern-day Guantanamo Bay on Cuba, losing one man killed and five wounded. Uvedale’s command also captured the privateer Belle-Madeleine on 18 December, and in the spring of 1762 made prizes of two richly laden French vessels sailing from the Caribbean to France. On 22 June the Boreas departed Jamaica with a convoy, but upon arriving off Havana the fleet was detained by Vice-Admiral George Pocock, who at that time was undertaking a siege of the Spanish possession. It eventually left on 18 July and reached the Downs in early September, and the Boreas was paid off in November to be refitted and repaired at Woolwich.

In August 1779, after a long period of unemployment, Uvedale was appointed to the Ajax 74, which spent much of the next two months being copper-sheathed and prepared for service in the dock at Portsmouth. Finally, on 5 November she made the signal for sailing, but rather than join the beleaguered Channel Fleet she was instead placed under the orders of Admiral Sir George Rodney, who had instructions to relieve Gibraltar and then proceed to the Leeward Islands station.

Sailing with Rodney’s fleet on Christmas Day 1779, Uvedale fought in the Moonlight Battle off Cape St. Vincent on 16 January 1780, being in the thick of the action, engaging seven ships in succession, expending a huge number of barrels of gunpowder, but incurring casualties of just six men wounded including himself. Proceeding to the West Indies with Rodney, the Ajax fought at the Battle of Martinique on 17 April where she lost four men killed and thirteen wounded. By now in very poor health and reportedly having lost his hearing as a consequence of the cannon-fire, Uvedale was sent home with Rodney’s despatches aboard the Pegasus 28, Captain John Bazely, to arrive at the Admiralty on 24 May. Apparently, his wish had been to remain in the Leeward Islands until the French threat had been extinguished, but he had been prevailed upon to go home by Rodney in order to save his life.

Uvedale commanded the Dublin 74 in the Channel Fleet from October 1780 until the end of the year but was again obliged to resign through his poor health. He was unable to secure any further employment and retired to his residence of Bosmere House, Creeting All Saints, Suffolk which he had been able to purchase through the prize money garnered during the Seven Years War.

He became a superannuated admiral in 1788 during the dispute over the pensioning of senior captains that resulted in Lord Howe’s resignation as the first lord of the Admiralty on 16 July. During the parliamentary debate on this matter, his case was introduced by John Pollexfen Bastard, the M.P for Devonshire, who mentioned that Uvedale had been superseded on medical advice from one command after being struck on the head by a falling yard.

Uvedale died on 14 December 1808 in Ipswich, having sold Bosmere House on account of his poor health, and he was buried at Creeting All Saints, Suffolk.

He married Margaret Cooke of Edmonton, the daughter of the vicar of that parish, on 18 January 1763.