Samuel Wittewronge Clayton


In the early part of his career Clayton was military governor of Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands

1734-1795. He was born on 5 February 1734 in Barbados, the second son of Samuel Clayton who died in his first year, and of his wife Thomasine Wittewonge. His father was of Irish descent, and his mother was the heiress to a family that had settled in England from the Netherlands two centuries previously.

Clayton was commissioned lieutenant on 29 November 1756, and was the military administrator of Port Egmont on the Falkland Islands from January 1773, going out aboard the exploration vessel Endeavour which carried aboard the prefabricated shallop Penguin. The latter vessel was constructed on arrival at Port Egmont, was commissioned in April, and thereafter remained as the solitary vessel in those islands until May 1774, by which time she had been dismantled once more and Clayton and his small crew had been collected by the Endeavour.

Having been promoted commander on 1 August 1776, he took the Camilla 20 out to North America to exchange into the bomb Strombolo 8, Commander Hon. Charles Phipps, eventually doing so in December after a cruise off Bermuda. He had the Strombolo at New York in the summer of 1777, and later served in the Philadelphia campaign from 25 August.

Clayton was posted captain on 23 April 1778, commissioning the captured American frigate Hancock as the Iris 32, and commanding her in North American waters through to November that year when he exchanged with Captain George Keppel into the Ardent 64 in order to bring her home and pay her off.

He commanded the Channel flagship Victory 100 from 13 May 1780, taking part in the June-December campaign with the flag of Admiral Francis Geary until that officer resigned at the end of August. Remaining with the Victory she served as the flagship of Admiral Sir Francis William Drake from the last week of September until the end of December, and for a month or so until 16 April 1781 with the flag of Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker.

After leaving the Victory Clayton joined the recommissioned Centurion 50, going out to North America where his arrival during their engagement ensured the capture by the Hussar 20, Captain Thomas Macnamara Russell, of the French frigate Sybille 36 off the Chesapeake on 22 January 1783. In the same month he was appointed to the Warwick 50, which vessel returned to England and was paid off in February.

He was not thereafter employed and died at Peckham in October 1795, being buried in the family vault at St. Giles Church, Camberwell.

Clayton married Mary Walker at Saviour?s Church, Southwark, on 21 May 1765, and had three sons and six daughters. His eldest son, Thomas Wittewronge Whitewell Clayton, 1766-1806, was posted captain on 26 December 1799 and died when commanding a division of the Irish Sea Fencibles.