Walter Serocold

1758-94. He was born on 24 January 1758 at Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire, the only son of the Rev. Walter Serocold and of his wife, Mary Marshall.

Serocold was commissioned lieutenant on 11 April 1779 and at the beginning of 1782 was serving aboard the frigate Jason 32, Captain James Pigot, which arrived at Plymouth from St. Helena in February, having left the island on 2 November 1781 with a convoy. Sadly, his arrival at the Admiralty with tidings of his ship’s safe return coincided with the news of his mother’s death at Cherry Hinton.

From March 1782 he commanded the armed storeship Tortoise 16, fitting out at Deptford and sailing for the East Indies on 11 September under the orders of Captain James Burney of the Bristol 50 to reach Madras on 16 April 1783. On 2 March 1784 the Tortoise arrived at Calcutta from Bombay in ballast, prior to being sent down to Madras from where she sailed in early June for England with news of the peace treaty with Tippoo Sahib. After arriving at Portsmouth, Serocold went up to India House in London on 16 November, and in the following month his command was paid off.

Following the commencement of the French Revolutionary War in 1793 he was present at the occupation of Toulon from August where he led a party of seamen ashore in destroying French batteries and ammunition, and in hauling heavy cannon to the heights above the town in support of the Army. As a reward for his endeavours he was promoted commander on 13 December of the frigate Proselyte 32, which had been taken from the French.

Serocold commanded the Proselyte as a floating battery during the Corsican Campaign from February 1794, but due to a heavy swell and the vagaries of the weather he was unable to take up his pre-determined station at the siege of Bastia, and having resolutely continued a cannonade for as long as was possible the Proselyte was set alight on 13 April by red hot shot from the town. By summoning help from the fleet, he was able to see all his men to safety before his command burned to the waters-edge. He then served ashore on the batteries, and he was mentioned in dispatches by the commander-in-chief, Admiral Lord Hood, although the selection of Captain Anthony Hunt to carry the dispatches home in preference to Serocold raised the ire of their superior officer, Captain Horatio Nelson, who believed the latter far more deserving.

Captain Serocold was killed by grape shot whilst setting up the last of the guns in a battery at the siege of Calvi on 8 July 1794.

A memorial was erected at St. Andrew’s Church, Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire. He was survived by three sisters.