William Fooks

1738-98. He was the third son of John Fooks and Judith Legas of Marston Magna, Somerset.

Fooks was commissioned lieutenant on 20 June 1765.

He was in temporary command of the brig Hunter 10 for Commander Thomas Mackenzie when this vessel was captured by two American privateers off Boston on 23 November 1775. The Hunter was retaken a day later by the Greyhound 28, Captain Archibald Dickson.

The Battle of Martinique, 1780.

Promoted commander on 17 July 1776, he recommissioned the Favorite 16 and sailed for the Leeward Islands in November. During the autumn of 1777 he was sent on a mission to Trinidad to request that the Spanish hand over a Corsican pirate who had fled there with a number of slaves stolen from Tobago. Later in the year he was serving at Antigua, and he remained on the Leeward Islands station with the Favourite through to 1779.

Fooks was posted captain of the recently arrived Deal Castle 24 in the Leeward Islands on 14 May 1779 by Vice-Admiral Hon. John Byron, and he commanded her at the Battle of Martinique on 17 April 1780. Following Admiral Sir George Rodney’s reorganisation of his captains three days later, Fooks joined the Greyhound 28 and commanded her in the subsequent Leeward Islands campaign from May-July. He retained the Greyhound on that station until the following February when he returned to England with the newly promoted Rear-Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle, reaching Portsmouth on 11 April after a five-week passage.

In July 1781 he was appointed to the Lion 64 in succession to Captain Hon. William Cornwallis, allowing Captain William Fox, with whom he was often confused, to assume the command of the Greyhound, although within a month that vessel would be wrecked off Deal. Going out to North America with Rear-Admiral Hon. Robert Digby’s squadron in July, Fooks flew that officer’s flag in 1782 when the Lion was the largest vessel on the station. He participated in the capture of the French hired vessel Sophie 22 on 12 September and her compatriot, the frigate Aigle 40, in the Delaware on 15 September, superintending the recovery of the latter after the French had tried to scuttle her. He was also accorded the honour of receiving a ceremonial sword from her captain, the future commander-in-chief of the Toulon fleet, Louis-René Madelaine Levassor, Comte de Latouche-Tréville. His service in North America concluded at the end of the war when on 12 July 1783 he arrived at Portsmouth from New York in command of the Aigle.

In the summer of 1794 Fooks joined the Montagu 74 in place of the late Captain James Montagu who had lost his life at the Battle of the Glorious First of June, and in which vessel he entered Plymouth in late August having seen the East India convoy safely home. The Montagu then departed for the Leeward Islands from Cork, and she joined the Ganges 74, Captain William Truscott, in the capture of the Jacobin 24 on 30 October some hundred miles to the west of Cape Finisterre, the small French frigate having apparently mistaken the two ships of the line as Spanish register ships. During this engagement Fooks’ command lost three men killed. The two sail of the line arrived at Fort Royal, Martinique, with their prize on 29 November, and eight months later the Montagu departed the Leeward Islands with the August convoy, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson. She arrived at Spithead at the beginning of October 1795, prior to going around to the Downs with the convoy, and she was paid off in November.

Fooks was advanced to the rank of rear-admiral on 20 February 1797, and he died at his residence of Holbrook House, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset on 2 October 1798, being buried at Marston Magna.

He married Frances Legas of Wadhurst, Sussex, on 11 September 1783 but had no issue.

Fooks’ name was often recorded as ’Fox’.