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SIR MICHAEL SEYMOUR,
OF HIGH MOUNT, COUNTY CORK, AND FRIARY PARK, DEVON,
BART. AND K.C.B.; REAR-ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE; AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF ON THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATION,
The intelligence of the death of this brave officer on the 9th of July, 1834, at Rio de Janeiro, occasioned the deepest regret among the naval circles; in which he had rendered himself deservedly popular by the urbanity and worth of his private character, as well as by the gallantry and decision of his public conduct.
Sir Michael Seymour was born at Palace, county Limerick, Nov. 8. 1768, and was the second son of the late Rev. John Seymour, Rector of Abington, and Chancellor of Emly, in Ireland, by Griselda, youngest daughter and co-heiress of William Hobart, of High Mount, county Cork, Esq. His youngest brother, Richard, was First Lieutenant of the Amazon, and was killed in March, 1806, in the action between that frigate and La Belle Poule.
Having manifested a desire for a sea life, he embarked as a midshipman, at the age of twelve, on board the Merlin, a sloop of war on the Channel station, commanded by the Honourable James Luttrell. In 1781 this officer was removed into the Portland, of 50 guns, as the flag-ship of RearAdmiral Richard Edwards, on the Newfoundland station, and young Seymour was seleeted to accompany him. After the arrival of Vice-Admiral Campbell to assume the command, Captain Luttrell was appointed to the Mediator, of 44 guns, on the home employ. On the 12th of December, 1782, this ship, being on a
cruise in the Bay of Biscay, discovered, soon after daybreak, five sail of vessels, four of which loomed large, to leeward. As they were all single-decked, the Captain lost little time in deliberation, but immediately bore up and made all sail in chase. The French, on his approach, confiding in their numbers, shortened sail, and formed in a line of battle ahead to receive him. Nothing daunted by this formidable front, Luttrell resolutely stood on till 10 A.M., when the enemy opened their fire as he passed along their line, which was returned from the Mediator with such steadiness and effect that in half an hour their line was broken. The three largest ships wore under easy sail, and continued to engage till eleven, when, by a skilful maneuvre and superior fire, Capt. Luttrell cut off the Alexander, of 24 guns and 120 men, and compelled her to strike: her companions instantly went off before the wind, under a crowd of canvass. At half-past twelve, having secured his prize, the victor renewed the chase, upon which the fugitives separated. In this embarras du choix he selected the largest for his particular attention. At 5 P. M. he got within gun-shot, and commenced a close running fight, which continued till nine; when, having ranged close up alongside of the foe, she hauled down her colours, and proved to be the Ménagère, armed en flúte, with 34 guns and 212 men. The next morning at daybreak two of the vessels were still in the offing; but Captain Luttrell being close in with the Spanish coast, and having on board 340 prisoners, with only 190 of his own men to guard them, judged it most prudent to steer for England with his prizes. In this action the Alexander had six men killed and nine wounded; the Ménagère four killed and eight wounded. The enemy having directed their fire chiefly at the masts and rigging of the Mediator, not a man was hurt.
During the short passage across the Bay, an event occurred which called for the full exertion of the officers and men of the Mediator. In the night of the 14th they were all suddenly alarmed by a violent report and cry of fire. Every one was immediately at his post. The explosion, it was found,
had been occasioned by one of the lower-deck guns having been fired off by Captain Grégoire, late commander of the Alexander, who had laid a plot with the prisoners to rise and take the Mediator: this was the signal agreed upon to execute their design; but by the timely and indefatigable exertions of the officers, who immediately placed additional sentinels over the hatchways, and secured them by capstanbars, this desperate attempt was suppressed without bloodshed. Upon examination, some powder and a pistol were found in Grégoire's cot, which led to prove that he was the principal person concerned. Captain Luttrell no longer considered him entitled to his parole; he was, therefore, with some others, his accomplices, confined in irons during the remainder of the passage to England.
Mr. Seymour served in the Mediator till the beginning of 1783, when he joined the Ganges, 74. This was the last ship that Captain Luttrell ever commanded, he being cut off by consumption; but young Seymour served in various vessels till November, 1790, when he obtained a Lieutenant's commission, after exactly ten years of employment. He was then appointed to the Magnificent, a fine third-rate, commanded by Captain Onslow, which ship, however, was paid off in the autumn of 1791, when the Russian rupture had subsided.
After the breaking out of hostilities with the French republic, Lieutenant Seymour was commissioned to the Marlborough, 74, Captain the Honourable G. C. Berkeley; and was with Lord Howe when he fell in with Vanstabel's fleet in the Bay, in November, 1793. On the memorable 1st of June, 1794, the Marlborough acted a very distinguished part; for she engaged the Impétueux, of 78 guns, and Mucius, 74, and all the three ships were completely dismasted, with a dreadful carnage. At this moment the Montagne, of 120 guns, came down under her stern, and poured a raking broadside of round, grape, and langridge into the Marlborough, which caused a serious destruction. Besides losing her masts in this unequal contest, her killed and wounded amounted to 137, amono
latter of whom was Lieutenant Seymour, who had his left arm shot off. The Impétueux was found to have sustained a loss of 100 killed and 75 wounded, but the Mucius effected her escape, so that the other results of the Marlborough's fire are unknown.
Shortly after this glorious victory Lieutenant Seymour was promoted to the rank of Commander; and in the summer of 1796 succeeded Captain Amherst Morris in the command of the Spitfire, a sloop of war of 16 guns. In this ship he cruised in the Channel, and on the coast of France, till the 11th of August, 1800, when he was placed on the list of Post Captains, on a solicitation which he made to Lord Spencer. This home station was a service of greater hardship than profit, yet he managed to pick up a valuable French ship, the Allégrée, laden with ammunition and other warlike stores ; a fine transport armed with 14 guns; and the following privateers :
Captain Seymour succeeded the present Sir T. B. Martin in the command of the Fisguard frigate, under the orders of Admiral Cornwallis, in 1801 ; but the peace of Amiens followed shortly after, when he retired to shore life. On the recommencement of hostilities he solicited employment, but some time elapsed before he was attended to; and he acted as captain in six successive ships before he obtained one for himself. At length his perseverance was rewarded by Lord Barham, in 1806, with the Amethyst, a fine 36-gun frigate, armed with 18 pounders on her main-deck; and of this frigate he proved himself a right worthy captain.
On the evening of the 10th of November, 1808, while
cruising off Ile Grois, he fell in with the 40-gun French frigate Thetis, and brought her to action. A close, furious, and sanguinary contest ensued, which continued for two hours and a half, part of which time the ships were locked together by the Amethyst's bower anchor entering the foremost port of the Frenchman, and there holding fast. The Thetis fought well, nor did she surrender till every hope had fled; and when she was boarded there was but one Frenchman left on her quarter-deck. Both frigates were terribly cut up: of the Amethyst's crew of 261 men and boys, 19 were killed and 51 wounded ; and of the 436 of which the Frenchman's company consisted, 135 were killed and 102 wounded. The result of this spirited fight gave great satisfaction : on his return, Captain Seymour received a naval gold medal from the King; a piece of plate, valued at 100 guineas, from the Patriotic Fund at Lloyd's; and the freedom of the cities of Limerick and Cork, in suitable boxes, “ for his very great gallantry and ability in the capture of the Thetis."
On the 6th of April, 1809, being still in the same ship, Captain Seymour captured the French frigate Niemen, of 40 guns and 319 men, quite new, and only two days from Verdon Road. The chase began at 11 A.M.; the Emerald was in company, but in the evening she was lost sight of, and nothing had been gained on the enemy. After dark our officer so shaped his course as again to fall in with the object of his pursuit about half-past nine o'clock; in two hours afterwards an exchange of shots commenced, and lasted till 1 A.M., when the Amethyst coming fairly alongside, a determined action was sustained till three, when the enemy's fire slackened, and his main and mizen masts fell over the side, At this moment the Arethusa came up, and fired seven or eight guns, on which the Frenchman, who was already silenced and defenceless, surrendered, having had 47 men killed and 73 wounded, while her conqueror had eight killed and 37 wounded. It should also be observed, that the Amethyst had two lieutenants and 37 men absent in prizes at: