Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower (1742-1814)

Associated People W - Z

Listed alphabetically by Surname

White, Captain William RN (?-1801?).

Had sailed in HM Storeship Florida which rendezvoused with Commodore Byron at Port Desire, Patagonia during Byron's circumnavigation 1764-6. Was master of HMS Swift when she was wrecked at Port Desire. Sailed cutter to Falklands for rescue. (See my chapter Swift Shipwreck). Appointed commander by Commodore Johnston on the Lisbon station, in Porto sloop. Appointed to Hound sloop to accompany Sir Hyde Parker in HMS Cato to East Indies in 1783. Parted company with Cato and arrived at Madras alone, HMS Cato having foundered with loss of all her people. Promoted to post captain in HMS San Carlos by Sir Edward Hughes on 28th August 1783. Employed as regulating officer on the impress service at the port of Liverpool circa 1801. His navigation from Patagonia to the Falklands in 1770 in a small cutter was an achievement of great courage and expertise.

Wittman, Commander Josiah RN (?-1815).

Lieutenant in 1781. As such in HMS Lion in 1792-4. Commanded sloop Sufficiante in 1811. Died on the coast of Africa in 1815, while in command of his Majesty’s Sloop Dauntless.

Young, Captain Walter RN (?-1781).

Passed for lieutenant circa 1764. Is first noted in a discussion about expeditions searching for the Northwest Passage, being conducted both from the east and west of the American continent. An expedition led by Richard Pickersgill, and another, in 1777, by Walter Young, went to Baffin Bay, whereas James Cook headed for Bering Strait. Young was a lieutenant (agent for transports in Deptford) in 1779 when he was promoted to captain (without going through the intermediate rank of commander) and appointed to HMS Sandwich as Admiral Rodney’s flag captain. David Syrett contends that Young was one of Middleton’s men, 1 Middleton, Admiral Charles, 1st Baron Barham PC (1726 - 1813). Biography in ODNB. and was placed into HMS Sandwich, along with others, to keep an eye on Rodney’s expenditure. 2 Syrett. Rodney Papers...Vol 2, 235. Gower was briefly first lieutenant of Sandwich at this time.

Rodney spoke highly of Young throughout their relationship, although the reverse cannot be said. Captain Young wrote frequently to Middleton and severely criticised his commander’s actions, especially in battle, even claiming that Rodney had not taken his advice to press his pursuit of De Langara’s squadron at Cape St Vincent, allowing some of the Spanish ships to escape. On the other hand, Rodney, in a letter to Philip Stephens, dated 13th July 1780, said: 'I should be guilty of the greatest injustice, if I did not voluntarily, and unasked, give this public testimony to the character of Captain Young, of the Sandwich, whose gallant and intrepid behaviour, not only on the 17th of April, but on every occasion, has been such as to merit all that can be said in his praise.' 3 Mundy. Life and Correspondence of Lord Rodney. Vol. 1, 342-3.

To his wife, Henrietta, (Lady Rodney), he wrote, on 30th July, 1780: '...scarcely any man deserved my public approbation but the captain of the Sandwich [Captain Young]: he has more merit than all the rest put together.' 4 Ibid. 358. It is interesting to see this different perspective by the two men; the one an experienced, stubborn and somewhat persecuted senior admiral innocently full of praise for his subordinate; the other a newly appointed captain thrust into a role of responsibility and power, critically and riskily reporting the command of his admiral (an action which would, if discovered, have brought about his immediate dismissal from his position).

Captain Young died at St Eustatius in April 1781 while captain of HMS Sandwich but I have been unable to determine the cause of death. Probate of his will was granted on 15th October 1781.