Thomas Pringle (Royal Navy officer)

Last updated
Thomas Pringle
Rear Admiral Thomas Pringle.jpg
Died 8 December 1803
Edinburgh
AllegianceUnion flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Kingdom of Great Britain
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service/branchBritish-Red-Ensign-1707.svg  Royal Navy
Years of service 1803
Rank Vice-Admiral
Commands held HMS Ariadne
HMS Daedalus
HMS Royal George
HMS Valiant
Cape of Good Hope Station
Battles/wars Battle of Valcour Island
Battle of St. Lucia
Battle of Grenada
Glorious First of June
Awards Naval Gold Medal

Vice-Admiral Thomas Pringle (died 8 December 1803) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French Republic against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Contents

Family and early life

He was born into a wealthy Scottish family, the only son of Walter Pringle, a prosperous West Indies planter. [1] He served in North America in 1775, as first lieutenant of HMS Lizard. [2] Stationed at Quebec as American forces approached, Pringle was sent to Britain in November 1775 aboard the merchant vessel Polly, with despatches warning of the imminent American attack. [2]

HMS <i>Lizard</i> (1757)

HMS Lizard was a 28-gun Coventry-class sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, in service from 1757 to 1828. Named after the Lizard, a peninsula in southern Cornwall, she was a broad-beamed and sturdy vessel designed for lengthy periods at sea. Her crewing complement was 200 and, when fully equipped, she was armed with 24 nine-pounder cannons, supported by four three-pounders and twelve ​12-pounder swivel guns. Despite her sturdy build, she was plagued with maintenance problems and had to be repeatedly removed from service for repair.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.

Battle of Quebec (1775) 1775 battle between Americans and British near Quebec City, Canada

The Battle of Quebec was fought on December 31, 1775, between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of Quebec City early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came with heavy losses. General Richard Montgomery was killed, Benedict Arnold was wounded, and Daniel Morgan and more than 400 men were taken prisoner. The city's garrison, a motley assortment of regular troops and militia led by Quebec's provincial governor, General Guy Carleton, suffered a small number of casualties.

Command

He was made a post-captain in 1776, and in October 1776, he commanded the Royal Navy fleet on Lake Champlain in the Battle of Valcour Island, where he defeated a smaller American fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold. [3] [4] On his return to England in November 1776 he was promoted to post-captain. In January 1777, he was given command of HMS Ariadne, assigned to duty as part of the West Indies fleet. He served well there, capturing a number of American naval vessels, transports, and privateers, including the Virginia State Navy brig Mosquito on 5 June 1777, and the privateer Johnston on 29 November 1777. [5] His most notable prize was USS Alfred on 10 July 1778, captured in company with James Richard Dacres's HMS Ceres. [5] [6]

Post-captain is an obsolete alternative form of the rank of captain in the Royal Navy.

Lake Champlain lake in New York, Vermont and Quebec

Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada–U.S. border, in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Battle of Valcour Island generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the first fought by the United States Navy

The naval Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island. The battle is generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the first fought by the United States Navy. Most of the ships in the American fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold were captured or destroyed by a British force under the overall direction of General Guy Carleton. However, the American defense of Lake Champlain stalled British plans to reach the upper Hudson River valley.

He operated for the next two years with Admiral Samuel Barrington's fleet, seeing action at the Battle of St. Lucia on 14/15 December 1778; and at the Battle of Grenada on 6 July 1779. [5] Pringle sailed home with Barrington and paid off the Ariadne for a refit in early 1780. [5] In July 1780 he was given command of HMS Daedalus, a 32-gun frigate, in which he served as part of the North American fleet for the next two years. [6] He also operated in British waters, capturing the privateer Moustic in the English Channel on 20 January 1782. [7]

Samuel Barrington British rear-admiral

Admiral Samuel Barrington was a British admiral.

Battle of St. Lucia

The Battle of St. Lucia or the Battle of the Cul de Sac was a naval battle fought off the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies during the American Revolutionary War on 15 December 1778, between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy.

Battle of Grenada

The Battle of Grenada took place on 6 July 1779 during the Anglo-French War in the West Indies between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy, just off the coast of Grenada. The British fleet of Admiral John Byron had sailed in an attempt to relieve Grenada, which the French forces of the Comte D'Estaing had just captured.

The Nelson connection

In April 1782 he escorted a convoy from Cork to Quebec. [8] Joining him for this task, and placed under his command was Captain Horatio Nelson, in command of the frigate HMS Albemarle. [8] Nelson was not looking forward to the tedious and difficult task of escorting a convoy through the Atlantic storms, nor did he rate Pringle highly, thinking that he wanted to go to Canada only because of the money he could make shipping specie. [9] In the event Nelson found the voyage to be not as bad as he had feared, and also realised that he had misjudged Pringle, subsequently declaring that Pringle was 'my particular friend, and a man of great honour.' [10] Nelson and Pringle's friendship was an enduring one. [8] The day after Nelson's marriage to Frances Nisbet in 1787 Pringle wryly remarked that the navy had lost its 'greatest ornament', so expressing his concern that a wife got in the way of a successful naval career. [11]

Cork (city) City in Munster, Ireland

Cork is a city in south-west Ireland, in the province of Munster, which had a population of 125,657 in 2016.

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson Royal Navy Admiral

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. He was noted for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, which together resulted in a number of decisive British naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded several times in combat, losing the sight in one eye in Corsica and most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife. He was shot and killed during his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar near the Spanish port city of Cádiz in 1805.

HMS Albemarle was a 28-gun sixth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She had been built as the French merchantman Ménagère, which the French Navy purchased in 1779. A British squadron captured her in September and she was commissioned into service with the Royal Navy. Amongst her commanders in her short career was Captain Horatio Nelson, who would later win several famous victories over the French. The Navy sold her in 1784. She subsequently became a merchant vessel again. In 1791 she transported convicts to Port Jackson as part of the third fleet. She then sailed to India where she picked up a cargo on behalf of the British East India Company. As she was returning to England a French privateer captured her.

The Peace, and the French Revolutionary Wars

Pringle returned to Britain at the end of 1782, in time to capture another privateer in the Channel, this time the Légère on 11 December 1782. [7] The Daedalus was assigned to patrol the Shetland fisheries in 1783, before Pringle paid her off in July 1784. [7] He is recorded to have recommissioned the hulked 74-gun third rate HMS Hero in October 1787 as a receiving ship at Chatham Dockyard, though had moved later that month to take command of the new 90-gun second rate HMS Impregnable. [12] [13]

Shetland subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of mainland Britain

Shetland, also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies northeast of Scotland.

HMS Hero was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, designed by Sir Thomas Slade and launched on 28 March 1759 from Plymouth Dockyard. She was the only ship built to her draught.

Chatham Dockyard former Royal Navy Dockyard located on the River Medway in Kent

Chatham Dockyard was a Royal Navy Dockyard located on the River Medway in Kent. Established in Chatham in the mid-16th century, the dockyard subsequently expanded into neighbouring Gillingham.

In May 1790 he was put in command of HMS Royal George, a 100-gun first-rate that served briefly as Admiral Samuel Barrington's flagship. [6] [14] In October 1793 he was given command of the 74-gun HMS Valiant, joining Lord Howe' fleet. [15] Pringle was therefore present at the Glorious First of June the following year, where his ship had two killed and nine wounded. [15] He was awarded the Naval Gold Medal for his part in the action, and promoted to rear-admiral that year. [3]

Flag rank

In 1795 Pringle, by now a rear-admiral, raised his flag aboard the 74-gun HMS Asia and served in the North Sea. [16] He later removed to HMS Tremendous, and sailed to South Africa to take command of the Cape of Good Hope Station in May 1796. [17] He was in Saldanha Bay under Vice-Admiral George Elphinstone when a squadron of the Batavian Navy under Rear-Admiral Engelbertus Lucas was forced to surrender on 17 August 1796. [18] His legacy as commander of the navy on the Cape station was commemorated in the naming of Pringle Bay. [19]

In 1797, he had to put down a mutiny aboard his flagship which was anchored in the harbour. The seamen aboard the ship had threatened their captain, George Hopewell Stephens, with a court-martial composed of members of the crew on charges of cruelty and mistreatment. [20] The mutinous spirit was temporarily quashed with a general pardon, while Stephens requested a regular court-martial to clear his name. While this was held aboard HMS Sceptre, Pringle sent a ship to recall the Tremendous's previous captain, Charles Brisbane. [20] Stephens was honourably acquitted at the court-martial and returned to duty, but shortly afterwards the crew of the Tremendous broke out into open mutiny, this spreading to other ships in the harbour. [20] Pringle, who was onshore at the time, ordered the batteries around the harbour to be manned, and aimed at the Tremendous, the source of the mutiny. With over 100 guns pointed at his flagship he demanded the crews return to obedience and give up the ringleaders within two hours, or he would order the Tremendous destroyed. [20] Realising that Pringle was sincere in his intent, the mutineers surrendered 10 minutes before Pringle's deadline passed. [6] [20] The ringleaders were handed over and order was restored to the fleet. [20]

On 14 February 1799, Pringle was promoted to Vice Admiral of the White, and on 1 January 1801, to Vice Admiral of the Red. [3] He died in Edinburgh on 8 December 1803. [21]

Notes

  1. Nelson. Benedict Arnold's navy. p. 160.
  2. 1 2 Nelson. Benedict Arnold's navy. p. 161.
  3. 1 2 3 Obituary in The Naval Register, vol. 10 [1803], p. 517. Digitised copy
  4. Stanley, p. 137
  5. 1 2 3 4 Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 263.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Hadden, p. 18
  7. 1 2 3 Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 210.
  8. 1 2 3 Nelson. The dispatches and letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson. p. 61.
  9. Sugden. Dream of Glory. p. 202.
  10. Sugden. Dream of Glory. p. 203.
  11. Sugden. Dream of Glory. p. 351.
  12. Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 58.
  13. Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 25.
  14. Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 8.
  15. 1 2 Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 59.
  16. The Gentleman's Magazine. p. 541.
  17. Hiscocks, Richard. "Cape Commander-in-Chief 1795-1852". morethannelson.com. morethannelson.com. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  18. The European Magazine, and London Review. p. 459.
  19. Du Plessis & Cleary. The Overberg. p. 39.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Annual Biography and Obituary. p. 211.
  21. Hadden, p. 19

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References

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
George Elphinstone
Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station
1796–1798
Succeeded by
Hugh Cloberry Christian