Thomas Symonds

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Captain Thomas Symonds (bapt. 10 August 1731 [1] 1792) was a British naval captain of the American Revolutionary War.

American Revolutionary War 1775–1783 war between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which won independence as the United States of America

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.

Symonds was the second son of the Rev John Symonds, rector of Horringer, Suffolk, and his wife, Mary Spring (died 1774), daughter of Sir Thomas Spring, 3rd Baronet of Pakenham and Hon. Merelina Jermyn, daughter of Thomas Jermyn, 2nd Baron Jermyn. [2] [3] His elder brother was academic John Symonds (1730–1807). According to Sir William Symonds' memoirs, the boys learned young that John, as the eldest son, would inherit the family estates:

Horringer village in the United Kingdom

Horringer is a village and civil parish in the St Edmundsbury district of Suffolk in eastern England. It lies on the A143 about two miles south-west of Bury St Edmunds. The population in 2011 was 1055.

Sir Thomas Spring, 3rd Baronet

Sir Thomas Spring, 3rd Baronet was an English baronet and landowner.

Pakenham, Suffolk village in the United Kingdom

Pakenham is a village in the English county of Suffolk. Its name can be linked to Anglo-Saxon roots, Pacca being the founder of a settlement on the hill surrounding Pakenham church, an area higher than the waters of Pakenham Fen. The discovery of many Anglo-Saxon remains, notably that of a bone-toothed comb in the old school garden in the 1950s, testify to the authenticity of the site. The village was therefore named Pacca's Ham, i.e., the home of Pacca, a name which eventually became Pakenham, The Anglo-Saxon family name later becomes "de Pakenham". Pacca's descendants continued to farm here until the Norman Conquest, 1066.

"[John and Thomas] were informed that all the property would be left to John, the eldest; and Tom was cautioned by his mother not to hang upon his brother. Being a very spirited boy, he took this injunction so much to heart that he left the house immediately, with his clothes tied in a bundle over his shoulder, and keeping his intentions to himself, trudged off to Harwich, where he was invited to try his luck at sea, by the captain of a vessel of war, who had been staying with his father. He was not heard of again until he had become a Master and Commander in the Navy, when he paid a short visit to his brother." [4]

He entered the Royal Navy as a Lieutenant on 22 May 1755 and served on the Elizabeth, the Grafton and the Borwick (Pitcairn-Jones Naval List).

On 18 February 1762, he was appointed Commander of the sloop Albany and was ordered to join Commodore Young's squadron then blockading the estuaries of the rivers Seine and Orne, France.

Seine river in France

The Seine is a 777-kilometre-long (483 mi) river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre. It is navigable by ocean-going vessels as far as Rouen, 120 kilometres (75 mi) from the sea. Over 60 percent of its length, as far as Burgundy, is negotiable by commercial riverboats, and nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating; excursion boats offer sightseeing tours of the river banks in Paris, lined with top monuments including Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and Musée d'Orsay.

Orne (river) river in France

The Orne is a river in Normandy, within northwestern France. It discharges into the English Channel at the port of Ouistreham. Its source is in Aunou-sur-Orne, east of Sées. Its main tributaries are the Odon and the Rouvre.

The Albany joined that squadron on 8 July 1762.

On 13 July 1762, he was the commanding officer of a flotilla of small boats which, in a night raid, attempted to destroy landing barges moored in the river Orne. The attack failed.

The following Court-Martial found Thomas Symonds "guilty of acting in a manner not becoming to an officer". He lost command of the Albany [5]

In 1771, he attained post rank of Captain and took command of the "Captain". In 1776 he was captain of the "Solebay" which took part in the bombardment of Fort Moultrie overlooking Charleston Harbour.

Fort Moultrie historic district in the United States

Fort Moultrie is a series of fortifications on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The first fort, formerly named Fort Sullivan, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina, as "The Palmetto State". The fort was renamed for the U.S. patriot commander in the Battle of Sullivan's Island, General William Moultrie. During British occupation, in 1780–1782, the fort was known as Fort Arbuthnot.

In 1780, in England, he replaced John Luttrell as captain of HMS Charon, and sailed for America with a naval force. On 13 August 1780 the "Charon" accepted after a lengthy engagement the surrender of the Comte d'Artois, a French privateer off the Irish coast. After successful anti-convoy operations on the Atlantic crossing and coastal cruising, the ship became trapped in the York River, Virginia, where Symonds took supreme command of British naval forces in America. Charon was destroyed and sunk with red-hot shot soon afterwards. [6] At the end of the Siege of Yorktown, it was he (as the most senior naval officer present) and Cornwallis, Lieutenant General of the British Armed Forces, who signed the Articles of Capitulation on 18 October 1781. After his release as a prisoner of war he was appointed Captain of the Diadem.

Thomas Symonds died in his brother's house in Bury St Edmunds on 25 May 1792. [7]

He is buried in Pakenham Church where there is a mural tablet to his memory and to that of his son, Jermyn John, Commander RN who was the commander of the Helena, a sloop of 14 guns which was lost with him and all his crew in a gale off the Dutch coast in October 1796 (some authorities put the loss as 3 November 1796).

Thomas Symonds married twice, first to Mary Noble who died in 1777 and who is buried in St James's church in Bury, secondly to Elizabeth Mallet. [8] .

In his Will, proved 15 June 1792, Thomas Symonds left bequests to his wife Elizabeth, to his sons Jermyn John, Thomas Edward, and John Charles and to his daughters, Mary Anne, Elizabeth, Juliana, Merelina, and Sophia [9]

His daughter was Mary Anne Whitby, his son was William Symonds, Surveyor of the Navy, and his grandsons included William Cornwallis Symonds, Thomas Symonds, Julian Symonds, and Jermyn Symonds.

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  1. Suffolk, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1850
  2. Wikisource-logo.svg  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Symonds, John (1729-1807)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 55. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. "Symonds, John (SMNS712J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. Symonds, Sir William; Sharp, James A. (1858). Memoirs of the Life and Services of Rear-Admiral Sir William Symonds: Surveyor of the Navy from 1832 to 1847. Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts. p. 2-4. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  5. One Summer's Night, an account of the raid by Patrick Arnold (1990)
  6. Wikisource-logo.svg  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "James, Bartholomew"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 29. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  7. The Bury and Norwich Post
  8. Burke's Peerage
  9. (Public Record Office Probate 11, 1220, I-E 353).