George the Third - from A.D. 1803 to end of war A.D. 1814.
Humane and brave as British officers have almost always proved themselves, tyrannical captains, who in most instances have been also deficient in courage and seamanlike qualities, have occasionally been found in the service. Among men of this class the Honourable Captain Lake, commanding the sloop of war Recruit, must be ranked. While at Plymouth he had pressed a young seaman, Robert Jeffrey by name, belonging to Polperro in Cornwall, out of a privateer. Shortly afterwards the Recruit sailed for the West Indies. While in those seas, the ship having run short of water, Jeffrey was accused of stealing, on the 10th December, a bottle of rum, and some spruce beer out of a cask. He was accordingly put in the black-list. Two or three days afterwards the Recruit came in sight of the desert island of Sombrero, eighty miles to the south-west of Saint Christopher. Captain Lake on seeing it suddenly took it into his head to maroon Jeffrey on the island. Accordingly, that very evening, he was conveyed on shore in a boat, commanded by the second lieutenant, who had with him a midshipman and four seamen. Even the buccaneers, when they thus treated a culprit, had the humanity to leave him arms, and food, and clothing; but Captain Lake ordered the unfortunate youth to be left on this uninhabited spot with no other clothing than that he wore, without a particle of food. The lieutenant, observing that his bare feet were cut by the sharp stones, obtained a pair of shoes from one of the men, and gave him a knife and a couple of handkerchiefs, contributed by himself and the midshipman. The lieutenant advising him to keep a bright look-out for passing vessels, then, according to his orders, leaving the poor fellow, pulled back to his ship. Soon after the arrival of the Recruit at the Leeward Islands, Sir Alexander Cochrane, the commander-in-chief, hearing what had occurred, sent her back to bring off the man, in case he should have survived. The officers on landing searched the island over, but could discover no traces of the marooned seaman. Jeffrey, however, was not dead. For eight days he had subsisted on such limpets as he could find among the rocks, and the rain water which he discovered in their crevices. He was growing weaker and weaker, for though he had seen several vessels pass, he was unable from weakness to hail them; till, on the morning of the ninth day, an American schooner, the Adams, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, hove in sight, and his signal being seen, the master came on shore and saved him from the death which probably would have soon overtaken him. He was landed at Marblehead, where he remained till 1810, when the English Government hearing of the occurrence, sent for him, and gave him his discharge, taking the big R off his name thus enabling him to receive all arrears of pay. On the whole circumstance being inquired into, Captain Lake, who acknowledged that he had landed Jeffrey upon Sombrero under the belief that it was inhabited, was deservedly sentenced to be dismissed from the British Navy. In 1807, it having become known that Napoleon intended to take possession of the Danish fleet, to recompense himself for the loss of his own, a British fleet of 17 sail of the line and 21 frigates, and smaller vessels, was despatched to the Baltic, under the command of Admiral Gambier. An army of 20,000 men was also sent at the same time, commanded by Lord Cathcart, and they were directed to demand the surrender of the Danish fleet, the English Government undertaking merely to hold it as a deposit, to be restored at a general peace. The fleet reached its destination early in August. After various skirmishes with the Danish gunboats and batteries, it completely surrounded the island of Zealand, when the troops were landed, and the Danish general, Peiman, refusing the terms offered, on the 2nd of September the English fleet and batteries opened fire on Copenhagen, which was ultimately set on fire. The bombardment continued for three days, with a short interval, in the hopes that the Danes would yield; but it was not till a number of the garrison and inhabitants had been killed, and a large portion of the city burnt down, that General Peiman sent out a flag of truce. Lord Cathcart’s reply was, that no capitulation could be listened to unless accompanied by the surrender of the Danish fleet. This was at length agreed to, and the British were put in possession of the citadel and the ships of war, with their stores. In six weeks the whole of the fleet fit for sea was carried off, the remaining few ships being destroyed; while a large amount of naval stores was embarked, as was the army, without a casualty. On going down the sound, the Neptunus, one of the prizes, an 80-gun ship, got on shore, and was destroyed, as were also most of the Danish gunboats, in consequence of bad weather coming on. The fleet, however, without further accident, at the close of October, arrived safely at Yarmouth and the Downs. Whatever opinion may be formed of the legality or expediency of the enterprise, no one can deny that it was carried out with ability and promptitude; and as the Danes would undoubtedly have assisted Napoleon in his designs against England, she was certainly justified in thus summarily preventing Denmark from injuring her.