Queen Anne - from A.D. 1702 to A.D. 1714.
Notwithstanding the many important services rendered by Sir George Rooke, his political opponents gaining the ascendant, so annoyed him that he resolved to retire, to prevent public business from receiving any disturbance on his account. He passed the remainder of his days as a private gentleman, for the most part at his seat in Kent. He left but a small fortune, so moderate that when he came to make his will, it surprised those who were present. The reason he assigned reflected more honour on him than had he possessed unbounded wealth. His words were: “I do not leave much, but what I leave was honestly gotten—it never cost a sailor a tear, or the nation a farthing.” He died on the 24th of January, 1708-9, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, leaving one son, George Rooke, by the daughter of Colonel Luttrell, of Dunster Castle, Somersetshire.
On the resignation of Sir George Rooke, Sir Cloudsley Shovel was appointed Vice-Admiral of England.
In 1704 a sum of 10,000 pounds was voted by Parliament for building a wharf and storehouses in the dockyard at Portsmouth, and 40,000 men for the sea-service, including 8000 marines, proving the value which was attached to this arm. Probably they were trained even then to assist in working the ship, while to them was committed those duties exclusively which have since been so ably performed by our gallant blue-jackets on shore.
On the 1st of December, 1704, Greenwich Hospital was opened for the reception of seamen, and a lieutenant-governor, captain, and two lieutenants, a physician, and surgeon, were appointed by warrant. Numerous other officers were afterwards appointed, as well as two chaplains.
In 1705, the Eddystone Lighthouse, which had been blown down during the great storm, was rebuilt by Act of Parliament, and the contribution from the English shipping, which had before been voluntary, was fixed by its authority. The contest with France, Queen Anne’s war, as it was called, resulted in the general destruction of the French power at sea; and after the battle of Malaga, we hear no more of their great fleets. The number of their privateers, however, was very much increased, in consequence of which Parliament was urged on by the mercantile interest to put them down. The loss also by the great storm, and the misfortunes met with in the West Indies, indeed, every untoward accident, induced the nation more eagerly to demand an augmentation of the navy. Thus, at the close of 1706, not only were the number but the quality of the men-of-war greatly superior to what they had been in Charles’s reign. The economy and discipline of the navy was also much improved. Great encouragement was also given to seamen, by the utmost care being taken in the treatment of the wounded, and exact and speedy payment of prize-money.
A bounty was now given for hemp imported from the plantations, and every encouragement was afforded to British merchants to enable them to carry on their schemes with vigour.
The gallantry of Captain Mordaunt, son of the Earl of Peterborough, in command of the Resolution, of 70 guns, in the Mediterranean, deserves to be remembered. He had sailed with his father from Barcelona on the 13th of March, 1706, with an envoy of the King of Spain to the Duke of Savoy on board, and had in company the Enterprise and Milford frigates. When within about fifteen leagues of Genoa, six French line of battle ships were seen, who immediately gave chase to the English squadron. Lord Peterborough and the Spanish envoy on this went on board the Enterprise, and, with the Milford, made their escape to Leghorn. The enemy continued the chase of the Resolution, when one of their ships came about ten o’clock at night within shot of her, but did not begin to fire till the other ships had come up. The Resolution had been much shattered a few days before in a heavy gale of wind, and was at no time a fast sailer. Notwithstanding the great disparity in force, Captain Mordaunt made a brave resistance; but by the advice of his officers he ran the ship ashore under the guns of a Genoese fort, from which, however, he received no manner of protection; and shortly afterwards he was wounded in the thigh, when he was carried on shore. At five the French commodore sent in all the boats of his squadron, but the enemy were repulsed and obliged to retire to their ships. The next morning a French 80-gun ship, brought up under theResolution’s stern, with a spring in her cable, and opened a heavy fire upon her. Her officers finding that there was no prospect of saving the ship, with the consent of Captain Mordaunt, set her on fire, and in a short time she was consumed, while they and the crew got safely on shore.