Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Thomas Jones' Expedition to China 1841-1843

The Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife before 1900

One-hundred-and-eighty years ago, on 30 Dec 1841, three troop ships, the Belleisle, Apollo and Sapphire, of this Britsh naval expeditionary force, put into the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They'd left Plymouth Sound on 20 Dec 1841, bound for China, during the First Opium War (or First China War).

The Canary Islands, whose strategic position in the Atlantic, between Europe, Africa and America, then made it a mandatory refuelling stop for ships.

After only just over a month, from 14 Oct 1841 to 21 Nov 1841, aboard HMS Caledonia (1808) - a 120-gun first-rate ship of the line - my 2x-great-grandfather Thomas Jones, had joined the 74-gun third-rate ship HMS Belleisle (1819), in Plymouth, on 22 Nov 1841, as an Able Seaman, but was assigned as Captain's Guard, on 4 Sep 1842, presumably somewhere up the Yangtze, as this was ten days before the force began to withdraw from the area. 

The captain of the Belleisle at that time, who they will have been guarding, was John Kingcome (Admiral Sir John Kingcombe - 1794-1871).

On 18 Nov 1841, the Belleisle had been in Plymouth, being fitted out for sea, and as a troop ship. Two days later, Lieutenants George Winsor. D. Ferguson, J. Risk, and Philip De Saumarez, were appointed. On 28 Nov 1841, they went out to Plymouth Sound. A company of artillery brought to Plymouth by the steamer Alban, embarked on 5 Dec 1841, and the 98th was reported to be embarking shortly. On 7 Dec 1841, the ship's company was paid advance of wages, which will have been useful on their first stop off en route if they were allowed off the ship to enjoy the sights. How many will have availed themselves of the services of the the notorious dock-women of Tenerife, I cannot possibly surmise.

1 Jan 1842 [Belleisle] is reported to have been at Santa Cruz for the last 2 days, with the troop ships Apollo and Sapphire, and schooner Wanderer. The Belleisle arrived Teneriffe (sic) [...] where the officer commanding of the troops, at the request of the locals, allowed the band of the 98th Regt to go on shore and play on the Mole, where comparison was made to Nelson's welcome some 40 years previously, and his unsuccessful attack. The ships took the opportunity to top up with water and fresh provisions, with prices reflecting the demand for 2,500 men on board the ships.

The ships left Tenerife on New Year's Day and continued their voyage. On 2 Feb 1842 the Belleisle, Apollo and Sapphire arrived Rio de Janeiro en route for China with reinforcements. They were there until 28 Feb 1842, when she departed Rio de Janeiro in company with her consorts, for China. On 14 Mar 1842 she arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, in company with the troop ships Sapphire and Apollo and departed for China on 22 Mar 1842. It took them until 2 Jun 1842 before they arrived in Hong Kong, from England, with part of the 98th Regt. On 5 Jul 1842 they were stationed at Chusan (Zhoushan). And from 16 Jun - 29 Aug 1842, made their expedition up the Yang-tse-Keang, to the end of hostilities and signing of the Treaty of Nanking. Following the signing of the Treaty, the force began its withdrawal on 14 Sep 1842; by 6 Oct 1842, the expeditionary force had completely withdrawn from the Yangtze River
"Shanghai was evacuated on June 23rd, and the troops and vessels fell back to Woosung. The expedition into the Yangtsekiang proper was then promptly organised. The European  troops which took part in it were the 18th, 26th, 49th, 55th, and 98th Regiments, with some Royal Artillery and Engineers, the whole being under Sir Hugh Gough, Major-Generals Lord Saltoun, Schoedde, and Bartley, Colonel Montgomerie, R.A., and Captain  Pears, R.E. Besides about forty transports, the following vessels of the Royal Navy and H.E.I. Co.'s marine participated :— H.M.S. Cornwallis, Blonde, Calliope, North Star, Dido, Modextc, Endymion, Clio, Columbine, Ahjerinc, Bellisle (sic), Apollo, Sapphire, Jupiter, Rattlesnake, Plover, Starling, and Vixen, paddle. H.E.I. Co.'s Sesostris, Auckland, Queen, Tenasserim, Nemesis, Phlegethon, Pluto, Proserpine, and Medusa — all paddle steamers. North Star, Modeste, Clio, and Columbine."
HMS Belleisle later as a Hospital Ship in the Crimean War Edwin Weedon, CC BY 4.0
HMS Belleisle, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 26 April 1819 at Pembroke Dockyard, was converted to serve as a troopship in 1841.

The Captain’s Guard

"In addition to their combat role, Marines also acted as a vaccine of sorts against the infection most feared by ship’s captains: mutiny. Armed with muskets and bayonets, they served as the captain’s personal guard and moved quickly to quell any hint of insurrection on the lower decks. It certainly was not lost on sailors that Marines were billeted between the sailors and the captain’s quarters. Fully armed sentries were posted at key points around ships, including captains’ cabins, powder magazines and spirit lockers. In battle, Marine sentries stood guard at the entrance to the companionways to prevent any less-than-stalwart sailors fleeing to the relative safety of the lower decks." 

It's interesting that Thomas was in a role that was more normally carried out by the Marines. We did wonder if this was because there were no Marines on this troop ship, however, Thomas was also part of the captain's guard on his next two ships, before he then joined the Coastguard service.

Thomas Jones remained as Captain's Guard on HMS Belleisle until 28 Sep 1843. He went back to HMS Caledonia, then under the command of Captain Alexander Milne (Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet), again as Captain’s Guard, on 29 Sep 1843, in which capacity he was still serving at the time of his marriage to my 2x great-grandmother, Mary Harty, on 7 Jan 1844.

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