Showing posts with label Tahiti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tahiti. Show all posts

Friday, 31 December 2021

Thomas Jones' in the Pacific Northwest 1844-1846

[A] view of Maitavie Bay, [in the island of] Otaheite [Tahiti], William Hodges 1776

There's a note under entry for the marriage of Thomas Jones and Mary Harty, on 7 Jan 1844, which looks like it relates to this marriage. It's not clear, but seems to say something about a ship sailing. Thomas was, at that time, assigned to HMS Caledonia (1808), as Captain's Guard, however, on 1 Mar 1844, he joined HMS America (1810), again as [part of the] Captain's Guard.

HMS America, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, since 22 Feb 1844, had been under the command of Captain John Gordon and, it appears, personal influence - with brothers in the cabinet and the Admiralty - got Gordon this command on the Pacific Station, and "could expect his appointment to prove lucrative". 

Initially, I found scant details of this voyage, other than that "during the rising tensions with the United States over the Oregon boundary dispute, HMS America was dispatched to the Pacific Northwest in 1845"; that circa to Jun 1845, she was reported to be on the California coast and in 1846: was at the Pacific and Otaheite [TahitiStation, until I found Gordon's biography

Also on that voyage was Lieutenant William Peel (later Captain Sir William Peel VC KCB), son of then British prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet. Peel had "ship-hopped" to the Pacific, eventually to the frigate America, in which he voyaged to Puget Sound. [Source: Lieutenant William Peel, British Naval Intelligence, and the Oregon Crisis by Barry Gough PDF]

The ship was to give naval support to the Hudson's Bay Company and Peel became involved in a secret mission: to investigate the state of affairs of the besieged British interests at the Columbia River. Record tells us that HMS America arrived off Cape Flattery on 28 Aug 1845. They left Port Discovery on 26 Sep 1845, bound for Honolulu and reached England on 19 Aug 1846.

"As for Captain Gordon and the further voyages of America, it may be observed briefly that after reaching Honolulu and sailing for Mexican harbours he dallied taking on board a lucrative shipment of silver for the Bank of England, from which he stood to gain personally. His superior, Admiral Seymour (Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Francis Seymour GCB, GCH, PC), charged him with dereliction of duty and he was court-martialled on his return to Portsmouth."

These events were, I feel, not without consequences for Thomas Jones' career. 

Thomas stayed on HMS America, but on 1 Oct 1846, obtained a "sideways promotion" to Boatswain’s mate and, quite soon thereafter, on 30 Nov 1846, was made Ship’s Corporal. These promotions coincide with the appointment, on 10 Nov 1846, of Captain Thomas Maitland (Admiral of the Fleet Thomas Maitland, 11th Earl of Lauderdale, GCB) and it probably stands to reason that there would be a clean sweep and changing of the Captain's Guard. It's reported that Maitland commanded HMS America off the coast of Portugal in November 1846, but I've not found any further reference to explain in what capacity. 

Thomas Jones remained Ship's Corporal on HMS America until 20 Oct 1847, after which, he was appointed Coast Guard Boatman on 28 Dec 1847.

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