Cumpston Research

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Watson Cumpston death cert Trinity House Hull lloyds ship Voilier withernsea pier

George Cumpston Lieut RN 1810


I am indebted to Paul Benyon for the following stories:





On the 25th the 74-gun ship Hero, Captain James Newman Newman, who had sailed from Gottenburg on the 18th, met a, similar fate on the Haak sand off the Texel, with the loss of all her crew except 12 men, that were washed on shore ; making a total of nearly 2000 officers and men thus entombed in a watery grave. The 18-gun brig-sloop Grasshopper, Captain Henry Fanshawe, was in company, and struck also, but drove over the bank close in with Texel island. No alternative now remained but to surrender to the Dutch admiral ; which the Grasshopper accordingly did.


On the 4th of February the British 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Cerberus, Captain Henry Whitby, and 38-gun frigate Active Captain James Alexander Gordon, cruising off the north-east coast of Italy, discovered four vessels lying at an anchor in the port of " Peitichi " or Pescaro. It being nearly calm, Captain Whitby despatched Lieutenant George Have of the Active, with the barge of each frigate, to endeavour to cut them out. Lieutenant Haye and his little party, although exposed to a heavy fire of musketry from the soldiers quartered at the place, succeeded, with the loss of only one man wounded, in capturing three of the vessels, and in destroying the fourth after removing her cargo. They were all merchant trabaccolos, last from Ancona.


On the 12th, in the morning, several vessels were discovered at anchor in the harbour of Ortona on the same coast ; and, as the wind was light, Captain Whitby despatched the boats of the two frigates, under the orders of Lieutenant James Dickinson, first of the Cerberus, assisted by Lieutenant George Haye and George Cumpson, Lieutenant of marines Peter Mears and master's mates James Gibson and James Rennie, to endeavour to bring out the vessels from the strong position in which they were moored. The harbour of Ortona is formed by a large pier, running out into the sea and connected with a range of hills leading to the town, which stands on the top of the highest, completely commanding the vessels in the harbour and in the road to it.


At 10 a.m., on the near approach of the boats, a fire of great guns and small arms was opened from an armed Venetian trabaccolo, not before observed, and from soldiers posted on the beach and hills. The British seamen and marines instantly gave three cheers, and, pushing on, carried all before them. Lieutenant Dickinson, in the gig of the Cerberus, supported by Mr. Rennie in the barge, boarded and almost instantly carried the armed trabaccolo, although she mounted six guns and was full of men. Lieutenant Dickinson then landed, with the marines under Lieutenant Mears and the small-arm men under Mr. Rennie ; and this party had to climb up the rocks by their hands, with the prospect of falling down a precipice every step they took. At length the strong post was attained ; and, while the launches with their carronades kept the soldiers and inhabitants in check, Mr. Rennie


[continued NAVAL HISTORY of GREAT BRITAIN - Vol V  1811 ACTION OFF LISSA  357]  


seamen, and five private marines wounded ; total, exclusive of a subsequent loss, which will be noticed presently, four killed and 24 wounded. The Cerberus, although without a stick shot away except her mizentopsail yard, was a good deal battered in the hull, as her loss will testify. Out of a complement the same originally as the Amphion's, but since reduced by absentees to about 160 men and boys, the Cerberus had her purser (Samuel Jeffery), one midshipman (Francis Surrage Davey), eight seamen, and three marines killed, one lieutenant (George Cumpston), 33 seamen (one mortally), and seven marines wounded; total, in the action, 13 killed and 41 wounded. The Volage had her main yard shot away in the slings, and lost her fore topgallantmast: she was also greatly damaged in sails, rigging, and masts. Her hull, on the larboard side especially, was completely riddled, and her loss of men was in proportion: in reference, indeed, to her complement, it was far more severe than that of any one of her consorts, except the Cerberus. Out of a crew of 175 men and boys, the Volage had one midshipman (John George), 10 seamen, and two private marines killed, one lieutenant of marines (William Stephens Knapman), 27 seamen, and four private marines wounded ; total, 13 killed and 33 wounded: making the total loss of the British, in the action, 45 killed and 145 wounded.


Contrary to what is customary, the British official account makes not the slightest allusion to the loss sustained by the opposite party ; a circumstance attributable, no doubt, to the difficulty of ascertaining it, and to the necessity of forwarding the despatch, in all possible haste, to Captain Eyre of the Magnificent, the British commanding officer in the Adriatic, in order that he might adopt measures to complete the capture or destruction of the enemy's squadron. Moreover, when he dictated the despatch, Captain Hoste was lying in his cot under severe sufferings from his wounds. Nor, minute as it is in other respects, does the French official account enumerate the killed and wounded on board the Favorite. We may gather, however, that, as 200 of her men were all that remained after the action, about the same number comprised the killed and badly wounded. Among the former were Commodore Dubourdieu and Captain Meillerie, the first lieutenant, and other of the principal officers ; so that the command at last devolved upon Colonel Gifflenga, with an enseigne de vaisseau to direct the working of the ship.


The Corona had her rigging and sails cut to pieces, her masts all badly wounded, and her hull shattered in every direction ; and appears, from subsequent inquiry, to have sustained a loss of upwards of 200, in killed and wounded together. The Bellona had 70 officers and men killed, and about the same number badly wounded, including Captain Duodo himself, who died of his wounds. This ship's masts and yards, at the close of the action, were all standing; but her hull, a mere shell in




William James in his 6 volume series Naval History makes reference to:


Cumpston, Lieut. W. iii. (1804) 252.  and I wondered if this were another relative.


Does anyone know who he was?

The Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy 1660 -- 1815

edited by David Syrett and R.L.DiNardo published by Scolar Press for the Navy record Society 1994.


The whole book is just an alphabetical list of surnames, and under "C" there is a solitary

GEORGE CUMPSTON who was a Lieutenant on the 10 Sept 1810, but died in 1811