23 January 2009

RRA now at Amazon!

Richard Ramsay Armstrong's Book of his Adventures now available from Amazon.com

RRA at Amazon.com

and at Amazon.co.uk

RRA at Amazon.co.uk


20 January 2009

Captain Sir James Stirling

RRA's first captain was Sir James Stirling in HMS Howe. Here are some notes about him from the Clan Sterling website at clanstirling.org. There is also a full biography of Sir James online at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Admiral Sir James Stirling was born 28 January 1791 in Drumpellier, Lanarkshire, Scotland, died 23 April 1865 in Stoke, Near Guildford, Surrey, and buried 23 April 1865, Guildford, Surrey. He married Ellen Mangles 3 September 1823 in Stoke, Near Guildford, Surrey. She was born 4 September 1807 in Stoke, Near Guildford, Surrey, and died 8 June 1874 in Portland Place, London.

He was the founder of the city of Perth and first Governor of Western Australia.

Notes for Admiral Sir James Stirling from The Stirlings of Cadder by Thomas Willing Stirling, published 1933.

He was the fifth son of eight of the fifteen children of Andrew Stirling, Esq. of Drumpellier near Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. His mother, Anne was his father's second cousin, being the daughter of Admiral Sir Walter Stirling and the sister of Sir Walter Stirling, 1st Baronet of Faskine and Admiral Sir Charles Stirling.

The Stirling family was well-known and celebrated in the naval annals of the 18th century. With such a family background, it was natural for James to enter the Royal Navy. He entered the Royal Navy 12 August 1803 as first class volunteer in the Camel storeship, Captain John Ayscough, fitting for the West Indies. He served as midshipman on the Hercules, 74 [guns], Prince George, 98, then in the Glory, 98, in which ship he fought in Sir Robert Calder's action (22nd July 1805) under the flag of Vice Admiral Charles Stirling, whom he subsequently followed into the Sampson and Diadem, 64s. He was present at the taking of Monte Video in 1807. He obtained his first commission 12 August 1809, and was appointed successively to the Hibernia 120, and Armide 38. In November 1811 he became flag lieutenant to Admiral Stirling in the Arethusa 38 on the Jamaica Station. 27th February 1812 he was placed in acting command of the Moselle 18, and on 19 June was confirmed as a commander of the Brazen sloop 28. At the beginning of the war with America he cruised for four months off the Mississippi, where he succeeded in destroying a considerable amount of enemy property. On one occasion the Brazen was dismasted in a hurricane, but he maintained his station by cutting and fitting masts and spars from the neighbouring forests of Pensacola.

In 1813 he was sent to Hudson Bay for the purpose of offering protection to the settlements and shipping in that quarter, and in the winter of the same year he was ordered on special service to the coast of Holland with H.S.H. the reigning Duke of Brunswick. After cruising on the coast of Ireland he again sailed for the Gulf of Mexico. On the conclusion of hostilities he was nominated Acting Captain of the Cydnus 38, owing to the death of her captain; but returning soon to the Brazen, and being re-appointed to her on the peace settlement, he continued to serve in that vessel lin the West Indies until paid off in August 1818.

"I cannot," writes the Commander-in-Chief in a letter addressed to the Admiralty on the eve of the departure of the Brazen, "permit Captain Stirling to quit this station without expressing to their Lordships my entire satisfaction with his conduct while under my command. The zeal and alacrity he always displayed in the execution of whatever service he was employed upon are above praise, but it is to his acquaintance with foreign languages, his thorough knowledge of the station, particularly the Spanish Main, and his gentlemanlike and conciliatory manners, that I am so much indebted for assisting me in the preservation of a friendly intercourse with the foreign colonies in this command. I conceive it will be as gratifying to their Lordships to hear as it is for me to make so honourable a report of this intelligent and excellent officer whom I detach from my command with considerable regret, but I feel at the same time a very sincere pleasure in thus recommending him to their Lordships' notice."

Captain Stirling's promotion to Post rank took place 7th December in the same year (1818). His next appointment was Jan. 1826 to the Success 28; and in this ship he was sent to forma settlement at Raffle's Bay, in Torres Strait - a service which he accomplished in so able a manned as to cause his being highly complimented by the Naval Commander-in-Chief and the Gocernor of New South :Wales. In October 1828, nine months after he had left the Success, he was selected to take command of an expedition intended to form a colony in Western Australia, where he remained until induced, in 1839 to tender his resignation, [to return to the Navy], having during that period, surrounded as he was with the difficulties inseperable from the establishment of a new settlement, evinced a degree of zeal and ability that procured him, 3rd April 1833, the honour of Knighthood, and ultlimately the acknowledgement of Her Majesty.
To quote from an animated address presented to him by the colonists on leaving:

They could testify with confidence and gratitude that the general tenor of His Excellency's administration had been highly and deservedly popular; that they had invariably found in him a friend of warm and ready sympathy with individual distress, an entire and liberal promotion of every good and useful institution, an able and zealous patron of every enterprise suggested for the general welfare, and in all the domestic and social relations of private life, an example worthy of his high station.

On the prospect of war with France, Sir James Stirling was appointed, 10th October 1840, to the Indus 78. He continued in that ship, in the Mediterranean, until paid off in June 1844. Before the Indus returned to England he received from Sir Edward Owen, the Commander-in-Chief, a letter expressive of the sense he entertained of the efficiency of that ship in all that constitutes a perfect man-of-war, and of the admiration which the order and discipline on board had excited in all the foreign ports he had visited. In April 1847 he was appointed to the command of the Howe, 120 on the Mediterranean station.

11 January 2009

RRA's first friend in the Navy

When RRA first went to sea in the Howe he was very lonely to start with, but soon made friends with a boy called White, and they became inseperable. Here is how he describes it:

On my father leaving me after two days stay, the sense of utter loneliness and homesickness became overpowering, but boy-like I soon found some relief from loneliness by chumming with a kindred spirit – one Billy White – or ‘Whiteheaded Bob’ as we afterwards designated him, although his real name was Edward. I took to him at first sight and we became closely allied. Being in the guard-ship and in dock it was easy to get on shore, and as the authorities were not so strict in keeping the Officers on board as when on active service, Billy and I had many a frolic at the theatres and other places.

As was so typical of the Navy, when they both moved on from the Howe and their careers and lives diverged, it is quite likely they never met again as RRA doesn't refer to him later in the book.

Here is a baby-biog of 'Billy' White, taken from my footnote in the book:

White, Edward 'Billy', 1835-1882, born Sussex, 2nd son of Lt-Col Raymond White, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and Emma, née Williams. Entered RN 1847; Mate 11 Feb 1854; Lieutenant 22 Sept 1855; Commander 11 Apr 1866; Captain 06 Feb 1872. Served in Impérieuse in the 1854 Baltic Fleet (medal) during the Crimean War. Captain of the troopship Himalaya during the 1870s. In 1879-80 employed as a nautical assessor. Died 04 Aug 1882, Port Royal, Jamaica.