Sir Benjamin Hallowell [1 January 1761 – 2 September 1834] – Part 2

Return to [ Part 1 ]

In the month of June, 1799, Lord Nelson, having been reinforced by a squadron under Rear-Admiral Duckworth, proceeded to Naples where he arrived on the 24th, and found that a treaty had been signed between Cardinal Ruffo and the insurgent Neapolitans. The latter consented to capitulate, on condition that they should be allowed to march out of the castles Nuovo and Uovo with the honours of war, and be provided with vessels to transport themselves and families with their property, to France. His Lordship set this treaty aside, as his Sicilian Majesty had ordered that no terms were to be entered into with the rebels, but that their surrender was to be unconditional. They were accordingly brought into the fleet, disarmed, and their leaders placed in irons.

The enemy still retaining possession of the castles of St. Elmo, Gaieta and Capua, preparations were instantly made for their subjugation; and on the 29th of June the trenches were opened before the former fortress, under the direction of Captain Troubridge, who had been selected to conduct the operations on shore. The place was summoned to surrender; but the Commandant, Mr. Mejan, determined to stand a siege. At first, Captain Ball of the Alexander was second in command - but that officer's services were required at Malta, and the subject of this memoir most ably supplied his place. [25]

On the 3rd July, a battery of three 36-pounders and four mortars was erected about a hundred toises from the walls of St. Elmo; also a battery of four 36-pounders was constructed at the opposite angle by a body of Russians belonging to the army of General Suvorof. Some Turkish Auxiliaries were at the same time employed in guarding particular depots, and in the main behaved very well.

It was the intention of the British commander to storm the castle in different places as soon as practicable breaches could be made. On the 5th, another battery of two 36-pounders was opened. In the meantime, the three-gun battery being entirely destroyed and the guns dismounted, Captain Hallowell was directed to erect another at the distance of ninety toises from the walls. The quick and well-directed fire of this new battery (which was admirably constructed, and cost immense labour,) aided by a smart cannonade from the others, induced the enemy to surrender, and an officer appeared on the walls with a white flag. The terms of capitulation were soon agreed upon; and the French marched out and delivered up the castle to the British. Commodore Troubridge next proceeded to Capua accompanied by Captain Hallowell, and took the command of the motley force before that place. Batteries of guns and mortars were erected and, on the 25th, they opened their fire upon the enemy, who returned it with equal spirit; but from the rapid approach of the besiegers, whose trenches were advanced on the following day to within a few yards of the glacis, they were at length induced to capitulate. On the 29th the garrison marched out and grounded their arms. Gaieta immediately afterwards surrendered to Captain Louis of the Minotaur; and the whole kingdom of Naples was thus delivered from the yoke of the French - an event principally brought about by British sailors.

The enemy, however, still occupied the Roman States; from which, according to their own admission, they had extorted, in jewels, plate, specie, and requisitions of every kind to the enormous amount of 8,000,000 sterling. Yet they affected to appear as deliverers among the people whom they were cruelly plundering; and they distributed portraits of Buonaparte, with the blasphemous inscription - "This is the true likeness of the holy saviour of the world!" The people, detesting the impiety, and groaning beneath the ex-actions of these perfidious robbers, were-ready to join any regular force that should-come to their assistance; but they dreaded Cardinal Ruffo's rabble, and declared that they would resist him as a banditti, who came only for the purpose of pillage. Lord Nelson perceived that no object was as essential for the tranquillity of Naples as the recovery of Rome, in the present state of things which, with the Russians driving the French before them, would complete the deliverance of Italy. He therefore sent the Swiftsure to Civita Vecchia to offer the garrison there, and Castle Saint Angelo, the same terms that had been granted to Gaieta, etc.

The Swiftsure sailed from Naples on the 7th Aug., and on her arrival off Civita Vecchia, a French officer of distinction came on board with a flag of truce; but nothing was then decided. Captain Hallowell however, subsequently entered into a negotiation, and had paved the way for the enemy's surrender when he was taken from his station by Captain Foley of the Goliath; that ship, together with the Swiftsure, being ordered by Lord Keith to proceed to Gibraltar.

Our officer soon after received the insignia of the Neapolitan Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit, and a box with the royal cypher set in diamonds, as a reward for the services he had rendered to the Sicilian monarch.

The Swiftsure, after touching at Palermo, Minorca, and Gibraltar, proceeded to Lisbon, where she arrived on the 30th Nov. in company with the Leviathan, Powerful, Vanguard, and Bellerophon, the whole under the orders of Rear-Admiral Duckworth. On the 6th Dec. the squadron again put to sea, and cruised for some time in very stormy weather on the coast of Spain, during which Captain Hallowell captured two merchant vessels. In the month of Feb., 1800, after once more visiting the Tagus, he accompanied the same detachment to Gibraltar, where, as the Swiftsure had suffered a great deal in the late gales, it was thought necessary to caulk and repair her, for which purpose she was taken into the Mole.

We next find Captain Hallowell cruising with Rear-Admiral Duckworth in order to intercept a fleet about to sail from Cadiz for Lima. On the 5th of April, the squadron had the good fortune to fall in with their quarry. Two frigates and several merchantmen were captured, but the Sabina a fine frigate richly laden, and four merchant vessels, got off. Had not the Swiftsure been sent in chase to the southward, in all probability not one of them would have escaped. The prizes had quicksilver on board to the amount of 140 tons, which was intended to work the mines of Peru and Mexico. Five days after this event Captain Hallowell took a Spanish schooner from Malaga bound to Vera Cruz, which had taken shelter under the guns of the Moorish Castle of Larache, but put to sea again as soon as the remainder of the squadron left the African coast on their return to Gibraltar. The Swiftsure subsequently received the flag of Sir Richard Bickerton, who after blockading Cadiz for some time, proceeded to Alexandria in her, where he removed into the Kent, of 74 guns.

The Swiftsure had been in a very leaky condition for a long time, yet she was obliged to retrace her steps to the Egyptian coast without receiving the repairs she stood in need of. At length Lord Keith sent her with a convoy of cartels and light transports from the Bay of Aboukir to Malta. Captain Hallowell, on the passage, received intelligence of a strong squadron of the enemy being in those seas. Prompted by a laudable zeal for the service, and considering the comparative insignificance of his charge, he formed the resolution to quit it, and make the best of his way to reinforce Sir John B. Warren, then lying at the latter place. Unhappily, on his passage he fell in with the hostile squadron on the 24th June, 1801. Perceiving the very superior force of the enemy, he endeavoured to escape from them; but the leaky and foul condition of the Swiftsure was ill matched for the fast sailing Frenchmen. Captain Hallowell, finding there was no prospect of getting away from them by keeping on a wind, determined to bear down and engage the ships to leeward, consisting of two sail of the line and a frigate, in hopes that if he crippled them he might obtain his object; but in this he was disappointed. The Individible, of 80 guns bearing the flag of Rear Admiral Ganteaume, and the Dix-Aout, 74, being in close order and within half gun-shot of the Swiftsure, opened their fire; this was instantly returned, and a severe action took place, and continued notwithstanding the great disproportion of force, for an hour and seven minutes, during which, Captain Hallowell made several efforts to get to leeward of his opponents, but their superior sailing baffled every attempt.

The other two line-of-battle ships, the Jean Bart and Constitution, of 74 guns each, now tacked in order to fetch into the Swiftsure's wake, and were ranging upon her quarter within gun-shot, reserving their fire until they closed, when, her masts, yards, and rigging cut to pieces, the decks lumbered with the wreck, all hopes of escape cut off, and no prospect of succour presenting itself, Captain Hallowell, to avoid further useless effusion of blood, determined to surrender to superior numbers; and with pain, as he truly expressed himself, he ordered the colours, which he could no longer defend, to be hauled down.

The Frenchman's principal object having been to dismantle the Swiftsure, her loss in killed and wounded was not so great as might have been expected: only 2 men were killed, and 8, including Lieutenant Davis, wounded, 2 of them mortally. But the ship was so much out up that although the whole of the Artificers of the French squadron were employed in repairing her damages, it was six days before the Indivisible, by which she had been taken in tow, cast her off to make sail. The enemy's loss amounted to 33 killed and wounded.

When Lord Keith despatched the Swiftsure for Malta, he took out many of her best men, by which means she was 86 short of complement besides having 59 sick on board from a bad fever brought off by those who had acted with the army before Alexandria. Had it been Captain Hallowell's good fortune to have with him such a force as might have attacked the French squadron with any fair estimate of success, the result cannot be questioned.

In his public letter, our officer speaks highly of the handsome treatment received from the French Rear-Admiral, who did everything in his power to render the situation of his prisoners as comfortable as possible; and in M. Ganteaume's account of the action, the gallant defence of the Swiftsure was correctly admitted.

Having obtained permission to return from Toulon to Minorca on his parole, a court-martial was assembled Aug. 18 1801 on board the Genereux, at Port Mahon, to try Captain Hallowell for quitting the convoy, and for the loss of his ship. After a minute investigation, the court were of opinion, and it appeared to them from the narrative of Captain Hallowell supported by the best possible evidence to be obtained - that the fleet under his charge was of very little importance in any point of view; that his determination to leave the said fleet and join Sir John B. Warren, was dictated by sound judgement and zeal for the service of his King and Country; and the Court were further of the opinion that the loss of the Swiftsure was unavoidable, and that the conduct of Captain Hallowell, his officers, and ship's Company in her defence was high meritorious, and that Captain Hallowell displayed great judgement in the mode he adopted to avoid so superior a force, and equal gallantry in the execution of the plan so formed; they did therefore adjudge him and them to be HONORABLY ACQUITTED of all blame on the occasion.

During the ensuing peace Captain Hallowell was appointed to the chief command on the coast of Africa and proceeded thither with his broad pendant in the Argo, of 44 guns. Touching at Barbadoes, on his return to Europe he there learnt that hostilities were likely to be renewed between Great Britain and France; and Sir Samuel Hood, the Commander-in-Chief on that station, was expected from Antigua presently, Hallowell resolved to await the arrival of that officer, whom he afterwards accompanied on an expedition against St. Lucia and Tobago.

"To Captain Hallowell's merits" says the Commodore in his official despatch relative to the conquest of St. Lucia, "it is impossible for me to give additional encomium, as it is so generally known; but I must beg leave to say that on this expedition his activity could not be exceeded; and by his friendly advice I have obtained the most effectual aid to this service, for which he has been a volunteer; and after the final disembarkation, proceeded on with the seamen to co-operate with the army." In a subsequent letter from Tobago, Sir Samuel Hood thus expresses himself: "The royal marines and a body of seamen were landed to co-operate with the army, under the command of Captain Hallowell; and it is scarcely necessary for me to add, his zeal and exertions were equally conspicuous as on the late expedition to St. Lucia. He is charged with this despatch and will give their Lordships any further information they may desire on the subject."

The Argo sailed from Tobago early in July and arrived at Portsmouth on the 14th Aug. At the commencement of the following year, Captain Hallowell proceeded in the same ship to Aboukir, with Elfi Bey, an artful and deceiving Chief of the Mameloucs, who, being obliged to leave Egypt, had endeavoured to impose upon the liberality and integrity of the British nation. [26] Our officer, on returning to Malta, in his letters to Earl St. Vincent and Viscount Nelson, entered at considerable length on the insidious character of this Bey, and transmitted much valuable information respecting the then state of Egypt. In the ensuing summer he escorted the homeward-bound trade from the Mediterranean to England; and immediately on his arrival was appointed to the Tigre [27], of 80 guns. [28] He returned to the Mediterranean, and from thence accompanied his friend Nelson to the West Indies, in pursuit of the combined fleets of France and Spain.

We next find Captain Hallowell commanding the naval part of an expedition sent from Messina in the spring of 1807, destined to take possession of Alexandria. [29] The troops, consisting of about 5,000 men, under the orders of Major-General Fraser, were landed on the 17th and 18th March near the ravine extending from Lake Mareotis to the sea. As soon as the whole were collected and formed they moved forward and attacked the enemy's advanced works, which were carried with little loss. The British force them went round by Pompey's Pillar, to the southward, and on the afternoon of the 20th, finding that farther opposition would be useless, the Governor offered to capitulate. Terms were accordingly agreed upon; and, on the 21st, the place was in the full possession of the English. In the old or western port were taken two Turkish frigates and a corvette all mounting brass guns; one of the former carrying 40, the other 34, and the corvette 16. Major-General Fraser thus speaks of the assistance he received from his naval co-adjutor on this occasion: "To Captain Hallowell, and the officers and seamen of H.M.S. Tigre, I cannot sufficiently express my acknowledgements for the assistance they afforded me, and for the readiness with which they stood forward on all occasions. Captain Hallowell landed and marched with me to the attack of the enemy's retrenchments, and to the very gates of the city, and remained on shore until the place surrendered, and from his advice and local knowledge I derived much useful information."

Subsequent to the evacuation of Egypt by the British which took place in September following, the Tigre appears to have been principally employed in watching the port of Toulon, but without any event of importance occurring until Oct. 23, 1809; when in company with a squadron under Sir George Martin, she drove on shore three French line-of-battle ships and a frigate near the mouth of the Rhone. On the 30th of the same month, Captain Hallowell was entrusted with the command of a detachment from Lord Collingwood's fleet, sent to attack some armed vessels and transports that had separated from the above ships and made for the Bay of Rosas. [30] The enterprise proved successful, and at day-break on the morning of Nov. lst, every one of the enemy's vessels was either burnt or brought off, notwithstanding the protection afforded them by the Castle of Rosas, Fort Trinity and several newly erected batteries. The convoy thus intercepted was from Toulon, bound to the relief of Barcelona, then in the possession of the French, and which the Spaniards had long besieged.

At the general promotion, July 31, 1810, Captain Hallowell was nominated a Colonel of Royal Marines; and he continued to command the Tigre until his advancement to the rank of Rear Admiral, which took place Aug 1st in the following year. He soon after hoisted his flag in the Malta, of 84 guns; and in Jan. 1812 again went to the Mediterranean where he remained until some time after the conclusion of the war, during the latter part of which he commanded the squadron employed in co-operation with the patriots on the south coast of Spain.

On the 2nd Jan. 1813, our officer was created as K.C.B. He subsequently obtained the chief command on the Irish station, which he held during the customary period of three years, and in the summer of 1821, he succeeded Sir John Gore as Commander-in-Chief in the River Medway [31], where his flag flew on board the Prince Regent, 120 guns. His commission as Vice-Admiral bears the date Aug. 12, 1819. [32] He reached the rank of Admiral in 1831. [33] He married February 17, 1800, a daughter of Commissioner Inglefield, of Gibraltar Dockyard. His eldest son obtained the rank of Lieutenant, Aug 30, 1820, and served as his flag officer.

On the death of Sir Benjamin Hallowell's cousin, Mrs. Anne Paston Gee, he succeeded to the estates of the Carews of Beddington (1828), and pursuant to her will, assumed the name and arms of Carew to which family however, he was not in any degree related. [34] The estates had come to Mrs. Gee by the will of her husband's brother, and now came to Hallowell very much in the nature of a windfall; but to a friend who congratulated him on it he answered, "Half as much 20 years ago had indeed been a blessing, but I am now old and crank." [35]

Return to Part 1


[25] Tracy, I, p.44; Nicolas, III, p. 403

[26] Tracy, III, p. 47

[27] Clowes, V, p. 89; Tracy, III, p. 58

[28] Clowes, III, p. 58 lists Le Tigre as having 84 guns - all other references indicate only 80 guns.

[29] Tracy, IV, p. 12

[30] Details of this operation are recounted in a letter written by Hallowell to Lord Collingwood, reprinted in Tracy, IV, p. 36.

[31] Variously reported as Commander-in-Chief at the NORE or Medway (Southeast England, same location) (Clowes, VI, 224) from 1821-1824

[32] Kemp, P, Oxford companion to Ships and the Sea. 1976, Oxford Press. p. 370 (Hallowell)

[33] Kemp, op. cit.

[34] Whitehall, 28th June 1828. The King has been pleased to grant unto Sir Benjamin Hallowell, of Beddington-park, in the county of Surrey, and of Orpington in the county of KENT, Knight Companion of the most Honourable Military order of the Bath, Commander of the Royal Sicilian Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit and a Vice-Admiral of the Red Squadron of His Majesty's Fleet, his royal license and authority, that he and his issue may, in compliance with a clause contained in the last will and testament of Anne Paston Gee, late of Beddington-park and Orpington aforesaid, widow, deceased, take and use the surname of Carew, in addition to and after that of Hallowell, and bear the arms of Carew quarterly with those of Hallowell; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the Herald's office, otherwise His Majesty's said license and permission to be void and of none effect. And also to command, that the said royal concession and declaration be registered in His Majesty's College of Arms,"

[35] Walder, p. 517 reads: "Hallowell became a full admiral and changed his name to Carew to inherit a fortune from a distant relative, his complaint being that it came too late in life for him to really enjoy it for he died in 1834."

Return to Part 1
These pages rationalise, facilitate and expand our content. Some pages are very recent, some date back twenty years and may or may not have been reviewed and/or edited recently; we appreciate any suggestions for improvements.


Naval Marine ArchiveThe Canadian Collection
205 Main Street, Picton, Ontario, K0K2T0, Canada
Telephone: 1 613 476 1177
E-mail: for comments, queries and suggestions.

Copyright © 2023
Naval Marine Archive
The Canadian Collection

Revised: 31 March 2017