In our last instalment, we left FLM as the commission in HMS Renown – a 30 gun frigate - ended on 25th August 1764
Hostilities in the Seven Years’ War were ended in 1763 by the Peace of Paris, and FLM went on half pay in January 1765.
FLM appears to have made no provision for his first, Jamaican family, born of Mary Arnott, although they were acknowledged in the parish records. His son, John seems to have made good and so perhaps they were setup by their father before he left Jamaica. John must have been conceived just before Frederick left Jamaica in Renown for England: was he back for John's baptism in July 1765?
Settlement of the Peace of Paris of 1763
The net result of the war was that France ceded all its North American possessions except Louisiana to Britain and lost control of its Indian possessions as well. Britain also secured Florida from Spain.
Whilst this was a great short-term success for British arms and strategy, and led to British control of India, it also paved the way for the American War of Independence.
Once France ceased to pose a threat to the colonists in America, they no longer felt obliged to contribute to cost of their defence. The dispute resulted in the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, and ultimately the loss of the American colonies..
Once ashore, FLM devoted his attention to marriage. He was a naval officer on half pay, had made some prize money in the Caribbean, but to judge by his correspondence, reckoned that this did not amount to a great deal. He had in 1764 lent Thomas Barratt £7,000 (worth about £1.3m in today’s money) on the security of some slaves!!
As the sixth son of the Earl of Lauderdale, his inheritance would have been modest, the best part probably being family influence to advance his career and assist his marriage prospects. So, like most young men of the period, he looked for an heiress to marry – and found one!
Margaret Dick, a substantial heiress who already owned Nether Rankeillour, which came through her grandmother Isobel Makgill. She was heiress through her mother of the estates of Rank and Lindores in Fife, and through her mother, sister of James Makgill of Rankeillour her descendants claimed the Viscountcy of Oxfuird. She was also inheritor of the Heriot estates at Ramornie, and was descended from the Crichtons. This connection enabled Charles Maitland Makgill Crichton of Monzie to secure recognition from the Lord Lyon of his position as Chief of the Crichtons. Charles’ son David is now known as David Crichton.
In due course FLM and his wife then distributed the estates amongst their children, who in turn adopted new surnames to recognise the sources of their inheritances, as follows (birth order in number):
1. Charles became Maitland Makgill to recognise his ownership of
2. James became Makgill Heriot Maitland with Ramornie.
3. Sir Federick Lewis – remained plain Maitland with Lindores
More interesting still is Charles Maitland’s marriage and spectacular inheritance, plus his position as forebear of the many Maitlands with multiple surnames - Maitland Makgill Crichtons, Crichton Makgill Maitland, Maitland Dougalls, and Crichton Maitlands.
Charles married another heiress, Mary Johnson, daughter of David Johnson of Lathrisk, who had accumulated a large estate by means which would have had him in jail today. He has been described by a descendant as the pirate/ smuggler, murderer, and finally Indian potentate who managed to have his crimes forgotten to return and buy substantial estates in Fife and Perthshire and bought Lathrisk, near Rankeilor, Fife, and Monzie in Perthshire.
(An expanded version of this account can be found in the 2012 YB p 21)
War breaks out with France
In February1778 France recognised the United States by a Treaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and France and followed this action with a military alliance. This was a disaster for both Britain and France.
The rebel colonies – or the new United Sates of America (depending on your point of view) now had a powerful ally. French assistance came mainly in the form of naval power, but troops were also sent to North America – see below. The French navy was powerful and effective, and inflicted a series of defeats on the Royal Navy. Britain lost its command of the sea, which led directly to the final defeat at Yorktown. A British army, besieged at Yorktown on the Chesapeakee Bay was forced to surrender because the Royal Navy was unable to relieve or rescue them or to disrupt the siege. This led directly to peace negotiations and the Treaty of Paris in 1783 by which Britain recognised American independence.
French disaster – the French Revolution of 1789
Britain lost a colony, but swiftly replaced it by the Indian Raj. France, however, had created the seeds of disaster for its monarchy. The cost of supporting the American war bankrupted the government, leading directly to the need to summon the Estates General (a form of parliamentary assembly) in Paris during 1789 in an attempt to resolve the financial situation.
Matters got out of control, and when the crisis struck in July 1789 the French army failed to support the monarchy. The troops joined the rebels, but worse still the officers, who had served in America had seen that a republic was a viable and attractive form of government, and made no real effort to keep the army loyal to the monarchy. Without political or military support the monarchy fell, the King and Queen were made prisoners in 1789 and executed in 1793.
FLM returns to sea HMS Elizabeth - 74 guns
As a consequence of the outbreak of war with France, FLM was recalled to the colours and given command of HMS Elizabeth - a 74 gun ship, of the line. Succesful frigate captains regularly found themselves promoted to command ships twice the size of their frigates, with crews of around 600 men.
For many of them, this was a poisoned chalice - despite the greater power of the ship, its great comfort and the seniority which went with a larger and more powerful command, frigates were more fun to command, and often won their captains more prize money. 74 gun ships had more fire power, were heavier, but had roughly the same sail plan as a frigate, and so were much slower and less manoeuvrable.
FLM joined the ship in February with Charles and Peter Maitland (whom we can’t identify) listed as Captain’s servants, entering the Royal Navy at about the age of 12, before they became midshipmen. His ship was soon in action. James Bisset (later a Rear Admiral) who had been commissioned as a Lieutenant that month, also joined the ship. His first cousin, Margaret Louisa Dick of Edinburgh had married FLM in 1767.
The ship was employed in the Channel Fleet. On the 24th June, 24 miles south west of the Lizard, HMS Elizabeth fired on and captured a Dutch frigate.
The Battle of Ushant 27/7/1778).
On the 23rd July 1778, Admiral Keppel, in HMS Victory (104 guns) with thirty ships of the line, including HMS Elizabeth, sailed from Spithead and sighted a French fleet of thirty two ships of the line about a hundred miles west of Ushant (the north west peninsula of France) . The engagement was indecisive. There was a violent quarrel between the Admiral commanding, Keppel and Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser regarding Palliser’s conduct during the battle. Both were court martialled, Keppel acquitted but Palliser criticised for his conduct.
On the 12th September his ship was in a collision –
Collision with Defense! "The Defense came on Board us and carried away the Quarter and poop Lanthorns. However the damage was not enough to force a return to harbour, and the log the next day notes laconically “Patrolling”
FLM returned to patrol duties, and on 22 September captured the brig Le Volant with 48 prisoners and a cargo of tobacco.
In December 1778 FLM recorded punishing several sailors by flogging (12 lashes each) for mutiny. He was then superseded by Captain Truscott. Charles and Peter Maitland were engaged as Captain’s servants. HMS Elizabeth then sailed for the Caribbean.
There are no explanations of these events, and some puzzles. First, 12 lashes were the most a captain could award, but this seems to be a mild sentence for mutiny. Perhaps “mutiny” was a synonym for disobedience – not an attempt to take control of the ship. Secondly, FLM was relieved of his command for a short time, then restored to it. Interestingly his young kinsmen remained on the ship’s books. Perhaps the two events are not connected, and he simply took some leave.
In any event, FLM resumed command of HMS Elizabeth in July 1779, apparently joining his ship at sea near Anguilla. During September he took several prizes.
21st September at 10 the signal for 5 sail to NW. Admiral made signal for a general chace. Made sail. The Suffolk made a signal for seeing a fleet.
22/9 Barbadoes S2W 139L. AM at 4 the chace N dist 5-6L. AM at 6 the chace WSW 5L and could be about 10 or 11 sail of them.
23/9. One of the chace, a French Frigate struck to the Magnificent. 1/2 past 5 another of the chace struck to us, made a signal for one of the ships astern to take possession of her. At 1/2 past brought too two more of the chace. They were from Burdeaux bound to Cape Francois: sent an officer on board one and a midshipman on board the other with 46 seaman to take charge of them. Received from both prizes about 147 prisoners. At 10 bore away & made sail. The fleet EbN 4L. AM at 7 left off chace. Joined the fleet as did the Magnificent and her prize. Joined us two prizes.
26/9. At 6 brought too the chace, a French ship and snow letter of Marg'r. Bound from Ciane? to St Domingo. Sent an officer & 10 men on board the ship and a mid with 10 men on board the snow to take charge of them.
Note that a Midshipman was regarded as competent to command a prize!
Col John Maitland in Savannah
Meanwhile, in September and October, Lt Col John Maitland, commanding the Frasers’ was defending Savannah against an American army commanded by General Lincoln and a French fleet commanded by the Comte d’Estaing.
Actions at St Lucia
18/12/79 Gros Islet Island, St Lucia. AM at 3 heeled ship and scrubbed between wind and water. [A remarkable operation – the ship was heeled over for removal of weed] and At 7 the signal was made for a court martial on board the Sutton.
At 1/2past 8, the Preston appeared off going before the wind with the signal for a fleet flying and firing guns –
at 3/4 past 8 the Admiral made the signal for a boat and officers to repair on board. At 9 a signal from the Admiral to slip and chace to windward. At 10 we repeated the signal made by the Boreas for the Chace being enemies. At 11 the Preston and Boreas began to fire at some of the French Merch't ships.
1/2 past 11 we fired at several of them some of whom brought too and others run ashore.
19/12/79 Gros Islet Island SSE 2-3 L. About noon we opened fort Royal Bay, Martinice in chace of a French Frigate and several merchant vessels, when a French 74 gun ship got under way and Bore Down within Random shot of the Conqueror and us. She was soon thereafter followed by 2 other French Line of Battleships, who all hawled thir wind and turned into the bay again.
At 1/2 past noon, the Conqueror began to fire at the French Admiral, who came first down, and the other 2 ships, a few minutes after, we did the same, and continued firing, and running into the bay - from that time, till 6 in the evening.
About 5 The Albion and Vigilant came up and fired at the enemy. At 6 the signal was made by our different admirals to call in all cruizers. - Wore as did the other ships that were in action, and joined the fleet. Brought too, at 8 made sail per signals and tack'd occasionally.
Am at 6 in company 15 sail of the line, 2 Fiftys 1 Frigate 1 Tender and 9 prizes. At 7 the Admiral made the signal for the Conqueror and us to go into port.
Battle of Martinique
In April 1780, HMS Elizabeth was part of a fleet of 20 ships of the line under the command of Sir George Rodney. A French fleet of 23 ships of the line had arrived at Martinique to entice Rodney away from his base in order to attack Jamaica. The forces met off Martinique on the 16th April. After some manoeuvring Rodney ordered his ships to attack the rear of the French line – the windward end, with the intention that the ships at the front of the French line would not be able to return upwind to support their comrades. The signals were misunderstood, and Rodney’s tactical plan (which was later to be used successfully by Nelson) was frustrated. The French commanders managed their ships well and escaped the trap. However, their plans to lure the British fleet away from Barbados failed, as did their plan to attack Jamaica.
Siege of Charleston
In May 1780 HMS Elizabeth was supporting British forces besieging Charleston which surrendered on the 12 May
The fleets did not engage each other again that year, the British moved to New York and the French, who had suffered much damage returned to France. HMS Elizabeth was sent back to England, and on the 20th November the Northampton Mercury reported
Extract of a Letter from Portsmouth, Nov 16 1780
Yesterday arrived the Elizabeth, of 74 guns, Capt Maitland, from Jamaica; she is much damaged in her rigging etc, having lost her Mizzen-Mast and Main Top Mast in a late Gale of Wind off the banks of Newfoundland, where she parted from the Jamaica Fleet.
HMS Queen, 90 guns
The commission in HMS Elizabeth ended, and FLM was appointed to command the battleship HMS Queen 90 guns, taking over on the 9th January 1781. James Maitland joined as a Captain’s servant. Charles and Peter Maitland also joined, Charles was rated as an Able Seaman, but then appointed Midshipman in February. Peter achieved this rank in April. This commission was uneventful, spent in the English Channel, and FLM went ashore at the end of November.
An incident at Oporto
This account of FLM’s operations has arrived out of synchronisation with the biography,
In April 1762 FLM sailed for Lisbon to escort a convoy of 14 transports, departing on the 26th April, and arriving in Lisbon on 5th May, returning on the 23rd June. On the 22nd July he sailed for Oporto, returning to the UK on the 22nd September.
The log is silent about his activities, but Mark Crichton has a magnificent cup, and explains its origin.
The family story is that arriving in Oporto with empty transports he allowed the port merchants to fill them with their product that they had been unable to export for some years because of “French depredations on that coast”. In return FL was presented with a magnificent silver cup bearing the following inscription.
“Presented by the British Factory at Oporto to the Hon. Frederick Lewis Maitland of His Majesty’s ship the Renown as a small acknowledgement of his great services in protecting their trade on the coast of Portugal in the year 1762”
The silver marks are Lewis Herne and Francois Butty, London and dated 1763 and the whole thing stands 16” high. Not a bad small appreciation!