Sir Philippe de Carteret Silvester

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search

From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine

Philippe de Carteret (1776-1828) added the surname Silvester in 1822. He was Seigneur of Trinity and a Captain in the Royal Navy.

Navy career

The son of circumnavigator Philip de Carteret and Marie Rachel Silvestre, he was born in Trinity Manor on 2 December 1776, and baptized in Trinity Church. Educated first by Francois Le Couteur, Rector of Grouville, then at Winchester College, 1789-92, he entered the Navy in 1792 under the care of Captain Erasmus Gower, who had been his father's First Lieutenant on his voyage round the world in the Swallow.

He went with Gower on the Lion to China, returning in 1794. He was with Gower on the Triumph in the Battle of 17 June 1793, and was wounded. In October he became Lieutenant of the Imperieuse.

In the following year on the death of his father he inherited Trinity Manor. He then served in the Greyhound, the Britannia, and the Cambrian round the French coast. In 1802 he was promoted Commander, and appointed to the sloop Bonne Citoyenne in the Mediterranean. From 1804 to 1809 he commanded the brig Scorpion (18 guns), in which he captured the Dutch schooner L'Honneur with a cargo of arms for the Dutch fleet and the famous French Captain Saint-Faust, who was on his way to take command of it.

The Scorpion was then sent to the West Indies to watch the French fleet and report its movements. It did this so skilfully that for months the French could neither capture it nor shake it off. In 1806 he was promoted Post-Captain. He then escorted a French prize to England and joined the Plymouth squadron. In 1807 he captured a formidable French privateer the Bougainville, off Scilly.

In 1809 he volunteered for service on the Superb (74 guns) in the expedition to the Scheldt. Here he commanded a flotilla of gunboats and was frequently mentioned in dispatches, and won special praise for his work in covering the evacuation of Walcheren. In 1811 he was appointed to the frigate Naiad.

In this he performed his most sensational exploit. Napoleon was holding a naval review at Boulogne, when the Naiad appeared in the offing. By his orders seven 12-gun praams, ten brigs, and a sloop put out under Rear-Admiral Baste to capture her. De Carteret fought the whole flotilla for two and a half hours, until they retired into the shelter of their shore batteries, when he anchored in his original position.

In the night he was reinforced by three brigs and a cutter. At sunrise the French renewed the attack with 22 vessels. Carteret led his tiny squadron into the midst of the enemy, giving orders to reserve fire until within pistol-shot. He nearly captured the Admiral's praam ; but the Ville de Lyons separated them. So he lashed the Naiad to the side of the intruder. He reported:

"The small-arms men soon cleared her deck, and the boarders sword in hand completed her subjugation".

Near drowning

The French then retired again to the shelter of their forts, and de Carrteret brought his prize to England. In the same year he captured two large French privateers. In April 1812 he nearly lost his life. His gig upset off Cowes, he was brought ashore apparently drowned; but he recovered.

His next command was the frigate Pomona (46 guns). In 1813 in hazy weather he fell in with a French frigate in the Bay of Biscay. At the same time he sighted another large ship, which he took to be French. He ran down to engage this, only to discover that she was a Portuguese East-Indiaman; and meanwhile the frigate escaped. De Carteret, hearing that he was accused of cowardice in running away from the frigate, demanded a court martial, and was acquitted. He remained in command of the Pomone until the end of the war.

In 1814 he recaptured from the Americans HMS Linnet, which they had taken and converted into a privateer. In 1815 he was made a Companion of the Bath. In the same year he was appointed to the frigate Desiree, from which he removed with officers and men to the Active. In her he served on the Jamaica station until he retired in 1817.

In 1822 he added his mother's surname, anglicised as Silvester, to his own, and, when his mother's brother, Sir John Silvester, Recorder of London, died in that year, he succeeded to the baronetcy. He died suddenly of apoplexy at Leamington on 24 August 1828.

He never married and his sister, Elizabeth Mary, and her husband, Sir William Symonds, inherited the manor. In all his wanderings he never forgot that he was Seigneur of Trinity, and after his retirement spent much of his time at the manor. The Chronique said of him at his death:

"The poor feel that they have lost a friend and a protector, and the parishioners of Trinity do not tire of praising all the good he has done".
Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs