Philip Durel

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Vice Admiral Philip Durell, 1707-1776

This article by A C Saunders was first published in the 1939 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Family history

The study of the Extentes show that the family of Durell or Durel goes back to 1272 when Raoul Durel was unjustly imprisoned, Matthieu Durel was killed during a raid on the Island, Nicholas Durel a priest, spent much time in looking after his ecclesiastical emolument, Richard Durel was appointed Provost of Sark by Nicolas de Cheney, who was Guardian of the Isles 1297 to 1298, and William Durel was unjustly accused and acquitted of theft.

This family has no connection with that called sometimes Vavaseur dit Durell and others dit Dubois.

We find many traces in the records of the Durell family and we read of Thomas Durell, who succeeded his father as Greffier, being forced to write a letter for the Parliamentarians to Sir Philip de Carteret demanding that he should deliver up Elizabeth Castle. For this, later, he was imprisoned by Sir George de Carteret until he had paid a fine of 8000 livres tournois.

He was a popular man and when he died on June 23, 1651, was buried with great pomp as one well beloved by the people. He was the son of Nicolas Durel, who was Constable of St Helier from 1579 to 1602, and was buried in St Saviour's Church for leaving two ecus for the poor of the parish. His son John, born in 1642, married Anne Dumaresq of Les Augres, and became Lieut-Bailiff. He had three sons in the Royal Navy, who all rose to the rank of Captain and in Trail's Social England, there is a plan of Porto Bello made by Lt Durell, who must have been promoted shortly afterwards, for late in 1740 Capt Philip Durell died of plague at Carthagena.

The Lieut-Bailiff had four sons; John, who became Solicitor-General and married Elizabeth Corbet, and three others who became Captains in the Navy. He had three daughters, Madeline, who married Sir Edward de Carteret, Elizabeth who married John Sauvains and Anne who married Matthieu de Saumarez. There is a tablet to the memory of Matthieu and his wife in Westminster Abbey opposite the pulpit. John, the Solicitor General, son of the Lieut-Bailiff, had four sons; John, born 1706, who also became Solicitor-General and married Anne la Cloche of Longueville Manor, Philip, born in 1707 who became Vice Admiral of the Blue and married Madeline de Sausmarez, Thomas a Captain in the Royal Navy and George also a Captain in the Royal Navy and who married Elizabeth de Sausmarez.


Philip Durel entered the Navy at the age of 13 in the frigate Sea Horse, commanded by his uncle, and he carried as a passenger the newly appointed Governor of New York and New Jersey and the vessel arrived in New York on 16 September 1742. Philip became Captain of the Eltham 40 guns, and took part in Admiral Knowles' repulse at Puerto Cabello, West Indies on 24 April 1742.

Whilst in command of the same ship he was at the capture of Louisberg under Commodore Warren, 29 April 1745 to 28 January 1746. There is at Sausmarez Manor, Guernsey a portrait of Capt Philip Durell holding a roll inscribed A plan of Louisberg, 1745. He was Captain of the Gloucester, 50 guns, in Hawkes' action with M de l'Etendiere on 14 October 1747, Captain of the Trident, 64 guns, in Byng's action off Minorca, 20 May 1756, Commodore of the Diana, 36 guns, with Admiral Boscowan at the capture of Louisberg on 26 July 1758. The same year he was appointed Rear-Admiral in command of a squadron wintering in American waters.

As second in command in Sir Charles Saunders' expedition against Quebec he was appointed to the Princess Amelia, 80 guns, and with his squadron sailed his ships about the entrance of the St Lawrence River to prevent reinforcements and stores being sent from France to the French in Canada. His promotions were Post Captain, 6 February 1742, Rear-Admiral of the Blue, 8 July 1758, Rear Admiral of the Red, 14 February 1759, Vice-Admiral of the Blue, 21 October 1762.

He was appointed in command of the American Station and died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in August 1766. He was buried in St Paul's Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Halifax and the only one when Admiral Durell was there. His hatchment, painted on canvas framed in wood or metal and very plainly lettered in gold 'Admiral Philip Durell 1766', hangs over the gallery rails of the Church, directly over the pulpit. There is a portrait of him marked "After a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds" hanging in the vestry, a memorial of one who had gone to the top of his country's service.

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