William Henry Daniel

RolesNaval Sailor 
Date of Birth1763 - London RNB1823
First Known Service31.3.1774CSORN
Father William Daniel (d.1800)ADM 6/21
Brother Robert Savage Daniel (1760-1798)NBD1849
Last Known Service10.7.1837CSORN
Date of Death5.5.1838CSORN

Event History

Date fromDate toEventSource
31.3.1774 Royal Naval Academy, Scholar ADM 6/21/23ADM 6/21
22.1.1781 LieutenantCSORN
11.11.1798 CommanderCSORN
29.4.1802 CaptainCSORN
10.7.1837 Superannuated Rear-AdmiralCSORN

Notes on Officer


This officer is the eldest son of the late Captain William Daniel, R.N. by Miss M. Dawson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and a brother of Lieutenant Robert Savage Daniel, who was mortally wounded on board the Bellerophon 74, in the battle off the Nile, Aug. 1, 1798.

He was born in London in 1763; and his name first entered on a ship’s books Dec. 20, 1766; but his actual entry into the naval service did not take place till 1773, when he joined the Dublin 74 at Plymouth. On the 31st March, in the following year, he was received into the Royal Academy at Portsmouth, where he continued upwards of four years. Whilst there he was frequently employed to drill the other scholars at small arms; and on one of those occasions was twice stabbed with a sword by a lad named Marmaduke Price, who insisted on having the command. One of the wounds was at first considered mortal; but fortunately the sword had been prevented from entering the abdomen, in consequence of its striking one of the short ribs on the left side.

On the 7th Dec. 1776, the rope-houses in Portsmouth dock-yard were wilfully set on fire, by a miscreant commonly called “Jack the Painter,” and considerable damage was done before the flames could be extinguished. Shortly after this diabolical act, whilst Mr. Daniel was looking at the men employed clearing the camber of the pitch, tar, and other combustible articles that had been thrown into it for security, the sheers erected for that purpose gave way, struck him on the back of the head, and knocked him down apparently lifeless. The effects of this accident are still felt by him on all occasions of exertion.

Mr. Daniel removed from the Royal Academy to the Prince of Wales, a second rate, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Barrington, April 16, 1778; and shortly after proceeded to the Leeward Islands, where he was placed under the care of the late Sir Charles Thompson, who at that period commanded the Boreas of 28 guns; in which ship Mr. Daniel saw much active service, and was twice engaged with the enemy. On the 7th May 1780, he joined the Sandwich of 90 guns, bearing the flag of Sir George B. Rodney; and a few days afterwards witnessed two partial actions between that officer and M. de Guichen, whose shyness alone prevented a general battle.

In July following, Mr. Daniel received an appointment to act as a Lieutenant on board the Magnificent 74, which ship was soon after ordered to convoy a valuable fleet from Jamaica to England, where she arrived in a sinking state, after a tempestuous passage of thirteen weeks, during which she was obliged to be frequently fathered, and her crew became so completely exhausted as to fall down at the pumps.

Having passed his examination at the Navy Office, Mr. Daniel was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Jan. 22, 1781; but he does not appear to have been employed on any service worthy of notice during the remainder of the American war, In Mar. 1783, he obtained an appointment to the Iphigenia frigate, commanded by Captain James Cornwallis; which ship, after conveying Lord Northington to his Vice-royalty in Ireland, was sent to the Jamaica station, and employed principally on the Spanish Main for a period of three years. She was paid off at Sheerness in Oct. 1786.

During the Dutch armament, in 1787, Lieutenant Daniel was employed in raising men for the fleet at a rendezvous in London; after which he remained on half-pay till 1790, when he served for a short time on board the Illustrious 74, commanded by Sir C. M. Pole. His next appointment was in Mar. 1793, to the Courageux of similar force, in which ship he assisted at the occupation of Toulon by the forces under Lord Hood, and had his left leg broken, besides receiving three severe contusions in the head, breast, and left foot, whilst engaging the batteries and towers near St. Fiorenzo.

Mr. Daniel at this latter period became first Lieutenant of the Courageux on the death of Mr. Shield, who fell in the action; and finding that his Captain was also seriously hurt by the poop-ladder being shot from under him, he neglected his own wounds in order to attend to the refitment of the ship, she having suffered very considerably in her hull, masts, sails, and rigging. This arduous duty he performed on crutches; and so great was his zeal for the service, that on one occasion he sat up all night, keeping only a quarter-master on deck with him, in order that the crew might be refreshed for their labour on the following day.

Previous to her return to Toulon, the Courageux struck on a reef of rocks near Cape Corse, unhung her rudder, and made upwards of seven feet water per hour. To add to her misfortunes, the carpenter and nearly all of his crew were most severely burnt by an accidental explosion of some powder-horns, whilst employed fixing the tiller, and before they had finished plugging the numerous shot-holes in her bends and other parts.

The Courageux being afterwards hove down at Toulon, her shattered state excited universal surprise, every one wondering how she could have been kept afloat. Her false keel was entirely gone, and not two inches of the main one remained under the fore-hatchway, amidships, and under the raizenmast; the lower part of the gripe was carried away, the bolts of the main-keel were driven upwards, the trunnels and plank of the garboard-streak started in several places, as also many higher up; one of the gudgeons of the rudder was broken, the dead wood so bent as to start the copper nails half way up the stern-posts, and for sixteen feet forward; the rudder exceedingly battered, and only two pintles remained serviceable. She was; however, repaired in time to quit that port previous to its falling into the hands of the republicans, her rudder being hung, sails bent, and rigging set up, by the light of the fire that had been made for the destruction of the French arsenal and shipping.

Captain Matthews, who had been appointed to act in the Courageux during the absence of her proper commander, the present Lord Radstock, was employed on shore at the evacuation of Toulon; and finding on his return to the ship that she was not only ready for sea but actually clear of danger, he declared that it was the happiest moment of his life: what then must have been the sensations of Lieutenant Daniel, through whose devoted zeal the Courageux had been thus preserved, first from destruction, and lastly from the ignominy of wearing a tri-coloured flag.

It cannot, however, be supposed, that such exertions could have been made with impunity; the stimulus to energetic efforts having ceased, his strength soon gave way, and on his arrival at Gibraltar, in company with the fleet and the French ships brought from Toulon, he found it absolutely necessary to retire for a time from duty. Whilst there he became seriously ill, and a survey being held on him by the proper officers, they strenuously advised him to seek the benefit of his native air. To this recommendation he reluctantly yielded; and a passage being ordered him in the Colossus, he returned home as an invalid on the 17th Mar. 1794.

A vacancy at this time occurring in the Impress service at Gravesend, Lieutenant Daniel was induced to accept an appointment under his father, who was then employed as Regulating Captain at that place. He shortly after had the gratification of receiving the following letter from his former commander, dated on board the Courageux, off Cape Corse, June 22, 1794:

“Dear Sir,– Among the many unpleasant changes I found in the Courageux, on my return from England, that of your absence was not the least. I should hope that your native air, and the comforts you meet with at home, may soon restore your health; after which, when opportunity offers, I shall be very happy to have again the pleasure of seeing you on board the Courageux, or any other ship I may command. I am, dear Sir, very faithfully your’s,

(Signed)⁠“Wm. Waldegrave.”

During the mutiny in the North Sea fleet, a merchant vessel that had been boarded and plundered by the ships at the Nore, arrived off Gravesend with information that the delegates, although in the habit of searching and stripping every vessel attempting to pass them, not being able to procure a sufficient supply of provisions, had determined to take the fleet over to an enemy’s port, and had already commenced getting up their yards and top -masts in preparation for sailing. On the receipt of this intelligence, Captain Daniel and the commanding officer of the military determined to send a despatch to the Board of Admiralty; but Lieutenant Daniel seeing that much time would thus be lost, suggested the propriety of sending letters, by horsemen, to Margate and Maiden, desiring the revenue cutters to cut away the buoys of the different channels before day-light the next morning. This suggestion was acted upon, and the cutters, although discovered, succeeded in their object, to the great annoyance of the mutineers, among whom symptoms of disunion soon after began to appear.

Subsequent to this event, Lieutenant Daniel, acting as aid-de-camp, pro tempore, to Colonel Nisbett, the military commandant, succeeded, at the imminent peril of his life, in seizing several of the delegates who were proceeding up the Thames to bring the Lancaster, of 64 guns, from Purfleet to the Nore, and who were directed by Parker, the ringleader, to fire upon the town of Gravesend, in case the inhabitants did not prevent the batteries from molesting them.

For these and other important services performed by Lieutenant Daniel at this alarming epoch, the court-martial assembled to try the mutineers strongly recommended him for superior rank; but it was refused on the ground that his appointment at Gravesend rendered him ineligible, although his predecessor had been promoted from that situation to the rank of Commander. The following is an extract of a letter from the Duke of York’s Secretary to Colonel Nisbett, dated “Horse Guards, June 7, 1797.”

“His Royal Highness desires that you will express his thanks to Captain Daniel and his Son, and assure them that H.R.H. will not fail to communicate your favourable report of their zeal and activity to Lord Spencer.”

Disgusted with a situation which precluded him from advancement, Lieutenant Daniel immediately applied for employment afloat, although his health was then far from being re-established. He accordingly received a commission, appointing him to the Glory of 98 guns, on board which ship the spirit of disaffection, though apparently quelled, was by no means eradicated.

On the 12th March, 1798, about 8 P.M. whilst walking on the quarter-deck with his Captain, he heard a great noise below, and on going down to ascertain the cause, perceived about 40 or 50 men endeavouring to remove the officers’ beer cask from the wardroom door, in which attempt they were resisted by the centinel and servants. Assisted by a few of the petty-officers, he immediately endeavoured to secure some of the rioters; but in doing so he received a severe wound on the joint of his fore-finger, which after remaining in a state of violent inflammation for several weeks, became rigid, and has ever since prevented him from using his right hand with full effect, particularly in cold weather, when it is of but little use to him.

Some time subsequent to this tumult, the particulars of a diabolical plan, formed by about 150 of the crew, to throw all the officers overboard, and take the Glory into Brest harbour, was communicated to Lieutenant Daniel by the senior officer of Marines, one of whose party had been implicated in the conspiracy, but who had taken offence at their refusing to spare the Captain’s son, a young gentleman about 14 years of age, from whom he had received frequent acts of kindness.

Rising from his cot, to which he had but just retired, Lieutenant Daniel, without waiting to consult with his Captain, who had likewise gone to bed, immediately adopted measures for securing the promoters of this plot; in which he happily succeeded without experiencing any opposition, so completely were they taken by surprise. The Glory was at this time within three leagues of Ushant, and two miles inshore of the commander-in-chief’s light; the wind at West, weather moderate and hazy, and the moment fixed for carrying their nefarious design into execution fast approaching; added to which circumstances in their favour, two Frenchmen belonging to the after-guard, who were formerly fishermen at Brest, had agreed to pilot the ship into that port; and so determined were the mutineers to persevere in their object, that they had unanimously resolved to fire two of the lower-deck guns, on each side, down the main-hatchway, in an oblique direction, and thereby sink the ship, rather than yield, should they be pursued and overtaken by any other of the fleet. It is but justice to the remainder of the crew to say, that they were always favourable to good order and discipline, but that the ringleaders of the mutiny had intimidated them by magnifying the number of their own adherents.

For his meritorious conduct on this occasion, Lieutenant Daniel was again recommended, by a court-martial, to the favorable consideration of the Admiralty, and he at length obtained the rank of Commander in October, 1J98. Several of the Glory’s men were about the same time executed, and others punished in various ways, according to the degree of their criminality.

In June following, Sir Home Pophain being ordered on a particular service, applied to Earl Spencer for the subject of this memoir to accompany him; which being granted, they took a passage in the Inflexible troop-ship from North Yarmouth to Revel, where they found a Russian squadron assembled, with 8000 troops of that nation on board, bound to Holland.

From Revel, Sir Home Popham proceeded on a mission to the Emperor Paul, then at Cronstadt, leaving Captain Daniel to superintend the embarkation of other troops, furnished by the Czar in conformity to a treaty between his Imperial Majesty and Great Britain. This service being completed on the the 28th August, Captain Daniel, after arranging his accounts with the different authorities, embarked on board the Blonde frigate, and proceeded, in company with the troop-ships, to the Texel, where the whole arrived in safety, after a passage of three weeks.

During the ensuing two months Captain Daniel served on shore as naval aid-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, and was employed in a variety of services, such as gaining information respecting the sluices; making observations on the tides, so as to enable a brigade to advance along the sands during the absence of the sea; directing a party of seamen in the erection and destruction of bridges as occasion required; removing wounded men from the field of battle; burying the slain; arming fishing-boats to cover the advance of the army along the coast, and others to carry despatches, and assisting in the final evacuation of Holland; on which occasion he was the last person that left the shore. The following is an extract from the General Orders issued at Alkmaar, Oct. 5, 1799:

“The service rendered by the gun-boats, directed by Sir Home Popham, and commanded by Captain Goddard, Captain Turquand, Lieutenant Rowed, Messrs. Stoddard, Lord, Baker, and Caldwell, and the seamen under their command; as also by Captain Daniel, and the seamen attached to Sir Ralph Abercromby’s column; have been no less honorable to themselves than highly advantageous to the public cause: and H.R.H. begs those gallant officers, and the officers and men under their orders, will rest assured how fully sensible he is of their merit.

(Signed)⁠“J. Kirkman, Asst.-Adjt.-General.”

On the 29th Nov. 1799, just seven days after his arrival in England, Captain Daniel received orders to place himself once more under the directions of the Transport Board, and follow those of Sir Home Popham for his future proceedings. In compliance with those instructions he proceeded to North Yarmouth, and from thence to Berkstoff, near Blyntsund, in Norway; the Elbe, his original destination, being found totally inaccessible, on account of the immense quantity of ice accumulated in that river.

Prom Berkstoff he cut his way, in the Swift cutter, to Moss harbour, and there hired a sledge for his conveyance to Stockholm, where he arrived on the 11th Feb. 1800, after travelling through ice and snow at the average rate of forty-five miles per day. On his arrival in the Swedish capital he found Sir Home Popham preparing to set out for St. Petersburgh, but owing to the want of carriages they were detained in that city till the 25th. At seven A.M. on the 28th they commenced their journey across the Gulph of Bothnia, which had been frozen over in one night; and after encountering many perils, in consequence of the ice not being sufficiently firm in all parts to bear the weight of their sledges, conductors, baggage, &c., arrived in twelve hours on a part of the Finnish shore seventy-seven miles distant from the spot whence they had started. That this journey was an undertaking of no little hazard, may be inferred from the circumstance of the ice breaking up on the following day sufficiently to enable passengers to cross over in boats to Sweden.

Passing through Abo, the capital of Finland, and Helsingfors, a town near which many of the galley fleet are laid up in time of peace, Captain Daniel reached Borgo in the evening of Mar. 13, and continued at that place till May 21, when he received a letter from Sir Home Popham, then at St. Petersburgh, directing him to return without delay to England. In consequence of this order he embarked on board a Swedish brig, bound to Gottenburgh, and sailed down the Baltic to Elsineur. After visiting the Danish capital, and communicating with the British Consul resident there, he crossed the Great and Little Belts, passed through the canal of Kiel and the city of Hamburgh, and embarked at Cuxhaven for Yarmouth, where he landed on the 24th June, 1800; since which, we believe, he has never been employed. His promotion to post-rank took place April 29, 1802; and he obtained the Out Pension of Greenwich Hospital Feb. 1, 1815.

Captain Daniel married, in Sept. 1800, Miss A. Edge, daughter of the late Captain Edge, of the 53d regiment, who was severely wounded at the battle of Bunker’s Hill, in North America; by whom he has three sons and three daughters. His eldest son is studying at the University of Cambridge; and another has recently embarked as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy.

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