Come and ask, answer or inform.
|Date from||Date to||Event||Source|
|7.6.1695||Commander ADM 6/3/60||ADM 6/4|
|7.6.1695||9.1695||Owner's Goodwill (4), Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/3/60||BWAS-1603|
|29.1.1695/96||22.11.1697||Intelligence (6), Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/3/121||BWAS-1603|
|7.9.1699||31.5.1702||Bonetta (2), Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/6/12||BWAS-1603|
|1.6.1702||10.1.1704/5||Speedwell (24), Captain and Commanding Officer: On board from 6.6.1702 ADM 6/7/39||BWAS-1603|
|11.1.1704/5||24.3.1704/5||Seaford (24), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/8/135||ADM 6/8|
|23.1.1710/11||1.8.1714||Monck (64), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/11/97||BWAS-1603|
|1714||Dismissed from the Navy as a known Jacobite||SCHOMB|
|1715||1732||In the service of Spain||TRN3|
CAMOCKE, GEORGE (1666?–1722?), captain in the royal navy, renegade, and admiral in the service of Spain, descended from an Essex family, was a native of Ireland. According to his own statements in numerous memorials to the admiralty (1699–1702), he entered the navy in or about 1682, and, having served five years ‘in his minority’ and three years as a midshipman, was in 1690 ‘made a lieutenant by the lords of the admiralty for boarding a cat that was laden with masts for his majesty's ships, then riding at Cow and Calf in Norway, with a French privateer of 12 guns lashed on board her, which ship I brought safe to England.’ He was afterwards appointed to the Lion of 60 guns, and in her was present, probably at the battle of Beachy Head, certainly at the battle of Barfleur; in command of the Lion's boats he was actively engaged in burning the French ships at La Hogue, and claimed to have personally set fire to a three-decker, in which service he was wounded. On 13 March 1692–3 he was appointed first lieutenant of the Loyal Merchant, one of the fleet which went to the Mediterranean with Sir George Rooke [q. v.] In 1695 he was appointed to command the Owner's Goodwill fireship, and in December was promoted to the Intelligence brigantine, in which vessels he took part in the several bombardments of Calais. In December 1697 the Intelligence was put out of commission, and Camocke was for some time in very embarrassed circumstances. In May and June 1699 he repeatedly memorialised the admiralty, and on 28 June was appointed as first lieutenant of one of the guardships at Portsmouth (Admiralty Minutes). After all, these ships were not commissioned, and on 5 Sept. Camocke again appealed to the lords of the admiralty, praying that, ‘after serving his Majesty all my life, I may not have my bread to seek in another service.’
On 11 Sept. he was appointed to the Bonetta sloop, which he commanded, in the North Sea and afterwards on the north coast of Ireland, till June 1702, when, after several more memorials, he was advanced to post rank and the command of the Speedwell frigate. This command he held for the next eight years, being employed for the most part on the coast of Ireland, and in successful cruising against the enemy's privateers. In the spring of 1711 he was appointed to the Monck of 60 guns, which he commanded on the same station, and in which he was again fortunate in capturing some troublesome privateers. On 9 May 1712, having put into Kinsale, he wrote thence on some fancied slight that he had been ‘twenty years used ill by the whigs,’ and added that he had ‘the honour of a promise of being vice-admiral in the Tsar of Muscovy's service, which I shall accept of, if my rank is taken from me here’ (Home Office Records (Admiralty), No. 28).
In the following February, still in the Monck, he was sent out to the Mediterranean, and, being at Palermo in the early months of 1714, received an order from Sir John Jennings, the commander-in-chief, to go to Port Mahon, take on board a number of soldiers and convey them to England. Instead of doing so, he, on his own responsibility, undertook to carry and convoy the Spanish army from Palermo to Alicant, whence he himself visited Madrid. Afterwards, having taken on board the English soldiers at Port Mahon, on his way home he put into Cadiz, and again into Lisbon. For these several acts in violation of duty he was suspended and called on for an explanation, and his explanation being unsatisfactory, he was told that his suspension would be continued until he was cleared by a court-martial.
On 18 Jan. 1714–15 he wrote to the secretary of the admiralty, from Hornchurch, Essex, stating his case at considerable length, alleging also that the late queen had approved of his conduct, and had given orders for the suspension to be taken off. He therefore declined the offer of a court-martial, choosing rather to leave the matter in the hands of their lordships. ‘Whenever,’ he added, ‘it shall please their lordships to put it in my power to show my zeal for his majesty King George's service, there is not a person in my rank or station that will, with the highest obedience and duty, take more care to acquit himself.’ The admiralty reply was an official notification that he was struck out of the list of captains.
Three years later he was a rear-admiral in the Spanish navy, and held a junior command in the fleet which was destroyed by Sir George Byng [q. v.] off Cape Passaro on 31 July 1718, but he made his escape and got back to Messina. On 15 Aug. Byng wrote to Craggs: ‘Captain Camocke is, as you have been informed, rear-admiral in the Spanish service, but ran early. Before your letter came to me I had given the very orders relating to him that you send; for when my first captain went ashore at Messina from me to the Spanish general, I ordered him not to suffer Camocke to be in the room, not to speak to him, nor receive any message from him, not thinking it fit to treat or have any correspondence with rebels.’ Notwithstanding this refusal of Byng's to hold any intercourse with the traitor, Camocke had the insolence to write, offering him, in the name of King James, 100,000l. and the title of Duke of Albemarle if he would take the fleet into Messina or any Spanish port. To Captain Walton he wrote a similar letter (22 Dec. 1718), offering him 10,000l., a commission as admiral of the blue, and an English peerage.
But meantime Messina was closely blockaded. Several ships tried to get out, but were captured, and among them a small frigate in which, on 25 Jan. 1718–19, Camocke tried to run the blockade; she was taken on the 26th by the Royal Oak. Camocke, however, escaped ‘by taking in time to his boat, and got safe to Catania; but so frighted that he never thought of anything, but left his king's commission for being admiral of the white together with all his treasonable papers’ (Mathews to Byng, 2 Feb. 1718–19). He succeeded in getting back to Spain, but was no longer in favour, and was banished to Ceuta, where he is said to have died a few years later in the extreme of want and degradation.
There has been a certain tendency to rank Camocke as a political martyr. From his being a native of Ireland, and from the date (falsely quoted as 12 Aug. 1714) of his leaving the English service, it has been commonly taken for granted that he suffered for attachment to the house of Stuart. Critically examined his conduct admits of no such excuse. He had served under both William and Anne, and had professed himself ready to serve with ‘zeal’ and ‘the highest obedience’ under George: his attachment to the Stuart interest was called into being solely by his summary dismissal from the English service for gross breaches of discipline and a suspicion of hiring his ship out to the service of a foreign prince. Already, in 1712, as we have seen, he contemplated entering the service of Russia; and the necessary change of religion offered no stumbling-block to his accepting service in Spain in 1715. The best that can be said for him is that, in 1715, Spain was not at war with England.
Camocke's name has been misspelt in different ways, Cammock being perhaps the most common. The spelling here given is that of his own signature.