So, here I was in London with tours and catch-ups planned for my short stay before flying home. I had come to England with absolutely no intention of researching at the National Archives at Kew so I had not even packed my pass. Other research in Northumberland had turned out to need me to go to Kew though and I had worked out I had one day and an afternoon I could spare to check those records. With Richard’s email coming through, I now knew I definitely had to go and try and find something other than the entry in Steele’s Navy List that I had noted for Frederick Bevan under Assistant Surgeons in 1804. A day and half seemed a bit of a stretch to find anything and especially with no prior preparation on how to research a naval ancestor but I had to at least make an attempt.
Time was very short, I arrived at Kew one afternoon but was too late to get a replacement pass so I could do no research myself. A kind and sympathetic assistant helped me identify what I needed to check for the Northumberland research the next day so my time wasn’t totally wasted.
At opening time, the next day I was on the doorstep and once a replacement pass was in hand, I quickly searched in vain for answers to my Northumberland research. I then decided to check Steel’s Navy List again to find the 1804 entry but that was just a needle in a haystack that I didn’t have time for. Turns out that it is under 1808 even though the list is for 1804 as I found my photocopy of the entry in my research papers when I got home. Putting those aside, I wasn’t sure where else to look for Frederick so I went to one of the research assistants who showed me the records in the catalogue that she suggested I needed to start checking.
There was also another piece of evidence – a letter Frederick had written in 1827 when he was desirous of being allowed to rent a house in the Blanchland area. In the letter he gives his credentials:
I have a Degree in Medicine. I am a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. I am a corresponding vaccinator of the National Vaccine Establishment, London. I have served in the Medical Department of the Royal Navy. I was formerly a member of the City Philosophical Society and I have practiced London, therefore my previous education must have been completely regular. I practiced in Berkshire and I have practiced 17 years in this neighbourhood with the happiest success.
“Serving in the Medical Department of the Royal Navy” certainly seemed to indicate he was a Naval Surgeon or Assistant Surgeon.
I was looking through ADM104/67 Medical List for the year 1804. It was the first record in the list. There was no alphabetical listing however and, although it was supposed to be 1804, the dates were late 1700s and made no sense. Thinking I was wasting precious time, I was just about to give up but thought I would just look at a few more pages when, there on page 85, was the entry for Frederick Beavan and the name of his ship Loire! I knew once I had a ship name I was on my way. I was thrilled to pieces and very excited. What if I had never turned those extra pages!!
Next I went to ADM24/60 Full pay ledger Assistant Surgeons 1 – 1785 to 1817 where on page 35 was a history of his payments from January 1805 to October 1806. Then checking ADM104/7 an Entry Book of Surgeons and Surgeons Mates I found under Loire there was Frederick Bevan first appointed 12 November 1804 as 1st Mate. Conflictingly, when I looked at the Loire Musters of 1805, they told me that Frederick was appointed by Warrant on 12 November 1802.
I believe the Muster warrant information should say 1804 and not 1802 as we already know that he was apprenticed in 1803 to Charles Delahoyd and the Medical List I previously checked at Kew was dated 1804.
Since my return from London I have bought an armful of books on Nelson, life in the Royal Navy in Nelson’s time and on Naval Ancestor research. Back in Brisbane I had read in one my new research books that it was after the passing of an examination and the issuing of a Certificate that a Warrant was issued. This prompted me to contact the very helpful archivists at the Royal College of Surgeons again and they sent me a copy of the Examination Book for that period. This book recorded the granting of Frederick’s Certificate as 1st Mate 2nd Class (later this position was changed to be called Assistant Surgeon) and was dated 2 November 1804. So, I am satisfied that his Warrant was issued in 1804 and 1802 is an error.
Now for the burning question – was HMS Loire one of the ships at Trafalgar?
Unfortunately, the answer is that it appears not. HMS Loire was a 40-gun Frigate of the French Navy when she was captured by the Royal Navy in 1798 and take into service. Her job was to provide escort and to be out plying the seas and engaging in battle to capture more French ships and, sadly, she is not listed among the ships at Trafalgar 21 October 1805.
Never-the-less she still had an interesting career and Frederick would have had many exciting tales to tell. Above is a picture depicting the capture of Loire. Frederick would have been involved in similar battles during his time in the Royal Navy. If you have seen the film Master and Commander, picture the ship as it is very similar. Also, picture the ship’s surgeon Maturin and the scenes of medical aid during the battle – that is where Frederick would have been and what he would have been doing.
Here follows a description of one scene off Cape Finisterre on the coast of Spain that Frederick definitely would have been a part of, once the wounded were back on ship :
On 1 June 1805, while regaining her station after delivering dispatches from Lord Gardner to Sir Robert Calder, LOIRE sighted a small vessel standing into the Bay of Camarinas to the eastward of the Cape. Capt. Maitland sent in the launch and two cutters under the first lieutenant, Mr James Lucas Yeo, with Marine Lieut. Mallock, master’s mate, Mr Charles Clinch and Messrs. Herbert and Mildridge, midshipmen, numbering 35 in all to bring her out. At daybreak they found two small privateers moored under a battery of 10 guns. The launch under Mr Clinch boarded and carried the smaller, a lugger, but since she was close under the guns she had to be abandoned. The two cutters carried the larger, a felucca armed with three 18-pounders and four 4-pounders and fifty men. Only three men from LOIRE, William Turner, Quarter Master James Gardner and Marine John Maynes, were wounded. Nineteen of the enemy were missing, some had jumped overboard, the others killed. The felucca was the ESPERAMZA (alias SAN PEDRO) of Corunna, victualled for a cruise of one month. Three small merchant vessels carrying wine for the enemy squadron at Ferrol were destroyed on the way out.
On the morning of the 4 June LOIRE stood into the bay at Muros to engage a French privateer fitting out there. Mr Yeo, Marine Lieuts. Mallocks and Douglas, and Mr Clinch with a force of about fifty were ready to land and storm any forts. As they entered the bay two guns in a small battery opened fire on them and Mr Yeo landed to spike the guns. Further on they found a corvette with 26 ports apparently ready for sea and a brig with 20 ports neither of which opened fire so it was assumed that they had no guns on board, however they came under accurate fire from a large fort with twelve 18-pounders at a range of less than a quarter of a mile. Mr Cleverly, the master, brought LOIRE to anchor with a spring so that her broadside could return the fire, the purser, Mr Shea, being in charge of the quarter deck carronades.
Meanwhile Lieut. Yeo, hearing the firing, pushed forward the quarter of a mile to the fort and entered it through a gate that the enemy had left open. Here he killed the governor who had brought troops from the town and the crews of the privateers to the inner gate. Those that were not killed fled into the fort and some jumped from the embrazures on to the rocks. Twelve of the enemy were killed and 30 wounded. As soon as the fort was taken, Capt. Maitland took possession of the CONFIANCE, 116 ft long and about 450 tons, a French ship privateer pierced for 26 guns but having none on board, which was due to sail for India in a few days. He then arranged with the inhabitants of the town to deliver up the guns and stores of the ship in return for a promise of no further molestation.
The BELIER brig, a privateer pierced for twenty 18-pounders was in an early stage of refitting so he burnt her. The small vessels in the bay and on the beach that belonged to the local inhabitants he left unmolested. The guns in the fort were spiked and thrown over the parapet, forty barrels of gunpowder, two small brass guns and some small arms were brought on board and LOIRE sailed out of the bay as soon as a land wind sprang up.
The wounded in the shore party were: Lieut. Yeo (stabbed by a bayonet), Mr Clinch, seamen Henry Gray, Martin Hendrikson, John Payne and marine John Leonard. On board seamen James Caldwell and John Witecomb were seriously wounded; Magnus Johnson lost his right leg above the knee and Christian Wilson had the calf of his leg shot off. Seamen John Plummer, Mark Archer, Thomas Lloyd, John Moulds and James Gillett were also wounded. The Spanish and French privateers were brought into Cork by LOIRE on 13 June. [ii]
Very much real life “Master and Commander” naval action.
Other entries in the log of Loire records the following events during Frederick’s time aboard:
11 Dec 1804 the convoy that departed Cork on the 7th inst. encountered violent gales on the 8th and the frigate Loire, sloop Heron, and their convoy of 30 + merchant vessels put back to Cork.
14 Dec 1804 departed Cork for Madeira with the convoy and escorts.
31 Dec 1804 departed Madeira for Cork having escorted the Reindeer and her convoy as far as Madeira, en route for the West Indies.
4 Feb 1805 arrived Cork.
21 Feb 1805 departed Cork for Plymouth.
25 Feb 1805 arrived Plymouth from Cork with a Spanish prize, from Rio de la Plata, name not detailed.
Circa 19 Mar 1805 prize money for the capture of the French privateer La Blonde with be paid every Tuesday and Friday at Plymouth. [Frederick would probably not be part of this prize money as he was not aboard Loire during this capture but he certainly would have received a share of other prize money]
17 Apr 1805 departed Plymouth on a cruise.
17 Jun 1805 arrived Plymouth with the prizes Esperance, La Confidence, and La Maria de los Gratia [the example action mentioned previously].
On 25 June she gave chase to the VALIANT of Bordeaux, a privateer frigate, about 20O miles west of Cape Clear. After 12 hours the enemy was forced to bear up by the appearance of MELAMPUS and BRILLIANT on the weather bow. VALIANT was very fast and carried twenty-four 18-pounders on the main deck but the six 6-pounders on the quarter deck had been thrown overboard during the chase. Victualled for a four month’s cruise she had made only one capture, the Halifax packet SIR CHARLES SPENCER and LOIRE brought her in to Cork on 29 June.
3 Jul 1805 arrived Plymouth with the Vallante. [Valiant]
On 13 December 1805 Loire and Alcmene fell in with the French squadron from Rochefort consisting of six sail of the line and six frigates and corvettes. Capt. Maitland sent Alcmene E to the fleet off Brest and shadowed the French ships, at times during the night being so close that he could hear orders being passed. He was chased away during the following day but closed up again at night. During the night of 16/17th. he found himself between two enemy squadrons and had to make sail to escape from them. The new ships were from Brest and reached San Domingo in February, they had apparently not recognised the Rochefort ships which returned to port soon after.
24 December 1805 Loire and Egyptienne captured the French 4O-gun frigate Libre off Rochefort after an obstinate resistance. The French lost 20 men killed and wounded, Loire had no casualties and Egyptienne had 8 wounded, one mortally. LIBRE was badly damaged and lost her masts so Loire took her in tow and reached Plymouth with her early January 1806. Libre was not purchased into the service.
22 April 1806 The Spanish privateer schooner Princess of Peace was captured in the evening about 10O miles south-west of Cape Clear. Although pierced for 14 guns she was only carrying one large 24-pounder. She was five days out on her first cruise without taking any prizes. Loire brought her in to Cork on the 28th.
On 24 July 1806 Loire attempted to close with a squadron of four French frigates but the enemy hauled to the wind so Capt. Maitland made for Sir Richard Keats squadron 150 miles west of Belleisle. He reported the enemy on the 27th and the following evening Mars was able to cut off the French frigate RHIN,44.
Frederick was paid off in October 1806. It was common for the Royal Navy to pay off men when hostilities ceased or diminished and the Napoleonic Wars were coming to an end. Less than a year later, Frederick married Barbara Leyson in Llansamlet, Glamorganshire on 29 June 1807.
Captain Maitland was transferred to HMS Emerald in November. HMS Loire was in ordinary at Deptford at the beginning of 1807 and later in the year Capt. Alexander Wilmot Schomberg was appointed to her as she fitted out at Woolwich. Early in the spring of 1808 he was sent, with Capt. Ayscough in Success under his orders, to protect the fisheries in Arctic waters. In 1817 she was ordered to be sold.
There is yet but one more link for Frederick to Horatio, although this is more of a literary one. The first Lieutenant of HMS Loire during the Napoleonic Wars and during the time Frederick was Assistant Surgeon, was James Lucas Yeo. Many times, he distinguished himself in battle. One is the instance mentioned earlier in June 1805 when HMS Loire was patrolling off the northwest coast of Spain and attacked shipping in Muros Bay. It turns out that Lieutenant Yeo was one of the actual historical officers on whom C S Forester modelled Horatio Hornblower, his fictional naval hero.[iii]
I do find it interesting that every branch but mine, has a story about our surgeon and Nelson. For the stories to be carried down so many lines, there has to be something in it and I think Frederick’s story so far is certainly part of it. I guess this is the story for me to pass on to my descendants.
Alas, though this is not really the end of the story, I still have one more question to answer. What was Frederick doing before he was apprenticed? Was he in school or was he already in the Navy, perhaps as a Boy until he was old enough to go ashore for an apprenticeship? The National Archives still calls, I cannot escape!
[i] Farrère, Claude, ‘Loire’, Histoire de la Marine française, 1954, Wiki media commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loire_img_3184.jpg accessed 16/9/2019
[ii] KiwiCelts ‘Log of the HMS Loire’ – 40 cannon Frigate 1798-1818, Benyon, Paul, ‘Naval Database:’ HMS Loire, http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/18-1900/L/02761.html accessed 12/10/2018 and Phillips, Michael ‘Ships of the Old Navy’ Loire http://www.ageofnelson.org/MichaelPhillips/info.php?ref=1351 accessed 20/9/2019
[iii] Martinovich, Paul, C.S. Forester Society ‘Origins of “The Happy Return” available as pdf https://csforester.wordpress.com/about/publications/reflections-online/origins-of-the-happy-return accessed 10/9/2019