O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'
O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'


The Royal NavyO'Byrne

The following is the entry for Houston Stewart in William O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'.

STEWART, C.B. (Captain, 1817. f-p., 19; h-p., 23.)

Houston Stewart, born 3 Aug. 1791, is second surviving son of the late Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, Bart., of Greenock and Blackball, Lord-Lieutenant of co. Renfrew, by Catherine, daughter of Sir Wm. Maxwell, Bart., of Sprinkell, co. Dumfries. He is brother of Patrick Maxwell Stewart, Esq., M.P. for Lancaster from 1831 until 1837, and for co. Renfrew in 1841; brother also of the Duchess of Somerset; and uncle of the present Sir Michael Robt. Shaw Stewart, Bart.
This officer entered the Navy, 5 Feb. 1805, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Medusa 32, Capt. Sir John Gore, under whom he escorted the Marquis Cornwallis as Governor-General to India, and returned home from Calcutta, a distance of 13,831 miles, in the extraordinarily short period of 82 days. Following Sir John into the Revenge 74, he served in that ship off Brest and L’Orient, and witnessed the capture, 25 Sept. 1806, of four heavy French frigates by a squadron under the orders of Sir Sam. Hood. On the latter occasion he was present in the boat which took possession of La Gloire of 46 guns. In the ensuing Oct. he joined the Impérieuse 38, Capts. Lord Cochrane and Thos. Garth; in the boats of which ship we find him, 7 Jan. 1807, contributing to the destruction of Fort Roquette, at the entrance of the Bay of Arcasson. In July, 1808, he aided in enforcing the surrender of the Castle of Mongat, by which the road to Gerona, then besieged by the French, had been completely commanded; in Sept. of the same year he united in destroying the semaphores at Bourdique, La Pinde, St. Maguire, Frontignan, Canet, and Foy, with the houses attached to them, 14 barracks belonging to the gendarmes, a battery, and a strong tower on Lake Frontignan; and in Nov. 1808 he served on shore at the defence of the fortress of Rosas, besieged at the time by a French army. He was subsequently placed in command of La Julie, an armed xebec, which he had assisted in cutting out from under the batteries at Port Vendres; and was sent to cruize in her, as an armed tender, in the Mediterranean Mediterranean. While so employed his vessel came into collision with a battery, and was so much damaged that she was under the necessity of seeking repair in a Spanish port. On arriving at Gibraltar Mr. Stewart found that the Impérieuse had been suddenly ordered home; in consequence whereof he did not rejoin her until after Lord Cochrane's celebrated attack upon the French shipping in Basque Roads. He then accompanied the expedition to the Walcheren; where, during the siege of Flushing, he obtained the thanks of Capt. Garth for suggesting the firing of shells (previously provided by Lord Cochrane) from the maindeck guns, whereby the formidable fort of Terneuse was blown up and the frigate relieved from a very critical situation. From 4 Nov. 1809 until 23 Jan. 1810 Mr. Stewart served at Leith in the Adamant 50, flag-ship of Rear-Admiral Edm. Nagle; in May of the latter year he joined the Hussar 38, Capt. Alex. Skene, in the Baltic; and after serving for upwards of six months at Spithead and again at Leith in the Royal William, flag-ship of Sir Roger Curtis, and Alexandria 32, Capt. Robt. Cathcart, he was promoted, 1 Aug. 1811, to the rank of Lieutenant. While attached to the Hussar he cruized for four weeks in a boat with 16 men off Rostock and Kiel, and obtained the thanks of his Captain for the judgment he displayed in detaining an American vessel which was carried by him into Leith, and was there condemned. After he left the Alexandria he was appointed – 16 Aug. 1811, to the Tigre 74, Capt. John Halliday, off Rochefort – 8 May, 1812, and 29 Jan. 1813, to the San Josef 110, and, as Signal-Lieutenant, to the Queen Charlotte 100, bearing each the flag of Lord Keith in the Channel – 3 March, 1814, as Acting-Captain, to the Clarence 74, stationed off Brest, where the manner in which the ship did her work occasioned his being complimented by the late Sir Pulteney Malcolm, under whose orders he was serving – towards the close of the following month, again to the Queen Charlotte – and 9 June, 1814, to the acting-command, off Cape Finisterre, of the Podargus 14. He was confirmed a Commander 13 Aug. in the same year; was employed in that capacity, between Jan. 1815 and March, 1817, in the Shark, Royalist, and Rifleman sloops, on the Jamaica station; and was there, in the course of the month last mentioned, nominated Acting-Captain of the Pique 36 and Salisbury 58. In the latter ship, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral John Erskine Douglas, Capt. Stewart, whose Post-commission bears date 10 June, 1817, remained until paid off 18 April, 1818. His next appointment was, 21 Oct. 1823, to the Menai 26, in which vessel, stationed on the coast of North America, he continued until Dec. 1826. During that period he had charge for two successive winters of the dockyard and port duties at Halifax, and acquitted himself in a way that procured him the cordial approbation of Vice-Admiral Sir Willoughby Thos. Lake. In command, from 9 April, 1839, until May, 1842, of the Benbow 72, Capt. Stewart saw much active service in the Mediterranean. In the spring of 1840 he was sent to cruize off Faro and Messina for the detention of Neapolitan and Sicilian vessels. With the Carysfort 26, Magicienne 24, and Zebra 16, under his orders, he was intrusted, during the operations on the coast of Syria, with the bombardment of Tripoli. He also, in the months of Sept. and Oct., took possession of the island of Aronad, attacked Tortosa, which was afterwards evacuated, saved the consuls of Aleppo and Alexandretta, and destroyed the Governor’s house and stores at the latter place; took possession of Lhatakiah for the Sultan; and distributed above 6000 stand of arms to the mountaineers. In Nov. 1840 he was selected to take command of a force destined for Scanderoon Bay, an expedition eventually however not required. In the attack upon St. Jean d’Acre, off which place he was for a time senior officer, the Benbow was the first ship in action. During the evacuation of Syria by Ibrahim Pacha, Capt. Stewart had command, from 21 Dec. 1840 until 1 March, 1841, of the British and Austrian forces employed off the coast. He was afterwards sent to the Archipelago for the purpose of effecting an adjustment of affairs in Candia, where an insurrection had broken out. After his arrival not a single execution for political offences took place; and the boats of the Benbow, Tyne, Hazard, and Vesuvius, assisted by the French under M. Le Grandois, had the good fortune to rescue more than 600 of the insurgents from the vengeance of the Turks. As a reward for his conduct at St. Jean d’Acre Capt. Stewart was nominated a C.B. 18 Dec. 1840. He was ordered, in the absence of Sir Fras. Augustus Collier, to act, 17 July, 1846, as Superintendent of the Dockyard at Woolwich and Captain of the William and Mary yacht; and on 13 Nov. 1846 he was appointed Comptroller-General of the Coast Guard – a post he still retains.
Capt. Stewart married, 10 Feb. 1819, Martha, youngest daughter of Sir Wm. Miller, Bart., of Glenlee, by whom he has issue three sons – the eldest, William Houston, a Commander R.N., and the second, Houston, a Lieutenant in the 32nd Regt. Agents – Hallett and Robinson.


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