Below we write on the career of Captain Robert Faulknor who achieved renown as the captor of Fort Louis, Guadaloupe and the victor in his duel with the French frigate Picque.
Less well known is his court martial for murder on Guadaloupe which was brought about by his inability to control his temper. His deployment of troops and guns ashore was criticized by a British artillery officer. Faulknor thought the man to be insolent, flew into a rage, and began gesticulating with his sword. In the process he killed a quartermaster from Admiral Jervis’s flagship who happened within range.
Faulknor was acquitted, a verdict I speculate that had as much to do with his status as a favorite of Jervis and a hero of the operation at hand as it did with the facts, but feeling ran so high against Faulknor ashore that he was ordered back to his ship.
Faulknor had more potent allies than facts and law. He had the family connections which came from a being a third generation naval officer and the patronage of several senior officers, among them Admiral Sir John Jervis.
If you weren’t a Robert Faulknor, fate could be much more unkind. Continue reading
We wrote earlier about the heroism and early death of Captain Robert Faulknor.
Faulknor is an interesting character who demonstrates much of what was right and wrong of the system used by the British Navy to select and promote officers during the Age of Sail.
HMS Zebra providing covering fire to Commander Robert Faulknor at Fort Louis, Martinique
We’ve mentioned a few times that the writers of naval fiction set during the Age of Sail have an immense amount of material available to them that only needs minor adjustments to read as fiction.
For instance, the HMS Cockerel, an Alan Lewrie novel by Dewey Lambdin, there is an interesting scene set at the end of the novel. The setting is a dinner aboard the flagship of Admiral Sir Samuel Hood. Lieutenant Lewrie is fresh from the siege of Toulon where he managed to capture a French corvette. The corvette is named San Culotte (in real life a 118-gun first rate) and Lewrie jokes about how it will have to be renamed as it would quickly be known as the “Bare Assed” by British sailors. Hood is amused and renames the Sans Culotte the HMS Jester in honor of Lewrie’s wit and appoints him into her as commander.
In January 1795, HMS Blanche, a 32-gun frigate, 12-pound main battery, under Captain Robert Faulknor was patrolling off Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadaloupe. Captain Faulknor arranged to look in on the harbor at Guadaloupe by arriving during the night, heaving-to about out four miles out to sea, and creeping in so he could look into the harbor at first light. Early on the morning of January 4, HMS Blanche found Picque, a 36-gun frigate, at anchor just outside the harbor. Picque was disinclined to fight and moved, along with a schooner she was employing as a tender, under the cover of the fort at Gosier.
Picque made several feints towards HMS Blanche as if intending to engage in combat but pulled back each time. About 1 pm, Blanche took as a prize an American schooner out of Bordeaux with a cargo of wine and brandy. Picque bore down on Blanche and fired four shots at her from beyond the range of shot, as Blanche turned to meet this challenge Picque retreated.