[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]


The career of Francois Thurot offers many features of great interest, and particularly so for Manxmen, and a revival of his memory, and the circumstances which drove him into Manx waters cannot but add fresh zest to an episode in Manx history which, at the time formed the great topic of the day, not only in the Island, but in the whole country. Indeed, his defeat was looked upon as an event of almost national importance, for the sharp blow the destruction and capture of Thurot's squadron inflicted on French naval renown.

In 1756 England declared war against France, and an interesting notice of the act is preserved in the Manchester paper, dated June 8th, 1756. We read

Manchester, June 7th.- On Saturday War was proclaimed in this town and in Salford. The Under Sheriff was attended by the Justice of Peace, the Borrough Reeve, Constables, and a considerable number of gentlemen, a body of Halbert-men, and also by the Towns musick, which played Britons strike home, before and after the reading the Declaration of War. There was a great concourse of people, who expressed their satisfaction by three loud huzzas. Soon after many hundred of the Declarations of War were given away to country people, the better to enable them to judge of the justice of his Majesty's proceedings and the perfidiousness of the French.

The rupture between the two great powers naturally called into activity a numerous bellicose host of cruisers and privateers, and heavy blows were exchanged, and the coast and the high seas bristled with ships of all descriptions hotly chasing and engaging each other. Reprisals and captures were the order of the day.1 It was during this intense period of clashing of arms that Thurot eminently steps to the front, a man whose daring, popularity, and ability eventually procured him from his Government the proud position of commodore of a squadron wherewith to harrass and damage the enemy's shipping.

He was born at Nuits (Côte d'or), France, on July the 21st, 1727, and at an early period took to smuggling as a profession, running goods between the Isle of Man and Ireland, until be rose to become the acknowledged "king of smugglers," and it is stated that during his reign he did not export and import less than £20,000 worth of contraband a year.

The King of France, afterwards, when the war had already been carried on for a few years, gave him the command of the Marshal de Belleisle, fitted out for a privateer, and from that period he became an antagonist who made himself quickly known for prowess and activity to English merchant vessels on the English, Scotch, and Irish coasts and the Baltic. He appeared in the North Channel in September, 1758, and had taken in this cruise alone 36 prizes, and he hoped as he said. "to increase that number." He cruised along the coast of North Britain, the Shetlands, and kept himself in watchful evidence for captures on the north coast of Ireland, and was greatly feared at Belfast, Carrickfergus, and the Isle of Man. In the beginning of the summer of 1759, in consequence of his great success, the King of France advanced him to take charge of a whole squadron of five chips, with the reten. tion of the Marshal de Belleisle, consisting together of 168 mounted guns, 700 sailors, and 1,270 soldiers, all veterans.

The completion of this expedition took some time. It began under very unfavourable and bad auspices, and was followed by misfortunes throughout its whole course. Thurot's plan was to descend upon North Britain, Scotland, and then fall on Ireland through St. George's Channel, and perhaps touch upon Whitehaven, the Lancashire coast and Liverpool, and finally to return round the Bristol Channel and the English Channel to Dunkirk, with a view to capture and destroy as many English vessels as he possibly could during his progress in English waters. Pitt became soon aware of the French intentions, and initial steps for land and coast defence were in full preparation. It was thought that Thurot's aim tended in particular to attack and plunder the rich port of Liverpool. We learn that-

On the news of Thurot's sailing from Dunkirk the magistrates of Liverpool assembled and entered into an association for the defence of that opulent town. It was proposed to raise 20 companies of 100 men each, to be armed and paid by the inhabitants, and to erect batteries, to mount 50 pieces of cannon.

His fleet actually embarked on the 5th September, 1759, but being blocked up by 26 English ships under Commodore Boys, set sail only on the 15th of October, and anchored off Ostend, arriving in Gothenburg on the 26th, and on the 17th November in Bergen, during which passage they lost the Begon in a violent storm.

Extract of a letter from Alex. Wallace, Esq., his Majesty's Consul at Bergen, Dec. 6th, 1759:

Capt. Thurot with four ships of his squadron has been lying in harbour, three leagues from this place, these 18 days. The ship that is missing is the Begon of 40 guns. He begins to be in doubt of her safety, but seems resolved not to stir till he has some account of her. I am much surprized that in all this time none of his Britannic Majesty's ships of war have appeared here. Last evening Thurot put to sea with the four ships under his command, wind N.E. (Manchester Mercury, 29th January, 1760).

In these two places they had to stay a considerable time to repair their ships, which had been much damaged in the foul weather. They left after nineteen days, provisions growing short, and soon arrived off the Islands of the North of Scotland, beating about and collecting what they possibly could.

On the 24th of January, 1760, they made for Derry, but such a tremendous storm began to blow that they were almost lost, and the Marante, with 24 guns and 140 men, was lost sight of for good off Barrahead; the Le Blond had to throw four guns overboard, and the commanders begged Thurot to return to France, lest they should perish with famine; which the commodore refused. On the 13th February they entered the Sound of Islay in Clagin Bay, where he landed his men. The poor wretches the moment they got out of the boat began to dig up everything green they saw upon the ground.2 They levied 48 steers and 24 hags of oatmeal, for which Thurot made handsome payment,3 and on the 19th weighed anchor, sailing for Carrickfergus, where they landed their forcess on the 21st, which were reduced now from 1,270 to 600, and marched on the town. A French officer, who was taken prisoner, tells us in his journal:2"All the wine on board the ships was given to the men to animate their courage that day." The siege of Carrickfergus,4 which led to its capitulation, is too well known to dwell upon. The French suffered considerably, and had at least 100 men killed, besides the wounded. Upon the reduction of the garrison a French officer, we read, arrived at Belfast with a flag of truce, demanding 50 hogsheads of claret, 30 pipes of brandy, 25 tons of bread, two tons of onions ; and the inhabitants agreed, and furnished most of the material as fast as they could be collected.

Whilst they were in the bay the French took the brig Clyde, Captain Taylor, from Glasgow to Carrickfergus, laden with sugar and tobacco, valued at £2,000, and having taken out the lading burnt the vessel ; they also took a brig with coals, and a sloop with herrings, the latter vessel they burnt after taking out her cargo; before they arrived in the bay they likewise took the Boyne, of Drogheda, for New York with flax seed, and a letter of marque ship, of 14 carriage guns, bound from Lisbon to Glasgow, both of which they sent to Bergen, the latter supposed to be the Ingram, of Glasgow.

The Manchester Advertiser, from news received and reproduced from Carrickfergus, writes :-

Feb. 26th.-Last night the French troops began to re-embark, which they did from the quay, and completed it at four o'clock in the mornine, leaving behind them a French General Fobert, who is so ill of his wounds that it was not thought proper to take him on board, but they took with them Willoughby Chaplain, Esq., Deputy-Mayor of Carrickfergus, and George Spaight, Esq., as hostages for the payment of a contribution of £1,000, which they had demanded of the town and county of Carrickfergus, although by this capitulation they were not to plunder the town. They embarked in such a hurry as to leave 80 casks filled with water behind them ; they have carried off one brass cannon, a 12 pounder, and spiked up the iron guns in the castle, and have thrown into the sea upwards of 300 barrels of gunpowder which was in the magazine, supposed to be unfit for service.

Although they had embarked, says a report, a little later, the French ships lie very quiet at anchor in their former situation, it being impossible for them to sail to the northward, as the wind blows now. ,

Things became now very stirring, for this night it was reported that three English ships of war were seen to-day off Killough, steering to the northward. The hawk is already pouncing on his quarry, for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had meanwhile hastily dispatched circular letters addressed to all Irish naval stations for succour. It happened then that the Æolus was stationed at Kinsale by accident of the weather, having got separated from the Intrepid, of 64 guns, under orders of Sir Edward Hawke, who had sailed from Quiberon Bay on a cruise, and provisions running short the Æolus, Capt. Elliot, put into Kinsale, on the 21st January, 1760, where it was still on the 24th February, and so were the two other 32 gun frigates, the Pallas and the Brilliant, who had taken shelter a few days before.

We have now lost complete sight of the two squadrons, which have disappeared on the grey horizon. The English are in desperate pursuit, in the wake of Thurot's ships, and shortly the two young commanders, Elliot and Thurot,5 are engaged measuring each other it fierce combat. The guns are bellowing forth their thunder, and the action all the while is keenly and coolly watched by John Kelly, the Irish pilot of Elliot's fleet, who follows the fight on board the Æolus. We have his graphic description :-

An account given by John Kelly from the 26th of February, when he boarded the Æolus, of the Bay of Dublin, and undertook the pilotage of her to the Lough of Bedfast, in quest of three French ships of war.

The 26th.-Stood to the northward and made the Copeland Isles before dark, then came to blow so very hard from N.N. W that it put them under their two courses; in which situation they continued that night and next day, between the Copeland Isles and the Mull of Galloway, and with great difficulty kept that station, which they effected by taking advantage of the tide, being obliged to wear ship every time they tacked.

27th.-About two o'clock in the morning they tacked and stood for the Scotch shore, the weather being more moderate; about four that morning, John Kelly, the pilot, and others, per ceived the enemy standing S.E., intending for the Isle of Man: hut when they made the English man of war distinctly, they changed their course by hauling close on the wind to the Scotch shore, being then somewhat less than a league to windward. The English men of war hauled their wind, and crowded sail after them ; and about sunrise came up with the Belleisle, and after Captain Elliot gave her a broadside she returned it, and then put him aweatber, in order to board the Æolus, but her bow sprit coming between the main and fore shrouds it was carried away, then her stern scraped the Æolus and fell astern of her. It was during this time that great execution was done among the French by the constant firing of the great and small shot; she then dropping astern, the Æolus bore down on her. and gave her a starboard broadside; the Æolus falling then astern, the other two English frigates cane up and gave the Belleisle a broadside each, one of which carried away her main yard, and passed ahead of her to make room for the Æolus, who was coming up again, and event so close before he fired that his bowsprit went in between his main and mizen shrouds; and in that situation continued firing at each other till the Beileisle struck; a little while before which the Æolus carried away the Belleisle's mizen mast with her bowsprit.

The other two French frigates made but a poor fight, one of them struck to the commodore, with the Belleisle.

The Terpsichore endeavoured to escape, but was pursued by the Pallas, who soon came up with and took her.

The prizes were taken to Ramsey Bay, and the Belleisle was in such a shattered condition that it had five feet of water in the hold when she struck. A sailor who came with the express from Elliot's fleet in Ramsey Bay, affirms that Thurot fought and was killed, dressed like a sailor in a blue jacket in order—it is supposed—the better to disguise himself. People, meanwhile, had hurried and flocked from all parts of the Island to witness the scene presented in Ramsey Bay, and an eye witness writes:-

On receipt of the news of Thurot being brought into Ramsey Bay on Thursday, last night, I went there to see the ships, etc.. at daylight. I got on board the Belleisle, and was struck with astonishment ; turn which way I. would nothing but scattered limbs of dead and dying men presented themselves to my view, the decks and ship's sides could be compared to nothing but a slaughter-house; 6 the English not having time to clear the vessel the night before, near 200 men being killed on board her, besides what the other two French ships lost.

Thurot's body was thrown, by mistake, overboard amongst the rest.

The French must have plundered all before them at Carrickfergus, for I saw one of them stript who had eight women's shifts on him. They had plenty of women and children's shirts, caps, ruffles, shoes. petticoats, stays, bed curtains, sheets, buttons, thimbles, pins, bleached and grey yarn.

Mr Richard Wright,7, painter, formerly of Liverpool, was on board. and is now drawing a sketch of the whole (Extract of a letter from Douglas, Isle of Man, dated March 4th, 1760, from Whitworth's Manchester Advertiser.) -

Liverpool, 2nd March.--Yesterday evening, late, one Watts, master of a codsmack, met with the Isle of Man packet, who came with an express from the Island, giving an account that Thurot's squadron was taken. As it was quite calm, he left the vessel off Formby Point and rowed up to town. About eleven o'clock a pilot boat, come from Ramsey, brought a young gentleman whose name was Mungo Smith, passenger, and some letters from people of the Island. This account is, that on Thursday morning, very early, several guns were heard, which were conjectured to be signal guns. This occasioned many persons to go to a place called Jurby, or Jurby Point, front which place they saw the engagement between three frigates, Captain Elliot, commodore, and Thurot's three frigates, which lasted two hours and a half. He says that about 50 of the English were wounded, of which number 29 dangerously, and 6 killed ; that orders were sent to Douglas to provide quarters for them. This vessel which brings this express is not arrived, but is expected to be in this tide. I write you only what I heard from the gentleman giving the account to the Mayor and officers. I took the account in writing and gave it to the Town Clerk, who from it, and what more might be said, wrote a letter, which was by an express sent to Mr Pitt. He left the town about one o'clock this morning. I believe what I write may be depended upon. as the private letters which I have heard of are to the same purpose (A letter from Liverpool to Manchester.)

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Liverpool to a gentleman in Manchester, March 3rd, 1760 (Manchester Mercury).

At the first setting out of Mons. Thurot I was not free from apprehensions, and on that account contributed my mite towards a defence; but now I really look neon his all at Belfast as out of mere neces,ity, to satisfy the cravings of nature. Be that as it may, three of our frigates, some accounts say two, and a sloop, were dispatched by, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, from Kinsale, in quest of him.

On Tuesday they passed on the west side of the Isle of Man, and next day I suppose ferreted him out of Carrickfergus Lough, and so they had a fair race for it till they came up to t north side of the Isle of Man. Of Jurby Head which is on the north side of the point, he caught up with him, and about 5-30 on Thursday morning began of engaging.

Thurot was killed the second broadside, but they continued fighting very close, near two hours and a half, when his squadron struck, and in the afternoon he brought them into Ramsey Bay. The Belleisle is terribly mauled, having early in the engagement lost her mizen mast and bolt sprit.

The Æolus, commodore Elliot, a youth of mettle, about 25 years of age, engaged him and lost his fore top gallant mast. They have about 20 wounded, which he was sending ashore, the killed not then mentioned. I believe all Thurot's land forces were on board, and if so there's great slaughter. We shall have all particulars next tide.

P.S. --Most or all of the folks in the Island saw the action, which they say was terribly hot They have made very liberal contributions for the men, and boat-loads of wine, brandy, etc was sending to the fleet.

There were found on Thurot's three ships upwards of 100 bales of linen, which they had taken from the two ships in Belfast Lough for Scotland.

Although Elliot had given orders to bring Thurot's body on shore, it was thrown in the bustle, by mistake, into the sea with the rest of the dead men, but it was found afterwards cast ashore near the Mull of Galloway, Mochrum, and subsequently interred in the graveyard of Kirkmaiden. According to one of Elliot's officers, Thurot received his death wound by a ball which entered his throat close to the windpipe, and when the Belleisle struck he was found among a great number of dead bodies on the quarter-deck. Thus perished Thurot at the age of nearly thirty-three. His young and handsome wife, Henrietta, daughter of a rich apothecary in Paddington, named Smith, with whom he eloped, and whom married about 1750, was, it is stated, a sorrowful witness of his last moments. She had accompanied him, ever since, in all his enterprises by sea and land, and was with him his last expedition to Carrickfergus.

The bowsprit of the Belleisle, two yards circumference, came ashore near Bishops Court, and in commemoration of the action and as trophy of the victory, Bishop Hildesley caused it to be erected on a tumulus which he named Mount Æolus, a little above the garden of the episcopal residence, where, as he said, " being painted, it makes a handsome appearance at a distance."

By a letter from on board the Pallas, in Ramsey Bay, dated 29th February, we are informed that Thurot intended to have landed on the Isle of Man, and raised contributions there, and also to have attempted taking the shipping at Liverpool and Whitehaven, before returning to France. The destruction of his ships, writes another correspondent, relieves the trade of this kingdom, particularly the Baltic, from a troublesome flying squadron, and France has not only sustained a fresh loss by this event in her little navy, but more so in the death of an active and experienced naval partisan.

His expedition was indeed doomed; if he would have escaped Elliot's clutches he could not have evaded the Bienfaisant, man of war, and several frigates, which had sailed from Plymouth for Ireland on the news becoming known. From Portsmouth, the same time, the Dorsetshire, Captain Campbell, with others, in quest for him was hastily despatched;* while, if he had advanced on Belfast with his reduced land army, melted down to almost 500 men in number, 3,000 militiamen (of the Irish Northern Militia), aided by some troops of standing army, would have utterly annihilated him. Thurot's undertaking has, from the very beginning, says a Dublin report, appeared a most desperate one, and should he persevere in the enterprise and risk an engagement, we have little reason to doubt of success.

Not only were his movements carefully watched and prepared for in Ireland, but Liverpool had already taken energetic measures for his coming, should he make an attempt on the port.

The Manchester paper announces on the 26th February, 1760:-

Last night at eight o'clock an express arrived from the Mayor of Liverpool to the commanding officer of the Lincolnshire militia, quartered here, with certain intelligence that Mr Thurot is landed at Carrickfergus, and immediately the drums beat to arms, and the militia marched off to Liverpool about ten o'clock in high spirits amidst the acclamation of the populace.

Liverpool, Feb. 29.--On Monday morning an express arrived here from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, addressed to the commander of any of his Majesty's ships in the port, which was immediately forwarded to the tender lying at the rock at noon. The commanding-officer sent a message up to the magistrates acquainting them that his Grace the Duke of Bedford had informed him that Thurot with three frigates put into Carrickfergus Lough on Thursday, the 21st inst. Upon which expresses were sent to Warrington and Manchester, agreeable to former instructions from the War Office, requesting all the military in those parts to march immediately for the town, as it was not known whether Thurot intended to visit us or not, and also about nine o'clock on Tuesday morning, four companies of the southern battalion of the Lincolnshire militia, under the command of Col. Sir John Cust, Lieut.-Col. Welby, Capt. Nevile, Capt. Thourel, came into town, having begun their march from Warrington at two o'clock in the morning, and at eight o'clock at night the two northern battalions of the Lincolnshire militia came in from Manchester, consisting of ten companies under the command of the Earl of Scarborough, Lieut -Col. Vinor, Major Dashwood, Capt. Mathew Lister, Captains Blackinborough, Wood, Dymoke, Lister, Coldercote, Pilkington, Amcotts. On Wednesday morning came in the remainder of the southern battalion, consisting of six companies, under the command of Major Glover, Capt. Scrope, from Stockport; Capt. Silthorpe, and Capt. Welby, of Knutsford ; Capt. Buckworth and Capt. Boulton, from Macclesfield. To the honour of the British militia we can assure the public that immediately in receipt of the express from the magistrate their officers ordered the drums to beat to arms, and they marched off to this town in a few hours, each company consisting of sixty privates, two drums, and three sergeants, with their officers.

Of the prisoners taken on Thurots ship's

220 were brought to Carlisle,

* 500 to Carrickfergus, 90 to Cove,

84 to Dublin, 894

and part of the seamen and officers were left on board the Eolus, etc., while the captured prizes were brought by Elliot to Kinsale.

When the victory became known, there were great rejoicings and celebrations throughout the country, and in an appendix I have given some of the accounts preserved in the old country newspapers. At Liverpool particularly great doings marked the occasion, and the troops stationed there, disappointed in meeting with Thurot in person, took the opportunity of having a great manoeuvre, and deploying their ranks along the shore lines, to the immense delight of 10,000 eager spectators. The Gentleman's Magazine wrote a long epitaph on the death of Thurot,t beginning :-

Here lies the pirate, brave Thurot,
To merchants' wealth a dreadful foe,
Who, weary of a robber's name,
Aspired to gain a hero's fame.

and the poet took the occasion to enlarge a lot on the glorious achievements of the British arms, and bespattering Thurot's memory.

One of the longer Manx compositions was also inspired by this memorable sea fight off the Point of Ayre, and it stirred the bosoms of the Islanders to the highest pitch of patriotism.

It also gave rise in the Island to a bit of Folklore, for it is said that "on the day of Elliot's engagement with Thurot, at Ramsey some man near Dalhy met an old woman standing by a stream of water, and she asked the man to lift her over the water, for the fight between the ships would continue until, she got to them."

The Rev. John Francis Durand published it 1760 a little pamphlet, which gives us a picture of Thurot, from which it appears that he must have been a very remarkable person. He had many romantic adventures in his younger days, and came often to London, and particularly to Paddington, where Durand made his personal acquaintance. Thurot„wasals; instructed here in mathematics by "one M Donelly, an Irish gentleman famous for hi knowledge and abilities in that branch" I was also here that Thurot made the acquaintance of his future wife. He spoke, we are told, English to a degree that he was taken by everyone for a native, and there has been apopular belief that he was descended from the race of the O'Farells which, however, has been proved to be erroneous, and also energeticallydenied by Thurot himself. There is an oil painting of his preserved in France,* in the dress of a French commodore, and it show him to have been a very fine looking, gentlemanly person, with a large featured face, brilliant eyes, and well formed nose and mouth. He was of a generous disposition and honourable in all his dealings, and his men, we are told, loved him as a parent There cannot be any doubt that he was a attractive figure, who quickly secured the esteem and respect of everyone who came into personal contact with him, both enemy and friend. We have a description left to us, while he was staying in Bergen and Chritiansand to repair his ships, which is very interesting:-

Commodore Thurot is a well-built, gente man, very humane and affable, and understands several languages very well. I was one day in company with him at dinner with a great many other gentlemen, one of whom asked him whether or not he was a native of France Upon which Thurot smilingly replied : " I hear that it is reported and believed by a great many people that I am a native of North Britain, and that the name I go by at present is not real, but a feigned one ; I assure. you, gentlemen, this is a mere fiction, and chiefly founded on my knowledge of the English language. I was born and educated in France; I still retain the name of my forefathers, and I never will, on any account, deny my name or country." (A letter from a gentleman of Gothenburg; see Whitworth's Manchester Advertiser, January 15th, 1760, p. 2, column 3.)

* Given by his daughter. Henriette Thurot,.. 1823, to the Town Hall of Nuits, his native plat to which my attention has been drawn by M L. Fournier, of Beaune, France, who is at present engaged in a compendious "life" of Thurot and who sent me an engraving of it. Thurot's daughter died in 1830.

From a gentleman who dined frequently on Thurot's own ship, when he put into Christiansand to repair his fleet, we learn that he was scarce 33, a well-looking man, fresh coloured, extremely well bred, and of the greatest good nature, surprisingly active, being almost instantly in every part of his ship, to see whether his men, who valued him as a parent, were at their respective posts. Any gentleman was welcome to his table, but he would' permit none to speak to any of his people. His mistress was a young woman, excessively handsome. (From same paper, March 18th, No. 3,413.)

'thus, yet in the prime of his life, ended the career of a man whom we cannot refuse our tribute of admiration and pity. He fought for the glory of his country, and when misfortune and disaster crowded round him, beset with starvation, and drifted by storm and weather, conscious of the approach of disease and destruction, he declined to forsake his charge, although be fully realised his position. The victory gained over him was no great feat the odds were dead against him, and although the victory of Elliot was blazed about as a most brilliant achievement, from the facts described we cannot join in that great glorification. To defeat this wretched, starved-out crew, with leaky and drifting vessels, and its overcrowded decks and short ammunition, was an affair that could be settled without mach difficulty, as Simson wrote from Islay, by "one of our 50 gun ships, which could take Thurot's three vessels, for they are prowded with men so mach that they are scarce able to fight her guns." The expedition was ill-planned, and little short of madness, considering the trivial number of his ships set to eventually encounter the full brunt of the British naval forces, sure to oppose him in his cruise.

The writer of the article on Elliot in the English National Biographical Dictionary, takes a similar view; he says

The action, creditable enough in itself, was almost absurdly magnified by popular report, to such an extent, indeed, that even 44, years after, Nelson, writing to Lord Minto, speaking of Elliot, said: "This action with Thurot will stand the test of any of our modern victories. In point of fact, the French force, though nominally superior, was disintegrated by dissatisfaction, mutiny, and sickness. The ships, too, had been severely strained by the long persisting bad weather to which they had been exposed, and many of their guns had been struck below."

The English sources of Thurot's exploits are extremely meagre and incomplete, and consequently scarcely give the reader a true idea of the career of this gallant officer, who was the bugbear of the English mercantile fleet. I have therefore copied the account given in Larousse, which will give a better view of the man:-

Thurot engaged himself as surgeon on the Dunkirk corsair, fell into the hands, a little after, of the English, who carried him to Dover. He learned English during his captivity, and succeeded to escape one fine day, crossing the channel in a bark. Far from being disgusted with the marine by the perils which he had run, Thurot enrolled himself as a sailor, and became in a very short time captain. and distinguished himself by his bravery in various engagements with the English. The peace of 1748 compelled him to mivieate for the trade; but at the beginning of the seven years war (1756-63) the privateers asked him to recommence his cruises, and confided him the command of various ships, with which he ruined the English trade in the northern seas. These brilliant expeditions procured him an entrance into the Royal Navy. Having been appointed to the command of the corvette La Friponne, he cruised the channel, fought numerous sea battles with the enemy, and took about 60 merchant vessels.

Marshal Belle Isle, who had long appreciated his merits, entrusted him in 1757 the command of a division, at the head of which he covered himself with glory, made a great number of prizes in the channel and on the coast of Norway, and swept the whole of the North Sea. In 1758 he beat: four English ships, then routed a fleet of 17 armed pirogues, escaped the pursuit of 30 English vessels, and came back to Dunkirk after, having inflicted enormous damage on the enemy and co-,ered himself with fresh glory. Having gone to Versailles, where he received the most honourable reception, he proposed to make a descent on the coasts of Great Britain. He succeeded in his project, and was called to the command of five frigates, etc. (See notice on Thurot in the Grand Dictionnaire Universelle, by Pierre Larousse, Paris, 1865 )


Carlisle, Thursday, 6th March, 1760.-220 of the prisoners belonging to Thurot's fleet came in hither from WhitehaveD, as also the officers on whom the command devolved on Thurot's fall. These are the best looking and most genteel FreD.chmen we have seen (having 400 here before), and have been all picked from different corps. Everybody sl)eaks well of Thurot, and had he been taken alive, would certainly have been treated more like a petty prince than a prisoner. The prisoners of war consisted of 207 soldiers and 13 officers, the seamen and o,ffleers were left on board His Majesty's ships _dMus, etc.

Liverpool, Tuesday, 7th.-By a vessel arrived from. Belfast we have an account of 500 French prisoners from Thurot's fleet being landed at Carrickfergus, prisoners of war, on Saturday last, the 4th, by the Pallas frigate, who were full as kindly received as they were ten days before.

Cork, 10th March.-This eve the Nightingale, man of war, Capt. Campbell, arrived at Cove from Ramsay Bay, with 90 prisoners taken on board M. Thurot's fleet.

Dublin, 12th March.-The Weezle, sloop of war, Capt. Bowles, commander, having on 'Amongst the French prisoners detained as wounded, in the Island itself, was a Mr LaMothe, who having fallen in love with a Manx girl, when exchanged, returned to the Isle, where he married her. A daughter of his, Jane, born in 1767, died at the age of 17, and is buried in Kk Malew Church. He is the ancestor of the present Manx LaMothes.

hoard 84 of the French officers and soldiere taken in the last engagement with M. Thurol arrived in our bay from the Isle of Man.

Kinsale.-In the evening on the 10th, arrive at Kinsale His Majesty's ship Æolus, Capi Elliott; Pallas, Capt. Clements ; Brilliant Capt. Lowgie; and brought in with them th Marshal Belleisle, Le Blond. Terpsichore.

They finally arrived a} on the 25t] of March.


March 25, 1760. Belfast, March 7th.-Th following is a list of the French prisoners c war, landed out of His Majesty's ship Pallc at Carrickfergus on the 1st inst., and no here, viz , French Guards: Mr de Cavena Lieut.-Colonel; le Comte de Kersallo, con mandant of the detachment; Chevalier c Brugelonque, Major; le Marquis de Parog Gentie, Capt.-Lieut.- le Marquis de Panis Capt.-Lieut.; Chevalier de Miramont, Capt Lieut. ; and 98 sergeants, corporals, and preval men. Swiss Guards: Castellas, commander the detachment; Carrer, Capt.-Lieut.; 27 se geants, corporals, and private men: and gunners and miners. Burgundy, De Russilcommandant; Dortoman, Adjutant and Captain ; Delwailly, Captain; Beaumale, Captain Chamborant, Lieutenant; Duple, Lieutenant Mailleleau, Lieutenant; Garson, Lieutenant Grenadiers; Parisol, Lieutenant; and 108 sergeants, corporals. and private men. Cambisi Frechancourt, Capt. Commandant; Barantil Lieutenant; De Joye, Lieutenant; and 43 sergeants, corporals, and private men. Hussar. Le Conite de Shordeck, Lieut.-Colonel; and, private men. Voluntaires etrangers: 17 se geants, corporals, and private men. S< officers: Laine, Second Captain; Malet Lain Lieutenant ; Malet Cadet, Lieutenant; Antois Delatre, officer; and 27 seamen and officers' servants. Total, 25 officers and 416 sergeants, corporals, and private men. (Manchester Mercury)


March 25th, 1760 (from Universal Magazini -The Mayor, Sheriffs, and Common Counc of the pity of Cork h ave unanimously orden the freedom of the said city to be presented the Captains Elliott, *Clements. and Logic, for their gallant conduct in defeating the French squadron commanded by Mr Thurot.* Clements took La Terpsichore and Logic the Le Blond. (See Feltham's Tour in Isle of Man).

Dublin, March 4th.-Yesterday the thanksof the house of Commons were unanimously voted to Captains Elliott, Clements, and Logic, for their gallant behaviour in attacking and taking the French fleet commanded by M. Thurot (ditto).

London.-Several gentlemen took ship, last Saturday se'nniglit (March ist), in the evening from Whitehaven to wait on Captain Elliott, with the thanks of the town, and a handsome present is intended to be made him for his gallant behaviour in tahine Thurot's squadron. Captain Elliott, of the AEolus, is brother to Gilbert Elliott, of Minto, Esq., one of the Lords of Admiralty. Elliot was also presented to the King and very graciously received by him.

London., March 18th.-We hear that Captain Elliot, for his gallant behaviour in taking the Marshal Belleisle, is to be promoted to the command of a 60 gun ship.


Bristol, March 8th.-Wednesday last upon receiving th.~ great and joyful news of the defeat of Thurot's squadron, the bells of the several churches were rang, and in the evening the gentlemen of the Coiporation met at the Council House, where his Majesty's and the Royal Family's healths were drank, a company of soldiers answering to the several toasts hy repeated vollies of fire arms.

Carlisle, March 6th.-We have had the most extraordinary rejoicings on account of the victory over Thurot, that have been known here. Sir James Lowther, Brigadier-General, and Colonel of the Westmoreland Militia, now quartered here, ordered a double round of the great guns, bonfires, illuminations, and music bells; invited all the gentlemen to a tavern, where many loyal healths were cheerfully drank, and in the evening an elegant ball was given to the ladies, which was both a full and brilliant one. The Westmoreland Militia did honour to the day by three excellent vollies of their fire arms, and went through their exercise with great dexterity. They being all stout, clever fellows, and dressed m their uniform, made a most delightful appearance.



Liverpool, Thursday night, 45 minutes past 10, Feb. 28th.-" This letter will come too late to bring the first intelligence of Capt. Elliot's good fortune in taking Thurot's three ships with a much less force. All the letters agree that the brave Thurot was killed the second broadside. There were several valuable Liverpool ships at the Island, so that he might have done very great damage there. Our battalion has just given us a feu de joie on the occasion." (From a gentleman in Liverpool to his friend in Manchester.)

MOCKFIGHT AT LIVERPOOL. Liverpool, March 7th, 1760.-On Friday last (1st March) the North and South Battalion of the Lincolnshire Militia, and the company of Invalids quartered here, accompanied by two of the independent companies of the town, marched from hence along the sea shore with the town's train of artillery, opposite the Rock Point, which forms the west side of the mouth of the harbour, with their colours flying, French horns sounding, fifes playing and drums beating. As soon as they came to the ground which was presumed would be the landing place of any enemy who might attempt this town, several of the detached parties took possession of the hills and heights, whilst others formed a body reserve. A supposed attack of the enemy was made - sallies from the camp to oppose their landing; revular retreats, and lining the hills with the different evointions; flying parties were dis; patched; bush fighting and pursuing an enemy two miles in the country over hedges and ditches, executed in order to skew the whole corns the nature of service in case of any attempt from the enemy.

It was supposed there were upwards of 10,000 spectators, and the serenity of the weather added to the regularity of the whole.


Extract of a letter from Mr David Simson, dated at Islay, in Scotland, Feb. 13th, 1760, to a merchant in Liverpool.

Saturday last Commodore Thurot with three French ships, viz., one of 54 guns, one of 32, and one of 20, came in here from the westward, and betwixt this Island and Cantyre they were hovering for five or six hours; at length they came close to this land and hoisted an English ensign, which made us believe they wanted a pilot. Your friends Archibald and Hugh McDonald went out with a boat and five men, and brought them to an anchor at the entry of the Sound of Islay, in Clagin Bay. I was there on Sunday last, where they landed about 600 men in order to plunder the country, and surrounded a parcel of cattle belonging to a gentleman of that place, which thev carried off, and they said would be paid for by a bill on the French ambassador at the Hague. Our sloop lay in a harbour close by them loaded with kelp, bound to Liverpool, and had 21 bags of flour on board, which Thurot likewise took away; but did no other prejudice to the vessel. They have about 1,500 land forces on board, with a great number of officers, mostly genteel men, with whom I was in company. They are almost starved for want of provisions, being at allowance of 4oz. of bread per day. The land officers and Thurot have disagreed on account of his coming into these channels, and they want him to proceed immediately to France Thurot's vessel, the Belleisle, is very leaky. I send you now by the bearer one of the swords they left on board my sloop on the sword is struck the words, Volontaire e Belleisle. Five days before the French put in here they parted with one of their comrades of Barrhead (the Marante), which they imagine is foundered at sea, or driven into some of the Highland Islands. (It got, however, finally safe back to St. Maloe.) The Belleisle broke her rudder, which he told me forced him into these channels I have been these two days past ranging the coast, in hopes of meeting the codsmack before, in order to dispatch her express to England, and having now met with her, immediately send her. One of our 50 gun ships would take Thurot's five vessels, for they are crowded with men so much, that they are scarce able to fight her guns; but Mr Thurot says that if he once gets half gun-shot from the best ship in England, he could clear, himself by his fast sailing. The season here is very rough ; but Thurot will go either through St. George's Channel, or round Ireland, as best suits him, being determined to execute his original scheme; there are a number of English and Irish amongst his crew. We have sent an express to Edinburgh, however, hope the codsmack will bring the first intelligence to you. We are deprived of the use of aims here, or should have been able tc have defended our country from being plundered.* The ships lay close in shore between M. Arthur's Head and Ardmore Point, and you may depend on this relation, as I was eye witness to the facts here.

It plainly appears by the accounts we have of Mons. Thurot's expedition, received by the codsmack, that he was Creeping home through St. George's Channel, and the late southerly winds preventing him, necessity, with the season of the year, forced him into Carrickfergas Lough, where he remained on Sunday evening.

Glasgow, Feb. 29th, 1760.-By a gentleman who arrived here last night from fslay, we learn that while Thurot remained in that Island he behaved more like a friend than an enemy. All the provisions he got there he paid for, even beyond their value; he allowed 303 for every cow, 23 6d for every goose, 1s for every hen, and in proportion for flour and other things. He kept the best discipline, suffering none of his crew to pillage. One of his officers having gone to a gentleman's house, and robbed it of £60-in cash-a complaint was made to Thurot, who immediately went out, in a long boat, and searched all his ships in person for the fellow who was charged with the robbery. The delinquent at first denied that he had taken anything, but being ordered ashore and threatened to be shot, he at last confessed that he had taken £51 only, which he was obliged immediately to restore.* They were not plundered, but paid for every thing, as we see from the Glasgow letter.


Liverpool, 15th Sept., 1758.-Capt. Hutchinson, of the Liverpool privateer, of 22 guns, upon hearing of the Belleisle, privateer, being in the North Channel, bravely offered himself, upon the owners fitting her out with 200 seamen, to go in quest of the Belleisle, and in two or three days near that number were engaged for one month, but the wind proving contrary this scheme was dropped, as the Belleisle could not be supposed to remain upon that station for so long a time. (Sept. 19th, 1758, Manchester paper )

Britannia, Butler, bound for New York, had been taken ten days before by the Marshal Belleisle, privateer, but was retaken by the Lockhart, privateer, going into Brest. The Belleisle took this vessel off Belfast, and was proceeding to France with his prizes. (Manchester, 26th September, 1758.)

Liverpool, September 29th, 1758.-Last night arrived here Capt. Hassey, late of the Charles Town, of this port, who was taken the 2ud inst. by the Marshal Belleisle, privateer, and by her carried into Bergen, in Norway. He left her there last Thursday refitting, and imagines she will be ready for sea again in a few days. He, gives a very favourable account of the good usage the prisoners received from Mr Thurot ; that he had taken 36 prizes this cruise, and hoped shortly to increase that number. Off Shetland he was seen by two English men of war, the -Experiment and Sapphire, at less than a league distant, and was so apprehensive of being taken by them, that all the officers and men went down to dress themselves, and not a man was ordered to his quarters or the least preparation for resi.tance. Why the the English men of war did not pursue her is unaccountable. By the captures she had made she was apprised of our Jamaica fleet being expected, but could not wait on the station for them, all her powder having received damage.

Liverpool, October 13th, 1758.-From a letter of a gentleman at Killough, Scotland. " There is a vessel arrived here which was chased into Loughendall by a large French privateer that was cruising in the channel; she is thought to be the Belleisle, privatter."

A JOURNAL OF THE LATE EXPEDITION UNDER M. THUROT. From a French Officer of the said Expedition, and now a Prisoner in Dublin.

List of the Ships on their first setting out.

a ans. Sailors. Soldiers. Designed

for Mounted.






Marshal Belleisle.





Le Begon*





Le Blondt





Le Terpsichore





Le Marante*










Lost company. t 4 thrown overboard. There embarked on board the above vessels 1,270 men, on the 5th September, 1759, and they set sail on the 15th of October, being blocked up for 40 days by 26 English ships, during which time they put on shore upwards of 200 sick, and under favour of a hazy night, they arrived and anchored off Ostend. Next morning a storm, arising, the Begott broke her cable and drove to sea, which obliged us to cut ours and follow her. In 10 days we arrived at Gottenburgh, stayed there 15 days, set sail and arrived at Bergen in Norway, during wraith passage we lost company of the Begott in a violent storm. After staying there 19 days, we were obliged to set sail again, provisions growing short, we soon arrived off the Islands on the North of Scotland, where we oeat about, collecting from the Islands what we possibly could; at length the wind springing up from the north, we made sail for Ireland, which was the 24th of January, 1760. In a few days we discovered the land, all preparations were made for landing the next day. In the night a most violent storm arose, which prevented our landing, and we made sail then for Derry, which we should have reached that day, but M. Thurot not being willing to land the troops in the evening, ordered us to be ready to land the next morning, but as we were doubling the point of the harbour of Derry, the wind changed, and we were blown to sea. Such a storm arose that we were all like to be lost. The Le Blond was obliged to throw four guns overboard to save herself. We lost sight of the Marante this nightfor good, and as we had been bearing about for so long a time at short allowance, the next day each ship made towards M. Thurot, and the commanders desired him to return to France, lest they should perish with famine. Thurot positively answered that he would not return to France without doing something, and to refresh us would put us on shore on the Island of Islay. We arrived there the same day and all the troops landed. We found there some feat cattle, and a brig laden with oatnteal, sufeient to subsist its 12 days at 6oz. per day each man. After three days' stay on that Island. we sailed for Carrickfergus, and. the next day we arrived in the bay. All the wine on hoard the ships was given to the men to animate their courage that day. The 21st of February we came to anchor at twelve o'clock, and landed at three in the afternoon, amounting in all, by sickness and death-

But .

600 men

Lost in the Beyon

400 „

In the Marante

100 „

Died and sick on the voyage

170 „




Naval Biography of illustrious British Heroes, London, 1806, 9th, pp. 293-294.

John Elliott: . On the 28th of February they descried the enemy and gave chase, in sight of the Isle of Man: and about six in the morning, Capt. Elliott in his own ship engaged the Bell-isle. In a few minutes his consorts were also engaged with the other two ships of the enemy. After a warns action, maintained with great spirit on all sides for an hour and a half, Captain Elliott's lieutenant (Forbes) boarded the Belleisle, and striking her colours with his own hands, the commander submitted. His example was immediately followed by the other French captains. Though the Belleisle was very leaky, and had lost her bowsprit, mizen mast, and main yard, the victory would have remained longer in suspense, if the gallant Thurot had not fallen during the action. The victor had not even the consolation to perform the last offices to his brave enemy, for his body was thrown into the sea by his own people in the hurry of the engagement. The enemy had about 300 men killed and wounded. The service performed on this occasion was deemed so essential to the peace and commerce of Ireland, that the thanks of the House of Commons in that kingdom were voted to the conquerors of Thurot, and the freedom of the city of Cork was presented in silver boxes to the Captains Elliott, Clements. and Logie. Having re-fitted the prizes, Capt. Elliott got into Kinsale with them, and in his squadron, and from thence proceeded to Spithead, where he arrived on the 26th March soon after which he was introduced to his Majesty and most graciously received.

Smollett in his History of England. London, 1766 Vol. III, gives a very succinct account of the progress of Thurot's expedition (page 390=395): He says, amongst other things

His instructions were to make occasional descents upon the coast of Ireland. and by dividing the troops, and distracting the attention of the Government in that kingdom, to facilitate the enterprise of M. De Conflans. While this spirited adventurer struggled with these wants and difficulties, his arrival in those seas filled the whole kingdom with alarm. Bodice of regular troops and militia were posted along the coasts of Ireland and Scotland; and besides the squadron of Commodore Boys, who sailed to the northward on purpose to pursue the enemy, other ships of war were ordered to scour the Bristol Channel and cruise between Scotland and Ireland. The name of Thurot has become terrible to all the trading seaports of Britain and Ireland, and therefore the defeat and capture of his squadron were celebrated with as hearty rejoicings as the most important victory could have produced.

The Annual Register, 1760, p. 55-57, speaking of Thurot's expedition, has some generous words to say on his behalf :-

Thurot did all that could be expected from the intrepidity of his character. The public, indeed, lamented the death of the brave Thurot, who, even whilst he commanded a privateer, fought less for plunder than honour; whose behaviour was on all occasions fall of humanity and generosity, and whose undaunted courage raised him to rank and merited distinction. His death seemed the glory he always sought, he did not live to be brought a prisoner into England, or to hear in France those malignant criticisms which so often attend unfortunate bravery Thurot's expedition was the fate of the last remaining branch of that great armament (De Conflans, whose other fleet intended to make the principal descent in some of the southern parts of Great Britain, having been defeated) which had so long been the hope of France, the alarm of England, and the object of general attention to all Europe,

And finally, let me allude to Thackeray, who, in his Irish Sketch-Book,* has immortalized Thurot's memory in a few brilliant and genial strokes. Speaking of Carrickfergus he writes.

Carrickfergus rejoices in a real romantic-looking castle, jutting bravely into the sea, and famous as a background for a picture It is of use for little else now. luckily, nor has it been put to any such war-like purposes since the day when honest Thurot stormed, took, and evacuated it. Let any romancer who is in want of a hero, peruse the second volume, or it may be third, of the Annual Register, -where the adventures of that gallant fellow are related. lie was a gentleman, a genius, and, to crown all, a smuggler. He lived for some time in Ireland, and in England in disguise; he had love passages and romantic adventures ; he landed a body of his countrymen on these shores, and died in the third volume, after a battle gallantly fought on both sides, but in which the victory rested with the British arms. What can a novelist want more ?"

By Mr M. A. Titmarsh, London, 1843, vol. II, p. a


+ The ships taken by the French from June 1st, 1756, to June 1st, 1760, collected from Lloyd's lists were

From 1756-1757


„ 1757-1758


„ 1758-1759


„ 1759-1760




(see Universal Magazine, July, 1760, p. 51) while the number of French ships of war and frigates taken or destroyed by the English were 58 ships and 2,756 Buns. (Ditto. Sept. 1760, p. 176.)

2 Gentleman s Magazine, 1760, p. 108.

3 Letter in Appendix.

4 A Plan of the Attack and Defence of Carrickfergus was taken upon the spot by Captain Vallencey, of the 10th Regiment of Foot, and sent to Mr Secretary Pitt by the Duke of Bedford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. (From the London Gazette, 11th March, 1760.)

5 Elliot was then 25, and Thurot 33 years old.

6 Note.- John Elliot (17'.35-1808) was the third son of Sir Gilbert Elliot He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant oil 30th April, 1756. Towards the end of 1758 he commanded the Æolus, a 32 gun frigate, then newly launched. Elliot, was appointed to the Gosport, of 40 guns, in which he convoyed the baltic trade as far as the Sound, and died an admiral, and was buried at Mount Teviot, his seat in Roxburghshire, 20th September, 1808. See article :John Elliot: English National Biographical Dictionary.

7 Engravings.-Two prints, 21 by 15 inches, of the celebrated action were painted hy R. Wright (of Liverpool), and engraved by Millar and Goldar, representing the action, and the ships in Ramsey Bay afterwards. The one dedicated to Capt. Elliot, the other to the merchants of Liverpool. (A Tour through the Isle of Man, John Feltham, 1798, Bath, p. 195).

8 The Belle Isle had 160 killed and wounded. Le Blonde about SO La Terpsichore - 36 276 Among whom were 4 Captains of the troops killed, and M. Dusalier, the second to command, wounded (Universal May.).

9 Note.-Nathaniel Spencer, in the Complete English Traveller, 1771, p. 671, referring to Thurot " the famous French captain, and one of the best seamen they ever had," says: Captain Elliot attempted to board the Belleisle, in which Thurot was, but was not able to accomplish it till Forbes, his first lieutenant, got into her at the head of 20 men, and struck the French colours with his own hand." The Manx Ballad confirms this. I give the verse in English translation:-

The Belle Isle was taken by Lieutenant Forbes,
The first man who boarded and brought her flag low;
And saved by brave Thompson, who dived in the ocean,
And stopped her death leakage with tallow and tow,
-for the ship was almost sinking with water.

10 Cork, March 6th.-Sunday. His Majesty's ships Orford, of 64 guns, Capt. bpry, with the Aurora, f igate, of 36, and Minerva, of 32 guns, appeared off ginsale, being detached from England to intercept Mr Thurot on his return to France in case he should escape the other frigate.

11 The occasion of bringing the prisoners to Carrickfergus was to ease the ships, to prevent an infection from the number of wounded. (Universal Magazine).

12 There is also an epitaph on him in French and English in the Universal Magazine, vol. 26, 1760, p. 151.


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