[From Train's History and Account, 1844]
NOTE 1.-PAGE 310.
In the days of the Danish sea-kings, many a battle was fought on the coast of Man; but a sea fight there in the eighteenth century, was a rare occurrence.
Thuròt, the French pirate adventurer, whose name had become the terror of Great Britain by his enterprising achievements in the North Seas, was raised by the court of Versailles to the rank of commodore. In October, 1759, he left the harbour of Dunkirk with a squadron of five ships and seventeen hundred men, to make occasional descents on the Irish coast for the purpose of distracting the attention of the government, and by dividing the troops, facilitate the proposed invasion of that kingdom.Smotlet's History of England, cap. xix. He lost two of his vessels at sea and a number of his men at Carrickfergus, where he came off victorious. The success, however, which he had experienced on shore, was not destined to be of long continuance.
Captai. Elliot, who commanded three frigates at Kinsale, hearing of Thuròt's exploit in the north, set sail in quest of him; and on rounding the Mull of Galloway, on the 28th Yebruary, descried his fleet at anchor near the offing at the entrance of the bay of Luce. He attempted to embay them, which M. de Thnrot observing, weighed anchor with all dispatch, and stood out to sea in the direction of the Isle of Man. Elliot gave chase, and a warm action ensued, which was maintained with great spirit on both sides, for an hour and a half. The French commander at length struck his colours, and the whole squadron was conveyed into Ramsey bay by the captors. -Smollet's History of England, cap. xix.
"Douglas, Isle of Man, 4th March, 1760. On receipt of the news of Thuròt being brought into Ramsey bay on Thursday last, I went there to see the ships. On getting on board the-Bellisle, I was struck with astonishment: turn which way I would, nothing but scattered limbs, and dead and dying men met my view. The decks and sides of the ships could only be compared to a slaughter-house, there being nearly two hundred men killed on board the Bellisle, beside what the other two ships lost. The French must have plundered all before them at Carrickfergus, for I saw one of thein stript who had eight women's shifts on him. They had plenty of children's clothes, shoes, caps, ruffles, buttons, thimbles, and pins, with a store of gray yarn. The English seamen looked upon the Frenchmen as a parcel of poltroons, by their behaviour."- Scots' Magazine for February 1760.
Thuròt is described in the Scots' Magazine for February, 1760, as being about thirty years of age, of a low size, well made, having lively black eyes and a fresh complexion, and as being of a frank, humane, and affable disposition. The naval engagements in which this adventurer lost his life, has often been described by historians. They all agree in stating that he was killed early in the action, and that he was thrown overboard., but none of them seem to be awere his corpse was thrown ashore on the lands of Mochram, in Galloway, and that he was interred in the old Kirkyard of Kirkmaiden, a small cemetery hard by the margin of the sea. I have conversed with several persons who, from the heights of Galloway, witnessed the action between Elliot and Thuròt, some of whom conveyed the remains of the unfortunate commodore to his last resting place.
The following particulars were communicated to me by the Rev. James Black, minister of the parish of Penningham, in Wigtownshire, who witnessed the engagement, and who followed Thuròt's funeral to the church-yard:-
" The French ships, as already mentioned, were at anchor near the offing at the entrance of the bay of Luce, when Elliot's squadron bore round the Mull and attempted to embay them. But the French commander instantly weighed anchor, and stood out to sea in the direction of the Isle of Man. Ere he had sailed a league from the Scotch coast, however, he was overtaken by the English squadron, when a brisk flre commenced which soon obscured both fleets in a dense cloud of smoke.
" Every consecutive tide, for two or three days after the action, cast a number of dead bodies ashore on the coast of Galloway. Among the last thus thrown up by the influx of the sea, was that of the French commander, whose remains were easily distinguished from the others, by the silk-velvet carpet in which they were sewed up. Some historians say he was thrown over board by mistake; but from the circumstance of his having been thus sewed up in his cabin carpet, I think that unlikely. It appeared that he had been attired in his full dress of commodore when the engagement commenced, as his remains were clothed with all the insignia of his rank as a naval officer. He was identified most particularly by marks on his linen, and by a silver tobacco-box with his name in full engraved on the lid.
The remains of this gallant young seaman were removed from the beach to the house of a person in the vicinity, who, acting under the direction of Sir William Maxwell, of Moureath, the lord of the manor, invited every respectable person in that quarter to the funeral. Sir William himself acted as chief mourner, and laid the head of that distinguished individual in the grave.
The carpet in which the corpse was sewed was for a long time kept at Montreathhouse, and my informant supposes it to be there still. The tobacco-box.;was presented by Sir William Maxwell to the victorious Elliot, in whose family it is yet perhaps an her-loom. Thuròt 's watch, which fell into the hands of one of Sir William's domestics, is now in the possession of a person in Castle Douglas."
How these circumstances, so honourable to Sir William Maxwell, and so interesting to historians - as filling up a blank in the history of that period - did not find their way into any of the public journals of the day. and thence be placed on record, is a question which I am now unable to solve. It is true that the farmers in that remote ,quarter of Galloway, had then little intercourse beyond the boundary of their own small district. Even Sir William Maxwell himself does not seem to have taken an enlarged view of the subject as might have been expected. He defrayed, certainly, the funeral charges, but there is no monumental stone to point out the spot where the remains of Thuròt are laid. On visiting the old Kirkyard of Kirkmaiden lately, I could not find any person who could point out Thuròt 's grave, except one old man who came for that purpose from some distance, and I thought even he acted with uncertainty. It moved me much when I thought that he whose name had filled with terror many of the inhabitants of some of the sea ports of Great Britain and and Ireland, whose defeat was celebrated with all the rejoicing that could be manifested for the most important victory, and whose name will go down to posterity with the reputation of an intrepid warrior, should thus be laid in a remote corner of the Island which he threatened to conquer, without the spot being exactly known whero his remains have crumbled to dust.-See History Galloway, vol. ii.
This is the substance of a communication which I sent to my friend Mr. George Chalmers, author of Caledonia, in 1819. His reply was:-" The paragraph which you have pointed out in the Scots' Magazine for July, 1760, respecting Thuròt, and the facts in your hands which have not appeared in any contemporary. history of that eventful day, are enough to make a life of that enterprising sailor." With fewer original materials he wrote a Life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
TO commemorate the defeat of Thuròt and the arrival of the captured French fleet in Ramsey bay. Mark Hilderaley, bishop of Sodor and Man, erected, in 1760, a monument in the immediate neighbourhood of his palace, at Kirk Michael, which is an instance of the Manks having been even then friendly towards Great Britain Shortly after the action, a print twenty- four inches by fifteen inches was made from a Painting by Wright, representing the ships in Ramsey bay as they appeared immediately after the battle, and was dedicated to the merchants of Liverpool-See also my letter on the subject of Thuròt's interment in the History of Galloway, vol. ii, p. 439