George James Perceval (1794 - 1874)

Admiral, Earl of Egmont, Viscount Perceval of Kanturk, Baron Perceval of Burton,
and Baron Arden of Lohort Castle, Cork, in the Peerage of Ireland, Baron Lovel and
Holland of Enmore, Somerset, in the Peerage of Great Britain, Baron Arden of Arden,
Warwicks, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and a Baronet of Ireland.

The Earl Of Egmont Arms
The Earl Of Egmont Arms

Nork House By Prosser
Nork House c1828 by G F Prosser
Source: Select illustrations from the County of Surrey

A report of the death of the 6th Earl of Egmont at Nork (or York) House, Epsom, was found on further examination to relate to his demise at Banstead - registered in the Epsom District for the September Quarter 1874 in the name of George James Perceval.

In the 'Reminiscences of Mr. George W. Challis' on this website, it is explained that: -
"Nork Park, Lord Egmont's seat, later "Colman's" of mustard fame, has entirely disappeared. The estate reached from Banstead Station to Tadworth station in one direction and from Drift Bridge to Burgh Heath, the other way."
Nork Hall or House had been built in 1740 for Sir Christopher Buckle fore use by his youngest son, Matthew. Following the latter's death in 1784 the real estate was let on a long lease to Charles George Perceval, 2nd Baron Arden, PC, FRS, (1 October 1756 - 5 July 1840) and eventually sold to him during 1812. Lord Arden married Margaretta Elizabeth, eldest daughter of General Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, 6th Baronet, in 1787. They had six sons and two daughters, George being the third but eldest son to survive.

In addition to being a Member of Parliament for Launceston, Charles George Perceval, 2nd Baron Arden (1756-1840), was a Lord of the Admiralty, Commissioner for India Affairs and in 1804 was appointed Lord of the Bedchamber during King George III's illness. He also held office as Registrar of Court of Admiralty.

"George James Perceval the son of Charles George, Lord Arden and Margaretta Elizabeth, his wife, [had been] born on Friday 14 March 1794 at his father's house in the Admiralty [Whitehall] at 11o' the clock at night and was christened there the 17 April following. His sponsors were George, Earl of Leicester, James Gordon, jun., of Moor Place, Hertford and the Lady Frances Perceval, his aunt." Actually the baptism took place at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster.

George obtained a basic education at Harrow but was sent to sea as a 'first class naval volunteer' in July 1805. As indicated earlier, his father had naval connections which allowed him to negotiate a place for George with Captain Edward Codrington on HMS Orion, a 74 gun third-rate ship.

The National Maritime Museum have acquired, at auction for £33,600, a remarkable series of letters written by George James Perceval, the son of Lord and Lady Arden. Some were composed at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar when Perceval was just eleven years old. This personal correspondence to his parents includes his eyewitness account of the Battle.
The Times of 19 October 2005 reported: -
    "The vivid eyewitness account of George James Perceval, who served on HMS Orion, a 74-gun battleship that played a key role in the closing stages of the battle, has been purchased by the National Maritime Museum.
    In more than 40 letters, many written to Lord and Lady Arden, his parents in London, George painted a portrait of life aboard ship during the Trafalgar campaign, as well as the battle on October 21 and the death of Admiral Nelson.
    In a letter dated October 13, he wrote to his mother: 'I expect to come home to eat a Christmas Dinner with [you] if my head is not knocked of [sic] in any action.'
    Nelson, he reported, had assured the fleet that 'he will have a good bang at them'.
    In his next letter, which is undated and whose scrawly handwriting suggests that it was written in a hurry, he gave an insight into the minds of the men who survived the battle that established British naval supremacy in Europe. 'I have as you wished been in one of the greatest actions that ever was fought', he wrote, ' . . . but I am sorry to tell you that brave Admiral Nelson was killed by a musquet [sic] ball that went through his body.'
    In another letter, he described his desire to 'give [the enemy] a licking', but there are also reminders that he was a young boy. On one page he drew a head for his mother to kiss 'and think that it is my round face."
As recently as April 2011, Banstead History Research Group published a transcribed compilation covering the years 1805 to 1815 under the title 'The Banstead Boy at Trafalgar' (ISBN: 978-0-9566313-1-2). The slim volume is informative and recommended reading for anyone interested in further details of George's experiences.

HMS Orion - 30 July 1805 to 21 December 1806

74 gun third-rate ship of the Canada class

HMS Orion
Model of the HMS Orion (1787) at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Photographer: The High Fin Sperm Whale, Image source Wikipedia

Having entered the Royal Navy in 1805, some three months before Trafalgar, George served as a volunteer in that battle under Captain Edward Codrington, when, with Ajax, HMS Orion forced the surrender of the French 74-gun ship Intrepide.

HMS Orion returned to England in summer 1806 and George enjoyed some shore leave, and a spell accommodated aboard the newly commissioned HMS Sabrina, before being transferred to HMS Tigre from 22 December 1806.

HMS Tigre - 22 December 1806 to 14 November 181

80 gun second rate ship

Scale model of the Achille, sister-ship of the Tigre
Scale model of the Achille, sister-ship of the Tigre, on display at the Musée de la Marine in Paris
Photographer: Rama, Image source Wikipedia

In HMS Tigre, which had been captured from the French in 1795 (as a 74 gun ship of the line) and subsequently captained by Benjamin Hallowell, Perceval took part in the 6 March 1807 expedition against the Turks in Egypt, leading to the capture of Alexandria and attack on Rosetta.

"Subsequent to the evacuation of Egypt by the British which took place in September 1807, the Tigre appears to have been principally employed in watching the port of Toulon, but without any event of importance occurring [apart from George J Perceval attaining the rank of Midshipman, 9 June 1808] until Oct. 23, 1809; when in company with a squadron under Sir George Martin, she drove on shore three French line-of-battle ships and a frigate near the mouth of the Rhone. On the 30th of the same month, Captain Hallowell was entrusted with the command of a detachment from Lord Collingwood's fleet, sent to attack some armed vessels and transports that had separated from the above ships and made for the Bay of Rosas. The enterprise proved successful, and at day-break on the morning of Nov. 1st, every one of the enemy's vessels was either burnt or brought off, notwithstanding the protection afforded them by the Castle of Rosas, Fort Trinity and several newly erected batteries. The convoy thus intercepted was from Toulon, bound to the relief of Barcelona, then in the possession of the French, and which the Spaniards had long besieged." www.aandc.org/research/hallowell_massachussetts.html

DESTRUCTION OF A FRENCH SQUADRON OFF CETTE

As explained above, over 23-26 Oct 1809 a part of the Mediterranean fleet off the coast of Catalonia, including HMS Tigre, was sent in chase of a small French squadron from Toulon which resulted in the destruction of the French ships Robuste and Lion which ran aground about noon on 25 October off Frontignan and Cette (Sete). After two hours of fruitless attempts by the French to save their ships, the vessels were scuttled, set ablaze and, around 10.30 in the evening, exploded.

CAPTURE AND DESTRUCTION OF FRENCH ARMED STORESHIP LAMPROIE

On 31 October 1809, Perceval took part in the successful capture of a French convoy in the Bay of Rosas, Spain - an action described in 'Naval History of Great Britain', 1837: -
"After the capture of the five vessels of M. Baudin's convoy by the British frigate Pomone, the remainder, consisting of seven merchant vessels, in charge of the armed store-ship Lamproie, of 16 long 8-pounders and 116 men, commanded by Lieutenant de vaisseau [ship's lieutenant] Jacques-Marie Bertaud-la-Bretèche, two armed bombards, the Victoire and Grondeur, and the armed xebec Normande, put into the bay of Rosas, and anchored under the protection of the castle of that name, of Fort-Trinidad, and of other strong batteries in the neighbourhood. Resolving to attempt the capture or destruction of these vessels, Lord Collingwood detached Captain Hallowell, with the Tigre, Cumberland, and Volontaire, also the frigates Apollo and Topaze, Captains Bridges Watkinson Taylor, and Henry Hope, and brig-sloops Philomel, Scout, and Tuscan, Captains George Crawley, William Raitt, and John Wilson

On the evening of the 31st of October, after dark, the squadron bore up, with a fresh south-east wind, for the Bay of Rosas; and soon afterwards the five ships came to an anchor about five miles from the town of Rosas; but the brigs, as had been ordered, remained under way. The boats of the squadron were then armed and manned; and, owing to the care that, in this instance, had been taken to insert the names of the officers in the London Gazette, we are enabled also to give them.

Boats of the Tigre: Lieutenants John Tailour, Augustus Wm. Jas. Clifford, Edward Boxer, William Waterface, William Hamilton, and John Brulton; master's mates James Caldwell and Joshua Kynson; midshipmen Day Richard Syer, Honourable Robert Churchill Spencer, Henry Fawcett, George Francis Bridges, George Sandys, James Athill, Honourable George James Percival, James Montage, and Frederick Noel; and assistant surgeon Alexander Hosack...."
George provided his own version of events in a letter dated 2 November 1809. Captain Hallowell explained to Lord Arden, however, that George had stowed away in a boat in order to take part in the attack and implied that the boy had been something of a hindrance to his men.

On 16 December 1809, Perceval remarked ruefully that two of the French ships of the line run aground at Cette had been lightened of guns, re-floated and recovered to Toulon.

"At the general promotion, July 31, 1810, Captain Hallowell was nominated a Colonel of Royal Marines; and he continued to command the Tigre until his advancement to the rank of Rear Admiral, which took place Aug 1st in the following year. He soon after hoisted his flag in the Malta..." http://navalmarinearchive.com/research/hallowell_massachussetts.html

HMS Maidstone - 8 March 1812 to 31 August 1812

36 gun fifth rate ship

On 14 November 1811, following the departure of his mentor, Benjamin Hallowell, George left the Tigre for a period of absence. On 8 March 1812 he joined HMS Maidstone, a fifth rate 36-gun ship launched in 1811, apparently to serve under Sir Richard Dixon.

On 4 Apr 1812 they captured the French privateer Martinet in the Mediterranean and arrived back at Plymouth from Gibraltar, 22 Apr 1812. Sailed again, 29 Apr 1812, with a convoy of troop transports, for Lisbon.

The Anglo-American war was declared on 1 June 1812 [Link To Wikipedia] and subsequently George saw more action: -
1 Aug 1812 the boats of the Maidstone, and Spartan captured 2 U.S. privateers, the 1 gun schooner Polly, with 50 men, and the 1 gun schooner Morning Star, with 50 men, in the Bay of Fundy. 3 Aug 1812 the boats of the Maidstone, and Spartan captured 4 U.S. privateers, the 2 gun schooner Olive, the 6 gun cutter Commodore, the 2 gun schooner Spence, and the 2 gun schooner Madison, in the Bay of Fundy, the chief part of the crews escaped. 12 Aug 1812 the Maidstone and Colibri captured a U.S. privateer, the 2 gun schooner Dolphin, with 48 men, off Cape Sable.

HMS Desiree - 12 September 1812 - 7 June 1813

36 gun fifth rate ship

On 12 September 1812, however, Midshipman G J Perceval was re-assigned to HMS Desiree. He kept a logbook from 27 February to 30 May 1813 during the ship's return from the Azores to England. It survives amongst the Sir Joseph Banks papers held by the British Library - www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/history_of_science_series2/detailedlisting3.aspx - and was presented in support of the Lieutenant's examination at which George was successful, 2 June 1813. Ironically he then seems to have been paid off a week later.

HMS Chesapeake - 18 April 1814 to 12 May 1814



Painting of USS Chesapeake
Painting of USS Chesapeake in the U.S. Navy Art Collection
Artist: F. Muller, Image source Wikipedia

For less than a month from 18 April 1814, George returned to board the captured and repaired USS Chesapeake as a Lieutenant.

HMS Tenedos - 14 May 1814 to 29 March 1815

38 gun fifth rate ship

By 14 May 1814 he had been transferred to the 40 gun HMS Tenedos.

EXPEDITION UP THE PENOBSCOT RIVER: CAPTURE OF CASTINE, MAINE, USA,
AND DESTRUCTION OF AMERICAN FRIGATE JOHN ADAMS

According to British Naval History, 1837:
"On the 26th of August [1814] an expedition, under the joint command of Lieutenant-general Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, governor of the province, and Rear-admiral Edward Griffith, consisting of the 74-gun ship Dragon, Captain Robert Barrie, frigates Endymion and Bacchante, Captains Henry Hope and Francis Stanfell, 18-gun ship-sloop Sylph, Captain George Dickens, and 10 sail of transports with troops, sailed from Halifax, Nova-Scotia, bound to the river Penobscot, near the north-eastern extremity of the coast of the United States. On the 31st, when off the Metinicus islands, the expedition was joined by the 74-gun ship Bulwark, Captain Farmery Predam Epworth, frigate Tenedos, Captain Hyde Parker, and brig-sloops Rifleman and Peruvian, Captains Joseph Pearce and George Kippen. From the Rifleman intelligence was now received, that the United States' ship Adams, of 26 guns, Captain Charles Morris, had a few days before put into Penobscot, and, not deeming herself safe at the entrance of the river, had proceeded to Hamden, a place situated 27 miles higher up, where she had landed her guns and placed them in battery for her protection. The original plan of making Machias on the main coast the first point of attack, was now deviated from, and the general and admiral determined to ascend the river and endeavour to capture or destroy the Adams.

Towards evening the fleet, led by the Tenedos, made sail up the Penobscot with a fair wind, and by daylight on the 1st of September was off the fort and town of Castine. At 8 a.m. the men of war and transports came to anchor; and, after a slight show of resistance, Castine surrendered. The service of capturing or destroying the Adams frigate and the batteries erected for her defence was now entrusted to Captain Barrie; who, at 6 p.m., taking with him the Peruvian and Sylph sloops, a tender belonging to the Dragon commanded by acting Lieutenant James Pearson, and the Harmony transport, commanded on this occasion, by Lieutenant William Henry Woodin, containing between them about 600 troops under Lieutenant-colonel Henry John, proceeded with the utmost despatch up the Penobscot. Light variable winds, thick foggy weather, and a most intricate channel of which the British were entirely ignorant, made it 2 p.m. on the 2nd before the Peruvian and her consorts arrived off Frankfort. At 5 p.m., having arrived off Ball's head cone, distant about five miles from Hamden, Colonel John and Captain Barrie landed to reconnoitre; and by 10 p.m. the whole of the troops were also landed. The troops bivouacked for the night amidst an incessant rain; and at 6 a.m. on the 3rd the little party began their march towards Hamden. The larger vessels were kept in the rear in reserve; while the boats, commanded by Lieutenant George Pedlar first of the Dragon, assisted by Lieutenant the Honourable George James Perceval, of the Tenedos, and Lieutenant Francis Ormond, of the Endymion, and preceded, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, by a rocket-boat under the immediate direction of Captain Barrie himself, advanced in line with the right flank of the army.

The American militia and crew of the Adams, to the number altogether, as reported, of 1400 men, had taken up a most excellent position on a high hill fronting the town of Hamden, with some field-pieces stationed in the woods on their right. About a quarter of a mile to the southward of the Adams frigate, and calculated to command both the highway by which the troops were advancing and the river, were mounted eight 18-pounders ; and 15 more 18-pounders were mounted on a wharf close to the Adams, completely commanding the river, which at that spot was only 600 yards wide. The British force consisted, besides the 600 infantry and artillery under Lieutenant-colonel John, of 80 marines under Captain Thomas Carter of the Dragon, and about as many seamen under Lieutenants James Symonds, Samuel Mottley, and Henry Slade, all of the Bulwark, and Mr. John Spurting, that ship's master.

The moment the British boats arrived within gun-shot, the Americans opened a fire upon them both from the hill and the wharf. This fire was warmly returned, and the rockets evidently threw the enemy into confusion. In the mean time the troops, marines and seamen had stormed the hill with the utmost gallantry, and the American militia were in full retreat on the road to Bangor. Before the boats could get within grape-shot distance, Captain Morris, finding himself deserted by those who, doubtless, had a few minutes before, promised to do wonders, set fire to the Adams. The American militia made so good a use of their legs, that very few were taken prisoners. The only loss sustained on the part of the British was one seaman killed, Captain Gall, of the 29th, and seven privates wounded, and one rank and file missing. Two ships, one of them armed, were destroyed by the Americans at the same time as the Adams. The British immediately hastened on to Bangor, which also surrendered; and there one ship, one brig, three schooners, and a sloop were destroyed. A copper-bottomed brig, pierced for 18 guns, and the Decatur privateer, of 16 guns, were captured, but lost in descending the river. Several vessels, at the different towns on the banks of the river, were found on the stocks, but were all left untouched."
CAPTURE OF USS PRESIDENT

On 15 Jan 1815 Majestic, Endymion, Pomone and Tenedos discovered the USS President 2 miles ahead and following a long chase she was eventually captured by the frigates, particularly the Endymion. Lieutenant G J Perceval is reported to have been mentioned in despatches and assisted in taking the captured ship to Bermuda.

HMS Bulwark - 5 May 1815 to 5 August 1815

74 gun third rate ship

"On February 26, 1815, Napoleon managed to sneak past his guards and somehow escape from Elba, slip past interception by a British ship, and return to France. Immediately, people and troops began to rally to the returned Emperor. French police forces were sent to arrest him, but upon arriving in his presence, they kneeled before him. Triumphantly, Napoleon returned to Paris on March 20, 1815."

Bulwark had convoyed British troops from Canada to Portsmouth, arriving 27 Mar 1815 just as Napoleon's escape from Elba meant they were required for the '100 Days' campaign which culminated at Waterloo. Tenedos and Bulwark probably came back together from the coast of America to Plymouth since 27 March 1815 was the date on which George left the first-named vessel to join the crew of HMS Bulwark on 5 May 1815. It seems they sailed back to North America to collect more troops because Bulwark turned up in Portsmouth with another convoy of transports, 2 August 1815, and Perceval was discharged on 5 August.

HMS Infernal - 2 July 1816 to 24 October 1816

10-gun Hecla class bomb vessel

After a period on shore, Perceval's first appointment as Commander had been to Infernal on 2 July 1816 although his seniority was backdated to 13 June 1815.

"... atrocities committed on defenceless Christians having at length roused the vengeance of Britain, an expedition, of a suitable magnitude, was prepared to act against the forts and shipping of Algiers, and the command was entrusted to a most able officer, Admiral Lord Exmouth; who had already, a short time before, compelled the Dey of Tunis to sign a treaty for the abolition of Christian slavery, and to restore 1792 slaves to freedom."

BOMBARDMENT OF ALGIERS

Bombardment Of Algiers
Painting of the Bombardment Of Algiers in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Artist: Martinus Schouman, Image source Wikipedia

The fleet [including HMS Infernal] arrived at Gibraltar, 9 Aug 1816, where it joined the Dutch squadron, that had arrived the previous evening, and which, it was agreed, would join the expedition. Whilst at Gibraltar the fleet was victualled and preparations made for the forthcoming battle with gunnery practice etc.

On 27 August 1816, circa 1400 hours, no reply having been received to Lord Exmouth's demands, the ships of the fleet took up their stations and the Battle of Algiers commenced, ceasing about 2200 hours. The fleet left Algiers on 3 September en route for Gibraltar and England.

HMS Britomart - 21 November 1816 to 12 October 1818

10-gun Cherokee class brig-sloop

Britomart had been part of the fleet, which had returned following the bombardment of Algiers. Command passed to Perceval on 21 November 1816 and they were then engaged on revenue duties off the south and west coasts of England until 12 October (?) 1818. www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/history_of_science_series2/detailedlisting3.aspx Although George James Perceval's post commission as Captain dated from 7 December 1818, he never went back to sea as an active naval officer.

On 24 July 1819 George married, by licence at Titchfield, Jane, eldest daughter of the late John Hornby from Hook House, Hants.

He became M.P. for West Surrey 4 August 1837 to 5 July 1840; succeeded his father as 3rd Lord Arden, 5 July 1840, and took his seat in the House of Lords. On the death of his cousin, Henry Frederick John James Perceval, 25 December 1841, became 6th Earl of Egmont.

General naval service medals (1847) [Link To Wikipedia] were granted to surviving officers, seamen and marines (and soldiers who served as marines) per order of 7th June 1848. George would have been entitled to two clasps - for Trafalgar & Algiers, 1816.

His mother Margaretta Elizabeth, dowager Lady Arden died in May 1851, aged 83 - in 1847, she had donated £10 to George Glynne, Rector of Ewell for rebuilding of the parish Church. A provision in her Will read as follows: -
"It is my desire that the Sum of two hundred Guineas shall be presented to my Friend Captain Lempriere of Ewell in token of the great respect and regard I bear him. He has been a kind Friend to me. I have enjoyed his Society and I wish him and every Member of his Family health and happiness in life and may it please God that we may all meet together in Heaven hereafter through Jesus Christ our Blessed Redeemer."
George James, 6th Earl of Egmont, 3rd Lord Arden, became a rear-admiral on the reserve list, 17 August 1851, vice-admiral, 10 September 1857, and admiral 23 March 1863.

Perceval occupied a number of seats including Cowdray Park, Sussex, Lohort Castle, Cork and the family's town house 26 St James's Place. C J Swete, in his 'Handbook of Epsom of 1860, remarked: -
"The extensive demesne of Nork is in the possession of the Rt. Hon. Earl of Egmont who resides frequently here. The house, one of whose wings is a chapel, is an elegant mansion standing on a richly wooded eminence. Beautiful views are obtained of a great extent of country, and the timber is of good growth. Rich meadows interspersed with woodlands, and hedgerows of the pink and white hawthorn stretch away towards the north, and the extent of the plantations render it an agreeable and handsome summer residence."
He died without issue at Nork House, Banstead, Surrey, aged 80, on Sunday, 2 August, buried in the family vault at St Luke's, Charlton, Kent, 8 August 1874. Will dated 29 July 1874, proved 18 September 1874, by the Rt. Hon Charles George, Earl of Egmont of 26 St. James' Place, Middlesex, the nephew, and the Rt. Hon Spencer Horatio Walpole of Ealing, Middlesex, one of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Councillors, the Executors. [Estate £350,000]

Located on the A16, between Market Deeping and Stamford, lies West Deeping, the smallest of the Deepings in Lincolnshire, a village of around 100 houses with a church, Manor House and pub. Saint Andrew's parish church was re-opened in 1877. Money had been raised and given by the Reverend Heathcote and parishioners of West Deeping, with the Earl of Egmont contributing a considerable amount. The side windows in the chancel bear the inscribed words.
"To the glory of God in the grateful memory of George James Earl of Egmont to whom this church, restored AD 1874, owes so much, the Rector, his nephew enabled by many friends, dedicates the beauty of this chancel A.D. 1876."
Nork House Banstead
Nork House Banstead c1905
From the Lewis Wood collection © 2011

Entrance Gates to Nork House Banstead
Entrance Gates to Nork House Banstead c1905
From the Lewis Wood collection © 2011

Sales Particulars for Nork House from The Times 27 May 1925
Sales Particulars for Nork House from The Times 27 May 1925

Brian Bouchard © 2011


2016 Update - George's Medals


Several years after this article was written two of George's medals have come up for auction by Brightwells Auctioneers & Valuers, Leominster who have kindly supplied photographs.

George's Naval General Service medal
George's Naval General Service medal
Image courtesy of Brightwells Auctioneers & Valuers, Leominster © 2016

The Naval General Service medal was instituted in 1847 and awarded in 1848. This medal is unusual as it was awarded some 30 or 40 years after the events, and only to the surviving officers and ratings who applied for it!

George's medal has 4 clasps including those for Algers and Traffalgar and two for actions on the high sea. What is odd about it is that the official medal roll shows only four recipients of the "4 April Boat Service 1812" clasp and he is not one of them. This ommision from the official records is probably just due to a clerical error as George was on board HMS Maidstone when it captured the French Privateer Le Martinet in the Mediterranean. However the ommission makes the medal more desirable to medal collectors.

George's Matthew Boulton Medal
George's Matthew Boulton Medal
Matthew Boulton was a Birmingham based jewellery Company who produced around 1500 medals to give to survivors. These are also highly desirable
Image courtesy of Brightwells Auctioneers & Valuers, Leominster © 2016



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