Lucius Curtis (1786 - 1869)

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Birthplace: Portsea, Hampshire, England
Death: Died
Managed by: Francis Rainey
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About Lucius Curtis

Biographical Summary

"Admiral of the Fleet Sir Lucius Curtis, 2nd Baronet, KCB (3 June 1786 – 1869) was a senior officer of the Royal Navy during the nineteenth century. The son of Sir Roger Curtis, 1st Baronet, Lord Howe's flag captain at the Glorious First of June, Lucius served during the Napoleonic Wars and was heavily involved in the Mauritius campaign of 1810. During this campaign, Curtis commanded the frigate HMS Magicienne with the blockade squadron under Josias Rowley and was still in command when the ship was destroyed at the Battle of Grand Port. Magicienne grounded on a coral reef early in the engagement and despite the best efforts of Curtis and his crew, the ship had to be abandoned, Curtis setting her on fire to prevent her subsequent capture.

After Curtis was freed from captivity in December 1810, he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the loss of his ship and returned to his naval career. He later rose to become an Admiral of the Fleet. As his eldest son predeceased him, the baronetcy in 1869 passed to his second son, Arthur.

Life

Lucius Curtis was born in 1786, the second son of Captain Roger Curtis and his wife Jane Sarah Brady. At a young age Curtis joined the Royal Navy, by which time his father was an admiral and a senior but controversial figure in the Admiralty. Roger Curtis had been flag captain to Lord Howe at the Glorious First of June, and became closely associated with the perceived injustices in the distribution of awards in the aftermath of the battle. Curtis further infuriated some of his fellow officers by acting as prosecutor at the court martial in which Anthony Molloy was criticised for his conduct during the Atlantic Campaign of May 1794. Molloy was effectively forced out of the Navy and Curtis attracted a significant amount of criticism, especially from Cuthbert Collingwood, who took a personal dislike to Lucius' father.

In 1802, Curtis' elder brother, also named Roger, died suddenly in naval service. As the remaining son, Lucius received strong patronage due to his family links and as a result was a post captain by 1809, aged only 24. Curtis took command of the frigate HMS Magicienne, with orders to operate in the Indian Ocean as part of the squadron attempting to blockade the French held islands of Île Bonaparte and Isle de France (now Mauritius). Arriving during hurricane season in December 1809, Curtis had an immediate impact, sighting, chasing and capturing the East Indiaman Windham, previously captured by the French Commodore Jacques Hamelin at the Action of 18 November 1809.

The Southampton Docks foundation & commemorative plaque situated just inside Dock Gate 4. Sir Lucius Curtis laid the original foundation stone on 12 October 1838.

In 1810, Magicienne remained off the islands, participating in the Invasion of Île Bonaparte in July and subsequently supporting Captain Samuel Pym off Grand Port. Pym was intending to blockade the harbour to French shipping, but when a squadron under Guy-Victor Duperré arrived off the port on 20 August, Pym sought to lure them into coastal waters and engage them. Duperré successfully broke through Pym's ships however, and took shelter within the harbour. Pym gathered his frigates together and sailed directly into the harbour on 22 August to engage the French. Lacking harbour pilots, Pym's HMS Sirius, Henry Lambert's HMS Iphigenia and Magicienne were soon aground on the coral reefs that sheltered the bay, and the remaining British ship, Nesbit Willoughby's HMS Nereide, was forced to surrender by the French frigates in the port. Of the grounded ships, only Iphigenia sailed again, captured by Hamelin five days later. Sirius and Magicienne were burnt, their crews taking shelter on the tiny Île de la Passe. Without food or fresh water, the sailors were forced to surrender to Hamelin when he arrived and were held prisoner until Isle de France was captured by a British expeditionary force four months later.

Curtis was completely exonerated at the court martial convened to investigate the loss of his ship, given command of the newly captured HMS Madagsacar and continued to rise in the navy, being made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1815. In 1862, Curtis became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He become an Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the navy, in 1864. Curtis died in 1869. his eldest son had predeceased him, and the baronetcy he inherited from his father passed to his second son Arthur.

Curtis was an eminent freemason, serving as Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire from 1840 until his death in 1869."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Lucius Curtis', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 February 2013, 19:20 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lucius_Curtis&oldid=539090589> [accessed 14 April 2013]

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Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, 2nd Baronet, KCB's Timeline

1786
June 3, 1786
Portsea, Hampshire, England
1815
1815
Age 28
Widley, Hampshire, England
1817
1817
Age 30
1869
1869
Age 82