O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'
O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'

Royal NavyO'Byrne

The following is the entry for Robert Maunsell in William O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'.

Maunsell, C.B. (Captain, 1812. f-p., 22; h-p., 25.)

Robert Maunsell was born, in May, 1786, at Limerick, and died 31 Aug. 1845. He was third son of the Rev. Wm. Maunsell, Archdeacon of Limerick, by Lucy, daughter and co-heir of Philip Oliver, Esq., M.P., of Castle Oliver, co. Limerick; and a near relative of Admiral Robt. Dudley Oliver. His eldest brother, the present Thos. Philip Maunsell, Esq., of Thorpe Malsor, Northamptonshire, is M.P. for the northern division of that co., Colonel of the Northampton Militia, and Captain of the Kettering Yeomanry Cavalry: his second, the Rev. Wm. Wray Maunsell, Archdeacon of Limerick, married the eldest daughter of the Right Rev. Chas. Warburton, Bishop of Cloyne.
This officer entered the Navy, in Feb. 1799, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Mermaid 32, Capt. Robt. Dudley Oliver, fitting for the Mediterranean; where he attained the rating of Midshipman in July, 1800, removed in 1801 to the Maidstone 32, Capts. Rich. Hussey Moubray and Hon. Geo. Elliot, and continued most actively employed until the end of 1804. It was his fortune during that period to be made a participator in many cutting-out affairs; but particularly on 11 July, 1804, when, holding the rating of Master’s Mate, he served with the boats of the Maidstone, Narcissus, and Seahorse, 10 in number, under the orders of Lieut. John Thompson, and assisted at the capture of 12 settees, lying at La Vandour, in the Bay of Hières, after a conflict, in which the British, encountered by a tremendous fire of grape-shot and musketry, as well from the vessels themselves as from a battery and the houses of the town, sustained a loss of 4 men killed and 23 (including himself, severely) wounded. So great were the coolness and perseverance developed on the occasion by Mr. Maunsell, that he was promoted, as soon as he had accomplished his time, to a Lieutenancy, 7 March, 1805, in the Princess Royal 98, Capt. Robt. Carthew Reynolds, attached to the Channel fleet. Being next, 26 May, 1807, appointed to the Blanche 28, Capt. John Edgcumbe, on the East India station, he took a passage thither in, we believe, the St. Alban’s 64, and, soon after his arrival, had the satisfaction of being advanced, by a commission dated 15 Feb. 1808, to the command of the Procris 18. Among the numerous prizes made by Capt. Maunsell in that sloop, we may include the capture, in 1809, of the Dutch company’s brig Wagsted of 8 guns, 4 swivels, and 86 men. On the morning of 31 July, 1811, being off the mouth of the Indramayu River, coast of Java, he took personal command of the boats of the Procris, together with two fiat-boats, carrying an officer and 20 men of H.M.'s 14th Regt., and an officer and the same number of men from H.M.’s 89th Regt., and with a degree of skill and ability that called forth the after-thanks of Commodore Broughton, led them ashore to the attack of six of the enemy’s gunboats; each mounting 1 brass 32-pounder carronade forward and 1 18-pounder aft, both on pivots, with a crew of more than 60 men, in convoy of 40 or 50 proas. Although the latter contrived to escape by hauling through the mud up the river, yet were five of the armed vessels irresistibly boarded and carried, and the remaining one destroyed; this, too with a loss of only 11 men wounded, notwithstanding that the enemy, in addition to the fire of their guns, kept up a constant discharge of musketry. As a reward for his meritorious conduct in achieving so gallant an exploit, Capt. Maunsell was almost immediately placed in acting-command of the Illustrious 74, bearing the Commodore’s broad pendant. Prior to the event we have just recorded he had been ordered to take charge of a transport with 400 troops in the Sunda Strait, for the purpose of joining the expedition then daily expected off Batavia. Owing to the reluctance felt by the Master of the transport to run during the night, Capt. Maunsell, fearing that the delay thereby occasioned would prevent their arriving at the appointed rendezvous in time to assist in the landing, took the whole 400 men on board his own vessel, and by his promptitude in so doing was enabled to reach his destination two days previous to the debarkation, whereas the transport did not arrive until nearly a month afterwards. During his command of the Illustrious, a period of about two months, Capt. Maunsell served on shore throughout all the operations which terminated in the fall of Java; where he enacted a distinguished part on shore at the head of a body of seamen, and aided in the bombardment and storming of Fort Cornelis 26 Aug. 1811. On the night of 10 of the ensuing month, we further discover him, with a division of boats under his orders, taking captive, in the neighbourhood of Samarang, a large sloop-rigged gun-boat, mounting 4 heavy guns and 2 brass swivels, a Malay-rigged gun-boat, carrying 1 12-pounder carronade, and a despatch-boat. In the early part of 1812, on 7 Feb. in which year he was confirmed to Post-rank, Capt. Maunsell, in consequence of an attack of Batavian fever, returned to England; and on 24 of the ensuing Aug. was appointed to the Chatham 74, bearing the flag in the North Sea of Rear-Admiral Matthew Henry Scott, with whom he continued until 26 May, 1814. After 16 years’ incessant application for employment, he was next, 22 Feb. 1831, placed in command of the Alfred 50, and sent to the Mediterranean; where, during a servitude of three years, he witnessed the establishment of King Otho on the throne of Greece, and was selected to watch the movements of the hostile fleets of Turkey and Egypt. His last appointment afloat was, 13 May, 1840, to the Rodney 92. On his arrival in that ship off Alexandria, 22 Nov. in the same year, he was instructed by Commodore Napier to open a direct communication between him and Mehemet Ali. Landing, accordingly, close to his Highness’ palace, he managed to pass the guards unmolested, and, entering the presence-chamber, without introduction, had the good fortune to obtain a very flattering audience, and fully to carry out the object of his mission. The next day he landed, with the Commodore, and, we believe, remained with him until the conclusion of the celebrated convention between him and the Egyptian potentate. The Rodney, it appears, was the means of afterwards, in Nov. 1842, rescuing the Formidable 84, when on shore near Barcelona; and in the course of the ensuing month was present at the reduction of that city by the force under Espartero. In the spring of 1843, having returned to England, she was despatched to the Cape of Good Hope with the 7th Dragoon Guards, a company of the 45th Regt., another of Artillery, and 150 men, on board. In Oct. 1843 she was paid off.
On 20 July, 1838, Capt. Maunsell was nominated a C.B.; and in April, 1844, as a tribute to “his high personal character, and his eminent professional service,” he was spontaneously appointed by Sir Robt. Peel a Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital. Agents – Messrs. Chard.

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