Lt Charles Cobbe - Royal Navy
Lt Charles Cobbe RN Introduction
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Introduction
Transcribed Pass
Certificate

Pass Certificate (Front)
Pass Certificate (Rear)

 

Charles Cobbe - Lieutenant Royal Navy - 11th April 1797

Introduction

Professional Genealogical research, was carried out by the Fovant branch of the Clay family in the late 1960's. That research is now available to the writer. The outcome of the research was presented in the form of a comprehensive family tree, and indicates that the great grandmother of R.R.Clay M.C., Charlotte Clay (nee Cobbe) had a brother Charles Marshall Godolphin Cobbe, Capt. R.N. Efforts are being made to verify that research.

A search in the PRO card index for Charles M.G. Cobbe as a Royal Navy Captain, failed to produce a result.

There then followed a chance meeting, at the PRO, with Bob O'Hara, a professional researcher, who was kind enough to give a significant amount of time in educating the writer in researching officers of the Royal Navy from times long past. This resulted in the location of a Lieutenant's Pass Certificate for a Charles Cobbe who may have been Charles Marshall Godolfin Cobbe, brother of Charlotte Cobbe.

More recently, the PRO Library at Kew were very kind in identifying books, held at the PRO Library, relating to Naval Officers; books that Mr O'Hara showed a thorough knowledge of during that chance meeting.

The books so identified by the PRO Librarian were;

The Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1650 - 1815;
edited by David Syrett and R.L. DiNardo:
(Occasional Publications of the Navy Records  Society, Vol 1): Aldershot: Scolar Press for the Navy Records Society 1994. ISBN 1859281222. Revised and enlarged version of the unpublished, 3 volume set typed and printed by the Admiralty in 1954. (The PRO copy of the 1954 volumes have hand-written annotations)

Biographia navalis:
or
impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the Navy of Great Britain from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement
by John Charnock;
with portraits and other engravings, by Bartolozzi, &c.; London: R. Faulder, 1794-98.
[This volume has been seen on the abebooks.com site at some $750 USA - GGD]

A naval biographical dictionary:
comprising the life and services of every living officer in Her Majesty's Navy, from the rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, inclusive/ compiled from authentic and family documents
by William R. O'Byrne;
London: J. Murray; 1849.

The Clay genealogical research indicated that Charlotte was daughter of Richard Chaloner Cobbe D.D. of Dublin and Oriell College. This is supported by Parish Records available on the family search website of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. If that is indeed the case, then Charlotte and Charles were siblings of Frances Cobbe who married Hans Francis Hastings, at St Anne's, Soho Square, London, on 12th May 1803 [6.05]. Frances was to die tragically on 31st March 1820 following the birth of her 10th child, a son, as recorded in Debrett, Burke's Peerage and the Gentleman's Magazine for April 1820 [6.06].

What is of interest, in the context of this Welsh Regiment web site, is that Charles, during his naval "apprenticeship", served aboard HMS Captain for three consecutive periods.

As is well known from the many histories written about the Welsh/Welch Regiment, detachments of the 69th Regiment of Foot, acting as Marines, were also aboard HMS Captain. They were present at the Battle of the Saints on 12th April 1782 and at the Battle of St Vincent on 14th February 1797. In fact, the Brereton History of the Royal Regiment of Wales [4.18], contains an illustration by R.S. Collins, 1986, showing soldiers of the 69th manning a fighting top aboard HMS Captain. The exploits of the 69th are also recorded by Bryn Owen [4.03] and by anon, Malcolm Page, [4.04] amongst others.

Charles's Lieutenant's Pass Certificate, PRO Ref ADM107, [1.32], transcribed below, describes;  when, for how long and in what capacity Charles Cobbe served aboard the ships listed. And in particular HMS Captain.

front face of certificate: 

                          In pursuance of an Order from Sir John Jervis KB., Admiral of the Blue and Commander in Chief etc., etc., etc.   We have examined Mr Charles Cobbe, who appears to be more than twenty years of age, and find he has gone to sea more than six years, in the Ships and Qualaities undermentioned,

Ships
Entry
Quality
Discharged
Time
Y
M
W
D
Colossus
24 Septr 1789
Capt St
16 Octo 1790
1
-
3
2
Niger
30 Sept 1791
Able
14 May 1793
1
8
-
3
Captain
17 May 1793
Able
31 May 1793
-
-
2
1
Do
1 June 1793
Mid
31 March 1794
-
10
3
3
Do
1 April 1794
Mid
20 July 1795
1
3
3
6
Dido
26 July 1795
Mid
27 March 1797
1
8
3
-
Ville de Paris
31 March 1797
Mid
11 April 1797
-
-
1
5

                             He produceth Journals kept by himself in the Captain and Dido, and Certificates from Captains Reeve, Hotham, Preston and Grey of his diligence and Sobriety: He can splice, knot, reef, Sail, work a Ship in sailing, Shift his Tide and keep a Reckoning of a Ships way by plain sailing

and

reverse face of certificate:

and Mercator(?)*, Observe by Sun or Star; and** find the variation of the Compass, and is qualified to do the duty of an able seaman and midshipman

Given under our hand on board
His Majesty's Ship the Excellent
off Cadiz the 11th day of April 1797
Cuthbert Collingwood
?...?... Tonsy(?)*
?...Geard(?)*

 

As can be seen, Charles Cobbe commenced his "apprenticeship" as Captain's Servant before becoming able seaman and then midshipman.

At the time of the Battle of St. Vincent, Charles Cobbe was Midshipman aboard HMS Dido. Further research is necessary to

          (a) determine his career up to and including the time of his death in 1798 and  

          (b) determine his family connections from ship's documents that may still be available

*        [Further, work will have to be done checking some of the words and signatures on the the certificate           that were difficult to interpret].

**      ["and"  is crossed out by whoever wrote out the certificate. There is a signature at the bottom left of the           front face of the certificate].

[Images of the Certificate are on site. The front face suffers a shadow along its left edge and the rear face by a shadow along the right edge. This is normal during photocopying of a volume with a stiff spine. The imperfection has been accentuated through the scanning of a reduced size copy of that photocopy. However, although a partially successful attempt has been made to clean up the shadows using Photoshop 5.5 it has been necessary to add writer's comments to the rear side of the certificate - the original PRO photocopy does allow the characters within the shadow to be discerned. Later it is intended to scan the foolscap PRO photocopy directly with hopefully better results - GGD].