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Joseph Dexter

Joseph Dexter was my Great, Great Grandfather and was reputedly a Captain in the Royal Navy,as my ancestors proudly recalled.
Joseph Dexter was a Captain in the Royal Navy ?

Joseph was born on 10th. October 1800. He retired in October 1849 with a pension of £54 p.a. A Captain in the Royal Navy's retirement pension would have been £191-12-6d.

Navy Lists were published quarterly and have been examined for the years 1831,1832,1839,1842 and 1849. In no list is Joseph Dexter shown as a Captain, Commander, Lieutenant or as an officer serving in the Coastguard. So it is clear that Joseph was not a Naval Officer who at some time had been seconded to the Coastguard Service in Ireland.

Researching "Coastguard - An Official History of H.M. Coastguard" by William Webb and published by HMSO 1976.
The Coastguards were created in 1822 to break up smuggling. Initially it consisted of 3,000 men commanded by R.N Officers. At the end of the 18th.. Century approximately 50% of the spirits drunk had been smuggled into the country without payment of duty. In 1831 the Admiralty decided that the coastguards could become a reserve for the Royal Navy. All appointments in the Coastguards of any rank should be held to be of equal rank in the R.N. There were 28 districts in Ireland, each district under an Inspecting Officer - Naval Rank of Commander.

In Ireland in 1839 there were:-

  • Chief Officers - 153
  • Chief Boatmen - 180
  • Commissioned Boatmen - 349
  • Mounted Guard - 796
At Five Mile Point where Joseph was Chief Officer in 1825 the Establishment was:-
  • Chief Officer - 1
  • Chief Boatman - 1
  • Commissioned Boatman - 2
  • Boatman - 4

This then was the background of at the time Joseph joined the Coastguard Service as a young man.
The following were the places at which he was stationed as given by his daughter Wilhemina and can be confirmed by study of the Establishment books at the P.R.O. ADM 175/15 & 16.

  1. Nanny Water
  2. Lambay
  3. Clogher head - Port Drogheda 3rd. August 1822
  4. Five mile Point (25m.South of Dublin) 1st February 1825 Chief Officer
  5. Boumabon
  6. Milk Cove
  7. Skerline (Sherkin) (Island of the coast of Cork) 10th. October 1829
  8. Valentia 3rd. July 1830
  9. White Strand Inspecting Officer
  10. Beale 10th. October 1831
  11. White Horse (or Blue Hill) 10th. July 1849 Inspecting Chief Officer

Regarding Joseph being a Harbourmaster. On Page 316 of the Coastguard Establishment Book, a page which covers the Station of Howth in Co. Dublin, there is a pencilled note reading "The Inspecting Chief Officer is also Harbourmaster at a salary of £20 p.a." So it seems that it was possible for Joseph to have been both Coastguard and Harbourmaster or alternatively to have been Harbourmaster at Tralee when he retired.
In summary it seems likely that the rank of Captain in the Royal Navy was an equivalent rank in the Coastguards and which was used by his family and contemporaries and subsequently passed down through the generations.

Joseph Dexter's Grave

We visited Ireland in 1994 and found Joseph's grave at Ballylongford in the Protestant Cemetery. It was very much overgrown, but we were able to make out the inscription as being :-

of Ahanngran
Who Departed this life July the 26
1858 Aged 57 years
Formerly of HM Royal Navy
And Inspecting Chief Officer of
Coast Guard
Affectionate Widow.


1 Comment · 18756 Reads · Print  -> Posted by pete on August 10 2008


#1 | evans on 21/10/2015 20:40:27
My name is Evans Dexter from Dublin Ireland.
Joseph Dexter was my Great Great grandfather, his first wife was Maria Wren, this marriage produced 6 children, Maria, Francis, Alicia, Lizzie, and two sons which I cannot trace. His 2nd wife was Wilhemina Evans, this marriage produced Wilhemina and George Evans
If this rings true for you please drop me an email
on 9 January 1851
Parish/Church/Congregation - BALLYHEIGUE
Area - KERRY (COI)

• (Estate) Dexter - The representatives of Joseph Dexter, of county Clare, owned almost 500 acres in county Kerry in the 1870s. It would seem that Joseph Dexter was involved in the coastguard service [see ] and is buried in the Church of Ireland Cemetery in Ballylongford.
• (House) Drumalagagh Cottage - At the time of Griffith's Valuation, George Harrison was leasing a property at Drumalagagh, barony of Moycarn, valued at £14, from Lieutenant Colonel Maberly. This seems to be the property known as Drumalagagh Cottage. This was earlier associated with the St. George family. In 1837 Lewis records Dromalga Cottage as owned by Sir R. St. George but the seat of Mr. Dexter. The Ordnance Survey Name books of the same year describe the property as "a gentleman's place in good repair". It appears to have been situated on the demesne known as Mount Equity, of about 770 acres. Buildings labelled "Mount Equity" appear on the 1st edition OS Map but not on subsequent editions. In the Encumbered Estates sale notice of 1852 Dromalgagh Cottage is described as unoccupied but formerly the residence of the late Mrs. Dexter. In 2009, this property was offered for sale. An eighteenth century mausoleum, dedicated to Henry St. George, is also located in this townland.
• (House) Aghangran House - Joseph Dexter was leasing this property from the Blacker estate at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £4. Leet recorded it as the seat of Thomas O'Connor in 1814. In 1837 Lewis mentions the house as the residence of J. O'Connor. The Ordnance Survey Name Books mention that John O'Connor was leasing the property from Maxwell Blacker in the 1830s. Bary notes that the house was associated with the O'Connor family earlier in the nineteenth century. It was later burned and subsequently demolished.

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