A Coastguards Daughter’s Story. 1875

A Coastguards Daughter’s Story. 1875

A daughter of one of Her Majesty’s Coast Guard Officers, now the only surviving child, asks us to tell her mothers story. Her mother is 75 years of age, totally blind and wholly infirm. She is perishing for the want of the commonest necessaries of life. Now in her unending darkness she should see a happy past for her husband, Richard C.O’Brien, as Master Mate in the Elephant, a first rate of 74 guns fought under Admiral Nelson in most of those engagements that swept away the enemies of England from the seas. She describes her joy at his return home unscathed, when the great ships, with shattered masts and tattered sails moved grandly home in triumph with the enemy’s ships towed astern.

She was a proud wife then, for did not her neighbours all flock in to listen to her husband’s stories of the main and of the chase, and the blockade, of the breaking of the line and the roaring of the guns upon the glowing sea. When the Coast Guard was established in Ireland, she was a happier wife still, for was not her husband, in requital for his services, stationed at home as Chief Officer of Coast Guards? In this latter service he did his duty for 30 years. Twice he was severely wounded in the performance of these duties. We have before us the certificate of J. Blake, Esq, J.P. witnessing that “Chief Officer Richard O’Brien was most severely wounded on the body and face, while he in the most intrepid manner beat off, single-handed, a numerous body of rioters who attempted to seize the arms and ammunition stored in the Coastguard barrack”

On that occasion he shot down their leader. Again he was severely wounded when in pursuit of smugglers, for smugglers of those days did not hesitate to fire on the King’s officers. After 30 years service, yearning for rest, he retired on a pension, and then died. With him died his pension, for the widows of officers on the relieved list lost all.

Mr.Disraeli at once placed the name of the old lady of 75 upon the list of applicants for the Royal Bounty : but no Royal Bounty has yet come to the blind widow of a brave Irish sailor, and yet a year has passed away. An only son worked hard in India, and supported most comfortably his mother and sister, until he, too, died, and the remittance which used to come regularly came no more.

Ref: The Irish Times 7 May 1875.

1 Comment · 7956 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on May 22 2009


#1 | willoughr on 25/07/2009 17:05:05
Interesting article. I had a look to see if Richard C O'Brien was on the Navy General Service Medal 1793-1840 roll, but sadly he did not appear. Perhaps he had died by the time this was first issued in 1847.
Looking at his ship, the Elephant, this was engaged in the battle of Copenhagen, the following details being taken from www.pbenyon.plus.com :
Elephant, 1786
Type: 3rd rate ; Armament 74
Launched : 1786 ; Disposal date or year : 1830

Circa 12 Mar 1801 fleet under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker sailed from Yarmouth roads for Copenhagen. 30 Mar the vessels initially detailed to take part in the forthcoming Battle of Copenhagen. 1 Apr the vessels detailed sail for Copenhagen ; the British ships held in reserve ; the Danish positions : 2 Apr the battle commences : the truce : the casualties : the wash-up :

12 Apr 1801 the fleet sailed from Copenhagen into the Baltic.

20 Jul 1802 head money for those present at the Engagement at Copenhagen, on the 2d April 1801, due for payment.

24 Jul - 2 Sep 1803 chase and capture of the French 74 Duquesne, and the escape of the Duguay-Trouin, 74 and the 40-gun frigate Guerrière.

May 1805 Chatham

9-20 Jun 1806 operations in the West Indies.

4-8 Jul 1806 Northumberland, Elephant, Canada, Agamemnon, Ethalion, Seine, Galatea, Circe, whilst protecting a large convoy bound to England, chased a French squadron under M. Willaumez through the Channel between St.-Thomas and Passage island.

Portsmouth 23 Sep 1811 Goes out to Spithead.

Deal 7 Oct 1811 Arrived from Portsmouth.

Deal 16 Oct 1811 Is off the North Foreland, and expected to arrive in the Downs this evening.

Deal 27 Oct 1811 Sailed to cruise off Flushing.

Deal 2 Apr 1812 Sailed last night for off Flushing.

Portsmouth 28 Jul 1812 Sailed the for the Downs.

Deal 30 Jul 1812 Sailed for off Flushing.

Deal 2 Oct 1812 Sailed for off the North Foreland.

Deal 17 Nov 1812 Sailed for America.

Portsmouth 19 Nov 1812 Arrived off St. Helen's and sailed down Channel on being joined by the Hermes.

Portsmouth 13 Jan 1813 Arrived from a cruise off the Western Isles, during which she captured an American privateer and chased many others.

28 Dec 1812 the Elephant and Hermes captured a U.S. privateer, the 12 gun schooner Sword Fish, with 82 men.

1830 Portsmouth, 58 guns


An interesting story.


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