Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor by Barbara Lewellen

Polycarpus Taylor, Rear Admiral, Biography




Captain Policarpus Taylor was transferred to the HMS Warwick and then subsequently moved in the month of January 1747-1748, by Rear-admiral (afterwards Sir Charles) Knowles, to the ELIZABETH of 64 guns, in Jamaica.


Capture of PORT LOUIS
March 8, 1748
Report in the Gentleman's Magazine, May1748
Admiralty-Office, May 1.


Letter received this day from rear-admiral Knowles, dated in Port Louis Harbour March 13 last, bring that the Admiral accompanied by Governor Trelawney, sailed from Port Royal Harbour in Jamaica, on February 13, with 8 ships of War of the line, strengthened with a a detachment of 240 men of the Gov. regiment, in order to attack St. Iago de Cuba, but the winds continuing northerly, so as to prevent the ships approaching that coast.

Canterbury, Captain Brodie, 60-guns
Plymouth, Captain Dent, 60 guns
Stafford, Captain Rentone, 60 guns
Warwick, Captain Innes, 60 guns
Elizabeth, Captain Taylor, 64 guns
Cornwall, Captain Chadwick, 80 guns
Worchester, Captain Anderson, 60 guns
Oxford, Captain Tole, 50 guns

Ships in reserve: Sloop Weasel and Merlin

It was agreed to make an attempt on Port Louis, on the south side of Hispaniola; the Admiral thereupon made a disposition of his ships for that purpose, and began the attack the 8th of March, about one o'clock, within almost pistol-shot of the walls;

and after a war cannonading for about three hours, the Admiral finding the enemy were drove from their guns, and silenced, he summoned the Governor to surrender; who soon sent an officer off with propositions, which the Admiral rejected and sent back the officer with a copy of the articles which he would allow, and gave the Governor but an hour to determine on the, within which time they were accepted, and are as follow:

  • That the Gov. surrender instantly the fort up to the Admiral and no military officer or soldier in it serve against his Britanick majesty or his allies for the space of one year and one day from the date hereof.

  • That on those conditions the Admiral consents that the garrison march out with their arms, colours flying and drums beating, but cannon or mortars, or any ammunition whatsoever.

  • That all the officers shall be allowed to carry such baggage as upon honour is their own, but subject to be inspected if demanded; and that all the Negroes and Mulattoes, that are absolutely their servants or property, the Admiral will compliment them with; but all other Negroes and Mulattoes, that are in the fort, shall be delivered up as right of capture, together with the fort, and all the cannon, munitions, and appurtenances thereunto belonging shall be delivered up.

  • Upon these conditions the Adm. agrees that this evening the garrison may march out as before mentioned; at the same time the keys of the castle shall be delivered up to the officer whom he sends to take possession, and the troops of his Britannick majesty shall march in as the others march out

Dated on board his Britannick majesty's ship Canterbury in Port Louis, this 8 March 1747-48.

In consequence of which, Major Scott, of general Fuller's regiment ( who had been desired by the Admiral and Governor Trelawney to command the detachment of the governor's regiment, and the marines) was sent on shore to take possession of the fort in his majesty's name, and the troops were landed directly.

There were 78 guns mounted in the fort, mostly 42, 36, and 28 pounders, and five mortars, with great quantities of all kinds of ammunition and stores, most of the guns and carriages new, and many of the guns weighed from 69 to 84 hundred weight, and every thing in very good order in the fortress.

The Admiral found three ships, a snow, and three privateer sloops in the Harbour, which he took possession of.

M. Chateaunoye, the general, arrived in town the night before the attack, with a reinforcement of three companies of soldiers, so that he had the mortification to see the fort taken.

During the attack the enemy set fire to a ship, and endeavoured to drop her on board the Admiral, or the Elizabeth, but boats were sent off which towed her clear, and took possession of two more designed for the same purpose, thought the enemy's musquetry played very smartly on the boats all the time; and though the fire from the fort was as bright as it could possibly be, yet our loss in the whole action was only 19 men killed and 60 wounded.

Among the slain was Captain Rentone, of the Stafford, and Captain Cust, a volunteer in the expedition, who was killed on board the Elizabeth, and Lieutenant Alexander Brebner in the Cornwall.

The enemy acknowledge to have had 160 men killed and wounded, (four of whom are captains) and they say that 128 were killed outright. The Admiral was making what dispatch he could in blowing up the fort, and then intended to proceed to put in execution his design against St. Iago.

After St. Iago de Cuba, Captain Taylor was transferred to the Cornwall, Knowles's own flagship. Taylor, as a flag-captain, took part in an engagement with the Spanish squadron, under Region, near Havana, on 1 Oct 1748. Fifth Lieutenant, Wittewronge Taylor was also assigned to the Cornwall for this engagement. Policarpus Taylor and Wittewronge Taylor both served under Commander Knowles.

Knowles squadron returned to England in 1748 after peace was declared. Taylor was the put in command of the Ripon, as senior officer on the station. In the following autumn he was recalled, and arrived at Spithead early in January 1749-50.


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By Barbara Lewellen
Copyright 2003 Lewellen