Daniel Woodriff

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Daniel Woodriff
Daniel Woodriff Captain of HMS Calcutta.jpg
Born (1756-11-17)17 November 1756
Died 25 February 1842(1842-02-25) (aged 85)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Captain
Commands held Calcutta
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath

Captain Daniel Woodriff CB (17 November 1756 – 25 February 1842) was a British Royal Navy officer and navigator in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.[1] He made two voyages to Australia. He was Naval Agent on the convict transport Kitty in 1792, and in 1803 the captain of HMS Calcutta for David Collins' expedition to found a new settlement in Port Phillip.


Woodriff was commissioned as a lieutenant on 1 April 1783, and received promotion to the rank of commander on 18 September 1795, and to captain on 28 April 1802.[2]

Voyage to Australia[edit]

Towards the end of 1802 Woodriff was appointed to command of the Calcutta, a 50-gun ship armed en flûte, and fitted to transport convicts. They were bound for Port Phillip in the Bass Strait, on the southern extremity of Australia, with the intention of setting up a new settlement there under the command of David Collins. Calcutta sailed from Spithead on 28 April 1803, in company with the storeship Ocean, calling at Rio de Janeiro in July, and the Cape of Good Hope in August, and arrived at their intended destination in October. Calcutta then sailed alone to Port Jackson to take on a cargo of 800 tons of timber. Whilst in Sydney, Woodriff and the crew of the Calcutta assisted in putting down the Castle Hill convict rebellion. For this service Woodriff received a 1,000-acre (400 ha) land grant near Penrith, New South Wales in 1804.[3]

Calcutta then before sailing back to England via Cape Horn and Rio de Janeiro, arriving back at Spithead on 23 July 1804, completing a circumnavigation in ten months and three days.[4]

Action of 26 September 1805[edit]

The Calcutta was refitted as a 50-gun ship, and sent to Saint Helena to escort merchant ships back to England. She arrived there on 3 August 1804 and sailed in company with six merchant ships back to England. Unfortunately, on 26 September, as the convoy approached the entrance to the English Channel, they encountered a powerful French squadron. Woodriff attacked, sacrificing his own ship in order to give the convoy a chance to escape, which all but one did, while the Calcutta was forced to surrender. Woodriff, his officers, and crew were landed at La Rochelle three months later, and marched to Verdun, 600 miles (970 km) away. In June 1807, Woodriff was released in a prisoner exchange, and promptly court-martialled for the loss of his ship. He was honourably acquitted, and his conduct was pronounced to have been that of "a brave, cool, and intrepid officer."[4]

Later career[edit]

In 1808 Woodriff was appointed agent for prisoners of war at Forton, near Gosport. Towards the end of the war he served as Resident Commissioner at Jamaica. He was admitted into the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, on 9 November 1830, and was nominated a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 26 September 1831.[2]


Further reading[edit]

  • Cox, Margaret E. (1993), Captain Daniel Woodriff R.N. C.B. of His Majesty's Ship Calcutta : 1756-1842 : compiled from his own letters, family papers and admiralty records, M. E. Cox, ISBN 978-0-646-15554-8 
  • Woodriff, Daniel (2002), Cotter, Richard, ed., Daniel Woodriff Captain of H.M.S. Calcutta and the Sullivan Bay Settlement of 1803-4 : extracts from Daniel Woodriff's journal and from correspondence he received and wrote, 1802-4, Lavender Hill Multimedia, ISBN 978-0-9579676-5-6