John Reynolds (Royal Navy officer)

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John Reynolds
Portrait of Reynolds
5th colonial governors of Georgia
In office
Preceded by Patrick Graham
Succeeded by Henry Ellis
Personal details
Born 1713-3
Died 3 February 1788
London, England
Spouse(s) Maria Catharina Langin
Profession governor

John Reynolds (ca. 1713-3 February 1788) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served for a period as the royal governor of the Province of Georgia from 1754-1757. At the end of a long life of service, he became admiral shortly before his death.

Early life[edit]

Born about 1713, he entered the Navy in 1728 as a "volunteer per order" with Captain John Gascoigne on board the frigate HMS Aldborough, in which he served for six years. He passed his examination on 31 July 1734, being then, according to his certificate, 21 years old. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 14 October 1736.[1]

War of the Austrian Succession[edit]

In 1739–40 Reynolds was serving in the HMS Argyll on the home station. The War of the Austrian Succession broke out; and in June 1741 he was appointed to the fireship HMS Vulcan, then in the West Indies. She was paid off in November 1742, and Reynolds went on half-pay. In 1743 he was first lieutenant of the HMS Jersey, and from her, in February 1743–4, was moved to the HMS Victory, which he left before she sailed for the Tagus River in July 1744 on what was to be her last voyage (see Sir John Balchen).[1]

On 23 April 1745 Reynolds was promoted to be commander of the fireship HMS Scipio on the home station. In the following December he was placed on half-pay. In August 1746 he was temporarily appointed to the HMS Ambuscade at Plymouth; and similarly, in September, to the HMS Centurion at Portsmouth, from which on 30 October he was posted to the HMS Arundel. He was, however, not relieved from the Centurion till 22 November. During 1747 the Arundel was employed in the English Channel, cruising with some success against the enemy's trade, and afterwards in convoy service in the North Sea.[1]

Mission against pirates[edit]

In May 1748 Reynolds, still in the Arundel, was sent out to Charles Town, from which he went to Jamaica. In December he received orders to return to Charles Town, and patrol South Carolina, Georgia, and the Bahamas, an area then a resort of pirates. He continued on this station for over two years, returning to England in 1751.[1]

Governor of Georgia[edit]

In July 1754 Reynolds was appointed governor of Georgia, where he remained for four years. John Reynolds was the first Royal Governor of the Colony of Georgia. He lacked political talent, however, and his forceful style of government clashed with a colonial society used to ordering its own affairs. Reynolds was recalled in August 1756 after a series of confrontations, but was not officially succeeded, by Henry Ellis, until 14 April 1758.

Seven Years' War[edit]

In May 1759 he was appointed to the HMS Firm, of 60 guns, with which, in June, he joined the fleet off Brest under the command of Sir Edward Hawke. Hawke detached him as commodore of the squadron off Quiberon Bay. On this post he was afterwards relieved by Robert Duff, but was still detached from the fleet on 17 November, when, off the Isle Groix, he had news of the French fleet being at sea. He sent this off at once to the admiralty, while he himself stood to the westward in the hope of meeting Hawke. This he did not succeed in doing, and he did not join the admiral till some days after the battle of Quiberon Bay on the 20th.[1]

The following February he was moved into the HMS Temple, from which in March he was superseded. He afterwards commanded the frigate HMS Milford, till the peace of 1763.[1]

Later life[edit]

During the following years he lived at Newington Butts, and from 1766 to 1768 commanded the HMS Fame, guardship at Plymouth. He then returned to Newington Butts, and in October 1768 sent to the admiralty a proposal of a method of giving ships way through the water in a calm.[1]

In 1769 Reynolds commanded the HMS Burford, guardship at Plymouth; and from 1770 to 1773 the HMS Defence, in which in 1770 he took out troops to Gibraltar. In 1773 he commanded the HMS Dublin for some months, and in November was appointed to the HMS Ocean at Plymouth, from which he was relieved in the end of 1774.[1]

Reynolds was promoted to be rear-admiral on 31 March 1775, and to be vice-admiral on 29 January 1778. He then suffered from a paralytic stroke. He attained the rank of admiral on 24 September 1787, and died in London on 3 February 1788.[1]


Reynolds was married twice, but his first wife is unknown. In 1761 he married Maria Catharina Langin from a Swabian Protestant family who had emigrated to Georgia. Their daughter Maria Catharina Reynolds later married James Sowerby. Reynolds had a son George out of wedlock; he was also a naval officer, surviving the wreck of HMS Pandora, and father of the engraver Alfred Reynolds.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i  "Reynolds, John (1713?-1788)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ Reynolds, J. S. "Reynolds, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23425.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

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