Johnston Blakeley

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Johnston Blakeley
BornOctober 1781
Seaford, County Down, Ireland
DiedOctober 1814 (aged 32–33)
Atlantic Ocean
Place of burial
Lost at sea
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1800–1814
RankCaptain (posthumous)
Commands heldEnterprise
Battles/warsQuasi-War with France
War of 1812
AwardsThanks of Congress
Congressional Gold Medal
RelationsVice-Adm. Charles Adams Blakely (great-grandnephew)

Johnston Blakeley also spelled Johnston Blakely (October 1781 - October 1814) was an officer in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812. He is considered to be one of the most successful American naval officers of that period.[1]


Blakeley was born near Seaford, County Down, Ireland. Brought to the United States as a child in 1783, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, in 1800, then joined the Navy and was appointed a Midshipman in 1800.

After service in President during the Quasi-War with France and command of Enterprise early in the War of 1812, Master Commandant Blakeley was appointed to command of the newly built sloop-of-war Wasp.

In 1814, he made a very successful cruise which in June included the sinking of HMS Reindeer. In September, in a similar action, Blakeley sunk HMS Avon. That month he also captured the mercantile brig Atalanta. Wasp was last heard of 9 October 1814 and is believed to have foundered in a gale.[1] Blakeley received the Thanks of Congress, a gold medal, and posthumous advancement to the rank of Captain for his last cruise.

Captain Blakeley was married, in December, 1813, to Miss Jane Hoope, the daughter of his father’s old friend, Mr. Hoope, of New York; and has left an only daughter, who received one of the most noble and substantial and affecting tributes of national gratitude which has occurred in the history of this country. The legislature of North Carolina, on 27 December 1816, after prescribing the destination of the sword they had voted to Captain Blakeley, "Resolved, unanimously, That Captain Blakeley’s child be educated at the expense of this State; and that Mrs. Jane Blakeley be requested to draw on the Treasurer of this State, from time to time, for such sums of money as shall be required for the education of the said child."


Three ships were named USS Blakely in Captain Blakeley's honor. The first USS Blakely (TB-27) launched a new class of torpedo boat in 1904 for the United States Navy, which eventually commissioned eight more of the Blakely-class ships. The second USS Blakeley (DD-150) was a Wickes-class destroyer during World War II. The third USS Blakely (FF-1072) Knox-class destroyer escort, later to be reclassified as a frigate. She was named for both Captain Johnston Blakeley and Vice Admiral Charles Adams Blakely.

Blakely Island, part of the San Juan Islands in Washington state, and Port Blakely were named by Charles Wilkes during the Wilkes Expedition of 1838-1842, in honor of Johnston Blakeley.[2] Also part of the San Juan Islands chain, incidentally, are a group of islands to which Wilkes bestowed the name "Wasp Islands" after the Wasp. Their namesake, however, was not the same vessel commanded by Blakely, but an earlier Wasp, also a sloop-of-war, which was commissioned in 1807 and captured by the British in the early months of the War of 1812.[3]

The U.S. city of Blakely, county seat of Early County in southwest Georgia, was also named for Captain Blakeley.[4]


  1. ^ "North Carolina History Project : Johnston Blakely (1781-1814)". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  2. ^ Majors, Harry M. (1975). Exploring Washington. Van Winkle Publishing Co. pp. 23, 82. ISBN 978-0-918664-00-6.
  3. ^ Phillips, James W. (1971). Washington State Place Names. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95158-3.
  4. ^ " - City of Blakely". Retrieved 3 August 2010.