Josias Rowley

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Sir Josias Rowley, Bt
Admiral Sir Josias Rowley
Died10 January 1842
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Commands heldHMS Lark
HMS Braave
HMS Impérieuse
HMS Raisonnable
HMS Boadicea
HMS America
Cape of Good Hope Station
Cork Station
Mediterranean Fleet
Battles/warsNapoleonic Wars
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George

Admiral Sir Josias Rowley, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCMG (1765 – 10 January 1842), known as "The Sweeper of the Seas", was an Anglo-Irish naval officer who commanded the campaign that captured the French Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius in 1810.

Birth and family[edit]

Rowley was born in 1765 the second son of Clotworthy Rowley and Letitia (née Campbell), of Mountcampbell, Drumsna, County Leitrim, in the West of Ireland. His father was Barrister and MP for Downpatrick in the Irish Parliament. His paternal grandfather was Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Rowley, KCB.[1]

Naval career[edit]

He joined the Royal Navy in 1778, age 13, in HMS Suffolk in the West Indies.[2]

Promoted to post captain in 1795, age 30, he commanded HMS Braave (40 guns) at the Cape of Good Hope and then HMS Impérieuse (38 guns) in the East Indies.[2] He also commanded HMS Raisonnable (64 guns) and took part in the Battle of Cape Finisterre in 1805.[2] In 1798 he became the Member of the Irish House of Commons for Downpatrick.[2]

In 1808 he became commander-in-chief, Cape of Good Hope Station.[3] In 1809, as commodore of a small squadron off Mauritius, working with the commander of the East India Company troops at Rodrigues, he successfully raided the island of Réunion.[2]

In March 1810 he moved into HMS Boadicea (38 guns) and transported a larger landing party which arrived on Réunion and captured the island.[2] Meanwhile, a force led by Captain Samuel Pym RN was being out-flanked by French frigates attacking Grand Port, Mauritius.[2] HMS Africaine was captured by the French frigates Iphigénie and Astrée in the engagement.[2] Rowley then re-captured Africaine the same day.[2] Vice-Admiral Albemarle Bertie arrived on 29 November and took the surrender of Mauritius on 3 December 1810.[2]

Rowley was then given command of HMS America (74 guns) in the Mediterranean. He was created a baronet in December 1813, promoted rear-admiral in 1814 and appointed KCB in 1815.[2]

In the summer of 1815, age 50, with his flagship Impregnable (98 guns), under Lord Exmouth he sailed once more to the Mediterranean.[2] In 1818 he was appointed commander-in-chief on the Cork Station. In 1821 he became MP for Kinsale, County Cork.[2] Promoted to vice-admiral in 1825, he was made commander-in-chief, Mediterranean Fleet in 1833.[2]

Death at home[edit]

He died on 10 January 1842, about age 76, in the Mount Campbell family estate at Drumsna in County Leitrim. He was buried and commemorated at the nearby Annaduff Parish Church. He was unmarried, without heir to his titles. He was survived by his younger brothers Vice Admiral Samuel Rowley (also commemorated within Annaduff Parish Church) and The Reverend John Rowley, incumbent rector at Virginia in County Cavan.

In literature[edit]

The 1809-1810 campaign was used by author Patrick O'Brian as the setting for the fourth in the series of Aubrey–Maturin series books, The Mauritius Command. The fictional Captain Jack Aubrey takes the place of Rowley in the novel.

See also[edit]

  • O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). "Rowley, Samuel Campbell#citenote-JosiasRowley-1" . A Naval Biographical Dictionary. John Murray – via Wikisource.


  1. ^ Burkes Peerages
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Laughton, J. K.; Lambert, Andrew (2004). "Rowley, Sir Josias, baronet (1765–1842), naval officer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  3. ^ Hiscocks, Richard. "Cape Commander-in-Chief 1795-1852". Retrieved 19 November 2016.


External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Jonathan Chetwood
Clotworthy Rowley
Member of Parliament for Downpatrick
1798 – 1801
With: Clotworthy Rowley
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Coussmaker
Member of Parliament for Kinsale
1821 – 1826
Succeeded by
John Russell
Military offices
Preceded by
Charles Stirling
Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station
Succeeded by
Sir Albemarle Bertie
Preceded by
Benjamin Hallowell
Commander-in-Chief, Cork Station
Succeeded by
Lord Colville
Preceded by
Sir Pulteney Malcolm
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Stopford
Honorary titles
Preceded by
George St Vincent Wilson
High Sheriff of Suffolk
Succeeded by
Edward Bridgman
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of the Navy)
1813 – 1842