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BIOGRAPHY AND OBITUARY,
MEMOIRS OF CELEBRATED PERSONS, WHO HAVE DIED WITHIN THE YEARS 1822-1823...
THE RIGHT HON. GEORGE VISCOUNT KEITH,
BARON KEITH OF BANHEATH, CO. DUMBARTON; AND BARON KEITH OF STONEHAVEN, MARISCHAL IN IRELAND; ADMIRAL OF THE RED; SECRETARY, CHAMBERLAIN, AND KEEPER OF THE SIGNET TO THE GREAT STEWARD OF SCOTLAND; A COUNSELLOR OF STATE FOR SCOTLAND AND THE DUCHY OF CORNWALL; FREASURER AND COMPTROLLER OF THE HOUSEHOLD TO H, RH. THE DUKE OF CLARENCE; KNIGHT GRAND CROSS OF THE MOST HONORABLE MILITARY ORDER OF THE BATH; KNIGHT OF THE OTTOMAN ORDER OF The crescent, AND OF THE ROYAL SARDINIAN MILITARY ORDER OF ST. MAURICE AND, ST. LAZARUS; FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, AND, A VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL WESTERN INFIRMARY,
HE ancestor of this nobleman was a German of the name of Elvington, who settled in Scotland during the reign of Robert I., and married Margaret, daughter of Sir Christopher Seton, a lady related to the royal family, and who appears to
have been an heiress, or to have obtained crown lands by way of dower, in the fertile shire of Lothian, which her husband called after his own name. From this gentleman, usually considered as the founder of the family, descended Alexander, who in the 33d year of David II. (1362) exchanged his estate of Kinchibar for the lands of Arthberg, in the county of Stirling, which were called Elphinstone, and became the residence of his descendants.
Sir Alexander, one of these, was created a Baron in 1509, and the title has descended in regular succession during many generations. Charles, the tenth Lord Elphinstone, married Clementina, only surviving daughter and sole heiress of John the last Earl of Wigtoun, a title now extinct, and niece of George Keith, hereditary Earl Marischal of Scotland, and of Field-Marshal Keith, whose family, with a noble attachment to learning, added to a degree of munificence befitting a sovereign house, founded the college of New Aberdeen, which is still called by their name,*
The subject of this memoir was the fifth son by the above marriage. He was born in the year 1746; and received at Glasgow an education suitable to the profession which he had chosen, Not deterred by the melancholy fate of an elder brother, George, who was lost in the Prince George in 1758, he went to sea, in February, 1762, on board the Gosport, commanded by Captain Jervis, late Earl of St. Vincent. He subsequently served in the Juno, Lively, and Emerald frigates, until the year 1767, when he went a voyage to China with his brother, the Hon. W. Elphinstone. In 1769 he proceeded to India, with Commodore Sir John Lindsay, by whom he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Soon after his return to England, whither he had been sent with important despatches, he was appointed to the flag-ship of Sir Peter Dennis, commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean; and in 1772, was advanced to the rank of Commander, in the Scorpion, of 14 guns. His commission as Post-Captain bears
Marshal Keith was one of the favourite Generals of Frederick II. King of
date March 11. 1775; and his first appointment as such appears to have been to the Marlborough, of 74 guns, stationed at Portsmouth, from which ship he soon after removed into the Pearl, and afterwards into the Perseus frigate, and served in her on the coast of America, under Lord Howe and Admiral Arbuthnot. At this time he was returned as knight of the shire for the county of Dumbarton, in which his family possessed considerable property and influence.
At the reduction of Charlestown, Captain Elphinstone commanded a detachment of seamen on shore; and his brave and spirited efforts obtained him honourable mention in the official letter of the commander of the land forces, General Sir Henry Clinton. He was also present at the attack on Mud Island, Nov. 15. 1777.
On his return to England, with Admiral Arbuthnot's despatches, our officer was appointed to the Warwick, of 50 guns. In 1780 he was again elected to represent his native county, and was one of the independent members who met at the St. Alban's Tavern, with a view of reconciling Mr. Pitt with Mr. Fox and the Duke of Portland (the latter being at that period in opposition), and by a union of parties forming a"broad-bottomed administration." In the month of January, 1781, he captured, after a smart action, the Rotterdam Dutch ship of war, of 50 guns and 300 men; which had been before ineffectually engaged by the Isis, also a fifty gun ship. During the remainder of the war, Captain Elphinstone was employed on the American station, under Admiral Digby. While there, H. R. H. Prince William Henry (now Duke of Clarence), then a midshipman in the Prince George, being desirous of a more active life than he spent at New York, re quested permission to go to sea, in order that he might obtain. practical experience; and added to this reasonable and honourable request, his wish to cruise in the Warwick; the admiral acquiesced, and Captain Elphinstone had the honour of the Prince's company till he was transferred to the care of Sir Samuel Hood. On the 11th Sept. 1782, the Warwick, in company with the Lion, Vestal, and Bonetta, off the Delaware,
captured l'Aigle, a French frigate, of 40 guns, 24-pounders, on the main deck, and 600 men, commanded by the Count de la Touche, who made his escape on shore with the Baron Viominil, commander-in-chief of the French army in America, M. de la Montmorency, Duc de Lausan, Vicomte de Fleury, and some other officers of rank; they took in the boat with them a great quantity of specie; two small casks, and two boxes, however, fell into the hands of the captors. La Gloire, another frigate which was in company with l'Aigle, in consequence of drawing less water, made her escape. La Sophie, armed vessel, of 22 guns and 104 men, was also taken, the Terrier sloop of war was recaptured, and two brigs were destroyed.
At the general election in 1786, Captain Elphinstone was chosen representative in parliament for Stirlingshire.
In 1793, soon after the war broke out with France, Captain Elphinstone was appointed to the Robust, of 74 guns; and having been placed under the command of Lord Hood, sailed with him to the Mediterranean. That nobleman, who had always been deemed one of the ablest admirals in the British service, was now engaged in a project of no small importance. While the south of France had been a prey by turns to terror, and to insurrection, the combined fleets of England and Spain menaced her departments in that quarter, cut off the supplies of corn and provisions, and infused new hopes into the minds of the malcontents. After negotiating with the inhabitants of Marseilles and Toulon, the British admiral issued a notice, in which he stated, "that if a candid and explicit declaration were made in favour of monarchy in those places, the standard of royalty hoisted, the ships in the harbour dismantled, and the ports and forts placed at his disposal, the people of Provence should enjoy the protection of His Britannic Majesty's fleet, and not an atom of private property be touched." He also published a proclamation to the same effect; and after stating the anarchy and misery of the inhabitants, he concluded with observing, "that he had come to offer them the assistance of the force with which he was
furnished by his sovereign, in order to spare the further effusion of human blood, to crush with promptitude the factious, to re-establish a regular government in France, and thereby maintain peace and tranquillity in Europe."
The inhabitants of Marseilles were prevented from accepting these terms by the approach of a republican army; but the sections of Toulon immediately proclaimed Louis 17th; and promised, by a deputation," that the moment the English squadron cast anchor in the road, the white flag should be hoisted, the ships of war disarmed, and the citadel and forts on the coast placed provisionally at the disposal of the British admiral."
Notwithstanding these professions, a large portion of the people, and also of the sailors, was not a little mortified at the idea of such a surrender. Rear-Admiral Trogoff, indeed, declared in favour of the conditions; but Admiral St. Julien, who had been recently invested with the chief command, together with the crews of seven of the ships, for some time exhibited a spirited, although ineffectual resistance. They were accordingly forced to yield; and, on August 28. 1793, the English obtained possession of Toulon, of which Rear-Admiral Goodall was declared governor, and Rear-Admiral Gravena commandant of the troops. But as it became necessary to take possession of the forts which commanded the ships in the road, before the fleet could enter,, fifteen hundred men were previously landed under Captain George Keith Elphinstone; who, after effecting this service, was ordered to assume the command of the whole, as governor of Fort Malgue.
But the English in their turn were fated to be exposed to the sudden changes incident to a state of warfare. A few days after their arrival, General Carteaux, at the head of a detachment of the republican army which had lately taken possession of Marseilles, and routed the troops raised by the associated departments, appeared on the heights near Toulon. As he was accompanied only by an advanced guard of seven hun