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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

English Captain: James Ley, Earl of Marlborough

James Ley, the first Earl of Marlborough served the Royalist cause and in the Restoration navy. During 1643 to 1644, he commanded four ships for the Royalists. We know that he was appointed to command the Dunkirk in 1661. In 1665, he was appointed to command the Old James (68 guns). He was killed in action at the Battle of Lowestoft, on 3 June 1665 (old style). He had been assigned to the Duke of York's division in the Red Squadron. Frank Fox says that the Earl of Marlborough "had spent most of his life at sea, as after his family had lost their estates, he had served as a flag officer under both Charles I and Charles II". In the Battle of Lowestoft, the Earl had attacked Bastiaan Centen in the 76-gun Oranje to force him back from Henry Fenn, in the Montagu. The Earl of Sandwich was being hard-pressed, and both the Duke of York and William Penn were determined to relieve the pressure on him. The Earl of Marlborough was killed shortly after the Dutch flagship Eendracht exploded. Sources:
  1. R. C. Anderson, List of English Naval Captains 1642-1660, 1964.
  2. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.
  3. J.R. Tanner, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Naval Manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vol.I, 1903.

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