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Saturday, October 22, 2005

English Captain: Joseph Harris

Joseph Harris served in the Restoration navy. In 1666, he was appointed captain of the fireship Lizard. He commanded the Lizard in the St. James's Day Battle, where he was assigned to the Red Squadron. Later in 1666, he was captain of the fireship Wild Boar. In 1671, he was First Lieutenant of the Diamond. By 1672, he was captain of the fireship Ann and Judith. He fought in the Battle of Solebay. He staged an attack on a Dutch ship, at the urging of John Kempthorne, but was not able to get a good grapple of the enemy ship, so his ship burnt,but did not catch the Dutch ship on fire. John Kempthorne wrote that the attack was "gallantly performed". Later in 1672, he was captain of the Emsworth sloop. In 1673, Prince Rupert appointed him to command first the Nightingale and then the Constant Warwick. On March 10, 1673, the Nightingale (18 guns), under Joseph Harris's command, along with the Crown (42 guns), sighted three Dutch warships, one of which carried 44 guns. They fought an action against them, before the Dutch ships disengaged and fled. The Nightingale and Crown chased them for seven hours, but they escaped. In recognition of his valor in this action, Joseph Harris was given command of the Constant Warwick. On 22 April 1675, the King appointed him to command the Quaker ketch. He was condemned to death by a courtmartial "for suffering dishonour", but was later pardoned, perhaps due to his previous faithful service. Sources:
  1. R. C. Anderson, Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War, 1946.
  2. William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Vol.II, 1898.
  3. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.
  4. 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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