This post concludes the story of my great-great-great-grandfather’s naval service that I started a couple of posts ago. On leaving HMS Atholl, he was posted to HMS Blonde.
It is unclear how James got to the Blonde because at the time of his joining, the ship was already in the Med, its new captain, Edmund Lyons, arriving with it in Malta in May 1828.
HMS Blonde was a 46-gun frigate, considerably more powerful than either of the ships James Hubsdell had previously served on.
Edmund Lyons was a rising star in the service, described in letters to the fleet commander as “’a man of intelligence and great ability” who was “blessed’ with military competence”.
In October, after having for some time blockaded the port of Navarin (modern Pylos, Greece), Lyons was in charge of directing the movements of the naval part of an expedition ordered to co-operate with the French in the siege of Morea Castle, the last hold of the Turks in the Peloponnesus. During an arduous service of twelve days and nights, in very unfavourable weather, which preceded the castle’s unconditional surrender, he distinguished himself to the extent that he was invested with the insignia of the order of St. Louis of France and of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Redeemer of Greece.
In the summer of 1829 the Blonde conveyed Sir Robert Gordon as Ambassador to Constantinople and thereafter undertook a cruise around the Black Sea to become the first British warship to visit Sevastopol, the Caucasus, and Odessa: 25 years later, Lyons was the only senior officer involved in the Crimean War to have prior knowledge of the Black Sea.
In 1831 Lyons was appointed to command of the frigate HMS Madagascar at just about the time my ancestor James Hubsdell left the service.
After leaving the navy James Hubsdell went on to a number of manual jobs and he lived to a ripe old age for the time. He died just after the census of 1881, aged 80, at which time he was living in his son’s house and although in the intervening years he had described his occupation as everything from “general labourer” to “dairyman”, just before his death he described himself as “sail-maker”…. perhaps recalling a period of his life that meant more to him. Who knows?