Baptised All Saints, Hertford November 6th 1774
Married to Margaret.
They had a house in Kendal, Cumbria.
Died March 21st.1818 at Stoke
near Plymouth, Devon.
74 gun (third rate) warships
At the age of
eight he was living with his uncle Alexander in Deptford, Kent. (Why?)
Alexander was purser of
HMS Hannibal. This was a two decker 74 gun navy warship built in 1810. The week before writing his will the
Hannibal was involved in action against the French. On March 27th 1814 the
chased and overwhelmed the French 40 gun
frigate Sultane off Cherbourg. After a "desperate engagement of 2¼
hours in which the enemy had 40 men killed and 71 injured" the Sultane was taken back to Portsmouth to be re-fitted as a
British warship. (For a brilliant portrayal of a sea chaseand
capture see the film "Master and Commander" 2004) Warships
often patrolled in squadrons led by the flagship, usually the largest ship.
Hannibal's senior officer, Captain Seymour, controlled the squadron.
The purser, who wore a bicorn hat, fore and aft and white trousers, was,
like the master, a warrant officer, i.e. not drawn from gentry. His pay
would have been around £47 per year, half that of the Master, but four
times that of an ordinary seaman. His rank
was roughly equivalent to a Lieutenant though he probably had a better
cabin. A "purser" was not really a naval job. His training
would have been on land. He was in charge of all provisions and took a
5-12½% cut on all transactions. Corruption was a temptation that went
the the job i.e. giving short rations of tobacco and pocketing the
shortfall. The purser was often the most hated man on the ship. A
warrant officer might stay with one ship for his entire career, un-like
regular officers who tended to move from ship to ship.
The Times obituary described Alexander as "respected by all who knew him
and an ornament to his profession"
on line ref:11/1603 His Majesty’s Flagship Hannibal at sea 2nd April 1814 (where
no stamp is to be had).
I, Alexander Usborne, Purser of his majesty’s ship Hannibal number on
the ships books 151 being in bodily health and sound and disposing mind
and memory and considering the perils and dangers of the seas, do make, publish and declare this my last
will and testament:
First I commend
my soul to God and my body to the earth or sea
as it shall please God to order. As for and concerning all my worldly
estate I give, bequeath and dispose thereof: All prize
money …….or property whatsoever that may become due after my death
and all wages, sum or sums of ………lands ……goods and chattels
and estate whatsoever shall be any ways due, owing or belonging unto me
at the time of my decease. I do give the same unto
my beloved wife Margaret Usborne and at her death to be equally
distributed to our children lawfully born or begotten and at the age of
twenty one years, four hundred pounds to be given to each out of the 520
stocks of the three percent consols.
Alex Usborne, signed sealed, published and declared in the presence of
us at sea, Eclan Derouche, Lt., Hannibal; William Amey, Master, Hannibal