Ralfe, J.


Privately Printed by Robson, Levey, & Franklyn ; 46 St. Martin's Lane. 1st thus, 1840. 43 pp., guarded vignette engraved portrait frontispiece + guarded 2 engravings on stone. Green blind-tooled cloth with elaborate gold filigree centre-pieces to covers ; a.e.g. 26 x 21cm. Re-backed with most of original spine laid down ; engravings foxed as usual ; o/w V.G. Bookplate. Inscribed : "Thomas Rowland. The gift of Captn Sir George G. Otway, Bart. January 1st 1859." (Vice-Admiral Otway's son). Robert Waller Otway (1770-1846) was born into an ancient family who lived in Castle Otway, Co. Tipperary, and entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1784 aboard the Portsmouth guardship. He went out to the Mediterranean, West Indies and Africa in various ships until promoted lieutenant in 1793. In December that year he was appointed to Benjamin Caldwell's flagship, IMPREGNABLE, a ship under Howe at the Glorious First of June, 1794. The ship's topsail-yard was badly damaged and Otway and a midshipman went aloft to secure the vessel for which Caldwell publicly thanked them. Caldwell took Otway as his first lieutenant in the MAJESTIC to the West Indies, and gave him his first command ' the sloop THORN. In West Indian waters Otway fought and captured many enemy ships during which he was wounded. In other ships he had an exceptionally adventurous and successful career, including going in pursuit of the HERMIONE narrowly escaping capture. During his six years in the West Indies Otway captured or destroyed 200 enemy privateers and merchantmen. This activity made him rich. He was also popular with those under his command for the credit he gave them (at the expense of his own) and his attention to their comfort and safety. He also commanded the smartest ship on the station. In 1800 Otway returned to England and became Sir Hyde Parker's flag captain in the ROYAL GEORGE and LONDON. He fought with Parker and Nelson at Copenhagen in 1801. In 1804-1805 he commanded the MONTAGU under Cornwallis off Brest. His naval service continued apace ' including blockading Toulon ' until in 1811 ill-health compelled him to return home. He was back at sea fighting during the American War of 1812, was promoted to flag-rank and held several high commands until he died suddenly on 12th May 1846. This book was privately printed in 1840. His third son (the two elder sons, both naval officers, had predeceased their father) George Graham Otway (who has inscribed this Presentation Copy) succeeded his father as second baronet. Robert Otway was said to be 'one of the fortunate few who have no enemies, no detractors, none who will admit a hint or insinuation to his disparagement and this view was backed by those naval officers who knew him, including St. Vincent and Cornwallis, both of whom held Otway in the highest esteem. SCARCE.

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