Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Benbow, John, son of one of Charles I.'s colonels, was born in 1650, and having served for a time in the merchant service commanded at last a ship of his own. His conduct brought him so much into notice that in 1689 he was offered and accepted a commission in the navy as captain of the York. In the following year he was master-of-the-fleet under the Earl of Torrington, and took part in the unsatisfactory action off Beachy Head. He held various other commands, and in 1693 had under his orders a small squadron which bombarded St. Malo. In 1694 he was engaged in the unsuccessful attack on Dunkirk, and was immediately afterwards appointed to the Northumberland, a ship in which he much harassed the French Channel ports. In 1696, after he had been wounded during the bombardment of Calais, he was made a rear-admiral, and undertook the blockade of Dunkirk, wherein lay the famous Jean Bart, who, however, adroitly got to sea and escaped. In 1698 he took a squadron to the West Indies. In 1700, as a vice-admiral, he cruised off Dunkirk, and then sailed again for the West Indies, where the French were in superior force. War had for many months been inevitable, and when it broke out Benbow went in search of the enemy. On August 19th, 1702, off Santa Martha Benbow gallantly engaged the French fleet. The disaffection of some of the captains put a stop, however, to the fighting. Benbow ordered four of these officers to be tried by court-martial. One died before trial, one was sentenced to imprisonment, and two were shot for cowardice, disobedience, and neglect of duty. The vice-admiral went to Jamaica, where he had his leg amputated; but he never recovered from his injuries, and died on November 4th. He cannot be ranked as a great commander, but he was an admirable specimen of a rough, brave and honest sailor, and as such he deserves to be cherished for all time in the memory of his countrymen.