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Forum Home > For King/Queen and Country. > Dudley's Trafalgar Men.

Alaska.
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James Silvers, Thomas Silvers, Dudley, Trafalgar.


Gunsmoke and Silver.



There are men from the region, listed as being present at the Battle of Trafalgar 1805. Amongst the names from Dudley, are two with the same surname, and sometime ago, I did a little research to see what came up. The name is Silver, or the more commonly found, Silvers. The family came from the western side of Dudley, in an area which included, Russells Hall, Woodside, Tansey Green, and Commonside. The first of these men, James Silvers, was born about 1787, and Christened on 2nd October,1787, in Saint Thomas's Church, Dudley. It's not listed what his father Joseph did for a living, nor how old his mother Sarah was when he was born. I do know that times were hard in Dudley though, the records say as much, and they couldn't have improved much by the time young James was 15, as he joined the Marines, as a boy entry. Now at this period in Naval History, the correct term was Marine Artillery, and young James soon found himself in the bustling port of Portsmouth, where he underwent gunnery training. All hands to the pumps in early 1805, as fears of an invasion mounted, and he was posted to a ship just refitted, the 74 Gun Bellerophen, a third rate two decker, under the command of Captain John Cooke. Nicknamed by her crew as the " Billy Ruffian ", mainly due the difficulty they had saying the name, she had already been in other actions. The battle called " The Glorious first of June ", in 1794, and under Nelson, at the Battle of the Nile, in 1798. If the young man, just turned 17, had any fears, he was soon put at ease by the battle hardened crew.


Captain John Cooke was one of " Nelsons Band of Brothers ", and had already proved his worth in battle. He could be guaranteed to be were the fight was hottest, and on the day, he did not let Nelson down. Bellerophen, in the Leeward column under Vice Admiral Collingwood, finding herself up against bigger ships, gave what some called " a splendid showing ", witnessed by the fact that Captain Cooke was killed on the deck, along with 26 other members of his crew, and another 123 wounded. Among the wounded was James Silvers, although how badly isn't recorded, and he finished up in the Naval Hospital at Haslar. Either through the wounds or he had simply seen enough bloodshed, James did not go back to sea, but came back to Dudley. There is a marriage recorded in 1807, between himself and one Phoebe Smart, at Saint Marys Church, Kingswinford, and of a son being born in 1808, Christened in the same Church that he was, Saint Thomas, on 17th April,1808. His name was Thomas Silvers, and here the trail runs cold, for I can't find any trace until the same son appears in Census documents married to a woman called Ruth. I understand that James Silvers, who never really recovered from the wounds sustained in this, the greatest battle ever fought at sea at the time, died in Dudley, in 1810. If anyone can come up with where he may be buried, I would be most grateful.


The second man is likely to be James Silvers older brother, Thomas Silvers, who was at the time 27 years old. He had joined the Marines at about the same age as James, and was in 1805, a Marine Armours mate. His ship was slightly smaller, being the 64 gun Africa, again, a two decked third rate, which had also seen action, and was in Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson's Weather Column. He managed to avoid any injury at Trafalgar, although Africa sustained a great deal of damage, and was forced to return home, which she reached in early November. With the threat of invasion now receeding, Africa was paid off on 1st January 1806, and Thomas, the very next day, signed on to Prometheus, an 18 gun Sloop of War, which was bound for duties and action in the Baltic Sea. It's a sure fired certainty, that Thomas enjoyed a bit of excitement. for the tour lasted a full three years. Prometheus returned to Portsmouth in March 1810, and her crew were paid off on the 16th of the month. The records from the next few years, don't record his name, although a great many were lost during the bombing in 1942. Having already done about 15 years service, I can't see him just packing it all in, he only had another 7 years to do, to gain a service pension after the full 22 years. One day I must have another look. I did find, in 1834, a Joseph Silvers, running a grocers, or flour merchants shop, on Commonside, Pensnett, so the family were still there. They were still there in 1865, when George Henry Silvers was the Postmaster at Holly Hall, Dudley. If any of this is any use to anyone connected to the family please let me know, after all, you may not have realised, you have not one, but two Trafalgar Hero's in your family tree.


Just a reminder, that the full list of Black Country men and boys who served at Trafalgar, can be found on the sites Trafalgar Page. If you have the same family name, why not do a search, and find out if they are one of yours.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

William Shaw, Dudley, Trafalgar.


A Colosuss at Trafalgar.


Now there's not much in the way of records for this next man, so perhaps someone may care to do some research. William Shaw, was born in Dudley, Worcestershire, in 1780, and Christened on 31st December,1780, at Saint Thomas's Church. The name was fairly well known in the area, both his parents, Benjamin and Susannah Shaw, were both born in the Town. He would have remained just another name on a list, except for just one thing, he was present at " The Battle of Trafalgar ". He possibly joined as a boy entrant, for it's believed that he served aboard " Valient " in 1794. On the 21st October, 1805, he was to be found aboard the " Colosuss ", built in 1803 as a 74 gun third rate, and was the sixth ship behind Vice-Admiral Collingwood's flagship, and heading for the combined French and Spanish Fleets. Whether the young Sergeant of Marines was a bit apprehensive, will never be known, but if he had known what was coming, when detailing his men for duty, he may have felt a pang of panic. Captain James Nicholl Morris, on passing through the enemy line, spotted the French ship " Swiftsure ", and, intending to rake her fore and aft with a broadside through the stern, was thwarted when she turned and exchanged broadsides instead. He then found himself between two Spanish ships, both of 74 guns, the " Argonauto ", and the " Bahamas ". The broadsides from the English 74 guns, soon reduced the former to silence, and the orher drifted away. Then it was the Swiftsure again, and a fierce fight developed. Damage aboard the Colosuss was huge, as masts spars and rigging came down, jagged pieces of splintered wood, flew through the air like angry hornets. All around her decks, was carnage, as she continued to pour shot after shot into the enemy ships. She did though, have one advantage that enabled her to hold her own against the attacks of three ships. Her main gundeck had been cleared some weeks before, of the standard 18 pounders, and she had been fitted with the more powerful 24 pounders. She had literaly battered the three enemy ships into submission. All this came at a price, for the Colosuss, at the end of the battle, counted 40 dead, and 160 wounded, the highest casuality rate in the entire fleet, and almost 34% of her crew. William Shaw survived all this, but is believed to have been injured, maybe even blinded by flying debris. He isn't listed in the medal and clasps table for 1815, so must have left the Marines prior to this date. He did though apparently, come back to Dudley, get married, and may have had a family. The only dates for a death I can find, are 1836, or between 1841, and 1847. Does anyone have any more information please, for he deserves, as do all who serve, to be remembered.


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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 25, 2013 at 3:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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