Captain Robert Bloye (1769-1847) by William Egley

Captain Robert Bloye (1769-1847)

William Egley

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Captain Robert Bloye (1769-1847) by William Egley zoom

Captain Robert Bloye (1769-1847)

An oval miniature in watercolour on ivory, unframed. Bloye is shown bust length and slightly from below, turned to his left against a cloudy sky background, but looking out almost sideways to the left of the viewer. He has fair greying hair, combed back, and grey eyes and wears the 1812-1825 captain's full-dress uniform. This bears the cross of a Companion of the Bath on the left breast, an honour he received in 1815. In 1816 he formally retired on half pay and became a rear-admiral by seniority on 1 October 1846. At his death the following year, Bloye was reported to have been a native of King's Lynn, Norfolk, and aged from seventy-six to seventy-eight. Given his unusual name, this suggests he was probably from Weasenham All Saints, a village a few miles to the east, and the 'Robert Bloy', son of Robert and Frances Bloy, who was baptised there on 27 August 1769. This was probably his year of birth given that he entered the Navy in 1793, when he would have been 13 or 14, and he was a midshipman in the 'Marlborough' at the Battle of 1 June 1794. With just over the regulation six years of sea time, he was commissioned lieutenant in October 1800 and commander in August 1806. From January 1810 he commanded the 'Lyra', 10-gun brig-sloop, and served in the Peninsular campaign on the north coast of Spain under Commodore Sir George Collier. Here he distinguished himself operating in collaboration with the army and Spanish patriots ashore, notably in operations at Galea, Castro, Urdiales, and at Wellington's siege of San Sebastian. In both 1812 and 1813 he was twice mentioned in dispatches, of which extracts appear in Collier's entry in Marshall's 'Naval Biography' (volume 4, pp. 525-32). On 1 September 1813 Collier wrote to Lord Keith, whose Channel Fleet command included the northern Spanish naval theatre, commending Bloye as 'indefatigable' and praising his diligent assistance to the army. On the 9th, writing from Pasajes, he added that 'Captain Bloye's service here has been repeatedly noticed by me to your Lordship; and as he has been employed from the very commencement of our operations on this coast and has a perfect knowledge of the localities of this harbour, as well as that of San Sebastian, I have thought it important to send him to England, [with the naval dispatches reporting the fall of San Sebastian], as he able to give your Lordship much useful information' (pp. 531-32). Bloye was rewarded by promotion to captain on 23 September 1813 and received a testimonial sword from the Corporation of King's Lynn, but had no further commands and retired to Norfolk. In 1846, about the time he became a retired rear-admiral, he moved to 5 King's Terrace, Southsea. He died there on 14 September 1847 after some months' illness from a liver complaint. The 'Ipswich Journal' of 2 October includes the most personally informative of several short death notices, though others list his naval promotions. All note that his wife, herself in poor health, also died within three or four hours from grief and shock. Through his wife, Bloye was uncle of the naval surveyor Lieutenant Henry Laird Cox.
William Egley

  • Image reference: F9546

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