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Significant Scots
Sir Charles Malcolm


MALCOLM,SIR CHARLES.—The family to which this naval commander belonged, was remarkable for producing not less than four brothers, who all won their way to rank and distinction by the greatness of their public services. Sir Charles was the tenth and youngest son of George Malcolm, and was born at Burnfoot, Dumfriesshire, in 1782. Being destined for the naval profession, he entered it when only nine years old, and was so fortunate in a course of active service that followed, as to have his brother, Pulteney, for his commander, under whom he was master’s mate of the Fox, 32. In this ship he served in 1798, when, in company with the Sybille, 38, they entered the harbour of Manilla under Spanish colours, made a dashing attack upon three ships of the line and three frigates, and captured seven boats with a large quantity of. military stores, and took 200 prisoners. Rising still in the service, he was in course of time promoted to the command of the Narcissus, 32, and in 1807 was slightly wounded in an attack upon a convoy of thirty sail in the Conquet Roads. In 1809 he aided in the capture of the Saintes Island in the West Indies. In June of the same year, having been appointed to the command of the Rhine, 38, he was employed in active co-operation with the patriots on the north coast of Spain, a service in which several of our most distinguished naval commanders were occupied at the same period. After this, he was employed in the West Indies, and upon the coast of Brazil; and on the 18th of July, 1815, he landed and stormed a fort at Corigion, near Abervack. Thus briefly are we obliged to sum up a course of service that lasted several years, with little intermission. It was a period, however, of great naval events, in which the public attention was regaled with such a succession of splendid victories by sea, that it had little inclination for the exploits of single ships, or the details of privateering. Still, an idea of the active and important nature of Captain Malcolm’s services may be gained from the fact, that while in command of the Narcissus and the Rhine, he not only captured great numbers of merchantmen, but took more than twenty privateers, carrying 168 guns and 1059 men.

On the return of peace, Malcolm’s services were not to be dispensed with; and in 1822 he was appointed to the command of the William and Mary, royal yacht, lying at Dublin in attendance upon the Marquis of Wellesley, lord-lieutenant; and on the following year, he had the honour to receive knighthood from the vice-regal hand. In 1826 he was appointed to the command of the Royal Charlotte yacht, also commissioned on the same service. But these, though sufficiently honourable employments, and indicative of a due sense of his past services, were of too quiescent a character for an active spirit still in the prime of life; and in 1827 his best aspirations were gratified by his being appointed superintendent of the Bombay Marine. To this service he diligently devoted himself for ten years, and so highly improved it, that from an imperfect sea establishment, it grew into a regular Indian navy, adequate to the extensive wants and protection of our Eastern empire. Sir Charles was also the promoter of many important surveys within the extensive sphere of his command, and took an influential part in the establishment of steam-navigation in the Red Sea. Well-merited promotion continued to follow these exertions, for he was raised to the rank of rear-admiral in 1837, and to that of vice-admiral in 1847.

In turning to his personal history, it is only necessary to add, that in 1808 Sir Charles married his cousin Magdalene, daughter of Charles Pasley, Esq., by whom he had one daughter; and on becoming a widower, he married in 1829 Elmira Riddell, youngest daughter of Major-General Shaw, by whom he had three sons, two of these being now in the royal navy. In his character, he fully abounded in that seaman-like courage, frankness, and courtesy, which Napoleon so much admired in his brother, Sir Pulteney Malcolm. The death of Sir Charles occurred at Brighton, on the 14th June, 1861, at the age of sixty-nine.


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