Leander and Sir Henry Blackwood, with steward George Muir Snr. in tow, arrived back in Portsmouth in October 1822. Little is known of the detail of the tour of duty from George Snr.'s perspective. However, three and a half months into the commission he made the first of his two wills. It is written on a standard Naval form of the period, something I believe all Royal Naval ships carried. The document confirms George Brine in his role as guardian and makes no mention of daughter Ellen, reinforcing the suspicion that she was already dead.
It appears that on returning to Portsmouth George Snr. had some time ashore and then joined HMS Isis. We only know this from the musters of his next ship HMS Spartiate which he joined from Isis in late June of 1823 as Sir George Eyre's steward for the Rear-Admiral's tour of duty as Commander-in-Chief South America Station. It was on this trip that we think George Snr. was joined for the firsr time by his 11 year old son, George Jnr. He appears to have travelled as a supernumerary boy and was only taken on to the ship's muster as a 'Boy, 3rd Class', at Rio De Janeiro in July or August 1824. They arrived back in England with Sir George Eyre at the end of his tour late in 1826. Eyre had been replaced by Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Waller Otway and Eyre and his retinue, and possibly some of the Spartiate's crew, had transferred into the Wellesley, a two deck Third Rate of 74 guns for the trip home.
Click image to view George Snr.'s first will
HMS Isis 58 guns
Fourth Rate, frigate, Isis Class
Built Woolwich Dockyard
Ordered 1811?, Launched 1819, Hulked 1861
Captain Thomas Forrest July 1823
HMS Spartiate 76 guns
Third Rate, two deck, prev. French La Spartiate
Built Toulon 1797, Taken Aboukir Bay 01.08.1798
Hulked 1842, Broken Up 1857
HMS Wellesley 74 guns
Third Rate, two deck, Cornwallis Class
Built Bombay Dockyard
Ordered 1812, Launched 1815, Hulked 1865
Destroyed by German bombs (on Thames) WW2
George Snr. got married again. On the 14th of May 1827, six months after returning from South America, he married spinster Elizabeth Major at Stoke Damerel in Devon. Three months later in August 1827 the couple were in Chatham where he volunteered to be Captain Augustus Clifford's steward in HMS Undaunted. It is thought that George Snr.'s surviving children and step-children were still living with the Brines in Portsmouth. In October of 1827 George Snr. made his second will (the one which was eventually proved) appointing a grocer, George Chambers of Portsmouth, as executor and leaving everything to Elizabeth. There is no mention of George Junior. Presumably it was considered he was now capable of looking after himself.
In Febuary 1828 Clifford and Undaunted set out for India. Their mission was to take out Lord William Bentinck (who happened to be Clifford's friend) as the new Governor-General, and returning via Capetown, bring home Major-General Bourke, late Lieutenant-Governor there. George Jnr. joined the ship as well at Portsmouth as a Boy 1st Class just before the start of the voyage. Elizabeth was not to know that her marriage would be tragically short, but she would never see her new husband George again. He died at sea and was buried in the Indian Ocean before they reached Madras.
The Surgeon in Undaunted for this trip was Robert Guthrie (sen. 09 Sept 1819), who kept a journal which is preserved at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. (JOD/16 in Personal Collections) I have read the whole document and unfortunately there is no mention of George other than on two days: the day before, and the day of his death and burial and little more information was provided than that contained in the log of Undaunted (quoted below). Reasonably enough, Guthrie was most concerned about the weather conditions and a certain amount of mild gossip about Lord and Lady Bentinck. It is also quite clear he thought the Parson was a pompous ass! In mid June some members of the crew were ill with an unidentified fever, but...
Thursday 12th June...sick list reduced, though a few continue very ill. The Captain's Steward, though he complained only yesterday, is in such a state that I fear a short time with terminate his mortal career.
Friday 13th June...sbout half past three this morning George Muir departed this life after an illness of only 48 hours. A post mortem examination of the body discovered extensive disease of the bowels but the immediate cause was mortification. This is the first death in the Ship since her being commissioned in August 1827...At sunset turned the hands up, performed the service over and committed the body of the deceased to the deep. Parson still squabbling with his messmates. Complained today of the Senior Lieutenant to the Captain who reprimanded the former - he being the one in the wrong. Midnight - clear fine weather. Temperature 83 degrees.
'Spy' caricature of retired Admiral Augustus William James Clifford in later years when he was Usher of the Black Rod at Westminster.
Lord William Cavendish Bentinck
Pen and ink by James Atkinson c1833. © NPG
By courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London
Voyage of HMS Undaunted:
15 Nov 1827 Chatham
28 Dec 1827 Portsmouth
09 Feb 1828 Plymouth
27 Feb 1828 Tenerife
15 Apr 1828 Rio de Janeiro
16 May 1828 Simons Bay, Cape of Good Hope
13 Jun 1828 (George Muir dies)
21 Jun 1828 Madras Roads
28 Jun 1828 Madras
03 Jul 1828 Tranquebar
10 Aug 1828 Diamond Harbour, Calcutta
18 Aug 1828 Kedgeree
04 Oct 1828 Isle de France
09 Nov 1828 Simons Bay
12 Nov 1828 Table Bay
27 Nov 1828 St. Helena
02 Dec 1828 Ascension
30 Dec 1828 Spithead
Click here to see map of approximate position of HMS Undaunted on the day of George Muir's death and burial.
On Friday the 13th of June 1828, the log of Undaunted, in the Indian Ocean, (Lat. 3° 41' South, Long. 83° 43' East) recorded the following bare facts corroborating Guthrie's journal entries: “3.30 (A.M.) departed this life George Muir, Captain's steward — 4 ditto weather. 7 set main topmast studding sail — scrubbed and washed clothes. 8 ditto weather.” And so on until later in the day: “light breeze and fine — 1.30 lowered main topsail to repair — 4 light breeze and fine — set ditto — 5.30 Committed the body of the deceased to the deep — 6 light breeze and fine — 8 light breeze and fine.”
George was about 54 years old.
It wasn't long before George Muir Jnr. appeared in the musters in his father's old job.
HMS Undaunted 38 guns
Fifth Rate, frigate, Lively Class
Built by Woolwich Dockyard
Ordered 1803?, Launched 1807, Hulked 1860
Next page about George Muir Jnr. »