When Stephen Lushington was promoted to flag rank and knighted he had left the Naval Brigade in the Crimea and was succeeded in command by Captain the Honourable Henry Keppel. Lushington's ADC George William Muir's fate was, in effect, to be 'handed over' to Rear-Admiral Houston Stewart in Hannibal. After the war GWM appears to have stayed in the employ of the Admiral (according to Naval & Military Intelligence in the Times), when at the end of 1856 the latter went to relieve Admiral Fanshawe on the West Indies and North America station in the his Flag Ship, Indus, 78. Confusingly however, the Navy Lists of the period initially record Houston Stewart's Secretary as Arthur Jones and the Secretary's Clerk as Frederick W.S. Ponsonby. GWM was promoted to Assistant Paymaster on the 22nd of January, 1859, and the Navy Lists eventually caught up, showing both Ponsonby and GWM as Secretary's Clerks to the Admiral.
By the March 1860 Navy List, Ponsonby had moved to Imaum, the Receiving Ship at Jamaica, to be Commodore Hugh Dunlop's Secretary, leaving GWM and Arthur Jones in Indus briefly responsible for Houston Stewart's secretarial needs. Briefly, because in April, 1860, GWM was on the books of Victory again at Portsmouth, awaiting his next appointment. It came after a month or so: from the 6th of June the same year, GWM was listed as Assistant Paymaster in Leopard, on the S.E. Coast of America station. Here he was reunited with his old boss and family friend, Sir Stephen Lushington, who was the admiral on that station, Leopard having replaced Cumberland as his Flag Ship. And Lushington's Secretary? He was, in a post he had held since January, 1858, Paymaster James Richard Greenaway Browne. This gentleman had been the Acting Paymaster for the Naval Brigade in the Crimea for most of its existence and clearly would have known GWM well.
Browne was an interesting, if fairly elusive character. It has been impossible thus far to identify his parents for certain, though it is known he was born in Devon, circa 1829. What is known is that on the 11th of July, 1860, Browne got married at the British Chapel, Rio de Janeiro, to Jane Emma Last, eldest daughter of George Last Esq., merchant, of Rio de Janeiro. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. F.W. Smith, Chaplain of Leopard, assisted by the Rev. George Graham, Chaplain to the British Legation. (Marriages, The Times, Wednesday September 05 1860 page 1.) This was just over a month after GWM joined ship, and surely he, and all the other officers of Leopard were guests at the wedding. Browne's marriage serves to illustrate the very pleasant social life that went hand-in-hand with the rough of service life on many foreign naval stations in those days. Particular favourites it seems, were Rio (despite the risk of yellow fever), Hong Kong, Lisbon and the Mediterranean attractions of Malta and the Ionian Islands, especially Corfu and Zante.
Later, in 1862-83 Browne was Secretary to Rear-Admiral Kingcome in Sutlej and would have been aboard when the notorious incident occurred in October, 1863, when that ship was fired on by shore batteries at San Francisco. But that is another story... Browne and his wife Jane seem to have had three children, born in Rio de Janeiro, Woburn in Bedfordshire and Queenstown in Ireland, before Browne died of unknown cause and at an unknown location — possibly Ireland — probably sometime in 1866.
Meanwhile, about nine months before Lushington's term on the S.E. Coast of America ended, GWM was on the move again, this time joining the paddle wheel steam sloop Ardent on the same station, as Acting Paymaster, on the 14th of August, 1860. So started a life-long friendship with her Captain, Commander John Edward Parish. (Also in Ardent at this time was Lieutenant William Fitzjames Legh; like Browne, an old colleague from the Crimean Naval Brigade.)
By September, 1863, Ardent had returned to Woolwich and had paid off. GWM was without a job until June of the next year. We do not know exactly how he spent his time. His ailing father was still in Malta for another two years, so he may well have visited him there. It may well have been GWM who realised at this time that his father was declining fast and should return to England for special care (see George Muir Jnr. pages). Alternatively, he may have spent some time with his Way and Harrison relatives in London and Portsmouth.
Repeat of the first known image of George William Muir because it must have been done about this time. Dressed as Assistant Paymaster (seniority 22 Jan 1859) in summer, or hot climate dress. (Note the white trousers and shoes)
HMS Indus at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1858
(Photo: William Chase. William Chase Collection: #36 )
HMS Indus, 78 guns
2nd Class Ship of the Line (sail), Indus Class
Built Portsmouth Dockyard
Ordered 1820, Launched 1839
Sold out of the service 1898
The Brazilian flag, 1822-1889
HMS Leopard, 18 guns
Paddle Wheel Steam Frigate, 560 Horse-power
Builder's measure, 1406 tons
Launched 1850, Fate 1867
Map of Rio de Janeiro in 1860
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HMS Ardent, 3 guns
Paddle Wheel Steam Sloop, 200 Horse-power, Alecto Class
Builders measure, 800 tons
Displacement, 878 tons
Launched 1841, Fate 1865
Map of Rio de Janeiro in 1860
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His Paymaster's Commission is dated the 1st of December, 1863. So, three months into this period of 'idleness', if that's what it was, GWM got his most significant promotion and could have a second row of gold lace on his arm. It was at about this time that the Royal Navy introduced coloured backgrounds to the rows of lace for 'arm-of-service' — white for Paymasters. It was about seven weeks before his twenty-sixth birthday. Click on the link in the right column to see an image of his original commission.
Naval & Military Intelligence in the Times of Friday, the 24th of June, 1864, reported:
Three days later the same column had more information:
The Navy Lists record GWM as joining Racer on the 18th June. The Times was wrong about Racer going to the West Coast of Africa: on the 6th of July she was inspected by Commodore Hugh Dunlop, C.B., the Superintendent of Woolwich Dockyard and his Secretary, Mr. Ponsonby (who we have already met), at the Powder Buoy off Woolwich Arsenal just prior to her departure for the Mediterranean.
So GWM returned to Malta and the Mediterranean — his spiritual home I am certain, if not his actual birth place. For nearly a year he served under Commander Saulez until the latter was posted Captain, with a seniority of the 11th May, 1865, and returned home to take command of Cossack.
Isaac Newton Thomas Saulez was the second son (of seven and three daughters) of George Saulez of Alton, Hampshire, scholar and schoolmaster. It appears that at least five of his six brothers became clergymen. In September 1854 he had been First Lieutenant in Bellerophon, Lord George Paulet. He served ashore with the Naval Brigade as a Commander for an unrecorded length of time (possibly very short), between April and July 1855. Thus far it has been impossible to discover the cause of his damaged eye (see photo at right) — he seems not to have been wounded in the Black Sea. His medal entitlement for the Crimean War was 5th Class of the Turkish Order of the Medjidie; Crimea Medal with 'Sebastopol' clasp and the Turkish Crimea Medal.
It is suspected, not much more, that the officers of Racer during that commission were used in what nowadays would be described as a 'naval intelligence' role. Most Victorian Royal Naval officers were used in this way from time to time of course, depending on their ship and station. However, Racer may have had a very special role: she appears to have been very much the 'eyes and ears' of the Mediterranean fleet at a very interesting time. What with the Ionian Islands no longer a British Protectorate and united with Greece; the slow disintergration of the Ottoman Empire; the continued upheavals in Italy and the Austro-Prussian War, it was quite a decade. The politicians in London would surely have been as eager as ever for all intelligence from the fleet. Saulez was undoubtedly very well educated and probably a good linguist like his father. GWM is known to have been multi-lingual. Family mythology says he spoke five languages fluently: Russian, French, Italian, Greek and Arabic. Even if this is a little exaggerated, he was clearly a very useful linguist to have on board. He also had considerable experience already as an Admiral's Secretary — traditionally the main 'intelligence' officer in a fleet.
Isaac Newton Thomas Saulez's replacement was Commander Lindesay Brine, another well-educated man. He took over in Racer on the 27th of May, 1865, when Saulez was posted Captain. Brine was yet another old acquaintance of GWM from the Black Sea a decade before.
George William Muir's Paymaster's commission
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Isaac Newton Thomas Saulez R.N.
This elegant but somewhat piratical gentleman was GWM's first captain in Racer - he commissioned her at Woolwich on 22 June 1864 and was superseded by Lindesay Brine on 27 May 1865.
Isaac Newton Thomas Saulez (b. 06 May 1816)
HMS Bellerophon & RNB during the Crimean War
Lieutenant 08 October 1841
Commander 13 November 1854
Captain 11 May 1865
Retired 06 May 1870.
54mm scale 'toy soldier style' metal figure of a Paymaster RN in the late 1860s, early 1870s.
(from the author's collection)
The only known image of HMS Racer. Published in the ILN, 23 Sept, 1871, it shows her aground on sandbanks not far from Ryde, with the steam tug Grinder in the foreground.
HMS Racer, 11 guns
Steam Screw Sloop
Built Deptford Dockyard
Builders measure 579 tons
Displacement 868 tons
Last in commission 1868
Broken up 1876
HMS Racer, muster, 17.06.1868. PDF
Lindesay Brine was born at Eton on the 5th of November, 1834, so was just over three years older than GWM. He was the second son of James and Gramina Brine. James was an army officer, sometime of the 7th Royal Fusiliers. It appears that it was only a coincidence that he had the same family name as the George Brine of Portsmouth who had been GWM's father's guardian while grandfather George Muir had been away at sea (see George Muir Snr. & Jnr. pages). During the Crimean War Lindesay Brine was unusual in that he served as a Mate in Leander in the Black Sea in 1854, and then as Lieutenant in Retribution in the Baltic in 1855 — plenty of men served in the Baltic in '54 and were then sent to the Black Sea in '55; but few the other way around.
While in the Black Sea Brine had been landed for the defence of Eupatoria and commanded an outpost battery at the action of the 14th of November, 1854. He was mentioned in despatches, gazetted for "meritorious services" and promoted. He had taken part in the capture of Canton in 1857 and in 1858 had taken part in "several expeditions to suppress piracy." In 1859, while serving in Assistance, he a had been in charge of a division of boats in the attack on the Peiho Forts. A year later he was in command of Opossum at the capture of same. In 1862 he published 'The Taeping Rebellion' (Murray), a considered, well written and much quoted work at the time. That is only a brief summary of Brine's exploits up to the Racer commission. His later career continued with style, and there were more publications and Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society among other honours.
So began what was probably the pleasantest and happiest period of GWM's life. Britain wasn't actually at war with anyone in the Mediterranean region; he had a plum commission in that sea with interesting responsibilities, and he is known to have visited Egypt, the Holy Land and numerous sites in Greece, as well as the regular ports of call like Malta, Patras, Corfu and Zante (or Zakinthos to give it it's Greek name). Moreover, it was at Zante that he was to meet the beautiful girl who was to become his wife.
Born Eton, Buckinghamshire, 05 Nov 1834
Mate of HMS Leander in the Black Sea, 1854
Lieutenant 27 Nov 1854
Commander 24 June 1862
Captain 16 Oct 1868
Rear Admiral 01 Jan 1886
Vice Admiral 28 Dec 1891
Rtd. Vice Admiral 05 Nov 1894
Rtd. Admiral 23 Aug 1897
Click on the image above for a satellite map of the central Mediterranean marked with Zante, Malta, Patras, etc.
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Click on the image above for a modern sailing holiday map of the Ionian Islands. Opens in a new browser.
Co-national flag of Greece in the 19C. In use as an alternative to one similar to that in use today.
Click for 4th page about G. W. Muir »