John Quilliam

John Quilliam

Captain John Quilliam RN (29 September 1771 - 10 October 1829) was a British Royal Navy officer and the First Lieutenant on HMS "Victory" at the Battle of Trafalgar. He was a farmer’s son from the Isle of Man.

He is first recorded in 1797 at the Battle of Camperdown when he was made a lieutenant by Admiral Duncan. At the Battle of Copenhagen, in 1801, his gallantry and calmness under fire following the death of all senior officers on his ship was rewarded with being made First Lieutenant on HMS "Victory" by Horatio Nelson.

Quilliam soon repaid the faith Nelson had placed in him as the following extract from "James's Naval History of Great Britain" shows, he assisted in steering her into action at Trafalgar: - "Just as she (the "Victory") had got about 500 yards of the larboard beam of the "Bucentaure" the "Victory"'s mizzen-topmast was shot away, about two-thirds up. A shot also struck and knocked to pieces the wheel; and the ship was obliged to be steered from the gun room, the first lieutenant (John Quilliam) and master (Thomas Atkinson) relieving each other at the duty.

After Trafalgar he returned to the Isle of Man and in 1807, he was elected a member of the House of Keys.

In 1808, he was Captain of Admiral Stopford's flagship, HMS "Spencer". In 1812, he was Captain of HMS "Crescent" and served as such until the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.

He then returned to the Isle of Man and resided at the White House in Kirk Michael. He was re-elected a member of House of Keys in 1817.

He died in 1829 and was buried in the graveyard at Kirk Arbory. There is the following inscription on his tombstone;

"Sacred to the memory of John Quilliam, Esq., Captain in the Royal Navy. In his early service he was appointed by Adml. Lord Duncan to act as lieutenant at the Battle of Camperdown; after the victory was achieved, this appointment was confirmed. His gallantry and professional skill at the Battle of Copenhagen attracted the notice of Lord Nelson, who subsequently sought for his services on board his own ship, and as his lordship's first lieut. he steered the "Victory" into action at the Battle of Trafalgar. By the example of Duncan and Nelson he learned to conquer. By his own merit he rose to command: above all this he was an honest man, the noblest work of God. After many years of honourable and distinguished professional service, he retired to this land of his affectionate solicitude and birth, where in his public station as a member of the House of Keys, and in private life, he was in arduous times the uncompromising defender of the rights and privileges of his countrymen, and the zealous and able supporter of every measure tending to promote the welfare and the best interests of his country. He departed this life on the 10th October, 1829 in the 59th year of his age. This monument is erected by Margaret C. Quilliam to the memory of her beloved husband."


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