Peter John Puget

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Rear Admiral of the Blue

Peter John Puget

Rear-Admiral of the Blue Peter John Puget c. 1820.jpeg
Rear-Admiral of the Blue Peter John Puget c. 1820.
Died31 October 1822
Bath, Somerset, England
AllegianceFlag of the British Empire 1801 to 1997.png United Kingdom
Service BranchWhite Ensign of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg Royal Navy
Years Active1778-1822 (44 yrs)
Highest RankRear Admiral of the Blue Squadron command flag 1702 to 1864.png Rear-Admiral of the Blue
Commands heldHMS Raven (1796)
HMS San Nicolas (1797)
HMS Van Tromp
HMS Temeraire (1798)
HMS Barfleur (1768)
HMS Monarch (1765)
HMS Foudroyant (1798)
HMS Prince (1788)
HMS Goliath (1781)
Bombay Dockyard (1810-1813)
Prince of Wales Island Yard (1810-1816)
Madras Dockyard(1810–1817)
Trincomalee Dockyard (1810–1816)
BattlesSecond Battle of Copenhagen.

Rear-Admiral of the Blue Peter John Puget C.B. (1765 – 31 October 1822) was a Royal Navy flag officer who held various seagoing commands then later shore commands; He went on to be a Resident Commissioner of the Navy for the Navy Board; he was made responsible for simultaneously superintending three Royal Naval Dockyards throughout the East Indies, the Prince of Wales Island Yard, Penang, Malaya from (1810-1816), the Bombay Dockyard from (1810-1813) and Madras Dockyard from (1810–1817), the Trincomalee Dockyard, Ceylon from (1810–1816) which all operated as bases of the East Indies Station. He is probably best known for his exploration of Puget Sound.[1]

Naval Career

Puget's ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV's persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget's mother, Esther, with two sons and three daughters. In 1778, twelve-year-old Peter entered the navy as a Midshipman and served on the following ships: In 1778 he served aboard HMS Dunkirk, an ageing 60 gun two-decker, under Captain John Milligan. Harbour service. In December 1779 he was next assigned to HMS Syren, frigate, under Captain Edmund Dodd. Patrolled North Sea, battling blockade runners. In 1780 he then served abaord HMS Lowestoffe, 32, Captain Edmund Dodd, (transferred from Syren); bound for the West Indies squadron. There, Puget served with a small force of naval gunners reinforcing the garrison at St. Kitts, and survived the defence of Brimstone Hill against the vastly superior forces of French Admiral François Joseph Paul de Grasse durng the Battle of St. Kitts). Probably served in Rodney and Hood's victory of 12 April 1782 at the Battle of the Saintes. In November 1782: HMS Thetis, 38, Captain John Blankett; Gibraltar and Mediterranean Squadron. In 1783: HMS Europa, 50, Captain James Vashon, flying the broad pennant of Commodore Alan Gardner, 1st Baron Gardner; service on the Jamaica Station. Met then-Lieutenant George Vancouver. Paid off in 1787. In 1787: Rejoined Captain Dodd on the Lowestoffe, but within two months, that was paid off too. In 1788 served aboard the East Indiaman Prince.

Upon returning to Britain, Puget was assigned to HMS Discovery, temporarily as a Masters Mate, and then commissioned as her 3rd Lieutenant on 11 June 1790 to assist in its fitting out for an exploration of the South Pacific. During the Nootka Crisis, however, it was used as a depot vessel. When the crisis ended with the Treaty of Nootka Sound, the mission changed; the first priority was to physically accept possession of the Sound from the Spanish. An accurate survey the North American Pacific Coast, and other surveys, were important secondary missions. Because the Admiralty, following the Mutiny on the Bounty incident, had ordered, as a precaution against mutiny, that ships no longer make such long voyages alone, the armed tender HMS Chatham was assigned to the expedition, and HMS Daedalus was to bring supplies a year later. On 15 November 1790 he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

In 1791, Discovery and Chatham sailed to Cape Town, Australia, Tahiti and the Sandwich Isles before starting a detailed survey of the Pacific North American coast, from the Columbia River to Alaska. Many features were named after friends or persons of influence. When it was hoped that the Strait of Georgia and Admiralty Inlet might lead to the Northwest Passage, Vancouver anchored the ships near modern-day Seattle, Washington and sent Puget in command of two rowing craft to survey south (20–27 May 1792). In recognition of Puget's work, Vancouver named the south end Puget Sound (what we now call the South Puget Sound); it is unlikely that either man realized this name would encompass the whole region over time. Puget was also involved in the exploration by small boat of the Columbia River under the command of Chatham's captain, William Robert Broughton; Puget's name was applied to the tiny Puget Island opposite the Indian village at Cathlamet.

Puget was given command of Chatham when her first captain, Broughton, was sent with dispatches back to England with instructions to request further clarified orders from Admiralty as regarded the Crowns position on territorial negotiations with the Spanish. While only a lieutenant-in-command of Chatham, Puget served with distinction for the rest of the survey. He assisted Vancouver in negotiations with the Spanish at Nootka Sound. In 1795, the two-ship squadron returned to England by way of Cape Horn, capturing a Dutch East Indiaman along the way. Once home, Puget was confirmed in the rank of Master and Commander.

In February 1796, commander Puget was given the tiny Adelphi with which to protect a supply convoy to Gibraltar. To protect the return convoy, he fitted out an armed freighter, the Esther, using his own funds. On the return voyage, he captured a Spanish merchantman and sent it ahead with a prize crew. Then his convoy was attacked by French frigate La Bellona, and Puget interposed his tiny vessel to let the other ships flee. Puget then bribed the French captain (pointing out that he was unlikely to collect much in prize money) and brought his command home. The British Admiralty found a way not to pay Puget prize money on the merchantman, although it did cover his expenses, including the bribe.

In 1797 he was promoted to the rank of Commander, Puget was then given command as of the sloop-of-war HMS Raven and joined the Mediterranean Squadron of Admiral of the Blue Sir John Jervis Commander-in-Chief on the Mediterranean Station. Jervis put him in charge of the HMS San Nicolas (1797), a Spanish ship-of-the-line, still crewed by Spaniards; Puget suppressed a mutiny and delivered the crew to Lisbon. In 1798: Captain of troopship HMS Van Tromp. In March, 1799: was appointed Flag Captain to Rear-Admiral of the White James Hawkins-Whitshed on HMS Temeraire, 98. In August 1799 he was appointed Captain of HMS Barfleur was a 90-gun second-rate ship of the line until 1800.

In November 1801: he was made Captain of ship-of-the-line HMS Monarch, 74; and served on the Channel Station until she was paid off in 1802, following the Peace of Amiens. In March 1804: was appointed Flag Captain to Rear-Admiral of the White Thomas Graves on HMS Foudroyant (1798), 80; served in Channel blockade until seriously injured was; sent home to recover until October 1805. In December 1806 he was appointed Captain of HMS Prince (1788) a 98-gun second rate ship of the line.

In February 1807: he was appointed Captain of Ship-of-the-Line HMS Goliath (1781), 74 guns. In 1807, Puget played a decisive role at the Second Battle of Copenhagen. He led an inshore squadron of shallow-draft vessels (including two bomb ketches to disable the Danish gunboats and to cover the army's seaward flank in a manoeuvre similar to Nelson's action in the First Battle of Copenhagen. However, British public reaction to the second attack was unfavourable, since it was an attack on a neutral country; no fame was attached to Puget's success.

In 1809: At the request of Rear-Admiral of the Red Sir Richard Strachan, 6th Baronet, Puget planned and assisted in the successful amphibious invasion of the Dutch islands of Walcheren and Flushing, Netherlands. Between 1810–1817 was sent out to the East Indies to supervise the work at three Royal Naval Dockyards overseen by the Navy Board and was appointed a Resident Commissioner of the Navy at Madras and Resident Commissioner of the Navy at Bombay.[2] He supervised naval affairs throughout much of India, fought the corruption endemic to supply practices, and developed the new naval base at Trincomalee and administered Trincomalee Dockyard. He was additionally made responsible for superintending the Prince of Wales Island Yard at Penang as it resident commissioner.

Thereafter, Puget retired from the navy and settled into family life, living in Bath for reasons of health. He was gazetted a Companion of the Bath in 1818 and, according to the rules of seniority, he was commissioned Rear-Admiral of the Blue on 19 July 1821. Rear Admiral Peter Puget C.B. died on Thursday 31 October 1822 at his home in Grosvenor Place, London.[3]


  1. Everett-Heath, John (22 October 2020). "Puget Sound". Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Place Names. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780191905636.001.0001/acref-9780191905636-e-6105. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  2. Day, John Frederick. (April 2012) ' British Admiralty Control and Naval Power in the Indian Ocean (1793-1815) (Volume 1 of 2)'. Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime History, University of Exeter. p.257.
  3. The Mariner's Mirror. (1952). United Kingdom: Society for Nautical Research. p.34.