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Reynolds, Robert Carthew (bap. 1745, d. 1811), naval officer, was baptized on 30 July 1745 at Lamorran, Cornwall, the son of John Reynolds and his wife, Elizabeth. He entered the navy in 1759 under the patronage of Captain George Edgcumbe of the Hero, and may have been present in the battle of Quiberon Bay and in the operations in the Bay of Biscay during the following years. He was afterwards, for a few months, in the Brilliant, with Captain Loggie; for three years in the Pearl, with Captain Charles Saxton; and for nearly a year in the Venus, with Captain Samuel Barrington. The Venus was paid off in June 1769, and on 1 May 1770 Reynolds passed his lieutenant's examination, being described in his certificate as ‘more than twenty-one’. He was promoted lieutenant on 26 February 1777, and during the next five years served principally in the Channel Fleet: in the Royal George, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Robert Harland; in the Barfleur; and in the Britannia, with Vice-Admiral Barrington.

In 1783 Reynolds was in the West Indies, where, on 18 April, he was promoted to the command of the armed store ship Dauphin, and from 1786 to 1788 he commanded the sloop Echo on the Newfoundland station. He was advanced to post rank on 24 September 1790, and in November was appointed temporarily to the command of the Barfleur. He was then living at Penair, near Truro.

In 1795 Reynolds commanded the frigate Druid and in 1796 the Amazon, one of the flying squadron under the command of another Cornish mariner, Sir Edward Pellew (later Viscount Exmouth). In 1797 he was still with Pellew when, on 13 January, they fell in with the French ship Droits de l'homme (74 guns), which they engaged in a gale of wind and drove on shore in Audierne Bay on the following morning. The Droits de l'homme was utterly wrecked, with many lives lost; the Amazon also was wrecked, but, with the exception of six men, her officers and crew got safely to shore, where they surrendered as prisoners of war. In the following September Reynolds was exchanged. Upon his trial by court martial for the loss of his ship he was honourably acquitted.

Soon afterwards Reynolds was appointed to the 24-pounder Pomone, a frigate of the largest class, captured from the French in 1794. He continued in her in the channel or the Bay of Biscay until the end of 1800, when he was moved into the Cumberland (74 guns), from which in 1801 he again moved, to the Orion, in the Channel Fleet. In 1803 he was one of the captains in command of the Cornish sea fencibles; in 1804 he commanded the Dreadnought in the channel, and from 1804 to 1807 the Princess Royal.

On 28 April 1808 Reynolds was promoted rear-admiral, and early in 1810 he hoisted his flag on the St George (98 guns), and followed Sir James Saumarez to the Baltic, as second in command of the fleet on that station. He was employed on the same service in 1811, and on 1 November he sailed from Hanö in charge of a large convoy for England. Three times they were obliged by stress of weather to put back, and it was not until 12 November that they could finally proceed.

On 15 November Reynolds and Saumarez had anchored for the night in the Belt, when a large merchant ship broke adrift and fell on the St George, which parted her cable and drove on shore, where she lost her rudder and her masts had to be cut away. By great exertions she was got off and taken to Wingo Sound, where she was refitted as well as circumstances would allow with jury masts and jury rudder, and was, in the opinion of the officers, quite capable of making the voyage. She sailed accordingly on 17 December, the 74-gun ships Defence and Cressy in company, with orders to attend her on the passage. The weather set in wild and stormy, and on the morning of 24 December in a fierce storm from the north-west, the St George was driven, helpless, towards the coast of Jutland, struck on a bank some 300 yards from the shore, near Ringkøb, and broke up. Of the 850 men who formed her crew, twelve only were saved. The Defence was lost with the St George; the Cressy escaped. Reynolds's body was not recovered. Married with two daughters and two sons, he died a widower.

Of Reynolds's two sons is noticed separately. His first son was Robert Carthew Reynolds (d. 1804), naval officer. When lieutenant of the Centaur off Fort Royal of Martinique, on 4 February 1804, Reynolds commanded the boats which cut out the brig Curieux from under the batteries in Fort Royal harbour. For his conspicuous gallantry on this occasion Reynolds was promoted to the command of the prize; but his severe wounds proved mortal, and he died early in September.

J. K. Laughton, rev. Nicholas Tracy

Sources  

Naval Chronicle, 18 (1808), 454–7 · Naval Chronicle, 27 (1811), 44–6, 119–21 · GM, 1st ser., 82/1 (1812), 175 · Steel's Original and Correct List of the Royal Navy · P. Uhd Jepsen, St George og defence (Esbjerb, 1985) · IGI