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Charles Bullen: Wikis


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Sir Charles Bullen
10 September 1769 – 28 February 1853
Place of birth Newcastle, England
Place of death Shirley, England
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1779 to 1853
Rank Royal Navy Admiral
French Revolutionary Wars
Glorious First of June
Napoleonic Wars
Battle of Camperdown
Battle of Trafalgar
Awards Patriotic Fund gold medal and sword
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order

Sir Charles Bullen GCB GCH (10 September 1769 – 2 July 1853) was a highly efficient and successful naval officer who served in the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and distinguished himself at the Glorious First of June, the battle of Camperdown and the battle of Trafalgar.



Born in Newcastle in 1769 and entering the navy at just ten years old a decade later, Bullen had a slow progression to lieutenant following the peace after the American War of Independence. Promoted during the build up to war in 1791[1] , Bullen was lieutenant in HMS Ramillies in 1794, when that ship was heavily engaged at the battle of the Glorious First of June. Transferred to HMS Monmouth, Bullen met for the first time his new commanding officer, William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk and the two became fast friends. At the height of the Nore mutiny, Bullen was threatened with execution by the rebels, and it was Northesk's intervention which prevented his death and helped end the mutiny, as the rebels used him to take messages to the government.

Following Northesk's resignation following governmental brutality in putting the mutiny down, Bullen remained on board under the new captain, James Walker and together they fought at the battle of Camperdown later that year, the crew of the Monmouth fighting hard to absolve themselves of their part in muntiny. The ship battled with the Dutch ships of the line Alkmaar and Delft, capturing both in a brutal encounter. Bullen was placed in charge of the Delft, but the rapidly sinking ship was beyond repair, and Bullen was lucky to escape with his life when it went down that evening. He was praised for marshalling the evacuation of the ship and controlling the survivors in the water until they could be rescued by the boats of HMS Veteran.

Promoted to commander [2] for this service, Bullen was despatched in the sloop HMS Wasp on a stationing to Sierra Leone, a miserable and lonely post, which was rewarded on his return in 1802 with a promotion to Post Captain[3] and command of a company of Sea Fencibles. Protecting the south-east of England from an invasion which never came in 1804 was a boring job, and when Northesk was given the first rate flagship HMS Britannia in 1805[4] he asked for Bullen as his flag captain especially.


Battle of Trafalgar

In August the ship was sent to join Nelson's blockade off Cadiz and so was present on the 21 October for the battle of Trafalgar.

Britannia was quite removed from the action, being towards the rear of Nelson's division and a slow sailor in any case. Despite her captain and admiral's frantic efforts, the ship did not arrive in battle until quite late in the day, yet still managed to engage several ships, including the massive 130 gun Spanish Santissima Trinidad. After the battle, Britannia was still relatively undamaged despite having suffered 52 casualties,[5] and so she was able to aid other more seriously damaged ships in the storm which followed.

Bullen received the usual awards from the Patriotic Fund of the gold medal and sword given to Trafalgar captains and was also subsequently given the frigates HMS Volontaire and HMS Cambrian and HMS Akbar in the hope that with these ships he would be able to collect a decent amount of prize money sailing on the Mediterranean and North American stations for the remainder of the war.

Later service

After 1817 he was given the job of commissioner for Chatham Dockyard and then Pembroke Dockyard before being given command of the Royal Yacht Royal Sovereign in a series of shore appointments which were accompanied by promotion eventually to full Admiral[6], Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order. Admiral Charles Bullen died aged 84 in 1853, the last surviving captain of the British fleet at Trafalgar.[7][8]


  1. ^ Lieutenant 9 August 1791
  2. ^ 2 January 1798
  3. ^ 29 April 1802
  4. ^ 8 May 1804
  5. ^ 10 killed 42 wounded
  6. ^ Admiral of the Blue, 30 July 1852. The Navy List, 1853.
  7. ^ Buried: St. Mary's Church, South Stoneham, Southampton
  8. ^ Wall plaque and painted hatchment: St. James's Church, Shirley, Southampton

Further reading

  • The Trafalgar Captains, Colin White and the 1805 Club, Chatham Publishing, London, 2005, ISBN 1-86176-247-X

External links


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