Late of the Griffon Sloop-of-War, hanged at the Yardarm of that Ship, in November, 1812, for the Murder of a Sergeant of Marines
THIS unfortunate young officer fell a victim to ungovernable passion. He had ordered a sergeant of marines upon some duty which the sergeant, conceiving it incompatible with his rank, refused performing. He was, withal, insolent in his replies. The Lieutenant burst into a violent passion, ran to his cabin, seized his dirk, returned and stabbed the sergeant to the heart. For this crime he was tried by a court martial, and sentenced to death.
The execution took place on board the Griffon. He bore his fate with manly fortitude. About eight o'clock he was attended by the clergyman, who remained with him till about half-past nine, when the procession began from his cabin to the platform from whence he was to be launched into eternity. The clergyman walked first; then Lieutenant Gamage, attended on each side by two friends, officers; several officers followed afterwards; everyone present was deeply affected at the unfortunate fate of this young gentleman, the ship's company particularly. Boats from the different ships attended, as usual, round the execution, and the same sympathy and pity was observable in each. "God receive his soul!" frequently burst forth from different seamen. He bowed and thanked them three times, and seemed deeply affected with the sympathy he excited. He spoke shortly to his own crew, warning them to beware of giving way to sudden passion. As soon as he reached the platform he prayed again with the clergyman, and precisely at ten o'clock, the signal gun being fired, he was run up to the yardarm, amidst the repeated exclamations from the seamen of "God bless and receive him! "He appeared to suffer but little.
Previous to the execution the following circular address was sent by Admiral Foley to every ship in his fleet: --
"THE Commander-in-Chief most earnestly desires to direct the particular attention of the fleet to the melancholy scene they are now called to attend -- a scene which offers a strong, and much he hopes an impressive, lesson to every person in it -- a lesson to all who are to command, to all who are to obey. Lieutenant Gamage is represented by every person who knew him, and by the unanimous voice of the Griffon's ship's company, as a humane, compassionate man, a kind, indulgent officer; yet for want of that guard which every man should keep over his passions this kind, humane, compassionate man commits the dreadful crime of murder!
"Let his example strike deep into the minds of all who witness his unhappy end; and, whatever their general disposition may be, let them learn from him that, if they are not always watchful to restrain their passions within their proper bounds, one moment of intemperate anger may destroy the hopes of a well-spent honourable life, and bring them to an untimely and disgraceful death. And let those who are to obey learn from the conduct of the sergeant the fatal effects which may result from contempt and insolent conduct towards their superiors. By repeated insolence the sergeant overcame the kind and gentle disposition of Lieutenant Gamage; and, by irritating and inflaming his passion, occasioned his own death.
"The Commander-in-Chief hopes that this afflicting lesson may not be offered in vain; but, seriously contemplating the awful example before them, every officer and every man will learn from it, never to suffer himself to be driven by ill-governed passion to treat with cruelty or violence those over whom he is to command, nor by disobedience or disrespect to rouse the passions of those whom it is his duty to obey and respect.
(Signed) "THOMAS FOLEY." "To the respective Captains and Commanders of his Majesty's ships and vessels in the Downs."
The body was brought on shore for interment at two o'clock, and was received at landing by Perrer Dower, Esq., Governor of the Naval Hospital, who, with a number of naval and military officers, attended this unfortunate young gentleman's remains to the burial- ground at the Naval Hospital, where they were deposited. General Trollope, and the officers of the Griffon, with several of the crew, were present, and bore ample testimony, by their appearance, to the regret they felt at his untimely fate.