Pearson, Captain Charles, RN, 1784-1856


Captain Pearson was born in London in 1784 and entered the Royal Navy in 1800.  He served as a midshipman on the Isis (50 guns) at the Battle of Copenhagen.  In 1804, he served as a midshipman on Amphion (32 guns) and served with Nelson’s fleet in the West Indies.  He served next in the Vanguard, which captured a French ship of the Line and three French frigates off St. Domingo in the Caribbean in 1804.  He was a Lieutenant of the Meteor at the defence of Rosas in Spain and he commanded her when capturing a privateer off the coast of Dalmatia.  In the Mediterranean he served on Collingwood’s flagship, Amphion, as a Lieutenant.  He  continued in many warships in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Spain.  He was in the Columbine at the siege of Cadiz from 1810 to 1812, during the Peninsular War with Napoleon.  By 1814, he was a Lieutenant on the Phoebe, when she captured the United States frigate, Essex, during the war with America. The Essex suffered 89 dead out of a crew of 154, while the British casualties were five dead and ten wounded.  The senior Lieutenant was killed in this fight and Pearson succeeded to that post, and was sent home in charge of the prizes.


Pearson was then promoted to the rank of Commander and was employed from 1830 to 1833 as the Coastguard at Great Yarmouth.  From 1833 to 1837, he commanded the Sparrow Hawk of 18 guns on the South American station.  He then obtained his rank as Post Captain and retired from the service in 1851.  He was a magistrate and the Mayor of Great Yarmouth in 1850 and was re-elected in 1851.  In 1851, he read the Riot Act to the striking seamen of the town.  They were striking over the level of their wages and attacked the gaol and threatened the magistrates assembled at the Town Hall.  The aid of the military was required, and the 11th Hussars speedily arrived from Norwich.  H.M.S. Black Eagle was stationed in the river.  This sufficed; and the riot subsided without any bloodshed.  Charles Pearson died at the age of 72 years leaving a wife and two daughters.  He is buried in St. Nicholas’ Churchyard.  Incidentally, he had sat on the jury at the inquest into the fall of the Suspension Bridge in 1845.