James Stoddart was the third son of Rear Admiral
Pringle Stoddart and Frances Sprot. He was born on
May 25, 1813 in Edinburgh and like his father, he
pursued a naval career. His father earned a NGS
which appeared at Sotheby in March 1979.
He entered the Navy on 27 April 1827, as a 13-year-
old 1st Class Volunteer on board the Wellesley, he
was made a Midshipman on January 1, 1829. He
served on Wellesley under Sir Frederick Lewis
Maitland, another Scot and a contemporary of his
father, until November 1830. Maitland had been in
command of the Bellerophon at the time of
Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in June 1815 and
Napoleon surrendered to him in mid July of that
year. His next ship was HMS St Vincent and like
Wellesley it was part of the Mediterranean station.
Following this, he joined HMS Asia in January of
1832 and served on her until July 1834. While on
Asia he was promoted to Mate. Asia was the
flagship of Sir William Parker and he was to have a
long association with Parker throughout the rest of
his career. His time on Asia was spent primarily in
China 1842 (James Stoddart, Lieut., H.M.S. Cornwallis)
From April 1835 until October 1837, Stoddart served as Mate and Acting-Lieutenant, in the Columbine , in the
Mediterranean and on the coast of Africa, during 1837, Columbine was involved in combatting the Slave Trade and
experienced 6 Deaths.
4 Feb 1837 detained, off Whydah, the Portuguese schooner Latona, of Bahia, with 350 slaves on board, shipped at
Whydah, and bound for Havana. She was sent to Sierra Leone and condemned on 30 Mar., when the surviving 320 slaves
10 Feb 1837 detained, in the Bight of Benin, in lat. 5° 39' N., long. 2° 45' E., the Portuguese slave schooner Josefina /
Josephina / Josephina, Miguel Angel Montano, master, off Bahia, with 350 slaves on board, shipped a few days previously
at Lagos, and bound for Havana. She was sent to Sierra Leone, where she arrived on 8 Mar. and the vessel was condemned
on 17th and the 346 surviving Negroes were emancipated.
Following this, he then served until December 1838, as Mate, in the Donegal again off Lisbon. His official promotion to the
rank of Lieutenant took place on 27 December 1838.
After service on board the Princess Charlotte, in the Mediterranean, and the Impregnable , he joined the Cornwallis on
April 5 1841. which became the flagship of Sir William Parker, Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies. For his exertions
during the operations on the coast of China, where he served on shore at the capture of Woosung, assisted at the
reduction of Shanghae, and displayed excellent judgement and good conduct in command of the boats in the attack
upon Chin-Kiang-Foo, he was promoted to Commander on 23 December 1842.
The Battle of Chinkiang (Zhenjiang, in modern transcription), China, on 21 July 1842 was the last major battle of the war.
The British capture of this stronghold allowed them to proceed forward to Nanking. Fought near the confluence of the
Grand Canal and Yangtze River, the battle effectively blocked operation of the Caoyun system, a transport network vital
for the movement of grain throughout the empire. As a result the Qing Daoguang Emperor decided to sue for peace and
agreed to sign the Treaty of Nanking, which brought hostilities to an end.
Stoddart was not the only officer of Cornwallis promoted as a result of this last battle, Lieut. James Fitzjames who was
wounded in the battle and later perished in the Franklin expedition, was also promoted to Commander for his actions that day.
Stoddart's next posting was as commander of Growler from July 1849 until 25 September 1852.
James was promoted to Captain in January 1854, and to Retired Captain in July 1864. He received further promotion to
Retired Rear-Admiral in September 1867, to Retired Vice-Admiral in March 1876, and, finally, to Retired Admiral in
He married Harriet Agnes Thompson June 14, 1854 at Spetchley Church Worcs. as part of a double wedding with her
brother Rev. Benjamin Peile Thompson.
They had three children, James, Frances and Archibald. Archibald like his father and grandfather, made a career in the
navy and advanced to become Rear Admiral Archibald Peile Stoddart.
In 1861 the family were resident at Carlingwark House, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland (now a care home) on
the banks of Carlingwark Loch The family were living there until at least 1868.
By the time of the 1871 census, the family had moved to 13 Queen’s Gardens in Paddington. He was to remain there for the
next 20 years. Admiral James Stoddart died in London on 20 May 1892, aged 78 years. Following his death, the probate
was valued in excess of £25,000.
Family Ties: His eldest brother was Thomas Tod Stoddart the well known Poet and Angler and his niece, Margaret
Stoddart the daughter of his younger brother Mark was a well known Artist in New Zealand.
Provenance DNW December 2014
Stoddart was an accomplished amateur artist and
many of his drawings of Hong Kong and China
were engraved for publication in Thomas Allom's
China Illustrated (London, 1845)
Left: west gate of ching-keang-foo.
In November 2012, Sotheby auctioned the
following fine collection of topographical
watercolours, from the library of Admiral Sir
William Parker, comprising 26 views by Captain
James Stoddart R.N. in China (7), Greece (5),
Cyprus (3), Egypt (3), North Africa (3), Gibraltar,
Albania, Sicily, Ascension Island, Mauritius
and the Cape of Good Hope;
This suggests an interesting connection
between Stoddart and Parker.
Thomas Allom drew this illustration of Hong Kong,
viewed from Kowloon, from a sketch by James
Stoddart. It was published in 1843.
Bottom: The signing of the treaty of Nanking.
The painting by Captain John Platt depicts
the signing of the treaty aboard HMS Cornwallis
anchored at Nanjing on 29 August 1842.