Indian General Service Medal 1854-95 with bar Pegu to 'Paymaster & Purser Wm. H. Reeves, 'Cleopatra''.
William Hance Reeves was born on the 9th of November 1805 at the British Factory, Lisbon, Portugal. He was christened there at
the Chaplaincy on the 24th of December that year. His father, William Reeves, had married a Hester Maria Hocking in March of 1803
in Lisbon and William Hance was to be the second of at least three children, Richard having been born in January 1804 and George
Timothy in January 1807. His knowledge of the native tongue of Portugal was to prove useful in a later part of his life.
Reeves joins the Royal Navy as a Secretary's Clerk on HMS Ocean on the 11th of May 1825 at the age of 20, he may have had
service in a less formal manner but this is his first recorded post on his Statement of service. He is rated as both a Secretary's
Clerk and a Captain's Clerk and is paid off from the ship on the 22nd of December 1826.
His next recorded ships are HMS Spartiate and HMS Albion in which he serves as a Suoernummery Clerk and Interpreter from the
23rd of December 1826 to the 11th of March 1828. The remarks in his Statement of service are that he was at Fort St. Julian, a
fortress at Barra on the Estoril coast of Portugal. He had been sent here by order of Lord A. Beauclerk at the request of Sir William
H. Clinton, commanding the Forces at Lisbon.
His next two ships were..
Wellesley - Clerk - 12th May 1828 to 14th September 1832
Pallas - Clerk - 15th September 1830 to 6th January 1834
He was then discharged to HMS Skipjack on warrant of Vice Admiral Sir G. Cockburn in place of J. Prance, promoted.
The "Skipjack" was a 10-gun schooner built in Bermuda in 1827 for the Royal Navy, original name "Skylark" but changed before
launching. It was being used in this period as a mail and signal carrier in the West Indies station.
Reeves joined this ship on the 7th of January 1834 as a Clerk in Charge - a strange title as in a small ship he was the only Clerk.
He remained on board until the ship was wrecked off the Cayman Islands on the 1st of June 1841. The Ship's muster (ADM
38/9885) is preceded by the following letter:-
At a Court Martial assembled and held on board Her Majesty's Ship 'Pyramus' in Halifax harbour 11th August 1841.
John Leith Esq., Captain of Her Majesty's ship 'Seringapatam' and Second Officer in Command of Her Majesty's Ships and Vessels
at Halifax - President.
Captain Thomas Wren Carter
Captain John Parker
Commander W.W. P. Johnson
Commander George Ramsay
The Court pursuant to an order from Peter John Douglas Esq., Commodore of the 1st Class and Commander in Chief of Her
Majesty's Ships and Vessels employed and to be employed on the North American and West Indian Station dated the 7th inst
proceeded to try Lieutenant Augustus Charles May, commanding Her Majesty's late Schooner 'Skipjack', the Warrant, Quarter Deck
and working Petty Officers, Seamen, Marines and Boys for the loss of that Schooner between the night of the 31st of May and the
morning of the 1st of June last, and having heard the evidence and what the prisoners had to offer in their defence and having
very maturely considered the whole and every part thereof with the most minute attention is of opinion; That in consequence of
the very strong currents running around the Cayman, Her Majesty's late Schooner 'Skipjack' was carried nearer to the Islands and
more out of her than there was any possible reason to believe, and it appears that the Lieutenant Commanding being in
possession of Despatches for the Commander in Chief and being anxious to make his passage as quick as possible steered nearer
to the Island than the state of the weather under other circumstances would have justified him in doing - but the Lieutenant in
Command appears on all occasions to have used due vigilance and precaution and that there does not appear to be any actual
blame to be imputed to the Lieutenant Commanding, the Warrant, Quarter Deck and working Petty Officers, Seamen, Marines and
Boys in the loss of Her Majesty's late Schooner 'Skipjack'.
And the Court Martial do therefore adjudge that no actual blame is to be imputed to the Lieutenant Commanding, the Warrant,
Quarter Deck and working Petty Officers, Seamen, Marines and Boys accordingly.
(Signed) - John Leith, J.W. Carter, John Parker, W.W.P. Johnson, Geo. Ramsay and Thomas Woodman, officiating Judge Advocate,
11th August 1841.
The Skipjack was actually a Pickle Class Schooner of 3 guns (1x 18pdr, 2x 18 pdr carronades), she weighed 118 tons and was 62
feet long and carried a crew of 39 men. She ran aground at Point Pedro on the South West point of Grand Cayman, being 12 miles
out in her reckoning due to a lack of sun sights. The wreck was sold on the 15th of June 1841 for a sum of £46, at which point the
crew were discharged to await trial - most of them joining Hornet for passage initially to Port Royal in Jamaica. None of the crew
were paid until they had been found blameless.. this was stipulated in the paylists.
Reeves is sent home to England via Hornet, Magnificent, Pilot, Winchester and Seringapatam where he is rated as a Supplementary
Clerk. He is paid off in England on the 4th of November 1841 and begins a period of time unemployed.
Reeves next employment is on HMS Anson as a Clerk in Charge on the 29th of June 1843. Plainly before the ship leaves England he
marries in the Medway district in the September quarter of 1843 to Sarah Charlotte Martin. Reeves remains with this ship until it
pays off at Hobart's Town, van Deimans Land on the 24th of April 1844, by this time he had been promoted to Paymaster and
Purser as of the 1st of March 1844.
His first commission as a Paymaster is on HMS Fantome from the 19th of December 1844 to the 20th of April 1848, at which time
he is paid off. Fourteen months later he joins HMS Cleopatra, the newly crewed ship (she had been commissioned at Chatham in
May 1849) having just lost her appointed Paymaster (James M. Hobbs) when he was invalided to the RN Hospital at Plymouth.
Reeves is appointed to the ship by commission order dated the 9th of June 1849 and joins the same day. His Captain for the
entire voyage would be Captain Thomas L. Massie.
By the 13th of June the Cleopatra is at sea and all musters are then taken at sea until she arrives in Hong Kong in November 1849.
She leaves Hong Kong in the first few days of February 1850 and is at Bombay by the 28th of March 1850, Singapore by the 10th
of May 1850 and then at Trincomalee by the start of September 1850 after a long cruise at sea. She remains in Trincomalee until
the end of November 1850 and is then at Singapore three weeks later before making the run back to Hong Kong by the 2nd week
of February 1851.
The ship is then on the Hong Kong station for the next 8 months with short trips to Macao, Cumsingmoon and Manilla before
sailing again for Singapore at the start of November 1851. She then musters at Panang (18th December), Straits of Malacca (New
years day 1852), Mulludu Bay (2nd February 1852), East Coast of Borneo (20th February 1852) before returning to Hong Kong by
the end of April 1852.
Cleopatra remains on the Hong Kong/Amoy station until March of 1853 when she is sent home, proceeding first on orders to
Rangoon where she manages to be in the waters at the time the 2nd Burma War is happening.. and as such her crew qualify for
the medal. The ships log at the time shows the following:-
5th April 1853
Noon – 15.31 N, 96.52E Rangoon N25W, 72 miles
04.00 – Fresh breezes and fine.
04.05 – In royals and Flying Jib.
06.00 – Set Fore and Mizen royals. Down Main royal yard to repair the sail.
07.30 – Sounded in 15 fathoms.
Crossed Main royal yard and set the sail.
09.00 – Mustered by divisions and tacked. Mustered and inspected the boats crews with their stores.
09.30 – In Flying Jibs.
Exercised after Main Deck Quarters at Gun drill and a Division at Cutlass drill.
14.00 – Tacked.
Exercised young gentlemen at Gun drill. Lost overboard by accident, Buckets Iron bound, one in number.
15.10 – Mustered at quarters.
18.00 – Moderate breeze and fine.
20.00 – Strong breezes and fine.
20.10 – Altered course to NNW & trimmed.
22.00 – In royals and In Jib.
23.00 – Shortened sail and came to in 8 fathoms veered to 48. Furled sails and down royal yards.
6th April 1853
Noon - 16.22 N, 96.26 E
Pagoda Point, N19W 6 miles.
05.50 – Shortened in cable.
06.10 – Weighed and made all plain sail on port tack.
07.00 – Observed Schooner on port tack.
08.00 – Moderate breezes and cloudy.
09.20 – Shortened sail and came to with SB in 4 fathoms veered to 18. Furled royals and T. Gd. Sails.
Observed a large Brig standing to the southward.
10.00 – HM Brig Contest made her number.
11.10 – Fired a gun and hoisted Pilot jack.
11.45 – Weighed and made all plain sail.
12.40 – Received on board a Pilot.
12.50 – Braced round and set starboard Fore Topt. & T.Gt. studding sails.
Discharged George Williams (Ord) Supernumerary to Contest.
13.20 – Made sail.
13.55 – Trimmed and shifted over stud. sails, altered course, trimmed, made and shortened sails as requisite running for the river
Irrawaddy for Rangoon.
16.00 – Light and fine.
16.30 – Shortened sail and came to with SB in 6 fathoms, veered to 45. Furled sails. Discharged Pilot. Found lying here HMS Fox
and East India Co’s Steamers Moozuffer & Phlegethon.
7th April 1853
At single anchor off Rangoon
04.00 – Light and fine.
06.00 – Out Gig.
08.40 – Hon. Company’s Steamer Phlegethon sailed.
09.00 – Mustered per Open List and read Articles of War to ships company.
Watch employed painting ship outside and watering from tank alongside.
Discharged Mr. Olver (Clerk) to HMS Fox.
14.30 – Joined the Hon. Company’s Steamer Benerice.
16.00 – Arrived the Hon. Company’s Steamer Nerbudda.
Employed watering from tank alongside – received 19 tons.
8th April 1853
At single anchor off Rangoon
AM – Washed decks. Employed watering from tank, received 9½ ton.
09.00 – Exercised at General Quarters & Fire Stations.
PM – Employed making up junk and as requisite.
17.10 – Mustered at quarters.
Bent Spanker and Flying Jib.
9th April 1853
At single anchor off Rangoon until 06.00.
04.00 – Shortened in cable. Received a Pilot.
06.00 – Weighed, sent hawser to Moozuffer. Moozuffer took ship in tow.
08.00 – Crossed royal yards.
Draught of water; Forward 16ft 10in, Aft 18ft 3in.
09.10 – Passed Pilot vessel off entrance of channel.
Lost by accident, Hooks, boat, one in number; Staves, boat hook, one in number.
11.00 – Mustered by divisions.
Noon – One sail in sight.
13.00 – Moozuffer cast off. Made all plain sail on port tack.
14.00 – Calm, came to with SB in 9 fathoms, veered to 36 fathoms.
15.30 – Weighed and made sail on starboard tack.
16.00 – Light breeze and fine.
17.00 – Altered course to ESE.
17.10 – Mustered at quarters and exercised Fire Stations.
18.00 – Moderate breeze and fine.
20.00 – Moderate breeze and fine.
21.30 – Trimmed.
23.05 – Trimmed.
10th April 1853
Noon – Double Island SES, Amherst Point, NE½E.
AM – Observed land on port bow.
02.00 – Shortened sail and came to with S.B. in 13 fathoms veered to 51 fathoms. Furled sails.
04.00 – Light breeze and fine.
06.30 – Weighed and made all plain sail & starboard T. Gt. stud. sail to a breeze from the Southward.
07.30 – Set Fore Topt. stud. sail.
08.00 – Light breezes and fine.
09.30 – Mustered by divisions.
Squared yards, set Port T. Gt. stud. sail. Trimmed as requisite to the light & variable airs.
12.30 – Trimmed to a light breeze from the Westward.
13.15 – Fired a gun as signal for a Pilot. In courses and furled T. Gt. sails, royals and Flying Jib.
13.20 – Shortened sail and came to in 13 fathoms, veered to 42 fathoms.
13.40 – Fired a gun to enforce signal for Pilot. Flag staff at Amherst ES½S, 3 miles.
16.00 – Shortened in cable.
16.30 – Received a Pilot. Weighed and made all plain sail on starboard tack.
17.15 – Shortened sail and came to in 13 fathoms, veered to 50 fathoms. Furled sails, down royal yards. Flag staff E½N, Reef
18.15 – Mustered at quarters.
11th April 1853
At single anchor off the entrance to the Martaban River.
Noon – Running up the Martaban River for Moulmein.
04.00 – Moderate breezes and fine.
06.00 – Hoisted Pilot jack and fired a gun for Pilot.
06.20 – Fired a gun to enforce signal. Crossed Royal yards.
09.00 – Mustered by divisions.
10.30 – Received a Pilot.
13.40 – Weighed and made all plain sail. Split Fore royal, In Fore royal.
Trimmed, made and shortened sail as requisite standing up the Martaban river for Moulmein.
17.50 – Shortened sail and came to with S.B. in 6½ fathoms veered to 42. Furled sails. Mapoon ENE 2 or 3 miles.
12th April 1853 At single anchor in Martaban River. Running for Mapoon. 09.00 – Mustered by divisions.
16.30 – Weighed and made sail to Topsails, T. Gt. sails and Jibs.
17.10 – Shortened sail and let go SB in 4¾ fathoms.
Set Fore topsails, jib and Fore topt. stay sail – backed sails to sheer ship veered to 81 fathoms. Furled sails. Let go BB in 9
fathoms, veered to 14 fathoms.
Let slip 37½ fathoms of B.B. cable in putting on mooring swivel.
Down 1st Cutter and Jolly Boat. Employed creeping for BB cable and anchor.
Shackled BB cable to Starboard Waist anchor, let go anchor in 8 fathoms.
18.45 – Down T. Gd. yards.
19.00 – Moored ship with 54 fathoms on S.B. and 26 on sheet anchor – Boats returned having been unsuccessful in creeping for
13th April 1853
Moored off Mapoon
05.00 – Out Gig, Dingy and Barge. Unbent small sails.
06.45 – Departed this life Richard South (Ropemaker), invalided from HM Steam Vessel Hermes.
Sent watch on board Malacca.
PM – A party on board Malacca.
15.30 – Sent Barge to inter the remains of the late R. South (Ropemaker).
Light breezes and fine.
The ship then oversees the work on the Malacca before stopping at the Amherst Hospital to collect invalids and men for passage
home in early May 1853. Cleopatra makes her way back to Chatham where she pays off the crew on the 28th of September 1853.
Reeves is granted his well-earned medal for his part in this war on the 14th of April 1856 when he signs for it in person. This was
to be his only campaign medal.
Reeves then serves in the following vessels as Paymaster:-
Euryalus - 16th February 1854 to 20th July 1854
Hogue - 21st July 1854 to 20th September 1854
James Watt - 21st September 1854 to 23rd April 1857
Impregnable (as Supy. Paymaster) - 24th April 1857 to 7th May 1857
Brunswick - 26th May 1858 to 2nd March 1860.
Impregnable - 3rd March 1860 to 16th March 1860
Donegal - 1st October 1860 to 30th April 1861
Ajax - 1st July 1861 to 31st March 1862
Royal George - 1st April 1864 to 30th June 1864.
Retired onto the Retired list as Paymaster in Chief on the 12th of January 1866 at the age of 61. He retained this rank until his
The 1881 census finds Reeves as a 75 year old Retired Paymaster in RN living at Upland Road, 3 Oxford Terrace, Camberwell,
Surrey. He is living with his wife, (Sarah Reeves, b. Deptford, Kent, aged 56) and a servant girl.
William Hance Reeves dies at his home (204 Barry-road East, Dulwich) on the 11th of April 1893 at the age of 87. His will is read in
London on the 6th of June and granted to his widow, Sarah Charlotte Reeves - the sum of £423 6s and a penny.
Royal Naval Ships built in Bermuda , Bermuda Historical Quarterly, vol 18 no 2, 1961
Ships musters, ADM 38
Ships logs, ADM 53
Statement of service of Paymasters - ADM 11/44
Statement of service RN - ADM 196/11 p196
Pegu medal roll ADM 171/17 p40
|William Hance Reeves - Paymaster & Purser - Cleopatra