John Moutray of the British Royal Navy


John Moutray (c.1722 – 22 November 1785) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He reached the rank of post-captain and served as the Royal Commissioner for English Harbour in Antigua.


He was born c. 1722. He was married to Mary Moutray on 2 September 1771.

He was promoted to post-captain on 28 December 1758.

On 29 July 1780 a convoy of 63 ships were bound for the East Indies and West Indies. They left Great Britain under the care of Captain John Moutray in the 74-gun {HMS|Ramillies|1763|6}, and accompanied by the 36-gun frigates {HMS|Thetis|1773|6} and {HMS|Southampton|1757|6}.

On 8 August 1780 unusual sails were seen, and Moutray signalled his ships to alter course and follow him close to the wind. They paid no attention to his orders, and by daylight on 8 August 1780 the bulk of the convoy were raided by a combined Franco-Spanish fleet.

The warships escaped with eight of the convoy; the other 55 merchantmen were captured, with the loss of their cargoes worth a million and a half, and 2,805 prisoners. It was a blow to British commerce, and especially to the forces in the West Indies, which lost a vast quantity of military stores.

The merchants at home were so enraged, Captain Moutray had to be made a scapegoat. He was tried by court-martial and dismissed his ship, but was again employed before long. He went on to become the Commissioner of the naval dockyard in the Leeward Islands from April 1784 until 1785, where He became friends with Cuthbert Collingwood and Horatio Nelson. He died on 22 November 1785 in Bath, Somerset at the age of 62. He was buried at Bath Abbey four days later. He left his estate to his wife and children. His will also refers to two children he had by a woman named Elspeth London.


Buried at Bath Abbey, His epitaph reads:

Under this place are deposited the remains of John Moutray Esq of Roscobie in Fifeshire in the Kingdom of Scotland twenty eight years a post captain and late a Commissioner of His Majesty’s Navy in Antigua. In his public character he was valuable to his country for his long and faithful services and universally beloved for the integrity of his principles and the distinguished sincerity of his heart. He died 22 Nov 1785 in the 63rd year of his age”.