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Portrait of Captain Urry R.N. - English School
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Portrait of Captain Urry R.N. - English School

Circa 1780

Measurements: Height: 28.5cm (11.25in)



Oil on board. Head and shoulders portrait wearing powdered and the 1748-1767 pattern 'frock' or undress coat.

Captain John Urry, R.N., (fl.1730-1801) belonged to an old Isle of Wight family. The son of a naval officer, he entered the Service at a young age and passed his Lieutenant’s examination in 1750, but had to wait until five years before receiving his Lieutenant’s commission. He advanced to Commander, R.N. in August 1761 and was appointed to the command of the 10-gun sloop H.M.S. Viper. In Viper he took part in the siege and capture of the Spanish naval base at Havana, Cuba (March - August 1762) during the Seven Years’ War. Leaving Havana on 18 July he carried news to London of the Earl of Albermarle’s suuccessful joint naval and land attack of 17 July on the formidable defences of the El Morro Castle that defended the northern side of entrance to the largest naval facility in Carribean. Urry was promoted Post Captain on 26 May 1768, his promotion, the Naval Chronicle noted, being made ‘merely for the purpose of bestowing rank on a very brave and worthy Officer, who while in a condition to serve his country, had afforded every possible proof of her deriving the best advantage from it.’ In 1768 he was briefly placed in command of the Coventry -class sixth rate frigate of H.M.S. Milford (28-guns), but was in receipt of half pay in December 1779, having succumbed to the effects of gout and other disabilities.

He lived in retirement at a prominent seaside residence (known today as The Towers) at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight and became renowned for his hospitality. His generosity as host however is said to earned him the censure of the Admiralty for continually delaying H.M. ships which were anchoring off his property whilst the officers and crews were ashore making merry. Tragically in December 1796 Captain Charles Garnier R.N., of his Majesty's ship Aurora was drowned after dining at Urry’s house, when, by some accident Aurora’s boat capsized with the result that Garnier and three men were drowned.  (The Norfolk Chronicle, 24.12.1796). Captain Urry married in 1771 Mary Stone, daughter of  Andrew Stone, of  Privy Garden, Whitehall, onetime tutor to King George III as Prince of Wales, M.P. for Hastings, and later an Under Secretary of State.

Source: The Naval Chronicle, 1801)