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Lucius Curtis Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Lucius Curtis passes away in 1869.

Lucius Curtis was a British naval officer.

Curtis was born on June 3rd, 1786 in Portsea, Hampshire, England. His father was a naval officer and something of a controversial figure in the Admiralty. This was a possible foreshadowing of Curtis' life.

In 1795, Curtis became a midshipman in the Royal Navy. He was stationed on board the HMS Queen Charlotte. The ship was first-rate, which is part of a definition system which indicates how many guns the ship would carry, in what configuration, as well as other factors. The ship was part of the Channel Squadron where Curtis would spend several years in his early career.

In 1802, Curtis' elder brother passed away suddenly. Because of his brothers passing, Curtis would received strong patronage due to his family links.

In 1804, Curtis received his first command, a sloop called the HMS Jalouse which was part of the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1805, but just a few months after he was given command of the Jalouse, he was given command of HMS Rose.

In 1806, Curtis was promoted to post-captain, an obsolete alternative rank to captain in the Royal Navy. He was given command of the frigate HMS Magicienne. He was ordered to the Indian Ocean during the Napoleonic wars. There he would engage French forces while he tried to blockade Île Bonaparte, which is now Réunion, and Isle de France, which is now Mauritius. He arrived in the area in 1809. His first engagement in the are was with the Windham, an East Indiaman which had been captured by a French admiral. An East Indiaman was a generic term to describe a vessel which was operated as part of the East India Company, regardless of nationality. It could refer to vessels which were Dutch, English, French and other European countries.

In 1810, Curtis began a mission in support of Captain Samuel Pym. Pym was engaged off of Grand Port, Isle de France. When Pym unsuccessfully attempted to blockade the port when French reinforcements arrived, Pym ordered the ships that were in support of him, four in all including Curtis' into the harbor, all but one ran aground on a coral reef. This was due to a lack of harbor pilots. Curtis' ship was one of the vessels that would run aground and would eventually be burned to the waterline by the French. His crew had successfully escaped the ship, but without food or water they were eventually forced to surrender to the French. Later a court martial cleared Curtis in any wrong doing in the loss of ship.

Curtis would command several other ships before being promoted in 1838 to the rank of rear-admiral. After his promotion he became the Superintendent of the Malta Shipyards. He also held as his flagship the HMS Bombay. He was promoted to vice admiral in 1849, full admiral in 1855 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1864.

Curtis passed away on January 14th, 1869.

Curtis was the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire from 1840 until the time of his death.