Categories: Battle of Trafalgar | Glorious First of June | HMS Ajax (1798) | Warnham, Sussex | HMS Crown (1782) | HMS Brunswick (1790) | HMS Queen Charlotte (1790) | HMS Russell (1764) | HMS Kingfisher (1782) | HMS Hindostan (1804) | HMS Dragon (1798).
John Pilfold was baptised on 20 January 1769 in Horsham in Sussex,  10 years before his mother Bethia died. Charles, John's elder brother may have just preceded him in to the Royal Navy, with John following "the usual method of introduction to the Royal Navy of the day, joining a ship aged 13 and slowly learning his trade as a midshipman in HMS Crown under the capable guidance of William Cornwallis. In October 1788 he was promoted to Midshipman. Later that month, he went to sea under the command of Sir William Cornwallis to the East Indies, returning in May 1792. Arriving home, Pilfold found that his father had died in 1790 and that his estate, Effingham East Court Manor, had been sold." . His brother had gone to China in December 1791 and died of unknown causes on the ship "Oceana" on 20 August 1792.
War with France broke out in 1794. John was aboard Brunswick at the Battle of Cape Finisterre, and Russell at the Battle of Groix. During the Peace of Amiens he had time ashore to woo and married Mary Ann South, daughter of Thomas South of Donhead in Wiltshire. They were married at Warnham in Sussex on 20 June 1803. 
The war broke out again and he served on Hindostan and on 3 July 1805 was posted to the 74 gun HMS Ajax, Captain William Brown. On the 22nd Ajax was engaged at the Battle of Cape Finisterre, put in to Plymouth for repairs then sailed to join the fleet off Cadiz. On 13th of August Captain Brown was summoned home for the trial of Sir Robert Caulder leaving John in command as acting Captain. A thoroughly experienced naval officer it must still have been a daunting moment when the combined fleet sailed in October and it was clear that John was to be in command for the battle that became known as Trafalgar. HMS Ajax was well back in the line and consequently took few casualties. 
John returned home to a rapturous welcome but never served at sea again. He received the Order of the Bath at the end of the war. He retired eventually to Wales and Devon with his family, "he divided his time between farming, minor shore-based naval appointments, and funding the lifestyle of his nephew, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelly".  Mary died in 1832 and John had a stroke which left him rather childish. He died on 12 July 1834 at Stonehouse in Devon, and was buried at St George's Church in Plymouth. 
Royal Navy Career
|Ship||Rank||Start date||End date||Comment................................................................................|
|HMS Crown||Able seaman||15 Oct 1788||31 Dec 1788||Joined at Chatham. Commodore Sir William Cornwallis|
|HMS Crown||Midshipman||1 Jan 1789||5 Jun 1792||-|
|HMS Brunswick||Able seaman||6 Jun 1792||27 Jan 1793||Joined at Portsmouth. 29 October 1792 3 mutineers from HMS Bounty hanged from the yardarms|
|HMS Brunswick||Midshipman||28 Jan 1793||28 Feb 1793||-|
|HMS Brunswick||Master's Mate||1 Mar 1793||14 Jul 1794||At the Battle of the Glorious 1st of June. Captain John Harvey died of wounds received in the Battle|
|HMS Queen Charlotte||Able seaman||4 Jul 1794||27 Jul 1794||-|
|HMS Queen Charlotte||Midshipman||28 Jul 1794||20 Oct 1794||-|
|HMS Queen Charlotte||Midshipman||8 Dec 1794||14 Feb 1795||-|
|HMS Russell||Junior lieutenant||14 Feb 1794||8 Mar 1795||-|
|HMS Russell||5th Lieutenant||9 Mar 1795||5 Jul 1795||23 June Battle of Groix|
|HMS Russell||4th Lieutenant||6 Jul 1795||20 Aug 1795||-|
|HMS Kingfisher||Lieutenant||31 Aug 1795||3 Sep 1797||Commander Alexander Wilson|
|HMS Impeteux||Lieutenant||26 Apr 1798||15 Apr 1802||-|
|HMS Hindostan||Lieutenant||28 Oct 1804||27 Feb 1805||Captain Mark Robinson|
|HMS Dragon||2nd Lieutenant||2 Mar 1805||2 Jul 1805||-|
|HMS Ajax||Lieutenant||3 Jul 1805||13 Aug 1805||Captain William Brown. Battle of Cape Finisterre|
|HMS Ajax||Acting Captain||14 Aug 1805||21 Oct 1805||Battle of Trafalgar|
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
On 25 May 2018 at 07:17 GMT C. Mackinnon wrote:
John is 20 degrees from George Bush, 25 degrees from Rick San Soucie and 8 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.