Mark Anthony was born in Waterford in 1786 and at fifteen joined the Royal Navy serving for close on twenty years until retiring to take up a post as harbour master at Dunmore East.
Mark Anthony was born second in line to Joseph Anthony and his wife Juliet Lambert at Seafield House, Stradbally in 1786. Like many second born sons, sure in the knowledge that he would inherit nothing of significance, he joined the navy as a midshipman in 1801 aged 15. Regulars may recall a parallel with another second born Waterford lad, Henry Bolton.
Young Mark travelled via the regular mail packet from Cheekpoint, joining his ship the HMS Hunter at Portsmouth on July 14th 1801. The Hunter (1801 – 18 guns) would later sail in convoy for the West Indies in an attempt to disrupt Spanish trade. In an action off Cuba in 1803 where 15 crewmen died he was promoted to master mate to the HMS Clorinade, apparently in recognition of his bravery and combat skills.
In September 1804 he joined HMS Naiad (1797-38 guns) which was part of Nelsons fleet at the battle of Trafalgar. Again he distinguished himself as the crew came to the rescue of Belleisle (74 guns) which was in danger of grounding and in the rescue of 56 enemy sailors from the Achille.
While aboard Theseus (74 guns) he was promoted Lieutenant by commission dated 22nd April 1808 and was transferred to the Baltic station where he saw action against the Danes. He was First Lieutenant aboard the sloop Sarpen during the disastrous Walcheren campaign. In 1811 he was aboard Stately (64 guns) where he was employed in the defence of Cadiz and Tarifa. Other ships he had an association with include; Fury, Bomb, Orestes, Boyne and apparently his last ship Queen Charlotte (1810).
At this point Mark Anthony was a veteran of several campaigns and he had the scars to prove it. He had a severe injury to his thigh from a gun recoil and had suffered an ankle dislocation, leaving him with a permanent limp. He sought a shore job* and leaving the service early, and without a pension, he took up a job as harbour master at the newly opened Dunmore Eastmail packet station in August of 1818. He quickly became a recognisable figure to travellers coming and going from the quay where “…his cheery ways brought solace to many a nervous voyager…”
Alas there were troubles ahead for Dunmore East, steam power was already being used elsewhere which would make the voyage to Waterford city more appealing. But it would appear that it was the silting of the harbour at Dunmore that sealed its faith as a packet station. In 1835** the station moved, and with it Mark Anthony was out of a job, and without a pension or any compensation. He was made a freeman of Waterford on October 15th 1835, and promoted Commander in 1849. He died while living with his sisters in Catherine St in the city on the 1st June 1867. He was later buried with his family in Ballylaneen Church and graveyard Co Waterford.
* Following the victory over the French there was a reduction in the number of vessels and therefore a shortage of positions and opportunities for promotion in the Navy. Perhaps this was a factor in Anthony’s decision. * *My own research gives me a date of 1835, but I’ve read several other years mentioned, both for the commencement and the closure. I have yet to properly research the mail packet at Dunmore and hopefully that will firm this up, for me at least.
Here’s a blog post on what life was like for an ordinary navy sailor in the era.
Today’s blog referred to the following:
An article on the Anthony family by Hubert Gallway, Decies #16 January 1981. Colclough.B & O’Neill.W Waterford & Thereabouts. 1993
Self published by Waterford Graphics, Waterford Hickey.T & Keane.J.
Stradbally na Déise. 2007. Stradbally Tourism & Enterprise group. Fewer. TN. Waterford people, A Biographical Dictionary. 2004. Ballylough books, Waterford
Julian Walton also mentions Anthony as one of the Waterford men involved in the action at the Battle of Trafalgar in On This Day Vol II.