Naval General Service Medal, bar Syria, Henry Harper, Captain of the Forecastle, HMS Hazard, a Long serving seaman of over 40 years continuous service. He lived in Simon’s Town during and after his service transferring between a number of ships to remain on the Cape of Good Hope Station based out of Simons Town.
A unique name on the medal roll confirming his service at the bombardment of Jean D’Acre in Syria.
Henry James Harper was born in Stepney, Middlesex on 12th March 1811, being baptised on 31st March 1811 (St Dunstan, Stepney), the son of Richard Harper and Sophia Lillywhite.
First joined the Royal navy on HMS Ganges from 28 June 1831 – 23rd March 1832.
HMS Britannia 5 April 1832 – 27 April 1832
HMS Spartiate 3 Nov 1832 – 8 Sept 1835
HMS Royal George 10 Oct 1835 – 24 February 1837
HMS Princess Charlotte 23 March 1837 – 31st March 1837 A note here reads “Received for twice pay of Prize Money A.O. 18 Octr 1855 5651”
HMS Pelorus 30 March 1837 – 7 May 1837
HMS Hazard 16 May 1837 – 25 September 1841, During this time promoted to Captain’s Coxswain on 24th June 1837
HMS Siren 12 November 1841 – 23 December 1844, upon joining the crew on 12th Nov he was appointed as Quartermaster.
HMS Rodney 9 May 1845 – 8 March 1849
HMS Castor 9 March 1849 – 4 December 1852, Promoted to Petty Officer 1st CLass on 23rd September 1852.
During his time on the Castor on 1st January 1851, a ship's boat entered the Tejungo (Monega) River, in lat. 17° 17' S. long. 38° 5' E. On the 3rd Lieut. T.M. Campbell, and Lieut. J V C Reed, RM landed with a view to obtaining information from the local Macona tribe regarding the situation with the slave trade. Initially the tribesmen appeared friendly, but once in their village things turned unpleasant and the officers were kidnapped, along with a Krooman, who was acting as an interpreter. After a while it was agreed that they would be released in exchange for some rum, gunpowder and a musket etc. Having managed to speak with one or two of the members of the tribe through Mark Anthony, the interpreter, it was found that the chief did appear to be involved in the slave trade, but no slaves appear to be kept locally.
By 7th January 1851 off Cape Fitzwilliam the boats of the Castor, Orestes and Dart were manned and armed to be sent up the River Monega in order to obtain restitution for the actions of the Macona Tribe a few days previously. However on arriving at the village it was found to have been deserted and burned by the tribesmen.
As Quartermaster of the Castor it is highly likely he was involved in this event.
The Castor, on the Cape of Good Hope Station also came to the assistance of H.M. Troopship Birkenhead when it was wrecked on 26th February 1852.
It also detained numerous Slave Dhows in November 1851 in Pongo Bay, East Africa, also during August 1852 was reported to have destroyed a slave vessel and a Barracoon (prison for slaves pending transportation).
Whilst stationed in the area for a few years he must have also stopped off in Simon’s Town where he met and married his wife Maria Wolverans in April 1853.
HMS Maeander 5 December 1852 – 4 April 1854
HMS Hydra 5 April 1854 – 24th October 1854
HMS Seringapatam 25 October 1854 – 31 December 1855
HMS Castor 1 January 1856 – 24 July 1857
HMS Boscawen 25 July 1857 – 5 July 1860
HMS Forte 6 July 1860 – 28 April 1861
HMS Narcissus 29 April 1861 – 18 July 1861
HMS Seringapatam 1 Jan 1862 – 12 March 1867 (Note 3 Good Conduct Badges)
HMS Seringapatam 19th March 1867 – 21 October 1872
HMS Flora 22 October 1872 – 7 January 1874
Finally discharged after 43 years service as Petty Officer 1st Class to his Shore Pension on 30th September 1874.
He had married Elizabeth Fulforth in Portsmouth on 5th May 1845 but she later died during 1849.
He remarried to Maria Johanna Wolverans in Simon’s Town, Western Cape, South Africa on 12th April 1853, with whom he had 9 children.
Later died on 7th November 1885 in Simon’s Town, South Africa.