Biography and History

In 1769 John Elphinston (1722-1785), a captain in the British Royal Navy, accepted a commission as rear-admiral in the Russian Navy. In that capacity he sailed from Cronstadt for the Mediterranean, in command of a squadron of four ships of the line, with some frigates and smaller vessels. His ships suffered damage in the North Sea and were obliged to refit at Portsmouth. They remained at Portsmouth until the middle of April 1770. Towards the end of May the squadron was off the island of Cerigo where Elphinston decided to search for the Turkish fleet, which he had heard was heading to Nauplia. In July 1770 at Chesme Bay, with the assistance of Count Orloff, the Russian commander-in-chief, Elphinston secured a dramatic and conclusive victory over the Turkish fleet, which he destroyed with fireships. Upon his arrival in St. Petersburg, Elphinston was gratefully received by the Empress Catherine and made a noble of the Russian state. He settled down in Livonia with his wife, Amelia Warburton. They had seven sons and four daughters.

Source: From the finding aid for C0951