© Sunderland Maritime Heritage,  registered charity in England and Wales (1089465)

Jack Crawford, The Hero of Camperdown.

(22 March 1775 – 10 November 1831)

 

In 1797, the HMS Venerable served as Admiral DUncan's flagship in the Battle of Camperdown. This was a major naval action fought on October 11th 1797 between the Royal Navy fleet and a Dutch Navy fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Jan De Winter. The battle resulted in complete victory for the  British, who captured eleven Dutch ships without loss.

 

During the battle, the colours were shot from the mast (a signal of surrender, even if the flag unintentionally falls). Despite being under heavy gunfire, Jack Crawford recovered the colours, climbed the mast and nailed them back on.  He was hailed a hero for doing so, and was given a government pension of £30 a year by the King, as well as a silver medal for his heroism by the people of Sunderland.

 

He later fell on hard times, having to sell his medal for money.  He became the second victim of the cholera epidemic of 1831 and was buried in an unmarked grave. However, Jack Crawford's legacy would soon live on as a play was based on his Heroism, 'Jack Crawford, the Hero of Camperdown'. In the 1880s, a headstone would be erected for his grave, as well as a statue dedicated to him on Mowbray Park, built from funds donated by the people of Sunderland.

The Battle of Camperdown - October 11th 1797