Arthur Barrow joined the Navy as a 1st Class Volunteer in November 1827. This was a route taken by those of his ‘class’, the son of a ‘gentleman’ (his father, John Barrow, who lived in the Manor House, Wedmore, was a Justice of the Peace for 38 years) with aspirations to become a commissioned officer. It would lead to his being appointed a Midshipman in due course. His first ship was HMS Badger. Under the command of Captain Chas. Crowdy Badger was employed off the west coast of Scotland and also in the Atlantic off Lisbon. On 3rd January 1828 HMS Badger rode out a gale (Bad_1) on the Isle of Bute. It was shortly after this that Crowdy was court-martialled for various offences, categorised as ‘oppressive, un-gentlemanly and un-officer like conduct’. It can be surmised from the record of the trial that life on board the Badger must have been extremely hard. Between 1828 and 1834, the ‘Liberal Wars’, a civil war between ‘progressive constitutionalists and authoritarian absolutists’ was fought in Portugal over the royal succession between the two sons, Dom Pedro and Dom Miguel, of King Joao VI. The Badger was heavily involved in the transport of mail (Bad_2, Bad_3, Bad_4) and refugee civilians (Bad_5, Bad_6) from the besieged liberal town of Oporto and later from Lisbon, to England. Various reports of the conflict, subsequently published in The Times, reached England as a result of the Badger’s voyages. Her travels were sometimes not without incident (Bad_7). The war left Portugal with a predominantly ‘conservative’ population inhabiting the countryside, the ‘liberal’ progressives within the principal cities and towns, and the succession being passed to Maria de Gloria, Dom Pedro’s daughter, Queen Maria II of Portugal.
HMS Badger was a 240 ton Cherokee-class brig-sloop with ten 6-pounder guns, launched in 1808. She was a sloop-of-war having a complement of 75 men, her commander during Arthur Barrow’s period on board being Commander Charles Crowdy. She had two masts (a foremast and a taller mainmast). One of HMS Badger’s predecessors of the same name was famous as being the first Royal Navy ship to be commanded by Horatio Nelson. The best known of the class was HMS Beagle, converted in 1825 into a three-masted barque as an exploration and survey vessel before its first voyage. It was considerably modified for the second survey voyage under Robert Fitzroy, with the gentleman naturalist Charles Darwin on board as a self-funded supernumerary. HMS Badger was used as a mooring vessel from 1835, was beached in 1860 and broken up in 1864.
HMS Beagle, sister ship of HMS Badger.
Replica of HMS Beagle.
Kit model of HMS Badger