John Inglis was born in Philadelphia, the son of a slave trading merchant. ‘I am Determined to Live or Die on Board My Ship
’ covers his action-packed naval career starting as a midshipman in command of the guns of a frigate in action against the French, and ends as the severely wounded captain of a warship in a closely fought victory against the Dutch.
The life of John Inglis was so epic, it could have been a work of fiction. As an underage Lieutenant commanding a schooner hunting smugglers before the Boston Tea Party, he also dined with George Washington before the War of Independence. Having settled in Scotland and inheriting his uncle’s Edinburgh estate, he returned to the Navy. Shipwrecked in Norway, he became embroiled in a secret service attempt to persuade Dutch naval commanders to desert. His vessel was involved in the Nore Mutiny and astoundingly, he was held prisoner on his own ship.
Honoured by the City of Edinburgh he returned to the navy for another year before giving up his command and being given the rank of Admiral in retirement. The naval career of John Inglis is not just an incredible story but one that enables a close view of life in the eighteenth-century navy.