Admiral Lord Duncan

Dundee War Records

Admiral Lord Duncan (Adam Duncan).

His Career

Adam Duncan was born on the 1st July 1731 in the Seagate of Dundee. He was the second son of Alexander Duncan of Lundie and Helen Haldane daughter of John Haldane of Gleneagles. His father, Alexander Duncan was Provost of Dundee from 1744 to 1747 during the time of the last Jacobite Rising of 1745-46

Adam Duncan entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman when he was about 15 years of age [c1746], serving under his kinsman Capt Robert Haldane and spent three years in the frigate HMS Shoreham.

1749 to HMS Centurion, 50 gun ship for six years with Capt Keppel under whom midshipman, then 3rd, 2nd, 1st Lieutenant, flag and post captain – “Keppel’s Duncan”

HMS Centurion cruised the Mediterranean for two years checking activities of Moorish pirates.
Keppel then became Commodore (1751), North American Station. Adam Duncan graded Lieutenant 10th January 1755

Set out with Keppel in Centurion to convoy troops under Gen Braddock to the American War. A year later returned and Keppel moved to the HMS Torbay, 74 guns and Adam Duncan joined him as 2nd Lieutenant on 10th July 1756.

For nearly three years Adam Duncan was with the Channel Fleet blockading Brest and other ports.

In October 1758 on an expedition under Keppel to take the Island of Goree, near Cape Verd, Duncan was wounded in the leg by a musket ball – his only injury in 50 actions. He was promoted First Lieutenant after the battle.


Commander - 21st September 1759

Post Captain - 25th February 1761 – HMS Valiant, 74 guns under Admiral Keppel

Keppel made HMS Valiant his flagship for expedition to Belleisle – Duncan distinguished himself.
Thereafter Keppel and his protégé went to West Indies till end of war with Spain.

Duncan was not active again till renewed hostilities in 1778 [the HMS Suffolk interlude]

Appointed to HMS Monarch under Admiral Sir Charles Hardy against French and Spanish.

Close of 1779 Admiral Keppel commanded strong flotilla for relief of Gibraltar where Duncan again distinguished himself. Duncan returned to Gibraltar in 1782 to Admiral Howe’s fleet where he was mentioned for bravery in October.

Hostilities ended in 1783 when Duncan moved to HMS Edgar, 74 guns, a Plymouth guard-ship, for a standard three-year period.


Rear-Admiral of the Blue - 14th September 1783

Rear-Admiral of the White - 24th September 1786

Vice-Admiral of the Blue - 3rd February 1793

Vice-Admiral of the White - 12th April 1794

Admiral of the Blue - 1st June 1795

Appointed Commander-in-Chief in the North Sea in April 1795 with HMS Venerable, 74 guns warship as his flagship

Orders to blockade the Dutch fleet in the Texel on 28th May 1797

11th October - The Battle of Camperdown

17th October 1797 - Created Viscount Duncan Of Camperdown, Baron Duncan of Lundie

19th December 1797 - Thanksgiving service, St Paul’s, with King and great assembly present

14th February 1799 - appointed Admiral of the White        

Continued as Commander-in-Chief in the North Sea until retiring to private life in spring of 1800.

July 1804 went to London to offer his services but he had poor health and recent family bereavement this had broken his spirit and he was taken suddenly ill on the return journey.

4th August 1804 Adam Duncan died at Cornhill, near Coldstream, in his seventy-third year.

There is a Life-sized marble figure in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Extract from the Dundee Year Book of the Centenery Celebrations held on 11th October 1897
The Battle of Camperdown - Article in the Dundee Year Book of 1897. For the 100th Anniversary of the Battle.
Admiral Adam Duncan Statue, dundee
Camperdown House,Dundee
Statue to Admiral Adam Duncan in Dundee
Camperdown House, Dundee. Gifted to Admiral Duncan from a grateful nation - now under the care of Dundee City Council
Admiral Duncan
Battle of Camperdown
Admiral Adam Duncan 1731 - 1804
Engraving of the Battle of Camperdown 1797

Iain D. McIntosh, Friends of Dundee City Archives

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