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Duncan, Adam

Duncan, Adam (1731–1804). Born at Lundie (Dundee), Duncan was a Scot of prodigious strength and height. He entered the merchant service initially, only obtaining his lieutenant's commission when he was 24. A protégé of Keppel, in the Seven Years War Duncan took part in the Belle Île expedition and the successful attack on Havana. In the American War he served under Rodney at the first relief of Gibraltar 1779 and under Howe at the second in 1782, attaining the rank of admiral in 1787 when he was 56. Duncan's most celebrated command was in the North Sea in 1797 when, based at Yarmouth, he had to counter the effects upon that command of the Nore mutiny at a time when the hostile Dutch fleet might put to sea. At one moment he had only two ships with which to watch the Texel, the companies of both his flagship Venerable and the Adamant being restive. His subsequent defeat of the Dutch off Camperdown was testimony to the North Sea squadron's fundamental patriotism but, even more, to Duncan's resource and unsurpassed qualities of humane leadership. He was created Viscount Duncan of Camperdown; an earldom was conferred on his heir 30 years after his death.

David Denis Aldridge

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