James Startin

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Admiral James Startin.
Image: Courtesy of Ruth Roberts, descendant.

Admiral SIR James Startin, K.C.B., A.M., Royal Navy, Retired (20 May, 1855 – 25 September, 1948) was an officer of the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

For his service in the South African War, Startin was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 6 November, 1879.[1]

Startin was appointed to the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert on 2 July, 1889.[2]

He was promoted to the rank of Commander dated 1 September, 1891.[3]


For his services in Benin, Startin was specially promoted to the rank of Captain on 25 May, 1897.[4]

He was appointed command of the 2nd class cruiser Arethusa on 14 November, 1899, and recommissioned her exactly two years later.[5]

He was appointed captain of H.M.S. Jupiter in September 1903, remaining there until mid-August of 1905.[6]

He was relieved in command of Commonwealth on 28 December, 1905, "with regret" by the Board after it reviewed the Court Martial on the stranding of the repair ship in Assistance in Tetuan Bay in October. The Board believed Startin had shown a want of appreciation of responsibilities as Senior Officer present.[7]

Flag Rank

Startin was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on 13 February, 1907, vice Hamilton.[8]

Startin succeeded Rear-Admiral Francis J. Foley as Rear-Admiral in the Channel Fleet on 1 October, 1908.[9]

An officer of the Accountant Branch of the Navy later recalled of Startin:

Captain Startin was a fearless horseman, a gymnast and an athlete. In 1900, when the Boxer campaign was going forward, they sent the Arethusa across to China, and we finished our commission on that station. At Hongkong the captain ran and walked up and then down the Peak in record time.

Then there was the occasion on which he and the heads of Departments went to call on the Chinese Viceroy at Nanking. Dressed in frock coats with epaulettes, cocked hats and swords, the captain, chief engineer, paymaster, surgeon and lieutenant of Marines crowded into a dog-cart and drove the eight miles from the river to the Viceroy's house. After the ceremonial call was ended they set out to return. Captain Startin began to get restless. "I've had enough of this," he said suddenly. Off came his sword and cocked hat, he leapt from the dog-cart and ran the remaining miles back to the river.

While we were up the Yangtse some fine men of the China Inland Mission came on board and had a talk and prayer meeting in the captain's cabin. At the end the captain jumped up impulsively and cried: "Now we'll stand up and sing 'Dare to be a Daniel' and those who don't dare can remain seated!" We all stood up![10]

He was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 19 September, 1911, vice Milne.[11]

Startin was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) on 1 January, 1914.[12]

Great War

In accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 8 December, 1903, Startin was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 14 September, 1914 to take up an appointment in the Royal Naval Reserve.[13] He was granted a temporary commission as Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve on 18 September,[14] and a temporary Commission as a Commander on 24 September.[15]

He was promoted to the rank of Admiral on the Retired List on 24 October, 1915.[16]

On the occasion of the King's birthday he was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) on 4 June, 1917.[17]

On 20 August, 1918, Startin was awarded the Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea. The account of his actions read:

An explosion occurred on board H.M. Motor Launch 64, on the 10th June, 1918. Immediately after the explosion Commodore Startin proceeded alongside M.L. 64, the engine-room of which was still burning fiercely. On learning that the engineer was below, he sprang down the hatch without the slightest hesitation, and succeeded in recovering the body practically unaided.

In view of the fact that the bulkhead between the engine-room and the forward tanks had been blown down by the force of the explosion, and that the fire was blazing upon the side and on the top of the forward tanks, which are composed of exceedingly thin metal and were consequently liable to burst at any moment, the action of Commodore Startin in entering the engine-room before the fire was subdued showed the utmost possible gallantry and disregard of personal safety. Had the engineer not been past human aid he would undoubtedly have owed his life entirely to the courage and promptitude of Commodore Startin.[18]


Startin died on 25 September, 1948 at Wyndlawn, Hayling Island, at the age of ninety-three, from post-operative carcinoma of the caccum and arterio sclerosis.[19] His funeral took place at St. Mary's Church, Hayling Island on Tuesday, 28 September.


  • "Admiral Sir James Startin" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 27 September, 1948. Issue 51187, col E, p. 6.
  • 'G.M.F.'. (November, 1948). "The Arethusa and her Captain". The Naval Review XXXVI (4): pp. 409–410.


  • 1918 painting by Sir John Lavery in the possession of the Imperial War Museum. Catalogue Number IWM ART 1260.

See Also

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Francis J. Foley
Rear-Admiral in the Channel Fleet
1908 – 1909
Succeeded by
Edward E. Bradford
Rear-Admiral in the Second Division, Home Fleet
Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Henry M. T. Tudor
Captain of H.M.S. Barossa
2 Sep, 1895[20] – 21 Aug, 1897[21]
Succeeded by
William F. Tunnard
Preceded by
Alexander E. Bethell
Captain of H.M.S. Arethusa
14 Nov, 1899[22][23] – 3 Apr, 1903[24]
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Hon. Hedworth Lambton
Captain of H.M.S. Powerful
21 Jul, 1903[25] – 3 Sep, 1903[26]
Succeeded by
Frederick St. G. Rich
Preceded by
Sir Richard Poore, Bart.
Captain of H.M.S. Jupiter
4 Sep, 1903[27] – 26 Jan, 1905[28]
Succeeded by
Bentinck J. D. Yelverton
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of H.M.S. Commonwealth
31 Jan, 1905[29] – 29 Dec, 1905[30]
Succeeded by
Richard H. Peirse
Preceded by
Frederick L. Campbell
Captain Superintendent, Sheerness Dockyard
31 Jan, 1906[31] – 4 May, 1907[32]
Succeeded by
John Casement



  1. The London Gazette: no. 24780. p. 6317. 7 November, 1879.
  2. The Navy List. (July, 1890). p. 252h.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 26203. p. 4987. 22 September, 1891.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 26856. p. 2929. 25 May, 1897.
  5. The Navy List, March 1901, corrected to 18 February 1901, page 225, according to Wikipedia.
  6. Mackie, Colin. ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS.
  7. ADM 196/39. f. 1252.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 27995. p. 1067. 15 February, 1907.
  9. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 14 September, 1908. Issue 38751, col E, p. 6.
  10. 'G.M.F.' "The Arethusa and her Captain". pp. 409-410.
  11. The London Gazette: no. 28533. p. 6949. 22 September, 1911.
  12. Edinburgh Gazette: no. 12630. p. 7. 2 January, 1914.
  13. The London Gazette: no. 28902. p. 7294. 14 September, 1914.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 28906. p. 7396. 18 September, 1914.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 28918. p. 7681. 29 September, 1914.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 29340. p. 10509. 26 October, 1915.
  17. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30111. p. 5454. 4 June, 1917.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 30852. p. 9700. 20 August, 1918.
  19. ADM 196/39. f. 1253.
  20. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/39. f. 1246.
  21. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 331.
  22. The Navy List. (March, 1901). p. 225.
  23. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 331.
  24. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 331.
  25. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  26. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  27. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  28. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  29. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  30. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  31. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.
  32. Startin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 502.