Commodore Lewis Warrington
Cedar Grove Cemetery
1st Alley West, Lot 21
(1782 – 1851)
Lewis Warrington was an officer in the United States Navy during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. He temporarily served as the Secretary of the Navy.
Born at Williamsburg, Virginia, Warrington attended the College of William and Mary briefly before accepting an appointment as a midshipman in the Navy on January 6, 1800. His first duty, aboard the frigate Chesapeake, took him to the West Indies where his ship cruised with a squadron during the last year of the Quasi-War with France. His ship engaged in one action near the end of the cruise as she took the French privateer La Jeune Creole on New Year’s Day, 1801.
Following the cessation of hostilities with France, Midshipman Warrington remained in the Navy. In 1802, Warrington was transferred to the frigate President for service in the Mediterranean against the Barbary pirates. Over the next five years, he remained with the Mediterranean Squadron, serving successively aboard the President, Vixen, and Enterprise. Promoted to lieutenant in 1805, he returned home in 1807 to assume command of a gunboat at Norfolk. In 1809, Lt. Warrington voyaged to Europe onboard the Syren as a dispatch courier followed by a tour of duty on the Essex.
When the war with England began in June 1812, Warrington was aboard the Congress serving as the frigate's first lieutenant while she patrolled the North Atlantic. During his tour of duty on that warship, she made two successful war cruises, capturing nine prizes off the east coast of the United States during the first cruise and four off the Atlantic seaboard of South America during the second.
Promoted to Master Commandant in July 1813, he took command of the sloop-of-war Peacock later that year. On March 12, 1814, he put to sea with his new command bound for the naval station at St. Mary's, Georgia. After delivering supplies to that installation, he encountered the British brig Epervier off Cape Canaveral, Florida. Peacock emerged victorious from a brisk 45-minute exchange with that opponent, inflicting 10 times her own losses on the enemy. For his role in the victory, Warrington received the Thanks of Congress in the form of a Congressional Gold Medal, and of the state of Virginia in the form of a gold-hilted sword.
Warrington took his prize into Savannah, Georgia, and then embarked upon his second cruise on June 4, 1814. On that voyage—which took him to the Grand Banks, the Irish coast, the Shetland Islands, and the Faroe Islands —he took 14 prizes.
After returning via the West Indies to New York, Warrington took Peacock on her third and final war cruise. His sloop-of-war left New York with the Hornet and the Tom Bowline on January 23, 1815, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and entered the Indian Ocean. Unaware that a peace accord had been reached in December 1814 at Ghent, Belgium, Warrington led his little force on another successful foray against British commerce. After taking three prizes in the Indian Ocean, he entered the East Indies in search of more game. On June 30, he encountered the East India Company cruiser Nautilus in the Sunda Strait and attacked her. After a sharp action which cost the British ship 15 men including her first lieutenant, she surrendered to Warrington and his force. At this point, Warrington learned of the peace, so he released the prize and started for home. The Peacock arrived back in New York on October 30, 1815.
In 1816, he commanded the Macedonian briefly for a voyage to Cartagena, Spain, to convey there Christopher Hughes, the representative of the United States at negotiations over the release of some Americans imprisoned by Spanish authorities. In 1819 and 1820, Captain Warrington commanded Java, followed by Guerriere in 1820 and 1821. Each ship was assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron during his tenure as her commanding officer. Captain Warrington returned home and received orders to duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard. In February 1825, he relieved David Porter as commander of the West Indian Squadron during the latter stages of the piracy suppression campaign and thereafter bore the title, commodore.
In 1826, Warrington returned home and served ashore for the remainder of his career. After four years in Washington, D.C. —1826 to 1830—as one of three commissioners on the Navy Board, a body charged with the administration of naval material, Warrington returned to Norfolk for a decade as Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard. In 1840, he was reassigned to Washington for another two years as commissioner on the Navy Board. After the 1842 reorganization of the Navy Department, Warrington became Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks.
On February 28, 1844, Commandant Warrington took over the duties of the Secretary of the Navy after Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer died as a result of wounds received when the large cannon "Peacemaker" exploded during a firing demonstration on board the Princeton at Washington. Near the end of March, Warrington relinquished those duties to the new secretary, John Y. Mason, and resumed his former assignment. In 1846, he became Chief of the Bureau of Ordinance, which office he held until his death on October 12, 1851. * He was married to Margaret Cary Warrington who is also buried on the Warrington Lot in Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Three ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Warrington. For more information on these ships, visit: http://www.usswarrington.com/history.htm. The city of Warrington, Florida, near Pensacola, was also named in his honor.
Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.
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Address: 238 E. Princess Anne Road, Norfolk, VA 23510
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