Tench, Watkin

Watkin Tench (1758?-1833), officer of marines and author, was born between May 1758 and May 1759 at Chester, England, the son of Fisher Tench and his wife Margaret.  Tench entered the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant in 1776 and saw service in North America.  He was promoted captain-lieutenant in September 1782 later volunteered for a three-year tour of service in New South Wales. Tench maintained good relations with everyone in the little community, particularly with Lieutenant William Dawes, whose interest in the Indigenous people Tench shared. Tench was leader of expeditions to the west and southwest of the settlement.

Tench sailed for England with the marines in December 1791. He was promoted to brevet major and with the outbreak of war with France he was soon at sea again. In November 1794 his ship, the Alexander, under Admiral Rodney Bligh, was captured by the French. Tench spent six months as a prisoner of war, mostly on parole as interpreter to Bligh. After being liberated by exchange, he served for the rest of the war in the Channel Fleet and was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel in 1798. From March 1802 he served in various shore depots with regular promotions until he retired on half-pay as major-general in 1816. He returned to the active-list and retired with the rank of lieutenant-general in 1821.

Tench died at Devonport on 7 May 1833.

Tench published three books: A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay: With an Account of New South Wales, its Productions, Inhabitants &c (London, 1789), A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales, Including an Accurate Description of the Situation of the Colony; and of its Natural Productions; Taken on the Spot (London, 1793) and Letters Written in France, to a Friend in London, Between the Month of November 1794 and the Month of May 1795 (London, 1796).

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