MACBRIDE, John (d.1800).
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Family and Education
s. of Robert Macbride, Presbyterian minister of Ballymoney, Antrim by his w. née Boyd. m. 14 July 1774, Ursula, da. of William Folkes of Hillington Hall, Norf., 1s.
Entered R.N. 1755; lt. 1758; capt. 1765; r.-adm. 1793; v.-adm. 1794; adm. 1799.
Macbride served with Keppel’s fleet during the American war, and in 1778 was present at the action off Ushant. Sandwich, in his list of ‘Officers of Admiral Keppel’s Fleet’ drawn up in November, wrote that he was ‘an exceedingly troublesome, busy, violent man, very bold but with very little understanding. Reckoned an active officer and much patronized by Admiral Keppel.’1 In April 1782 Macbride was involved in a successful action against the French, and on the 23rd the King wrote to Keppel: ‘His activity has been so thoroughly tried this war, that it is ever expected he will deserve approbation whenever the opportunity offers.’2 In June 1782 he was appointed to supervise the recruitment of seamen in Ireland, and Rockingham wrote to Lord Charlemont that Keppel had sent ‘one of his best and most alert men in the navy’, for whom Rockingham himself had ‘a great regard’.3
In 1784 Macbride successfully contested Plymouth in opposition to the two Administration candidates. In the House he was an opponent of Pitt but voted for his parliamentary reform proposals, 18 Apr. 1785. He signed the third party circular, 1 May 1788. In 1785-6 Macbride was member of a commission to inquire into proposed increases in the fortifications of Plymouth and Portsmouth, and like other naval officers in the commission strongly opposed the scheme. When the proposals were debated by the House, he several times condemned them as ‘an idle waste of public money’, and on 14 Mar. 1785 said that ‘he thought it strange that in a business of such consequence to this country the advice of professional men had not been taken’.4 Wraxall reported that he showed ‘strong sense and an accurate local knowledge of the tract of ground in the vicinity of Plymouth’, and described him as ‘a man of blunt manners and of rude eloquence’.5 A fellow officer, George Berkeley, told the House ‘that the quicksilver in his ... barometer was apt to rise rather too high when he got up to speak in that House and generally reached extreme heat’.6 His fairly frequent speeches were invariably on naval or allied matters.
Macbride unsuccessfully contested Plymouth in 1790, and died 17 Feb. 1800.