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The Scottish Nation

GREIG, a surname which may either be the diminutive of Gregor or Gregory, and in this respect assumed by one of the MacGregor clan when that name was proscribed, or, as is more probable, a corruption of Gregan, a Christian name as used by Sir Gregan Crawford in the reign of David the First. Grego, or Gregano, ‘of the flock,’ may be the Latin form of the name given by the clergy to persons intrusted with the charge of their sheep, and is equivalent to shepherd.

GREIG, SIR SAMUEL (Carlowitch), a distinguished admiral in the Russian service, the son of Captain Charles Greig, master mariner of Inverkeithing, Fifeshire, was born in that small seaport, November 30, 1735, and educated at the parish school. He entered the royal navy while yet young, and soon rose to the rank of lieutenant; distinguished himself at the defeat of the French admiral, Conflans, in 1759, by Admiral Hawke; the taking of Havannah, and several other engagements. After the peace of 1763, he was selected as one of five British naval officers who, at the request of the court of St. Petersburg, were sent out to improve the Russian fleet, when his skill in naval affairs, and diligence in the discharge of his duties, soon attracted the notice of the Russian Government, and he was speedily promoted to the rank of captain in the Russian navy. In the war which in 1769 broke out between Russia and Turkey, Captain Greig was appointed commodore of the fleet sent to the Mediterranean, under the command of Count Orloff. There they met the Turkish fleet, and though the latter were much superior in force to their opponents, the Russians did not hesitate in giving them battle. After a severe engagement, the Turks were compelled to take refuge during the night close to the island of Scio, where they were protected by the batteries on land. The Russian admiral having resolved to destroy the Turkish fleet by means of his fireships, Captain Greig was appointed to the command of this dangerous enterprise. Accordingly, at one o’clock in the morning he bore down upon the Turks, and succeeded in totally destroying their fleet, setting the match to the fireships with his own hands. In this hazardous exploit he was assisted by Lieutenant Drysdale, another British officer, who on this occasion acted under him. As soon as the match was fired, Greig and Drysdale leaped overboard, and, though exposed to a tremendous fire from the Turks, succeeded in reaching unhurt their own boats. Following up this success, the Russian fleet immediately attacked the town and batteries on shore, which, before nine o’clock in the morning, they utterly demolished. For this important service Commodore Greig was, by Count Orloff, at once nominated rear-admiral, and the appointment was confirmed by an express from the empress.

      On peace being concluded, Admiral Greig devoted himself to the improvement of the Russian fleet, in all its departments, and to the remodelling of its code of discipline; and justly earned for himself the title of ‘Father of the Russian navy.” He was appointed admiral of all the Russias, and governor of Cronstadt. The empress also conferred upon him the different orders of the empire, namely, St. Andrew, St. Alexander Newskie, St. George, St. Vladimir, and St. Anne. Adopting the custom of the Russian nobility, who add the Christian name of their father to their own, with the termination of owitch (the son of), he signed and designated himself “Samuel Carlowith Greig.” In 1774 he served against the Turks in the Mediterranean. From the emperor of Germany he received, with a present of 10,000 roubles, an estate in Livonia, which after his death remained in possession of his descendants. He next served with distinction against the Swedes, whose fleet he blocked up in port; but while employed in this duty in the Baltic, he was attacked by a violent fever, and having been carried to Revel, died October 26, 1788, on board his own ship, the Rotislaw, in his 53d year. His funeral, by order of the empress, was conducted with great pomp and magnificence.

      His son, John, died in China in 1793. Another son, Sir Alexis Greig, was a pupil at the High School of Edinburgh in 1783. He entered the Russian navy, and in 1801 was exiled to Siberia for remonstrating with the Czar Paul for his severity to some British sailors. He served as a volunteer on board the Culloden, under Admiral Trowbridge, and commanded the Russian fleets at the sieges of Varna and Anapa in 1828. He became admiral in the Russian navy, and knight of all the imperial orders. In 1840, he visited Inverkeithing, his father’s birthplace. His son, Woronzow Greig, was aide-de-camp to Prince Menschikoff during the Crimean war, and bore a flag of truce from Sebastopol to Lord Raglan. He died on the field of Inkermann.

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