Captain Don Daniel Huony the Spanish Hornblower

Daniel Huony, captain of the legendary Assateague galleon, was born about 1683 in Tullamore, Clarke County, Ireland. In 1713, he served in British Navy aboard HMS Success serving as an A.B., then coxswain, and then a  midshipman. His life at sea reads like that of Horatio Hornblower but his real adventures began when he left the British Navy and joined the Spanish Navy on August 25, 1714, as piloto principal. His voluntary transition was due to the intolerance of Catholics in England at the time, and being Catholic, he was welcomed by Spain. On January 8, 1715, he was promoted to Alférez de Navío (lieutenant). Two years later he was made captain. In 1719, Huony was at the Battle of Sicily where he was captured and ended up in a hospital which he said later “cost him his youth.” The following year, he made his first trip across the Atlantic and returned to Cádiz  with General Baltasar de Guevara and his a treasure fleet in September of 1720. In 1727, Huony sailed to the Indies and with General Lopez Pintado returned to Spain in 1729. Huony transferred to La Potencia and sailed to the West Indies with the Marqués de Mary in 1730. After a successful voyage, he assumed command of El Fuerte as captain in February of 1731. The Irishman survived shipwreck in 1732 in the Bay of Mustagen off the Algerian coast. But his luck continued, for in the following year, in command of the 60 gun El Africa in the treasure Fleet of Admiral Rodrigo Torres, he was the only ship to survive the hurricane that sank the fleet in the Florida Keys. He would later convey salvaged treasure back to Spain. Theses ships have been salvaged by treasure hunters in modern times.

In 1737, Daniel Huony was commander of two warships, León, 70 guns and the 62 gun Lanfranco  which conveyed a cargo of mercury to Veracruz, Mexico, for the silver mines. The ships arrived in 1738.  La Franco and the 58 gun, Incendio, were loaded with treasure and placed under the command of Huony in 1739. His ships were hit by a storm at Veracruz which ran the Incendio ashore. The treasure was saved and Captain Huony’s life was spared again.

In 1739, war broke out between England and Spain and the following year Huony was given command of the 70 gun, San Felipe, on August 28, 1740. During the Battle of Cartagena in April of 1741, Huony was wounded and was later given the title Commander of the Galleons and returned to Spain in the San Felipe.

Huony returned to the Caribbean and was put in charge of El Fuerte in the squadron of General Andrés de Reggio patrolling off the coasts of Cuba. In 1746 he captured the English merchant ship, Harrington, off of Jamaica. The Harrington was later sold to Don Pedro Pumarejo and was renamed the Nuestra Señora  de Los Godos and was the richest ship to sail in the 1750 fleet.  In April 1749, Huony, on the Fuerte, set sail for Veracruz with the official title of General of the New Spain Fleet. Here, the ships loaded with treasure for their return to Havana. Huony escorted the 56 gun, La Galga, under command of Captain Fernando de Varela. When the ships arrived at Havana they found that La Galga was leaking. This was of little surprise because it had been decided to sell La Galga in Havana after her voyage from Spain in 1748 because of her constant need of repairs. There were no takers in Havana so she was retained by the navy.

Huony had been under the impression that he would be returning to Spain in the Dragon, a warship in the treasure fleet of General Antonio Benito Epinola. The Irishman lost out because of his poor relationship with the general. To his dismay, Varela was given command of the Dragon and Huony was given command of La Galga. Unfortunately, repairs to La Galga kept Huony from sailing with the other ships in the treasure fleet back to Spain. He would not depart Havana until August 18, 1750. It would become the most historic voyage of his career.

On September 5, 1750, La Galga drove ashore on Assateague Island, Virginia. He would later write that he “wonderfully escaped with his life much bruised and maltreated.” His ship would become the legendary galleon made famous in Misty of Chincoteague.

Huony returned to Spain in March of 1751. The following year on May 29, he took command of Princesa and Galicia, both of seventy-four guns. His first mission was to escort two merchant vessels en route to the Indies out beyond St. Vincent, Portugal.

On May 30, 1755, he was promoted to Jefe de Escuadra as commander of the navy yard at Ferrol.

On July 13, 1760, he was promoted to admiral as second in command of the Spanish Navy.

On June 14, 1771, Don Daniel Huony died and then buried at Isla de León, Cádiz. He never married so he left everything to his nephew George Lysacht. In 2009, Liam Begly of County Clare Ireland, a direct descendant of George Lysacht, contacted John Amrhein, Jr., the author of The Hidden Galleon, and conveyed an article about Daniel Huony published in Ireland. In the article was a picture of a chalice that Daniel had given to his brother, Walter, a parish priest in Ireland in 1756.

Huony's gift to his brotherAdmiral Huony died without knowing that when he lost his ship at Assateague Island he would leave behind a legend that would inspire millions of people centuries later.

The inscription reads: The illustrious man, Mr. Daniel O’Huony, who recently held the post of Governor of Ferrol under the Catholic King, and who also several times commanded certain ships of the same, gave this chalice to his native parish of Kilaspuglenane in the year 1756.

The only known remnant of the historic 1750 fleet is Captain Huony’s ship buried on Assateague Island.