Captain. He was a celebrated frigate captain, and was killed at the battle of Copenhagen. He joined the Navy in 1770 and served on board the Discovery and Resolution in
COOK’S third voyage; 1780, Lieutenant; 1790, Commander; 1791, Captain. After some time on half-pay during the peace, he was appointed in 1789 to command
the Guardian, carrying convicts and stores to Australia. During the voyage, while attempting to close an iceberg to fill up with water, the ship grounded and was got off with difficulty in a sinking condition. Riou sent most of the crew off in boats in an attempt to reach the Cape of Good Hope (which they did): in the meantime he and the remainder endeavoured to save the ship, not made easier by the uncertain temper of the convicts. Riou’s tact and seamanship skills got the ship to Table Bay, where she was abandoned. Riou was swiftly promoted. At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War, he commanded the Rose, 28, in the West Indies under JERVIS, and later the Beaulieu, 40. In 1799 he commissioned the Amazon, 36, which was sent to the Baltic under Hyde PARKER. At Copenhagen, NELSON gave him charge of the frigates (much as he did to BLACK-WOOD at Trafalgar) with freedom to act as he saw fit. When three British battleships grounded on their way into position, Riou put his lightly built and lightly armed frigates into the gap, opposite the Tre Kronor battery. They were much mauled, but prevented the batteries from firing on the main fleet units. Riou was killed, Nelson writing that ‘the country has sustained an irreparable loss’.