James Sawyer

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"My captain... was a leader of men, and he died in battle."
James Sawyer was an officer of the Royal Navy and the captain of the HMS Renown.

James Sawyer as portrayed by David Warner.

Late in his career, Sawyer suffered from what might be now diagnosed as paranoid personality disorder; he was terribly unpredictable, swinging back and forth from rage to pleasantness. His officers feared that he was promoting mutiny among the men. Even when the men were unruly, he would forego punishment. In one instance, he even ordered double rum and a rope yarn sunday. (The crew would receive double their rum ration, and spend the day in idleness.) However, he treated his officers with open contempt, especially Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower and Mr. Midshipman Henry Wellard, accusing them of conspiracy.

One night, Sawyer turned out the Marine detachment aboard the Renown to hunt for mutineers. Sawyer and several Marines were racing through the hold when Sawyer fell into a hatchway and fractured his skull. Delirious, he was confined to his bed by the ship's lieutenants. He was later shot on board the Renown by escaped Spanish prisoners.

Portrayals Edit

Captain Sawyer was played by character actor David Warner in Mutiny and Retribution, the adaptation of Lieutenant Hornblower for the Hornblower TV series.


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