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Admiral Edward Pellew: The true history of this most novel Captain

Anne thought she left great happiness behind her when they quitted the house; and Louisa, by whom she found herself walking, burst forth into raptures of admiration and delight on the character of the navy; their friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness; protesting that she was convinced of sailors having more worth and warmth than any other set of men in England; that they only knew how to live, and they only deserved to be respected and loved.

Admiral Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, GCB, (April 9, 1757 – January 23, 1833) was a British naval officer. He fought during the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary, and the Napoleonic Wars. His younger brother, Israel Pellew, also pursued a naval career.

Pellew is remembered as an officer and a gentleman of great courage and leadership, earning his land and titles through courage, leadership and skill – serving as a paradigm of the versatility and determination of Naval Officers during the Napoleonic Wars.

Edward Pellew was born at Dover, the second son of Samuel Pellew (1712 – 1764), commander of a Dover packet. The family was Cornish, descended from a family which came originally from Normandy, but had for many centuries been settled in the west of Cornwall. Edward’s grandfather, Humphrey Pellew, a merchant, resided from 1702 at Flushing manor-house in the parish of Mylor, and was buried there in 1722. On the death of Edward’s father in 1764 the family removed to Penzance, and Pellew was for some years at the grammar school at Truro. He was a pugnacious youth, which did not endear him to his headmaster. He ran away to sea at the age of 14, but soon deserted because of unfair treatment to another midshipman.

In 1770 he entered the Royal Navy on board the Juno, with Captain John Stott, and made a voyage to the Falkland Islands. In 1772 he followed Stott to the Alarm, and in her was in the Mediterranean for three years. Consequent on a high-spirited quarrel with his captain, he was put on shore at Marseille, where, finding an old friend of his father’s in command of a merchant ship, he was able to get a passage to Lisbon and so home. He afterwards was in the Blonde, which, under the command of Captain Philemon Pownoll, took General John Burgoyne to America in the spring of 1776. In October Pellew, together with another midshipman, Brown, was detached, under Lieutenant Dacres, for service in the Carleton tender on Lake Champlain. In a severe action on the 11th Dacres and Brown were both severely wounded, and the command devolved on Pellew, who, by his personal gallantry, extricated the vessel from a position of great danger. As a reward for his service he was immediately appointed to command the Carleton. In December Lord Howe wrote, promising him a commission as lieutenant when he could reach New York, and in the following January Lord Sandwich wrote promising to promote him when he came to England. In the summer of 1777 Pellew, with a small party of seamen, was attached to the army under Burgoyne, was present in the fighting at Saratoga, where his youngest brother, John, was killed. He, together with the rest of the force, was taken prisoner. After the surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, he was repatriated.

On returning to England he was promoted, on 9 January 1778, to be lieutenant of the Princess Amelia guardship at Portsmouth. He wanted to be appointed to a sea-going ship but Lord Sandwich considered that he was bound by the terms of the surrender at Saratoga not to undertake any active service. Towards the end of the year he was appointed to the Licorne, which, in the spring of 1779, went out to Newfoundland, returning in the winter, when Pellew was moved into the Apollo, with his old captain, Pownoll. On 15 June 1780 the Apollo engaged a large French privateer, the Stanislaus, off Ostend. Pownoll was killed by a musket-shot, but Pellew, continuing the action, dismasted the Stanislaus and drove her on shore, where she was protected by the neutrality of the coast. On the 18th Lord Sandwich wrote to him: “I will not delay informing you that I mean to give you immediate promotion as a reward for your gallant and officer-like conduct.” and on 1 July he was accordingly promoted to the command of the Hazard sloop, which was employed for the next six months on the east coast of Scotland. She was then paid off. In March 1782 Pellew was appointed to the Pelican, a small French prize, and so low that he used to say “his servant could dress his hair from the deck while he sat in the cabin.” On 28 April, while cruising on the coast of Brittany, he engaged and drove on shore three privateers. In special reward for this service he was promoted to post rank on 25 May, and ten days later was appointed to the temporary command of the Artois, in which on 1 July, he captured a large frigate-built privateer.

From 1786 to 1789 he commanded the Winchelsea frigate on the Newfoundland station, returning home each winter by Cadiz and Lisbon. Afterwards he commanded the Salisbury on the same station, as flag-captain to Vice-admiral Milbanke. In 1791 he was placed on half-pay and tried his hand at farming with indifferent success. He was offered a command in the Russian navy but declined it. He was still struggling with the difficulties of his farm when the war with France was declared. He immediately applied for a ship and was appointed to the Nymphe, a 36-gun frigate which he fitted out in a remarkably short time. Having expected a good deal of difficulty in manning her, he had enlisted some eighty Cornish miners, who were sent round to the ship at Spithead. With these and about a dozen seamen–apart from the officers (who were obliged to help in the work aloft)–he put to sea and by dint of pressing from the merchant ships in the Channel, succeeded in filling up his complement but with very few seasoned navy men. On 18 June the Nymphe sailed from Falmouth on the news that two French frigates had been seen in the Channel. At daybreak on the 19th Nymphe fell in with the Cléopâtre, also of 36 guns, commanded by Captain Mullon, one of the few officers of the ancien régime who still remained in the French navy. After a short but very sharp action, the Cléopâtre’s mizenmast and wheel were shot away, and the ship, being unmanageable, fell foul of the Nymphe, and was boarded and captured in a fierce rush. Mullon was mortally wounded, and died in trying to swallow his commission, which, in his dying agony, he had mistaken for the code of secret signals. The code thus fell intact into Pellew’s hands, and was sent to the admiralty. The Cléopâtre, the first frigate taken in the war, was brought to Portsmouth, and on 29 June Pellew was presented to the king by the Earl of Chatham and was knighted.

On 28 May 1783 he married Susannah Frowde. They had four sons and two daughters. These children were:

  • Emma Mary Pellew, born 18 January 1785
  • Pownoll Bastard Pellew, born 1 July 1786, later 2nd Viscount Exmouth
  • Julia Pellew, born 31 May 1787
  • Fleetwood Broughton Reynolds Pellew, later an admiral and knight, b. 13 December 1789
  • George Pellew, later a bishop, born 3 April 1793
  • Edward William Pellew, later a minister, born 3 November 1799

He was captain of the Nymphe which took the first French warship, the Cléopâtre, during the Revolutionary war with France in 1793. For this action he was knighted. By 1794 he was Commodore of the Western Frigate Squadron. In 1795, he took command of HMS Indefatigable the ship with which he is most closely associated.

He was also a good swimmer and noted for saving many lives. The most striking event was on January 26, 1796 when the East Indiaman Dutton, which was carrying troops, ran aground under Plymouth Hoe. Due to the heavy seas, the crew and soldiers aboard were unable to get to shore. Pellew swam out to the wreck with a line and helped rig a lifeline which saved almost all aboard. For this feat he was, on 18 March 1796 created a baronet.

His most famous action started on January 13, 1797 when cruising in company with HMS Amazon, a French 74 gun ship of the line, the Droits de l’Homme, was sighted. Normally a ship of the line would outmatch two frigates, but by skilful sailing in the stormy conditions, the British frigates avoided bearing the brunt of the superior fire power of the French. In the early morning of January 14, 1797, the three ships were embayed on a lee shore in Audierne Bay. Both the Droits de l’Homme and Amazon ran aground, but Indefatigable managed to claw her way off the lee shore to safety.

Pellew was responsible for press-ganging the brilliant young black violinist and composer Joseph Antonio Emidy who had been playing in the Lisbon Opera orchestra.

Pellew was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1804. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies. It took six months to sail out to Penang so he took up the appointment in 1805. On his return from the east in 1809, he was appointed, to the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet from 1811 to 1814 and again in 1816.

In 1814, he was made Baron Exmouth of Canonteign. He led an Anglo-Dutch fleet against the Barbary states and was victor of the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816 and secured the release of the 1,000 Christian slaves in the city. For this action he was created 1st Viscount Exmouth on 10 December 1816. Following his return to England he became Port Admiral at Plymouth from 1817 to 1820, when he effectively retired from active service. He continued to attend and speak in the House of Lords. In 1832 he was appointed Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom.

He bought Bitton House in Teignmouth in 1812 and it was his home until his death in 1833. The museum in Teignmouth has a comprehensive collection of artefacts which belonged to him.

The Sir Edward Pellew Group of Islands, situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria were named after Pellew by Matthew Flinders who visited them in 1802. Other Australian geographical features include Cape Pellew (adjacent to the islands) and Exmouth Gulf. Pellew Island, Jamaica is also named after Edward Pellew. However, while Palau (formerly the Pellew or Pelew Islands), east of the Philippines is often said to be named for Edward Pellew, it was called that by Captain Henry Wilson in 1783 which was well before Pellew came to prominence. It appears to be an anglicization of the indigenous name Belau.

There is also a building in HMS Raleigh (where a lot of the Naval basic training is conducted) named after him which are used as sleeping quarters for new recruits, and a Sea Cadet Unit in Truro called T.S.Pellew

Admiral Pellew is featured as the Captain of Indefatigable in some of C. S. Forester’s fictional Horatio Hornblower novels; in the television adaptations, as portrayed by Robert Lindsay, he is given a more prominent role. As a midshipman, he appears in the novel Jack Absolute by C. C. Humphreys. Pellew is the name of a minor character in several of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels, but as himself is only mentioned in The Yellow Admiral and The Hundred Days.

From Wikipedia, the free, online encyclopedia.

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The Duke of Wellington: The life of the Iron Duke

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1 May 1769–14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman, widely considered one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century. He came from an established family of noblemen – his father was the 1st Earl of Mornington, his eldest brother, who would inherit his father’s Earldom, would be created Marquess Wellesley, and two of his other brothers would be raised to the peerage as Baron Maryborough and Baron Cowley. Commissioned an Ensign in the British Army, he would rise to prominence in the Napoleonic Wars, eventually reaching the rank of Field Marshal.

Wellington commanded the Allied forces during the Peninsular War, pushing the French Army out of Spain and reaching southern France. Victorious and hailed as a hero in England, he was obligated to return to Europe to command the Anglo-Allied forces at Waterloo, after which Napoleon was permanently exiled at St. Helena. Wellington is often compared to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, with whom he shared many characteristics, chiefly a transition to politics after a highly successful military career. He served as a Tory Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on two separate occasions, and was one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement in 1846.

Early Life

Believed to have been born in either Dublin or at his family’s lands in County Meath, both in Ireland, the third son of Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington, his exact date of birth is a matter of some contention. All that exists is a church registry of the event marked a few days after it must have occurred. The most likely date is 1 May, but any day for a few days before or after is possible. He was baptised Arthur Wesley, which was legally changed to Arthur Wellesley in March 1798.

Wellesley was educated at Eton from 1781 to 1785, then moved to Brussels in Belgium to receive further education. In 1787, his father purchased Wellesley a commission as an Ensign in the 73rd Regiment of Foot; he attended the Military Academy of Angers in France, after having received earlier training in England. His first assignment was as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland (1787–1793). He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1788; two years later, he was elected as an independent Member of Parliament for Trim in the Irish House of Commons (in 1790), a position he held until 1797. He rose rapidly in rank (largely through the purchase system, which at that time allowed, and, indeed, generally required, officers in the British Army to purchase their rank) becoming Lieutenant-Colonel in the 33rd Regiment of Foot in 1793. He then fought in Holland between 1794 and 1795, and was present at Boxtel.

In 1796, after a promotion to Colonel, he accompanied his division to India. The next year, his elder brother, Richard Wellesley, 2nd Earl of Mornington, was appointed Governor-General of India, and when war broke out in 1799 against the Sultan of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, Arthur Wellesley commanded a division of his own. While serving in that capacity, he was appointed Governor of Seringapatam and Mysore, positions he held until 1805. He fought at Assaye, Argaum, and stormed the fortress at Gawilghur. Following the successful conclusion of that campaign, he was appointed to the supreme military and political command in the Deccan; while in that position he defeated the robber chieftain Dhundia Wagh (who had ironically escaped prison in Seringapatam during the last battle of the Mysore war) and the Marathas (in 1803). In 1804, he was created a Knight of the Bath, which would be the first of numerous honours throughout his lifetime. When his brother’s term ended in 1805, he returned with him to England.

Upon his return to England, Wellesley was elected MP for Rye (in the British House of Commons) for six months in 1806; a year later, he was elected MP for Newport on the Isle of Wight, a constituency he would represent for two years. During this time, he was an established Tory, and in April 1807 (while representing St Michael), he was invested a Privy Counsellor. Additionally, he served as Chief Secretary for Ireland for some time. However, his political life would soon come to an abrupt end, and he would sail to Europe to participate in the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleonic Wars

It was in the following years that Wellesley undertook the events that made his place in history. Since 1789, France had been embroiled in the French Revolution, and after seizing the throne in 1799, Napoleon had reached the heights of power in Europe. The British government was casting about for ways to end Napoleon’s threat; and Wellesley began to supply them.

First came an expedition to Denmark in 1807, which soon led to Wellesley’s promotion to Lieutenant-General and a transfer to the theatre of the Peninsular War. Although that war was not going particularly well, it was the one place where the British (and the Portuguese) had managed to put up a fight on the European mainland against France and her allies. Wellesley defeated the French at the Battle of Roliça and the Battle of Vimeiro in 1808. The resulting Convention of Cintra, which stipulated that the British army would transport the French out of Lisbon, was controversial, and Wellesley was briefly recalled to Britain. In the meantime, however, Napoleon himself had come to Spain, and when the Commander-in-Chief, Sir John Moore, died during the Battle of Corunna, Wellesley was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all British forces in Portugal.

Returning to Iberia in April 1809, he defeated the army of King Joseph of Spain (Napoleon’s eldest brother) at the Battle of Talavera in 1809. For this, he was raised to the Peerage as Viscount Wellington, of Talavera and of Wellington in the County of Somerset. He proceeded to drive French forces out of Portugal entirely in 1810 to 1811, fighting at Busaco, Lisbon, and Fuentes de Oñoro. In May 1811, he was promoted to General for his services in Portugal.

Driving into Spain he defeated the French again at Salamanca, then took Madrid in 1812. Around this time, he was created Earl of Wellington. A French counter-attack that year put British forces in a precarious position, but Lord Wellington was given command of all Allied armies in Spain and created Marquess of Wellington on 3 October. Wellington led a new offensive in 1813, culminating in the Battle of Vittoria, which pushed the enemies back into France and for which he was Promoted to Field Marshal. He invaded France, and finally defeated the French forces at Toulouse; after this battle, Napoleon was exiled to Elba in 1814.

Hailed as the conquering hero, Wellington was created Duke of Wellington, a title still held by one of his descendants. He was soon appointed Ambassador to France, then took Lord Castlereagh’s place as First Plenipotentiary to the Congress of Vienna, where he strongly advocated allowing France to keep its place in the European balance of power. On 2 January 1815, the title of his Knighthood of the Bath was converted to Knight Grand Cross upon the expansion of that order.

On 26 February 1815, Napoleon left his exile on Elba and returned to France. Regaining control of the country by May, he then faced a reformation of the alliance against him. Wellington left Vienna to command the Anglo-Allied forces during the Waterloo Campaign. He ended up in Belgium, along with Prussian forces under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, and the Anglo-Allied forces fought the French in the inconclusive Battle of Quatre Bras. Two days later, on 18 June, Wellington and von Blücher finally defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. The French Emperor abdicated once again on 22 June, and was spirited away by the British to distant St Helena.

Later Life

Politics beckoned once again in 1819, when Wellington was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance in the Tory government of Lord Liverpool. In 1827, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, a position he would hold for the remainder of his life, except during his premiership. Along with Robert Peel, Wellington became one of the rising stars of the Tory party, and by 1828, had become Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister, Wellington was the picture of the arch-conservative, though oddly enough the highlight of his term was Catholic Emancipation, the granting of almost full civil rights to Catholics in the United Kingdom. The change was forced by the landslide by-election win of Daniel O’Connell, a Catholic proponent of emancipation, who was elected despite not being legally allowed to sit in Parliament. Lord Winchilsea accused the Duke of having “treacherously plotted the destruction of the Protestant constitution”. Wellington responded by immediately challenging Winchilsea to a duel. The duel is also one of the reasons for the founding of King’s College London. On 21 March 1829, Wellington and Winchilsea met on Battersea fields. When it came time to fire, the Duke deliberately aimed wide and Winchilsea fired into the air. He subsequently wrote Wellington a grovelling apology. In the House of Lords, facing stiff opposition, Wellington spoke for Catholic emancipation, giving one of the best speeches of his career. The Catholic Emancipation Act was passed with a majority of 105.

Wellington’s government fell in 1830. In the summer and autumn of that year, a wave of riots swept the country. The Whigs had been out of power for all but a few years since the 1770s, and saw political reform in response to the unrest as the key to their return. Wellington stuck to the Tory policy of no reform and no expansion of the franchise, and as a result lost a vote of no confidence on 15 November 1830. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Lord Grey.

The Whigs introduced the first Reform Act, but Wellington and the Tories worked to prevent its passage. The bill passed in the House of Commons, but was defeated in the House of Lords. An election followed in direct response, and the Whigs were returned with an even larger majority. A second Reform Act was introduced, and defeated in the same way, and another wave of near insurrection swept the country. During this time, Wellington was greeted by a hostile reaction from the crowds at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and eventually the bill was passed after the Whigs threatened to have the House of Lords packed with their own followers if it were not. Though passed, Wellington was never reconciled to the change; when Parliament first met after the first election under the widened franchise, Wellington is reported to have said “I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life”. During this time, Wellington was gradually superseded as leader of the Tories by Robert Peel; when the Tories were brought back to power in 1834, Wellington declined to become Prime Minister, and Peel was selected instead. Unfortunately Peel was in Italy, and for three weeks in November and December 1834, Wellington acted as a caretaker, taking the responsibilities of Prime Minister and most of the other ministries. In Peel’s first Cabinet (1834–1835), Wellington became Foreign Secretary, while in the second (1841–1846) he was a Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the House of Lords.

Wellington retired from political life in 1846, although he remained Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and returned briefly to the spotlight in 1848 when he helped organize a military force to protect London during that year of European revolution. He died in 1852, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

In 1838 a proposal to build a statue of Wellington resulted in the building of a giant statue of him on his horse Copenhagen, placed above the Arch at Constitution Hill in London directly outside Apsley House, his former London home, in 1846. The enormous scale of the 40 ton, 30 feet high monument resulted in its removal in 1883 and the following year it was transported to Aldershot where it still stands near the Royal Garrison Church.

Apart from giving his name to “Wellington boots”, the Duke of Wellington also had several nicknames, such as the “Iron Duke” (after an incident in 1830 in which he installed metal shutters to prevent rioters breaking windows at Apsley House), “The Beau” (so called by his officers, thanks to him being a fine dresser ), and “The Peer” (after he was created a Duke) Regular soldiers under his command called him “Old Nosey” because of his long nose.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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Emma Hamilton: Consort to Lord Horatio Nelson

Emma Hamilton

Emma Hamilton: Consort to Lord Horatio Nelson

Emma Hamilton (Lady Hamilton) (April 26, 1765 – January 16, 1815) is best remembered as the mistress of Horatio Nelson.

Born “Emily Lyon” in 1765 at Swan Cottage, Ness, she was the daughter of a Wirral blacksmith who died soon after her birth. By all accounts she was an exceptionally beautiful woman. In her teens she was sent to London to work as a nursery-maid but her looks quickly won her fame and she became a celebrated model for fashionable painters most notably, George Romney who painted numerous portraits of her. Emily “Hart” became mistress to Sir Harry Featherstonhough and later, Charles Greville, and was seduced by a naval officer whose child she bore. She also found employment as an Attendant at the “Temple of Health”, a suspect medical establishment.

As far as she could, Emily entered into stable relationships and remained faithful to her lovers although she accepted that she could not expect them to marry her. Charles Greville was a nephew of Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to Naples, a wealthy widower, scholar and antiquarist. Greville asked his uncle to take Emma because Greville needed to find a suitable wife. Already aged sixty Sir William did not really want to take on a mistress or a wife in her twenties but after much correspondence and eventual acquiescence he agreed that “Emma”, as she now was, should join him in Naples where she arrived early in 1786.

Emma did not know of the agreement between Greville and Sir William believing that she was there “on holiday” and she was devastated when the reality of the situation slowly dawned upon her. But, Sir William seems to have acted with great kindness and patience and eventually he and Emma formed a genuinely loving relationship which resulted in their marriage in London in the autumn of 1791.

Sir William was a realist. Emma was a beautiful, vivacious and intelligent woman (she spoke fluent French and Italian) and became a close friend and confidante of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples the sister of Marie Antoinette. He knew very well that his tenure on her affections would, sooner or later, be terminated either by his death or by a younger and more suitable partner..

Nelson was accepted tactfully by the ageing ambassador and he did nothing to interfere in what was obviously becoming a very intense love affair. Nelson was vain and Emma played up to it. They were lovers from 1799 until Nelson’s death by which time they were virtually living as husband and wife and making only token efforts to conceal it. His marriage to Frances had been a failure, it was over by 1801, and his letters reveal increasing frustration and exasperation with her. He finally “dismissed” her (her own word) in 1801 in a very explicit and bluntly worded letter. Horatia had been born to Emma a few weeks earlier.

Lady Emma Hamilton died in 1815 in Calais, aged fifty, penniless ten years after her beloved Nelson. Had it not been for the generosity of some of Nelson’s friends she would have died in a debtor’s prison. What would the great admiral have thought? It was entirely her own fault. Sir William had provided for her and so had Nelson and she could have lived comfortably though modestly if she had moderated her extravagant life style. It is interesting to note that Horatia took much pride in knowing that she was the daughter of Lord Nelson but she refused to acknowledge that Emma was her mother even though Emma had brought her up from birth.

Although she was told many times that Emma may have been her mother, she refused to believe this. This may have been Emma’s doing because she never revealed Horatia’s mother’s name only saying that she “was too great to be mentioned”. Nelson’s own letters however reveal the truth – even if they are cryptic.

Emma’s Life in Bath

It is often suggested that Nelson’s great love was in Bath when he was convalescing at 2 Pierrepont Street. That was in 1781 and Emma Lyon, as she was then, is said to have been a maidservant in the Linley household at 1 Pierrepont Place, just across the street. It is a nice story, but the evidence for it is threadbare, as it is for the claim that she stayed in Bath in 1798; in that year, as Lady Hamilton, she was busy entertaining Nelson in Naples, after his great victory in the battle of the Nile, and there are no indications that she visited England.

It seems likely, however, that she came to Bath after Nelson’s death. Three or four years after Trafalgar, she is said to have lived for a time at 6 Edward Street. She had squandered most of the generous legacies left her by Nelson and Sir William Hamilton, and was rapidly approaching penury. Later she spent thirteen months in a debtors’ prison before her untimely death.

Emma’s Legacy

Regardless of how and why Emma died in obscurity, the Nelson Society could not allow her memory to fade and her last resting place go unmarked and some six years ago moves were made that resulted in the erection of a monument which suitably commemorates the life of a remarkable woman.”If you seek his monument” is a chapter from The Nelson Companion* in which Flora Fraser writes:

New monuments continue to rise. Emma Hamilton is now remembered in the Parc Richelieu in Calais, close to where she was buried in 1815. The Mayor of Calais and Mrs. Anna Tribe, descendant of Nelson and Emma, assisted the donor Mrs. Jean Kislak at an inauguration ceremony on St. Georges Day, 1994. The story of how Jean Kislak from Miami came to honour Nelson’s ‘bequest to the nation’ in the late twentieth century is rich in international adventure, comedy and co-operation. Another key player in the story was The 1805 Club, which provided the sandstone ball from the Wirral, Emma’s birthplace, that tops the elegant obelisk of Calais stone. The Club has promised to add this new monument to the extensive list of Nelson monuments, and the graves of those associated with him, which it watches over and tends.

Emma’s life is the subject of the 1941 film That Hamilton Woman, which stars Vivian Leigh as Emma Hamilton and Laurence Olivier as Lord Horatio Nelson.

Written by Robert Walker and reprinted with permission from The Nelson Society. Excerpts and sources include They Came to Bath, and Beloved Emma, By Flora Fraser, published by George Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

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Horatio Nelson: Britain’s most glorious Admiral

“And who is Admiral Croft?” was Sir Walter’s cold suspicious inquiry.

Mr Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman’s family, and mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause which followed, added –“He is a rear admiral of the white.He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I believe, several years.”

Horatio Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England to the Reverend Edmund Nelson and Catherine Nelson. (His mother was a grandniece of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford.) His mother died when Nelson was nine. He learnt to sail on Barton Broad on the Norfolk Broads, and by the time he was twelve, he had enrolled in the Royal Navy. His naval career began on January 1, 1771, when he reported to the warship Raissonable as an ordinary seaman and coxswain. The vessel was commanded by Nelson’s maternal uncle and, shortly after reporting aboard, Nelson was appointed a midshipman and began officer training.

In 1777 he was a lieutenant, assigned to the West Indies, during which time he saw action on the British side of the American Revolutionary War. By the time he was 20, in June 1779, he made captain; the frigate Hitchenbroke was his first command.

In 1781 he was involved in an action against the Spanish fortress of San Juan in Nicaragua. A success, the efforts involved still damaged Nelson’s health to the extent that he returned to England for more than a year. He eventually returned to active duty and was assigned to the Albemarle, in which he continued his efforts against the American rebels until the official end of the war in 1783.


In 1784, Nelson was given command of the 28-gun Boreas, and assigned to enforce the Navigation Act in the vicinity of Antigua. This was during the denouement of the American Revolutionary War, and enforcement of the act was problematic—now-foreign American vessels were no longer allowed to trade with British colonies in the Caribbean Sea, an unpopular rule with both the colonies and the Americans. After seizing four American vessels off Nevis, Nelson was sued by the captains of the ships for illegal seizure. As they were supported by the merchants of Nevis, Nelson was in peril of imprisonment and had to remain sequestered on Boreas for eight months. It took that long for the courts to deny the captains their claims, but in the interim Nelson met Fanny Nesbit, a widow native to Nevis, whom he would marry on March 11, 1787 at the end of his tour of duty in the Caribbean.

Nelson lacked a commission starting in 1789, and lived on half pay for several years. But as the French Revolution began to export itself outside of France’s borders, he was recalled to service. Given the 64-gun Agamemnon in 1793, he soon started a long series of battles and engagements that would seal his place in history.

He was first assigned to the Mediterranean, based out of the Kingdom of Naples. In 1794 he was shot in the face during a joint operation at Calvi, Corsica, which cost him the sight in his right eye—his left eye suffered from the additional burden, and Nelson was slowly going blind up until his death; he would often wear a patch over his good eye to protect it.

In 1796, the command-in-chief of the fleet in the Mediterranean passed to Sir John Jervis, who tapped Nelson to be his commodore—the captain of Jervis’ flagship, HMS Captain.


The year 1797 was a full year for Nelson. On February 14, he was largely responsible for the British victory at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. In the aftermath, Nelson was knighted a member of the Order of the Bath (hence the postnominal initials “K.B.”). In April of the same year he was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue, the ninth highest rank in the Royal Navy. Later in the year, during an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he was shot in the right elbow with a musketball. This success was his unique defeat. He lost the lower half of his arm, and was unfit for duty until mid-December.

The next year, Nelson was once again responsible for a great victory over the French. The Battle of the Nile (also known as the Battle of Abukir Bay) took place on August 1, 1798, and as a result, Napoleon’s ambition to take the war to the British in India came to an end. The forces Napoleon had brought to Egypt were stranded, and Napoleon himself had to be smuggled back to France. For this spectacular victory, Nelson was granted the title of Baron Nelson (Nelson felt cheated that he was not awarded a greater title; Sir John Jervis had been made Earl St Vincent for his part in that battle, but the British Government insisted that an officer not commander-in-chief could not be raised to any peerage higher than a barony).

Not content to rest on his laurels, he then rescued the Neapolitan royal family from a French invasion in December. During this time, he fell in love with Emma Hamilton—the young wife of the elderly British ambassador to Naples. She became his mistress, returning to England to live openly with him, and eventually they had a daughter, Horatia. Some have suggested that a head wound he received at Abukir Bay was partially responsible for that conduct, and for the way he conducted the Neapolitan campaign—due simultaneously to his English hatred of Jacobins and his status as a Neapolitan royalist (he had been made Duke of Bronte in Sicily by the King of Naples in 1799)—now considered something of a disgrace to his name.

In 1799, he was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Red, the seventh highest rank in the Royal Navy. He was then assigned to the Foudroyant. In July, he aided with the reconquest of Naples, and was made Duke of Bronte by the Neapolitan king. His personal problems, and upper-level disappointment at his professional conduct caused him to be rotated back to England, but public knowledge of his affection for Lady Hamilton eventually induced the Admiralty to send him back to sea if only to get him away from her.

On January 1, 1801, he was promoted to Vice Admiral of the Blue (the sixth highest rank). Within a few months he was involved in the Battle of Copenhagen (April 2, 1801), which nullified the fleet of the Danes, in order to break up the armed neutrality of Denmark, Sweden and Russia. The action was considered somewhat underhanded by some, and in fact Nelson had been ordered to cease the battle by his commander Sir Hyde Parker. In a famous incident, however, he claimed he could not see the signal flags conveying the order, pointedly raising his telescope to his blind eye. His action was approved in retrospect, and in May he became commander-in-chief in the Baltic Sea, and was awarded the title of Viscount Nelson by the British crown.

Napoleon was amassing forces to invade England, however, and Nelson was soon placed in charge of defending the English Channel to prevent this. However, on October 22 an armistice was signed between the British and the French, and Nelson—in poor health again—retired to England where he stayed with his friends, Sir William and Lady Hamilton.


The Peace of Amiens was not to last long though, and Nelson soon returned to duty. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean, and assigned to the HMS Victory in May 1803. He joined the blockade of Toulon, France, and would not again set foot on dry land for more than two years. Nelson was promoted to Vice Admiral of the White (the fifth highest rank) while he was still at sea, on 23 April 1804. The French fleet slipped out of Toulon in early 1805 and headed for the West Indies. A stern chase failed to turn them up and Nelson’s health forced him to retire to Merton in England.

Within two months his ease ended. On September 13, 1805 he was called upon to oppose the French and Spanish fleets, which had managed to join up and take refuge in the harbour of Cádiz, Spain.

On October 21, 1805, Nelson engaged in his final battle, the Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon Bonaparte had been massing forces once again for the invasion of the British Isles. On the 19th, the French and Spanish fleet left Cádiz, intent on clearing the Channel for this purpose. Nelson, with twenty-seven ships, engaged the thirty-three opposing ships.

His last dispatch, written on the 21st, read:
At daylight saw the Enemy’s Combined Fleet from East to E.S.E.; bore away; made the signal for Order of Sailing, and to Prepare for Battle; the Enemy with their heads to the Southward: at seven the Enemy wearing in succession. May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my Country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may his blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen.

As the two fleets moved towards engagement, he then ran up a thirty-one flag signal to the rest of the fleet which spelled out the famous phrase “England expects that every man will do his duty”.

After crippling the French flagship Beaucentaure, the Victory moved on to the Redoutable. The two ships entangled each other, at which point snipers in the rigging of the Redoutable were able to pour fire down onto the deck of the Victory. Nelson was one of those hit: a bullet entered his shoulder, pierced his lung, and came to rest at the base of his spine. Nelson retained consciousness for some time, but died soon after the battle was concluded with a British victory. The Victory was then towed to Gibraltar, with Nelson’s body on board preserved in a barrel of brandy. Upon his body’s arrival in London, Nelson was given a state funeral and entombment in St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to urban legend, the rum used to preserve his body was illicitly half drunk by the time it reached London. This may be related to the nickname given to Naval rum rations later, “Nelson’s Blood”, a possibly deliberate echo of the Communion ritual.


Nelson was noted for his considerable ability to inspire and bring out the best in his men, to the point that it gained a name: “The Nelson Touch”. Famous even while alive, after his death he was lionized like almost no other military figure in British history (his only peers are the Duke of Marlborough and Nelson’s contemporary, the Duke of Wellington). The monumental Nelson’s Column and the surrounding Trafalgar Square are notable locations in London to this day, and Nelson was buried in St. Pauls Cathedral. In Scotland, Nelson’s monument was constructed atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh. There is also a Nelson Memorial, Swarland. However the monument to Nelson in Dublin was destroyed by an IRA bomb (see Nelson’s Pillar). The Victory is in existence, and is in fact still kept on active commission in honour of Nelson—it is the flagship of the Second Sea Lord; she can be found in Number 2 Dry Dock of the Portsmouth Naval Base, in Portsmouth, England.

Nelson had no legitimate children; his illegitimate daughter by Lady Hamilton, Horatia, subsequently married the Rev. Philip Ward and died in 1881. The Viscountcy and Barony of Nelson became extinct upon his death. However, he had been granted a second barony (the Barony of Nelson of the Nile and of Hillborough) in 1801. By a special remainder, Lord Nelson’s brother William inherited the latter barony. William was also created Earl Nelson in recognition of his brother’s services.

A lock of Nelson’s hair was given to Imperial Japanese Navy from Royal Navy after Russo-Japanese war commemorating the victory at Battle of Tsushima. It is still on display at Kyouiku Sankoukan, a public museum maintained by Japan Self-Defence Forces.

Nelson’s exploits provided inspiration for those of the fictional characters Jack Aubrey, Horatio Hornblower and Honor Harrington.

From Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

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Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

The Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (Frederick Augustus; 16 August 1763 – 5 January 1827) was a member of the Hanoverian and British Royal Family, the second eldest child, and second son, of King George III. From the death of his father in 1820 until his own death in 1827, he was the heir presumptive to his elder brother, King George IV, both to the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Hanover.

As an inexperienced young military officer, he presided over the unsuccessful campaign against the forces of France in the Low Countries, during the conflict which followed the French Revolution. Later, as commander-in-chief of the British army, he made amends for his initial military setbacks during the late 1790s by brilliantly reorganising his nation’s forces, putting in place administrative reforms which enabled the British to defeat Napoleon’s crack troops. He also founded the United Kingdom’s renowned military college, Sandhurst, which promoted the professional, merit-based training of future commissioned officers.

Early life

Prince Frederick Augustus, or the Duke of York as he became in later life, belonged to the House of Hanover. He was born on 16 August 1763, at St. James’s Palace, London. His father was the reigning British monarch, King George III. His mother was Queen Charlotte (née Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz).

On 27 February 1764, when Prince Frederick was six months old, his father secured his election as Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück in today’s Lower Saxony. He received this title because the prince-electors of Hanover (which included his father) were entitled to select every other holder of this title (in alternation with the Holy Roman Emperor), to which considerable revenues accrued, and the King apparently decided to ensure that the title remained in the family for as long as possible. At only 196 days of age he is therefore listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest bishop in history. He was invested as Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1767 and as a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 19 June 1771.

Even though he was the second son, Frederick was favoured over his elder brother The Prince of Wales.

George III decided that his second son would pursue an army career and had him gazetted colonel in 1780. From 1781 to 1787, Prince Frederick lived in Hanover, where he drank and fornicated immoderately yet still found time to earnestly attend the manoeuvres of the Austrian and Prussian armies and studied (along with his younger brothers, Prince Edward, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus and Prince Adolphus) at the University of Göttingen. He was appointed colonel of the 2nd Horse Grenadier Guards (now 2nd Life Guards) in 1782, and promoted major-general and appointed colonel of the Coldstream Guards in 1784.

Life in the Army

Frederick was created Duke of York and Albany and Earl of Ulster on 27 November 1784 and became a member of the Privy Council. He retained the bishopric of Osnabrück until 1803, when, in the course of the secularization preceding the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the bishopric was incorporated into Hanover. In the summer of 1787, American newspaper accounts said that a government plot was under way to invite Prince Frederick to become “King of the United States”. On his return to Britain, the Duke took his seat in the House of Lords, where, on 15 December 1788 during the Regency crisis, he opposed William Pitt’s Regency Bill in a speech which was supposed to have been caused by the Prince of Wales.

In 1795 The Duke of York took command of the regular British Army, including the Ordnance Corps, the Militia, and the Volunteers, and immediately declared “that no officer should ever be subject to the same disadvantages under which he had laboured”, reflecting on the Netherlands campaigns of 1793-94. The Duke of York’s participation in the Anglo-Russian invasion of North Holland in 1799 made a strong impression on him, and he was the single most responsible person in the British Army to institute reforms that created the force which later was able to serve in the Peninsular War, as well as the preparations for the expected French invasion of United Kingdom in 1803.

The Duke of York was his father’s favorite son. He remained, however, somewhat in the shadow of his flashy elder brother, George, Prince of Wales, especially after the latter became Prince Regent due to the mental incapacity of the King. However, the two brothers continued to enjoy a warm relationship. They had many interests in common and they both enjoyed indulging their physical desires; but generally speaking, the Duke of York took a more diligent approach to the discharge of his public duties than did the Prince Regent.

The 72nd Regiment of Foot was renamed 72nd (Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot on 19 December 1823.


On 29 September 1791 at Charlottenburg, Berlin, and again on 23 November 1791 at Buckingham Palace, the Duke of York married his cousin Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The new Duchess of York received an enthusiastic welcome in London, but the marriage was not a happy one. The couple soon separated and the Duchess retired to Oatlands Park, Weybridge, where she lived eccentrically and died in 1820. Their relationship after separation appears to have been amicable, but there was never any question of reconciliation.

The Duke and Duchess of York had no children, but the Duke was rumored to have sired several illegitimate offspring by different mothers over the years. Believed to be among the Duke’s extra-marital children are: Captain Charles Hesse (circa 1786-1832), a British military officer; Frederick George (1800–1848) and Louisa Ann (1802–1890) Vaniest; Colonel John George Nathaniel Gibbes (1787-1873), who served as a commissioned British officer in the Napoleonic Wars and became Collector of Customs for the Colony of New South Wales, Australia, from 1834 until his retirement in 1859; and army Captain John Molloy (1788/89-1867), a landowner and pioneer of Augusta in Western Australia.


In 1793, the Duke of York was sent to Flanders in command of the British contingent of Coburg’s army destined for the invasion of France, a force which captured and occupied Valenciennes in July that year. On his return to Britain in the following year, George III promoted him to the rank of field marshal, and on 3 April 1795, appointed him Commander-in-Chief in succession to Lord Amherst. His second field command was with the army sent to invade Holland in conjunction with a Russian corps d’armée in 1799. Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell, in charge of the vanguard, had succeeded in capturing the Dutch ships in Den Helder. However, following the Duke of York’s arrival with the main body of the army, a number of disasters befell the allied forces. On 17 October, the Duke signed the Convention of Alkmaar, by which the allied expedition withdrew after giving up its prisoners.

These military setbacks were inevitable, given the Duke’s lack of combat experience as a field commander, the lamentable state of the British army at the time, and the intervention of pure bad luck during the campaign. Nonetheless, because of Flanders, the Prince was destined to be unfairly pilloried for all time in the rhyme The Grand Old Duke of York, which goes:

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up.
And when they were down, they were down.
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.

Later life

Mindful of the poor performance of the British army that he had experienced in Flanders, the Duke of York carried out many significant structural, training and logistical reforms to the British military forces during his service as the army’s commander-in-chief during the early 19th Century. These reforms contributed to Great Britain’s subsequent successes in the wars against Napoleon. In these positive outcomes, culminating in the victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke was aided by the military genius of the Duke of Wellington, who eventually would succeed him as commander-in-chief of the army. It should be noted that the Duke resigned for a time as commander-in-chief, on 25 March 1809, as the result of a scandal caused by the activities of his latest mistress, Mary Anne Clarke. Mary Anne Clarke is an ancestor of the writer Daphne du Maurier. Clarke was accused of illicitly selling army commissions under the Duke’s aegis. A select committee was appointed by the British House of Commons to enquire into the matter. The parliament eventually acquitted the Duke of having received bribes by 278 votes to 196. He nevertheless resigned because of the high tally against him. Two years later, on 29 May 1811, after it was revealed that Clarke had received payment from the Duke’s disgraced chief accuser, the Prince Regent reappointed the now exonerated Duke of York as commander-in-chief. The Duke would hold this post for the rest of his life. In addition, the Prince Regent created his brother a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order.

The Duke of York maintained a country residence at Oatlands near Weybridge, Surrey; but he was seldom there, preferring to immerse himself in his administrative work at Horse Guards (the British army’s headquarters) and, after hours, in London’s high life, with its gaming tables and attendant vices. (The Duke was perpetually in debt due to his excessive gambling on cards and racehorses.) Following the unexpected death of his niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1817, the Duke became second in line to the throne, with a serious chance of inheriting it. This opportunity to become king improved further in 1820 when he became heir presumptive with the death of his father, the elderly and mentally ill George III.

The Duke of York died of dropsy and apparent cardio-vascular disease at the home of the Duke of Rutland on Arlington Street, London, in 1827. His dissipated lifestyle had no doubt led to his relatively early demise, thus denying him the throne. After lying in state in London, the Duke’s remains were interred in St. George’s Chapel, at Windsor.

From Wikipedia

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D’Arcy Wentworth: Heroic Inspiration?


Jane Austen’s Aunt was once at risk of transportation to Botany Bay for shoplifting. It is piquant that Austen

named two of her major male characters Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and Captain Wentworth in

Persuasion, because a leading inhabitant of New South Wales in those years was D’Arcy Wentworth,

disreputable but acknowledged kinsman of Lord Fitzwilliam. D’Arcy Wentworth’s career smacks more of Georgette Heyer

than Jane Austen, since he was a highwayman four times acquitted. Rather than push his luck further, he went, a

free man, as assistant surgeon with the Second Fleet in 1790. As a young teenager Jane Austen may have read about

him in the Times.

Remembered in Australian history, his origins somewhat fudged, as father of the better-known W.C. Wentworth, D’Arcy

turns out to be a complex and significant character. All his life he was an outsider. Born in Ireland in 1762, he

was the youngest son of a Protestant innkeeper whose family had come down in the world. D’Arcy qualified as an

assistant surgeon in London, but then gravitated to vice and crime; through flash arrogance, Ritchie thinks, rather

than a self-destructive urge.

Once in Australia, Wentworth spent his first six years on Norfolk Island, the margin of marginalised New South

Wales. Back in Sydney, he still seemed too raffish for intimacy with the New South Wales Corps clique, the

Macarthurs and their like. Because of his professional skills and an economic clout built up through trade, notably

in rum, Wentworth could not be ignored. Walking alone, he trod delicately through the feuds and alliances which

culminated in Governor Bligh’s overthrow in 1808.

Bligh had suspended Wentworth for allegedly using government prisoners on his own private projects; so it was not

surprising that Wentworth sided with Macarthur and the men of property who made the Rum Rebellion. But he did not

draw too close to them, and when Governor Macquarie arrived in 1810 Wentworth soon won favour with him.

By the end of 1810 the erstwhile outcast was principal surgeon, justice of the peace, commissioner for turnpike

roads, and superintendent of police — the last appointment beginning a venerable New South Wales tradition of

contentious appointments. Not surprisingly in one who learned his political ethics in eighteenth century Ireland,

Wentworth tended to be a lax and negligent administrator, happy to leave the work to subordinates while he got on

with the serious business of enriching himself. Except when his business interests brought out the bully in him he

was a humane justice who punished leniently. He weathered the criticisms following Commissioner Bigge’s reports in

the early 1820s. When a court of quarter session was set up in 1824 he would have been its chairman but for failing

health. Not bad for an ex-highwayman.

Success in the cut-throat business and factional politics of early New South Wales often depended on the quality of

aristocratic influence which could be brought to bear in London. Where Macarthur had to exert himself in courting

Lord Camden or Sir Joseph Banks, Wentworth had the inside running through his shadowy kinship with Lord

Fitzwilliam. In addition to direct patronage, Wentworth had access to the earl’s London agent, the long-suffering

and trustworthy Charles Cookney, who looked after commercial matters and fostered Wentworth’s sons when they were

sent to England for education.

These sons were the children of the convict Catherine Crowley, Wentworth’s common law wife until her death in 1800.

He never married, but through serial monogamy produced at least twelve children, the last born some months after

his death, aged sixty-five, in 1827. The eldest son, William Charles, was the apple of D’Arcy’s eye, and some of

Ritchie’s subtlest and most telling insights chart the changing relationship between father and son.

Where D’Arcy was cool, diplomatic, and rationally self-interested — a gentleman of the road, maybe, but still a

gentleman — William was roughshod, Byronic, and passionate. The father compartmentalised his life with almost

chilling efficiency. He never wrote to his Irish family and seldom allowed personal rancour to interfere with

business. In William’s character private and public motives fused stormily. He fought the Macarthurs not just

because they were powerful, but because they snubbed his courtship of their sister.
Geoffrey Bolton is Senior Scholar in Residence at Murdoch University. This article originally appeared in

The Australian Book Review (June, 1998) and is reprinted with their permission. Further information about the D’Arcy family can be found in The

Wentworths: Father and Son, by John Ritchie (ISBN: 1 522 84751 X).