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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.
Persuasion

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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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.”
Persuasion

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.

Command

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.

Admiralty

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.

Trafalgar

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.

Legacy

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.