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Posts Tagged ‘Horatio Nelson’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Frank Sayers
3 March 1763–16 August 1817

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Frank Sayers

Frank Sayers was born in London, being baptised at St Margaret Pattens on 3 April, he was son of Francis Sayers, an insurance broker, by his wife Anne, daughter of John Morris of Great Yarmouth. His father died within a year, and he went with his mother to her father’s house in Friar’s Lane, Yarmouth. At the age of ten he was sent to a boarding-school at North Walsham, where Horatio Nelson was his schoolfellow. A year later he was transferred to a school at Palgrave, Suffolk, a dissenting academy kept by Rochemont Barbauld and Anna Barbauld. There he for remained three years, and met his lifelong friend William Taylor.

In October 1778 his mother’s father died, leaving him a small estate, and he went to learn farming at Oulton. Subsequently he attended John Hunter’s surgery lectures in London, where he saw much of his cousin James Sayers, the caricaturist. For two years from the autumn of 1786 he pursued medical and scientific study at Edinburgh. In poor health, he visited the Lake District in June 1788, and later in the year he went abroad. After graduating M.D. from the University of Harderwyk, he returned to Norwich at the end of 1789, giving up medicine and starting to write.

In 1792, on his mother’s death, Sayers moved to the Close at Norwich, and joined Norwich literary society. Among his friends and guests at various times were Robert Southey, Sir James Mackintosh, Thomas Fanshawe Middleton, and Thomas Amyot. The death of an aunt in 1799 increased his fortune.

He died at Norwich on 16 August 1817. A mural monument was erected to his memory in Norwich Cathedral by his heir, James Sayers. Sayers left benefactions to local institutions, and bequeathed his library to the dean and chapter. His portrait, by John Opie(1800), hung in William Taylor’s library, and passed to Amyot.

From Thomas Gray’s versions of the Runic poems and Thomas Percy’s Northern Antiquities, Sayers derived his Dramatic Sketches of Northern Mythology, which he issued in 1790. The volume consisted of three tragedies, Moina, Starno, and The Descent of Frea; Jann Ewald’s Danish tragedy The Death of Balder, on which the last piece is based, was subsequently translated by George Borrow. In 1792 a reissue of the volume included an Ode to Aurora, and a monodrama, Pandora. A third edition is dated 1803, and the last in 1807. Two German translations appeared, one in blank verse by Friedrich David Gräter, with notes, and another in rhyme by Valerius Wilhelm Neubeck (1793). In 1793 he published Disquisitions, Metaphysical and Literary. He followed David Hartley and Joseph Priestley in his metaphysical essays. In 1803 he published Nugæ Poeticæ, mainly versifications of Jack the Giant-Killer and Guy of Warwick.

Sayers then devoted himself to archæology, philology, and history. In 1805 he published Miscellanies, Antiquarian and Historical. In adissertation he maintained that Hebrew was originally the east, and not the west, Aramaic dialect. Other papers dealt with English architecture, English poetry, Saxon literature, and early English history. In 1808 appeared Disquisitions, another collection of his prose works, dedicated to Thomas Fanshaw Middleton. He was also a frequent contributor to the Quarterly Review.

Walter Scott, writing on 20 June 1807 to acknowledge a copy of his collected poems, said he had long been an admirer of his ‘runic rhymes.’ In July 1801 Southey expressed to Taylor his indebtedness to Sayers for the metre of Madoc. In 1823 William Taylor published a collective edition of Sayers’s works, with Opie’s portrait engraved by William Camden Edwards as frontispiece, and an engraving of Sayers’s house in the Close. Southey favourably reviewed the work in the Quarterly Review for January 1827.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Rear-Admiral John Maitland
1771 – 20 October 1836

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John Maitland

Rear-Admiral John Maitland was born in Scotland in 1771, the third son of Colonel the Honourable Richard Maitland, who was himself the fourth son of Charles Maitland, 6th Earl of Lauderdale. His mother was Mary Maitland, née McAdam, of New York City. John Maitland was born into a substantial naval dynasty. His uncle was Frederick Lewis Maitland, who was a captain in the navy, and his first cousin was Frederick Lewis Maitland, who reached the rank of rear-admiral. John Maitland also entered the navy, and by 1793 was a midshipman aboard John Jervis’s flagship HMS Boyne. Maitland was involved in the attacks on the French colonies of Guadeloupe and Martinique, often serving on shore with landing parties. In the assault on Fort Fleur d’Épée he was the first person over the walls, and came to the rescue of Captain Robert Faulknor when Faulknor was attacked by two Frenchmen. Maitland ran one through with a pike and went on to kill another seven or eight of the garrison. During the attack on Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Maitland took over command of the landing parties as an acting-lieutenant when all of the more senior officers had been killed or incapacitated by wounds or exhaustion.

He received his commission as a lieutenant on 20 July 1794, and returned to serve in home waters, initially aboard the 32-gun frigate HMS Winchelsea, under Lord Garlies. Maitland then followed Garlies into the 32-gun frigate HMS Lively, soon becoming her acting commander and sailing her to join Jervis’s Mediterranean Fleet. He continued to serve with considerable gallantry, capturing the French frigate Touterelle in 1795. An impressed Jervis promoted him to commander on 23 December 1796, appointing him to the sloop HMS Transfer. Maitland was moved to HMS Kingfisher in April 1797, and took her to cruise off Portugal. On 1 August though he was almost the victim of a mutiny. Taking a direct approach he gathered his officers and marines and attacked the mutineers with swords and cutlasses, killing and wounding several. This decisive action quashed the mutiny, and met with Jervis’s approval. He described Maitland’s actions as ‘Doctor Maitland’s recipe’, and advised that it should be adopted in future instances of attempted mutiny. A further promotion for Maitland followed, he was made post-captain on 11 August 1797 and was given command of HMS San Nicolas, one of the prizes captured by Nelson at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.

Maitland sailed the San Nicolas to Britain, where she was paid off at Plymouth on her arrival, and Maitland went ashore. He married Elizabeth Ogilvy on 22 April 1799, and by 1800 had returned to active service aboard the 36-gun HMS Glenmore in the English Channel. He moved to the 38-gun HMS Boadicea in 1803, and on 24 July 1803 he spotted the French 74-gun third-rate Duguay-Trouin and the 38-gun frigate Guerrière sailing off Ferrol, Spain. Maitland decided to test whether the French ships were armed en flûte and were being used as troopships, and closing to within range, opened fire. The French returned fire, revealing they were fully armed and manned, and Maitland broke off. The French pursued, but were unable to catch him. Maitland continued on in the Channel, but while sailing off Brest the Boadicea struck the Bas de Lis rock and was badly holed. She returned to Portsmouth and was back on station eight days later, having spent just three days in dock. He went on to have a successful cruise, capturing the 12-gun French Vanteur, and several merchants. Maitland and the Boadicea spent 1804 enforcing the blockade of Rochefort, followed by a period in the North Sea and off the Irish coast.

On 2 November he came across a squadron of four French ships of the line under Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, that had escaped from the Battle of Trafalgar two weeks previously. Maitland fired rockets to attract a nearby British squadron under Captain Sir Richard Strachan, but subsequently lost the French in fog. Strachan was able to make contact with the French thanks to Maitland, and after engaging them in the battle of Battle of Cape Ortegal, captured all of the French ships. A few days later Maitland spotted and gave chase to a French frigate, eventually breaking off after two days pursuit due to the nearness of the coast. He later learnt that the French frigate had run onto the island of Groix. In the autumn of 1806 Boadicea was employed protecting the whale fishery in the Davis Strait. He escorted a convoy to Britain from Oporto, and followed this with service on the Irish station in 1807, blockading Le Havre. During this time the 14-gun French privateer General Concleux was captured, and Maitland left the Boadicea in 1808. He was appointed to the 98-gun HMS Barfleur in late 1813, spending the rest of the war aboard her in the Mediterranean.

Maitland married for the second time at Bath on 8 January 1820, this time to Dora Bateman. He was promoted to rear-admiral on 19 July 1821 and died at Montagu Square, London on 20 October 1836 at the age of 65.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson 1st Baronet
28 February 1766 – 3 March 1828

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Thomas Boulden Thompson

Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson 1st Baronet was born in Barham, Kent on 28 February 1766. His uncle, through his mother, was Commodore Edward Thompson, and it was through this relative’s influence that Thomas joined the navy in June 1778, when Edward was appointed to command the sloop HMS Hyaena. He served on the Hyaena with his uncle, spending most of the time in the waters off the British Isles, before accompanying Rodney’s fleet to the Relief of Gibraltar in January 1780. The Hyaena was later entrusted with carrying copies of Rodney’s despatches.

Thompson later moved to the West Indies, being promoted to lieutenant on 14 January 1782. He was given command of a small schooner, with which he captured a larger French privateer. After the end of the American Revolutionary War, Thompson was moved onto his uncle’s flagship, the 50-gun HMS Grampus. He served off the coast of Africa until his uncle’s death in 1786, after which he was given command of the sloop HMS Nautilus. He remained in command for the next twelve months, before returning to Britain where she was paid off. He was promoted to post-captain on 22 November 1790.

He spent a number of years on land without command of a ship until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars provided employment. By late 1796 he had secured command of the fourth rate HMS Leander. He then joined the Mediterranean Fleet under John Jervis, and was assigned to the squadron under Horatio Nelson. Thompson took part in Nelson’s attack on Santa Cruz in July 1797. Thompson was among those leading the landing parties, under the overall direction of Nelson and Thomas Troubridge. The initial attempts to force a landing were hampered by the wind, and when the parties made a successful landing in the evening of 22 July, they came under heavy fire from the Spanish defenders. Thompson’s party were able to advance and spike several of the enemy’s cannon, but the British forces had become dispersed throughout the town, and were forced to negotiate a truce to allow them to withdraw. Thompson himself was wounded in the battle.

Thompson was later given command of a squadron, and carried out cruises in the Mediterranean, intercepting French and Spanish ships. He returned to Gibraltar, but was ordered to sea again in June 1798 to reinforce Nelson’s squadron in their hunt for the French fleet that had earlier escaped from Toulon. He was with Nelson when they located the French fleet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Brueys, moored in Aboukir Bay. In the ensuing engagement Thompson came to the assistance of HMS Culloden, which had run aground on shoals in the entrance to the bay. Finding that there was nothing he could do, Thompson took Leander into the battle, despite his ship being considerably smaller than the French ships of the line. He anchored between the Franklin and Brueys’ flagship the Orient, firing on them in company with HMS Defence and HMS Swiftsure until the Franklin surrendered. Thompson then took the Leander to assist the British attack on the French rear.

After the battle Thompson was joined aboard the Leander by Captain Edward Berry, and sent with Nelson’s despatches to Gibraltar. Whilst sailing there, they were spotted on 18 August by the Généreux, which had escaped the Battle of the Nile. The French pursued the Leander. Being a 60 gun ship to the Généreux′s 78, and still having battle damage and men wounded from the Nile, Thompson attempted to escape, but was eventually forced to come to battle. The two eventually clashed in a long running engagement, which eventually resulted in Leander being disabled and unmanageable. After conferring with Berry, Thompson agreed to surrender. The Généreux had suffered 100 killed and 188 wounded, to the Leander′s 35 killed and 57 wounded. Arriving on board the French ship, Berry and Thompson were almost immediately stripped of their possessions. The French went on to plunder their prize, even going so far as to steal the surgeon’s equipment as he tried to attend to the wounded. When Thompson protested, and reminded the French captain of how French prisoners were treated under Nelson, he received the reply ‘I am sorry for it; but the fact is, that the French are expert at plunder.’

Thompson was later repatriated and brought to court-martial aboard HMS Alexander at Sheerness. He was honourably acquitted for the loss of his ship, the court deciding:

that his gallant and almost unprecedented defence of the Leander, against so superior a force as that of le Généreux, was deserving of every praise his country and the assembled court could give; and that his conduct, with that of the officers and men under his command, reflected not only the highest honour on himself and them, but on their country at large.

Berry was also commended, and whilst being rowed back to shore after his acquittal, Thompson was given three cheers by the crews of the ships moored at Sheerness. He was subsequently knighted and awarded a pension of £200 per annum.

Thompson was appointed to command HMS Bellona in spring 1799, joining the fleet under Lord Bridport, off Brest. He then went to the Mediterranean, sailing with the flying squadron. He was involved in the capture of three frigates and two brigs. He returned to England in autumn, and participated in the blockade of Brest, until being assigned to Sir Hyde Parker’s Baltic expedition in early 1801. He was present at the Battle of Copenhagen, but ran aground on shoals whilst trying to enter the bay. He continued to fire on the enemy’s shore batteries, but being a stationary target was heavily damaged, having 11 killed and 63 wounded. Thompson was amongst the wounded, losing a leg. He shared in the thanks of Parliament after the battle and had his pension increased to £500. He was then appointed to command the yacht HMS Mary.

Thompson was appointed Comptroller of the Navy in November 1806, an office he held until November 1816. He was created a baronet on 11 December 1806. On relinquishing the post of Comptroller he became Treasurer of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, succeeding the late Sir John Colpoys, and also became Director of the Chest. He became Member of Parliament for Rochester in 1807, relinquishing the position in June 1818. He became a Rear-Admiral on 25 October 1809 and a Vice-Admiral on 4 June 1814. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the reorganisation of that order on 2 January 1815, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 14 September 1822, and was formally invested on 21 April 1823. On his death three years later he was buried at the Greenwich Hospital, where his tomb monument is still visible.

Thomas married Anne Raikes on 25 February 1799. They had a total of five children, three boys and two girls. The two girls were named Anne and Mary. Their first son, Thomas Boulden, died young. Their second, Thomas Raikes-Trigge inherited the baronetcy. He followed his father and had a career in the navy. Their third son, Thomas John, died in 1807. Sir Thomas died at the family seat of Hartsbourne, Manor-Place, Hertfordshire on 3 March 1828.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Paul Storr
28 October 1770 – 18 March 1844

Paul Storr was England’s most celebrated silversmith during the first half of the nineteenth century and his legacy lives on today. His pieces historically and currently adorn royal palaces and the finest stately homes throughout Europe and the world. Storr’s reputation rests on his mastery of the grandiose neo-Classical style developed in the Regency period. He quickly became the most prominent silversmith of the nineteenth century, producing much of the silver purchased by King George III and King George IV. Storr entered his first mark in the first part of 1792, which reflects his short-lived partnership with William Frisbee. Soon after, he began to use his PS mark, which he maintained throughout his career with only minor changes. His first major work was a gold font commissioned by the Duke of Portland in 1797 and in 1799 he created the “Battle of the Nile Cup” for presentation to Lord Nelson.

Much of Storr’s success was due to the influence of Philip Rundell, of the popular silver retailing firm, Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Rundell’s firm nearly monopolized the early nineteenth-century market for superior silver and obtained the Royal Warrant in 1806. This shrewd businessman realised the talent of Paul Storr and began pursuing him in 1803, however it was not until 1807 that Storr finally joined the firm. After many years of working for Rundell, Storr realised he had lost much of his artistic freedom and by 1819 he left the firm to open his own shop, turning his attentions towards more naturalistic designs and soon began enjoying the patronage he desired. After only a few years of independence, Storr realised he needed a centralised retail location and partnered with John Mortimer, founding Storr and Mortimer in 1822 on New Bond Street.

Son of Thomas Storr of Westminster, first silver-chaser later innkeeper. Apprenticed c. 1785. Before his first partnership with William Frisbee in 1792 he worked in Church Street, Soho, which was the address of Andrew Fogelberg at which Storr’s first separate mark is also entered.

  • First mark entered as plateworker, in partnership with William Frisbee, 2 May 1792. Address: 5 Cock Lane, Snow Hill.
  • Second mark alone, 12 January 1793. Address: 30 Church Street, Soho.
  • Third mark, 27 April 1793.
  • Fourth 8 August 1794. Moved to 20 Air Street, 8 October 1796, (where Thomas Pitts had worked till 1793).
  • Fifth mark, 29 November 1799.
  • Sixth, 21 August 1807. Address 53 Dean Street, Soho.
  • Seventh, 10 February 1808.
  • Eighth ?
  • Ninth, 21 October 1813.
  • Tenth, 12 September 1817. Moved to Harrison Street, Gray’s Inn Road, 4 March 1819, after severing his connection with Rundell, Bridge and Rundell.
  • Eleventh mark, 2 September 1883. Address: 17 Harrison Street.
  • Twelfth and last mark, 2 September 1833.

Heal records him in partnership with Frisbee and alone at Cock Lane in 1792, and at the other addresses and dates above, except Harrison Street.

Storr married in 1801, Elizabeth Susanna Beyer of the Saxon family of piano and organ builders of Compton Street, by whom he had ten children. He retired in 1838, to live in Hill House in Tooting. He died 18 March 1844 and is buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Tooting. His will, proved 3 April 1844, shows an estate of £3,000.

There is a memorial to him at the church of St Mary, Otley, Suffolk put up in 1845 by his son the Rev. Francis Storr, the incumbent.

An example of his work is the cup made for presentation to the British admiral Lord Nelson to mark his victory at the Battle of the Nile.

Items from Storr’s workshops may be seen at Windsor Castle and during the summer opening season at Buckingham Palace. There are significant holdings of items in the National Silver Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as in the Wellington Collection at Apsley House. Outside London there are important works at Brighton Pavilion, at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle and at Woburn Abbey. In the United States there are holdings of Paul Storr at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, among others. The Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama has two significant pieces, one of which is illustrated here. In Canada, there are significant pieces in the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Australia has holdings at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. In Portugal there is a fascinating group of silver made by Storr at the Casa Museu Medeiros e Almeida, Lisbon, whereas in Russia, at the State Hermitage Museum, there is silver supplied to Tsar Nicholas I and members of the aristocracy by Hunt & Roskell, successors to Storr & Mortimer.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Viscount Samuel Hood
12 December 1724 – 27 January 1816

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Samuel Hood

Viscount Sir Samuel Hood son of Samuel Hood, vicar of Butleigh in Somerset, and prebendary of Wells and Mary Hoskins, daughter of Richard Hoskins, Esquire, of Beaminster, Dorset. In 1740 Captain (later Admiral) Thomas Smith was stranded in Butleigh when his carriage broke down on the way to Plymouth. The Rev Samuel Hood rescued him and gave him hospitality for the night. Samuel and Alexander were inspired by his stories of the sea and he offered to help them in the Navy. The Rev Samuel Hood and his wife would not allow any more sons to join the Navy as “they might be drowned”. Their third son, Arthur William became Vicar of Butleigh but died of fever in his 30’s. Another son was drowned in the local river Brue as a boy.

Samuel, older brother of Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, entered the Royal Navy in 1741. He served part of his time as midshipman with George Brydges Rodney on the Ludlow and became a lieutenant in 1746. He had opportunities to see service in the North Sea during the War of the Austrian Succession.

In 1754, he was made commander of the sloop Jamaica and served on her at the North American station. In July 1756, while still on the North American station, he took command of the sloop HMS Lively.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in 1756, the navy was rapidly expanded which benefited Hood. Later that year Hood was promoted to Post Captain and given command of HMS Grafton. In 1757, while in temporary command of Antelope (50 guns), he drove a French ship ashore in Audierne Bay, and captured two privateers. His zeal attracted the favourable notice of the Admiralty and he was appointed to a ship of his own, Bideford.

In 1759, when captain of the Vestal (32), he captured the French Bellone (32) after a sharp action. During the war, his services were wholly in the Channel, and he was engaged under Rodney in 1759 in the Raid on Le Havre, destroying the vessels collected by the French to serve as transports in the proposed invasion of Britain.

He was appointed in Commander-in-Chief, North American Station in July 1767. He returned to England in October 1770. In 1778, he accepted a command which in the ordinary course would have terminated his active career, becoming Commissioner of the dockyard at Portsmouth and governor of the Naval Academy.

In 1778, on the occasion of the King’s visit to Portsmouth, Hood was made a baronet.

The war was deeply unpopular with much of the British public and navy. Many admirals had declined to serve under Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Admiral Rodney, who then commanded in the West Indies, had complained of a lack of proper support from his subordinates, whom he accused of disaffection. The Admiralty, anxious to secure the services of trustworthy flag officers, promoted Hood to rear-admiral on 26 September 1780, and sent him to the West Indies to act as second in command under Rodney, who knew him personally. He joined Rodney in January 1781 in his flagship Barfleur, and remained in the West Indies or on the coast of North America until the close of the American Revolutionary War.

The expectation that he would work harmoniously with Rodney was not entirely justified. Their correspondence shows that they were not on friendly terms; but Hood always did his duty, and he was so able that no question of removing him from the station ever arose. The unfortunate turn for the British taken by the campaign of 1781 was largely due to Rodney’s neglect of Hood’s advice.

When Rodney decided to return to Britain for the sake of his health in the autumn of 1781, Hood was ordered to take the bulk of the fleet to the North American coast during the hurricane months. Hood joined Admiral Thomas Graves in the unsuccessful effort to relieve the army at Yorktown, when the British fleet was driven off by the French Admiral, the Comte de Grasse, at the Battle of the Chesapeake.

When he returned to the West Indies, he was for a time in independent command owing to Rodney’s absence in England. De Grasse attacked the British islands of St Kitts and Nevis with a force much superior to Hood’s squadron. Hood made an unsuccessful attempt in January 1782 to save them from capture, with 22 ships to 29, and the series of bold movements by which he first turned the French out of their anchorage at Basseterre of St Kitts and then beat off their attacks, were one of the best accomplishments of any British admiral during the war.

On 12 April 1782 Hood took part in a British fleet under Rodney which defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet which was planning an invasion of Jamaica. The French commander De Grasse, who had been responsible for the victory at Chesapeake was captured and taken back to Britain as a prisoner.

Eventually Hood was ordered to chase and with his division of 12 ships he captured 4 ships at the Mona Passage on 19 April 1782 thus completing the defeat. While serving in the Caribbean Hood became acquainted with, and later became a mentor to Horatio Nelson who was a young frigate commander. Hood had been a friend of Nelson’s uncle Maurice Suckling. In 1782 Hood introduced Nelson to the Duke of Clarence, the future King William IV who was then a serving naval officer in New York.

Hood was made an Irish peer as Baron Hood of Catherington in September 1782. During the peace, he entered the British Parliament as Member for Westminster in the election of 1784 where he was a supporter of the government of William Pitt the Younger. In 1786 he became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth holding that post until 1789. Promoted to vice-admiral in 1787, he was appointed to the Board of Admiralty under John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, brother of the Prime Minister, in July 1788. He became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth again in June 1792.

Following the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War, Hood became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet in February 1793. In August 1793 French royalists and other opponents of the revolution took over the town and invited Hood, whose fleet was blockading the city, to occupy the town. Hood, without time to request for instructions from the Admiralty in London, moved swiftly to take command of the port.

There were two main reasons for the British move. It was hoped that Toulon could be a centre of French resistance to Paris, and also to take possession of the French Mediterranean fleet of fifty eight warships, which lay in the harbour. It was hoped that depriving the French revolutionaries of their maritime resources would cripple the revolution. He occupied Toulon on the invitation of the French royalists, in co-operation with the Spaniards and Sardinians. In December of the same year, the allies, who did not work harmoniously together, were driven out, mainly by the generalship of Napoleon. Hood ordered the French fleet burned to prevent them falling back into the hands of the revolutionaries.

Hood then turned to the occupation of Corsica, which he had been invited to take in the name of the King of Britain by Pasquale Paoli, who had been leader of the Corsican Republic before it was subjugated by the French a quarter of a century previously. The island was for a short time added to the dominions of George III, chiefly by the exertions of the fleet and the co-operation of Paoli. While the occupation of Corsica was being effected, the French at Toulon had so far recovered that they were able to send a fleet to sea. Nelson was recorded as saying that Hood was “the best Officer, take him altogether, that England has to boast of”.)

In October, he was recalled to England in consequence of some misunderstanding with the admiralty or the ministry, which has never been explained. Richard Freeman, in his book, The Great Edwardian Naval Feud, explains his relief from command in a quote from Lord Esher’s journal. According to this journal, “… [Hood] wrote ‘a very temperate letter’ to the Admiralty in which he complained that he did not have enough ships to defend the Mediterranean.” As a result Hood was then recalled from the Mediterranean.

Samuel Hood was created Viscount Hood of Whitley, Warwickshire in 1796 with a pension of £2000 per year for life (about £300,000 a year in present (2010) terms). In 1796, he was also appointed Governor of the Greenwich Hospital, a position which he held until his death in 1816. He served as Tory Member of Parliament for Westminster from 1784 to 1788 and from 1790 to 1796, and was Member for Reigate between 1789 and 1790.

He died in Greenwich on 27 January 1816 and is buried in Greenwich Hospital Cemetery. A peerage of Great Britain was conferred on his wife, Susannah, as Baroness Hood of Catherington in 1795. Samuel Hood’s titles descended to his youngest son, Henry (1753–1836).

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Benjamin West
October 10, 1738 – March 11, 1820

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Benjamin West

Benjamin West was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence and the Seven Years’ War. He was the second president of the Royal Academy in London, serving from 1792 to 1805 and 1806 to 1820. He was offered a knighthood by the British Crown, but declined it, believing that he should instead be made a peer. He said that “Art is the representation of human beauty, ideally perfect in design, graceful and noble in attitude.”

West was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania, in a house that is now in the borough of Swarthmore on the campus of Swarthmore College, as the tenth child of an innkeeper and his wife. The family later moved to Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, where his father was the proprietor of the Square Tavern, still standing in that town. West told the novelist John Galt, with whom, late in his life, he collaborated on a memoir, The Life and Studies of Benjamin West (1816, 1820) that, when he was a child, Native Americans showed him how to make paint by mixing some clay from the river bank with bear grease in a pot. Benjamin West was an autodidact; while excelling at the arts, “he had little [formal] education and, even when president of the Royal Academy, could scarcely spell”.

From 1746 to 1759, West worked in Pennsylvania, mostly painting portraits. While West was in Lancaster in 1756, his patron, a gunsmith named William Henry, encouraged him to paint a Death of Socrates based on an engraving in Charles Rollin’s Ancient History. His resulting composition, which significantly differs from the source, has been called “the most ambitious and interesting painting produced in colonial America”. Dr William Smith, then the provost of the College of Philadelphia, saw the painting in Henry’s house and decided to become West’s patron, offering him education and, more importantly, connections with wealthy and politically connected Pennsylvanians. During this time West met John Wollaston, a famous painter who had immigrated from London. West learned Wollaston’s techniques for painting the shimmer of silk and satin, and also adopted some of “his mannerisms, the most prominent of which was to give all his subjects large almond-shaped eyes, which clients thought very chic”. West was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait he painted. Franklin was the godfather of West’s second son, Benjamin.

Sponsored by Smith and William Allen, then reputed to be the wealthiest man in Philadelphia, West traveled to Italy in 1760. In common with many artists architects and lovers of the fine arts at that time he conducted a Grand Tour. West expanded his repertoire by copying works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael direct from the originals. In Rome he met a number of international neo-classical artists including German-born Anton Rafael Mengs, Scottish Gavin Hamilton, and Austrian Angelica Kauffman.

In August 1763, West arrived in England, on what he initially intended as a visit on his way back to America. In fact, he never returned to America. He stayed for a month at Bath with William Allen, who was also in the country, and visited his half-brother Thomas West at Reading at the urging of his father. In London he was introduced to Richard Wilson and his student Joshua Reynolds. He moved into a house in Bedford Street, Covent Garden. The first picture he painted in England Angelica and Medora, along with a portrait of General Monckton, and his Cymon and Iphigenia, painted in Rome, were shown at the exhibition in Spring Gardens in 1764.

In 1765 he married Elizabeth Shewell, an American to whom he became engaged in Philadelphia, at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Dr Markham, then Headmaster of Westminster School, introduced West to Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol, James Johnson, Bishop of Worcester, and Robert Hay Drummond, Archbishop of York. All three prelates commissioned work from him. In 1766 West proposed a scheme to decorate St Paul’s Cathedral with paintings. It was rejected by the Bishop of London, but his idea of painting an altarpiece for St Stephen Walbrook was accepted. At around this time he also received acclaim for his classical subjects, such as Orestes and Pylades and The Continence of Scipio.

Benjamin West was known in England as the “American Raphael”. His Raphaelesque painting of Archangel Michael Binding the Devil is in the collection of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Drummond tried to raise subscriptions to fund an annuity for West, so that he could give up portraiture and devote himself to entirely to more ambitious compositions. Having failed in this, he tried—with greater success—to convince King George III to patronise West. The king’s first commission was a painting of the departure of Regulus from Rome. West was soon on good terms with the king, and the two men conducted long discussions on the state of art in England, including the idea of the establishment of a Royal Academy. The academy came into being in 1768, with West one of the primary leaders of an opposition group formed out of the existing Society of Artists of Great Britain. Joshua Reynolds was its first president.

In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court at an annual fee of £1,000. He painted a series of eight large canvases showing scenes from the life of Edward III for St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, and proposed a cycle of 36 works on the theme of “the progress of revealed religion” for a chapel at the castle, of which 28 were eventually executed. He also painted nine portraits of members of the royal family, including two of the king himself. He was Surveyor of the King’s Pictures from 1791 until his death.

He painted his most famous, and possibly most influential painting, The Death of General Wolfe, in 1770 and it exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771. The painting became one of the most frequently reproduced images of the period. It returned to the French and Indian War setting of his General Johnson Saving a Wounded French Officer from the Tomahawk of a North American Indian of 1768.

West became known for his large scale history paintings, which use expressive figures, colours and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented. West called this “epic representation”. His 1778 work The Battle of the Boyne portrayed William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and strongly influenced subsequent images of William. In 1806 he produced The Death of Nelson, to commemorate Horatio Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

St Paul’s Church, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, has an important enamelled stained glass east window made in 1791 by Francis Eginton, modelled on an altarpiece painted c. 1786 by West, now in the Dallas Museum of Art. It shows the Conversion of Paul. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791.

Following a loss of royal patronage at the beginning of the 19th century, West began a series of large-scale religious works. The first, Christ Healing the Sick was originally intended as a gift to a Quaker hospital in Philadelphia; instead he sold it to the British Institution for £3,000, which in turn presented it to the National Gallery. West then made a copy to send to Philadelphia. The success of the picture led him to paint a series of even larger works, including his Death on a Pale Horse, exhibited in 1817.

Though initially snubbed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, founding President of the Royal Academy, and by some other Academicians who felt he was over-ambitious, West was elected President of the Royal Academy on the death of Reynolds in 1792. He resigned in 1805, to be replaced by a fierce rival, architect James Wyatt. However West was again elected President the following year, and served until his death.

Many American artists studied under him in London, including Ralph Earl, Samuel Morse, Robert Fulton, Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Matthew Pratt, Gilbert Stuart, John Trumbull, Washington Allston, Thomas Sully, John Green, and Abraham Delanoy.

West died at his house in Newman Street, London, on March 11, 1820, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Sir John Orde, 1st Baronet
22 December 1751 – 19 February 1824

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John Orde

Sir John Orde was the third son of John Orde, of Morpeth, Northumberland, and the brother of Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton. Remembered as a professional enemy of Nelson, Orde’s quarrel was actually more with Lord St Vincent and he never attacked Nelson personally.

Orde joined the Navy in 1766, gained the rank of Rear-Admiral in 1795, Vice-Admiral in 1799 and eventually Admiral of the Red. In 1805, despite being asked to strike his flag, he was made Admiral of the Blue and Admiral of the White in 1810.

As a Vice Admiral in 1805 he commanded a squadron of six ships of the line off Cadiz, in the flagship HMS Glory.

Orde served as the Governor of Dominica between 1783 and 1793 and was created 1st Baronet Orde, of Morpeth, co. Northumberland on 27 July 1790. From 1807 he served as Member of Parliament for Yarmouth.

Orde joined the Royal Navy in 1766 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1774. He served throughout the American revolutionary war (1775–1783), and was promoted to post captain on 19 May 1778, making him senior to Nelson by less than a month. Orde served as Governor of Dominica from 1783 until 1793 and on 9 August 1790 was made a baronet. He returned to naval service and was promoted Rear Admiral 1795.

In early 1798, Orde was appointed to the Mediterranean fleet as 3rd in command under John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent. In May 1798, acting on his own initiative but with the support of Lord Spencer, the First Lord of the Admiralty; St Vincent gave command of a special squadron to Nelson.

As Nelson’s senior, Orde felt he had been unfairly passed over and complained to St Vincent who, annoyed at his subordinates questioning of his orders, relieved Orde and ordered him home.

Orde requested that he be court-martialled in order that he might have the opportunity to clear his name. The Board refused. Orde then requested that St Vincent be brought before a court-martial.

Again, the Board refused. The Board did go so far as to censure Jervis for not having supported his subordinates. Orde, unhappy with the outcome, challenged the earl to a duel. The challenge became public knowledge and the king ordered Jervis to decline. Before the challenge was formally declined however, Orde wrote to the Board to inform them that he had withdrawn it.

Neither side came out of the situation well. Had Nelson not won such an extraordinary victory at the Battle of the Nile, Jervis may have faced a court martial for not having supported Orde.

Unfortunately for Orde, Nelson’s victory was so complete that any criticism of Nelson or Jervis fell on deaf ears. Nelson naturally took Jervis’s side and regarded Orde as a personal enemy but Orde maintained that it was the principle of the appointment he objected to, not the person who had been chosen.

Things became worse for Orde when St Vincent was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. St Vincent now controlled appointments and Orde found himself left ashore. St Vincent left the Admiralty in 1804 and Orde was offered command of a newly formed squadron off Cadiz. This further angered Nelson who saw it as a deliberate diminution of his authority.

Orde’s squadron of six ships of the line were stationed off Cadiz when Villenueve arrived with the Toulon fleet in April 1805. Orde’s ships, which were busy revictualling at the time, cast off their store ships and hastily formed line of battle. Villenueve however, with his eleven ships of the line and six frigates, made no attempt to engage the squadron. Greatly outnumbered Orde retired, an act that earned him condemnation from some, Nelson included. Villenueve gathered the ships that were ready to sail and put to sea again. Orde believed they were bound for the Channel but in fact Villenueve was on his way to the West Indies. Orde therefore took his squadron north to rendezvous with the Channel Fleet. Although technically correct, Orde’s behaviour was not in accordance with the country’s mood at the time and he was ordered to strike his flag. He never served at sea again.

In 1807 Orde became the member of parliament for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight and served in that capacity until his death on 19 February 1824.

Orde never appeared to reciprocate Nelson’s animosity and was one of the pall-bearers at Nelson’s funeral in January 1806.

Sir John Orde was married twice, to Margaret Emma Stephens in 1781, who died in 1790; and Jane Frere in 1793, with whom he had two children: John Powlett Orde, born 9 June 1803 and Anna Maria Fenn Orde, born 1806.

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