Henry Blackwood bigraphy, stories - Royal Navy admiral

Henry Blackwood : biography

28 December 1770 - 17 December 1832

Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB (28 December 1770 – 17 December 1832), whose memorial is in the St. John's Church, Killyleagh, was a British sailor.

Rear admiral

On 4 June 1814 Blackwood attained the rank of rear-admiral, and in September he was created a Baronet, of the Navy, for his conduct of the heads of royal families of Europe to England following the defeat of Napoleon. In August 1819 he was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, and appointed commander-in-chief of the East Indies Station, nearly suffering a shipwreck in Leander on his way there off the coast of Madeira. He returned from this station in December 1822. He became vice-admiral in May 1825, and from 1827 to 1830 he commanded in chief at the Nore. During this period, he lived at Blackwood House, 6 Cornwall Terrace, Regents Park, London. He died after a short illness, differently stated as typhus or scarlet fever, on 17 December 1832, at Ballyleidy, the seat of his eldest brother, Lord Dufferin and Claneboye.

Blackwood was married three times, and left a large family. Blackwood River, Western Australia, is named in his honour; it was named by Captain (later Admiral Sir) James Stirling, who served under Blackwood as a youth from 1808 to 1810.

Early life

Blackwood was the fourth son of Sir John Blackwood, 2nd Baronet, of Ballyleidy (later renamed Clandeboye), County Down, and of Dorcas Blackwood, 1st Baroness Dufferin and Claneboye. In April 1781 he entered the Royal Navy as a volunteer on board the frigate HMS Artois, with Captain John MacBride, and in her was present at the battle on the Dogger Bank.

HMS Euryalus

In April 1803 Blackwood was appointed to the Euryalus, of 36 guns. During the next two years he was employed on the coast of Ireland or in the Channel, and in July 1805 was sent to watch the movements of the allied fleet under Villeneuve after its defeat by Sir Robert Calder. On his return with the news that Villeneuve had gone to Cadiz, he stopped on his way to London to see Nelson, who went with him to the Admiralty, and received his final instructions to resume the command of the fleet without delay. Blackwood, in the Euryalus, accompanied him to Cadiz, and was appointed to the command of the inshore squadron, with the duty of keeping the admiral informed of every movement of the enemy. He was offered a line-of-battle ship, but preferred to remain in the Euryalus, believing that he would have more opportunity of distinction; for Villeneuve, he was convinced, would not venture out in the presence of Nelson. When he saw the combined fleets outside, Blackwood could not but regret his decision. On the morning of Trafalgar, 21 Oct., in writing to his wife, he added: 'My signal just made on board the Victory — I hope to order me into a vacant line-of-battle ship.' This signal was made at six o'clock, and from that time till after noon, when the shot were already flying thickly over the Victory, Blackwood remained on board, receiving the admiral's last instructions, and, together with Captain Hardy, witnessing the disregarded codicil to the admiral's will. He was then ordered to return to his ship. 'God bless you, Blackwood,' said Nelson, shaking him by the hand; 'I shall never speak to you again.' 'He' (and it was Blackwood himself that wrote it) 'not only gave me the command of all the frigates, for the purpose of assisting disabled ships, but he also gave me a latitude seldom or ever given, that of making any use I pleased of his name in ordering any of the stern most line-of-battle ships to do what struck me as best'. Immediately after the battle Collingwood hoisted his flag on board the Euryalus, but after ten days removed it to the Queen, and the Euryalus was sent home with despatches and with the captured French admiral, Pierre-Charles de Villeneuve. Blackwood landed at Falmouth and was one of the first messengers to use the Trafalgar Way to deliver his dispatches to the Admiralty in London. He was thus in England at the time of Lord Nelson's funeral (8 January 1806), on which occasion he acted as train-bearer of the chief mourner, Sir Peter Parker, the aged admiral of the fleet.

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Living octopus

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