John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe


John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe : biography

5 December 1859 – 20 November 1935

Jellicoe was appointed second-in-command of the Atlantic Fleet in August 1907, hoisting his flag in the battleship . He was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on the occasion of the King’s Review of the Home Fleet in the Solent on 3 August 1907. He went on to be Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy in October 1908 and, having taken part in the funeral of King Edward VII in May 1910, he became Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet in December 1910, hoisting his flag in the battleship . He advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on the Coronation of King George V on 19 June 1911 and confirmed in the rank of vice-admiral on 18 September 1911. He went on to be Second-in-Command of the Home Fleet, hoisting his flag in the battleship , in December 1911 and joined an inquiry into the supply and storage of liquid fuels in peace and war on 1 August 1912. He became Second Sea Lord in December 1912.


Ribbon bar (incomplete)


  • Sea Gallantry Medal (SGM) – 1886
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) – 8 February 1915 (KCB: 19 June 1911; CB: 9 November 1900)
  • Order of Merit (OM) – 31 May 1916
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) – 17 June 1916 (KCVO: 3 August 1907; CVO: 13 February 1906)


  • Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa Flow – 7 March 1918
  • Earl Jellicoe and Viscount Brocas of Southampton in the County of Southampton – 1 July 1925


  • Order of the Red Eagle with Swords, 2nd Class of the German Empire – 1900
  • Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour of France – 15 September 1916
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold of the Kingdom of Belgium – 21 April 1917
  • Belgian Croix de Guerre – 21 April 1917
  • Order of St. George, 3rd Class of the Empire of Russia – 5 June 1917
  • Grand Cross of the Military Order of Savoy of the Kingdom of Italy – 11 August 1917
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers of the Empire of Japan -29 August 1917
  • Croix de Guerre of France – 21 February 1919
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal of the United States – 16 September 1919


Jellicoe was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 3 April 1919. He became Governor-General of New Zealand in September 1920 and while out there also served as Grand Master of New Zealand’s Masonic Grand Lodge. Following his return to England, he was created Earl Jellicoe and Viscount Brocas of Southampton in the County of Southampton on 1 July 1925. He died of pneumonia at his home in Kensington in London on 20 November 1935 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Ancestry, Arms, Residences



In July 1902 Jellicoe married Gwendoline Cayzer, daughter of the shipping magnate Sir Charles Cayzer; they had a son and five daughters.


In 1919, "Sleep, beneath the wave! a requiem" with words by Rev. Alfred Hall and Music by Albert Ham. was "Dedicated to Admiral Viscount Jellicoe." "Sleep, beneath the wave! a requiem" with words by Rev. Alfred Hall and Music by Albert Ham. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Waley, Royce and Co., 1919

The attempt of his official biographer Admiral Bacon to portray him as the conqueror of the U-Boats is, in John Grigg’s view, absurd, as the main decisions were taken by other men. Bacon also claimed that his elevation to a viscountcy on dismissal was a deliberate snub, but in fact Sir John French, the former Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, was only a viscount at the time (both he and Jellicoe became Earls subsequently), whilst Fisher was never more than a Baron. Bacon’s neutrality may be questionable as he had himself been sacked by Geddes from command of the Dover Patrol, replaced by Roger Keyes, shortly after Jellicoe’s removal.Grigg 2002, p372

Early career

Born the son of John Henry Jellicoe, a captain in the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and Lucy Henrietta Jellicoe (née Keele) and educated at Field House School in Rottingdean, Jellicoe joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship in 1872.Heathcote, p.128 He was made a midshipman in the steam frigate in September 1874 before transferring to the ironclad in the Mediterranean Fleet in July 1877. Promoted to sub-lieutenant on 5 December 1878, he joined , flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, as signal sub-lieutenant in 1880. Promoted to lieutenant on 23 September 1880, he returned to HMS Agincourt in February 1881 and commanded a rifle company of the Naval Brigade at Ismailia during the Egyptian war of 1882.

Jellicoe qualified as a gunnery officer in 1883 and was appointed to the staff of the gunnery school in May 1884. He joined the turret ship as gunnery officer in September 1885 and was awarded the Board of Trade Silver Medal for rescuing the crew of a capsized steamer near Gibraltar in May 1886. He joined the battleship in April 1886 and was put in charge of the experimental department at HMS Excellent in December 1886 before being appointed assistant to the Director of Naval Ordnance in September 1889.Heathcote, p.129

Promoted to commander on 30 June 1891, Jellicoe joined the battleship in the Mediterranean Fleet in March 1892. He transferred to the battleship in 1893 and was aboard when it collided with (the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon) and was wrecked off Tripoli on 22 June 1893. He was then appointed to the new flagship, , in October 1893.

Promoted to captain on 1 January 1897, Jellicoe became a member of the Admiralty’s Ordnance Committee. He served as Captain of the battleship and chief of staff to Vice Admiral Sir Edward Seymour during the Seymour Expedition to relieve the legations at Peking during the Boxer Rebellion in June 1900. He was badly wounded during the Battle of Beicang and told he would die but confounded the attending doctor and chaplain by living.Bacon, p. 109 He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and given the German Order of the Red Eagle, 2nd class, with Crossed Swords for services rendered in China. He became Naval Assistant to Third Naval Lord and Controller of the Navy in February 1902 and was given command of the armoured cruiser on the North America and West Indies Station in August 1903.

Some of Admiral Jellicoe’s ancestors
John Rushworth Jellicoe (1859–1935)