Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805)
Son of the rector of Burnham Thorpe, the Revd. Edmund Nelson, he entered the navy in HMS Raisonable under the command of his uncle, Maurice Suckling. Early experience included a spell in the merchant service and voyages to the Arctic and East Indies. He was senior officer on an expedition against Spanish possessions in Nicaragua. Whilst stationed in the West Indies after the end of the War of American Independence, he met and married Frances Herbert Nisbet. The couple returned to Norfolk where Nelson spent five years on half pay. Following the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he was employed in the Mediterranean in command of HMS Agamemnon. He first attracted public notice after personally boarding two Spanish ships during the Battle of Cape St Vincent. An expedition to capture a Spanish treasure ship at Santa Cruz in the Canaries was unsuccessful and he returned home following the loss of his right arm. After his recovery he commanded a squadron sent back into the Mediterranean against French forces gathering in Toulon. Following a gale, the French fleet escaped but was eventually located and destroyed at Aboukir Bay in Egypt. After the battle, Nelson returned to Naples where he became involved in supporting the Neapolitan King against the French and began a liaison with Lady Hamilton, the wife of the British ambassador. His marriage broke up after his return to England and a daughter, Horatia was born to Lady Hamilton. Nelson returned to service as second in command to Sir Hyde Parker in action against the Danes at Copenhagen. From 1803, in command of the Mediterranean fleet with his flag in HMS Victory, Nelson blockaded the French fleet in Toulon. In 1805, the French evaded the blockade and were pursued by Nelson across the Atlantic and back to Cadiz where they joined the Spanish fleet. The combined fleet left port to be decisively defeated off Cape Trafalgar, an action in which Nelson was mortally wounded.
Simon de Koster
Original size: 149 mm x 121 mm
- Image reference: PV5386
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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