1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hamelin, François Alphonse

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HAMELIN, FRANÇOIS ALPHONSE (1796-1864), French admiral, was born at Pont l'Évêque on the 2nd of September 1796. He went to sea with his uncle, J. F. E. Hamelin, in the “Vénus” frigate in 1806 as cabin boy. The “Vénus” was part of the French squadron in the Indian Ocean, and young Hamelin had an opportunity of seeing much active service. She, in company with another and a smaller vessel, captured the English frigate “Ceylon” in 1810, but was immediately afterwards captured herself by the “Boadicèa,” under Commodore Rowley (1765-1842). Young Hamelin was a prisoner of war for a short time. He returned to France in 1811. On the fall of the Empire he had better fortune than most of the Napoleonic officers who were turned ashore. In 1821 he became lieutenant, and in 1823 took part in the French expedition under the duke of Angoulême into Spain. In 1828 he was appointed captain of the “Actéon,” and was engaged till 1831 on the coast of Algiers and in the conquest of the town and country. His first command as flag officer was in the Pacific, where he showed much tact during the dispute over the Marquesas Islands with England in 1844. He was promoted vice-admiral in 1848. During the Crimean War he commanded in the Black Sea, and co-operated with Admiral Dundas in the bombardment of Sevastopol 17th of October 1854. His relations with his English colleague were not very cordial. On the 7th of December 1854 he was promoted admiral. Shortly afterwards he was recalled to France, and was named minister of marine. His administration lasted till 1860, and was remarkable for the expeditions to Italy and China organized under his directions; but it was even more notable for the energy shown in adopting and developing the use of armour. The launch of the “Gloire” in 1859 set the example of constructing sea-going ironclads. The first English ironclad, the “Warrior,” was designed as an answer to the “Gloire.” When Napoleon III. made his first concession to Liberal opposition, Admiral Hamelin was one of the ministers sacrificed. He held no further command, and died on the 10th of January 1864.