Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Byron, John

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BYRON, John, British naval officer, b. at Newstead Abbey, England, 8 Nov., 1723; d. 10 April, 1786. He was a son of the fourth Lord Byron. At an early age he entered the navy as a midshipman and joined the “Wager,” one of the six ships that sailed for the Pacific under Lord Anson in September, 1740. She was wrecked on Cape Horn; but Byron and the survivors were taken on board the three vessels that rounded the cape. Of the 961 men that left England, only 200 reached home in the “Centurion,” the only remaining ship, in 1744. Byron was one of these. He was promoted captain, 30 Dec., 1746. In 1760 he was sent with a fleet to demolish the fortifications of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, already wrested from the French. On 21 June, 1764, he sailed in command of a squadron for the south seas, and returned to England in May, 1766. During these years he had been so buffetted about on the high seas that he had won the sailor-nickname of “Foul-weather Jack,” and his grandson, the poet, perpetuated his fame in the “Epistle to Augusta”:


Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore.
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.”

He was appointed governor of Newfoundland in 1769, attained his flag rank in 1775, and became vice-admiral in 1776, when he was placed in command of the West India squadron. On 6 July, 1779, he engaged the French fleet under D'Estaing off Grenada; but the action was indecisive. He soon afterward returned to England and retired from active service.