Hall, William King (DNB00)

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HALL, Sir WILLIAM KING (1816–1886), admiral, son of Dr. James Hall of the royal navy, entered the navy in 1829, and, after serving in Burmah and on the coast of Spain, was mate of the Benbow under Captain Houston Stewart, on the coast of Syria and at the bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre in 1840. On 28 July 1841 he was promoted to be a lieutenant of the Britannia, carrying the flag of Sir John Acworth Ommanney, the commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, and commanded by Captain Seymour [see Seymour, Sir Michael, 1802–1887]. From September 1841 to 1844 Hall was a lieutenant of the Indus, also in the Mediterranean; and from 1845 to 1848, again with Captain Seymour in the Vindictive, flagship of Sir Francis William Austen on the North American station. On her paying off, Hall, as her first lieutenant, was promoted (March 1848) to the rank of commander, and from 1849 to 1851 he was in charge of the coastguard in the Scilly Islands. In July 1851 he was appointed to the Styx, which he commanded at the Cape of Good Hope during the Kaffir war (1852–3), and on 6 June 1853 was advanced to post rank. In 1854 he commanded the Bulldog paddle-steamer in the Baltic, on board which, at the reduction of Bomarsund, the commander-in-chief, Sir Charles Napier (1786–1860) [q. v.], hoisted his flag. In 1855, again in the Baltic, Hall commanded the Exmouth of 90 guns, as flag-captain to Sir Michael Seymour, and on 3 July was nominated a C.B. In the following year he was appointed to the Calcutta of 84 guns, the flagship of Sir Michael Seymour, going out to China as commander-in-chief. The Calcutta had scarcely arrived at Hongkong when the second Chinese war broke out, and through the tedious operations of 1856–7–8 Hall was virtually the captain of the fleet, in which capacity his energy and zeal repeatedly called forth the admiral's warmest praises. The Calcutta returned to England in August 1859, and Hall was immediately sent out to take command of the Indus as flag-captain to Sir Houston Stewart on the North American station. From July 1860 to December 1861 he was employed as captain of the steam reserve at Plymouth; during 1862 as captain of the coastguard at Falmouth; from April 1863 to April 1865 as captain of the steam reserve at Sheerness, and afterwards as superintendent of the dockyard there till his promotion to the rank of rear-admiral on 17 March 1869. On 20 May 1871 he was nominated a K.C.B. From 1871 to 1875 he was superintendent of the dockyard at Devonport; became vice-admiral on 30 July 1875; from 1877 to 1879 was commander-in-chief at the Nore, and was promoted to be admiral on 2 Aug. 1879. He died suddenly of apoplexy on 29 July 1886. He was twice married, and by his first wife had several sons, of whom the eldest, George Fowler King Hall, is now a commander in the navy. A lithographed portrait has been published since his death.

Through his whole career Hall showed himself deeply impressed by religious feeling; and while in command of sea-going ships and in the absence of a chaplain he was in the habit not only of conducting the church service himself, but of preaching original sermons, with a rare understanding of the seamen's nature. For many years before his death—beginning, indeed, during the time of his service at Sheerness as captain-superintendent—he took a very warm interest in the promotion of temperance among seamen, and throwing himself into the cause with a zeal peculiarly his own, became a prominent advocate of total abstinence. But independently of this his name was widely associated with the various naval charities and with many other branches of charitable or religious organisation. From the similarity of christian names, as well perhaps as from his service in the Baltic and in China, he has been frequently confused with his contemporary, Admiral Sir William Hutcheon Hall, K.C.B. [q. v.]

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict.; Navy Lists; Times, 30 July 1886; personal knowledge; journals, papers, and other information communicated by the family.]

J. K. L.