A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Codrington, Edward

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1658963A Naval Biographical Dictionary — Codrington, EdwardWilliam Richard O'Byrne

CODRINGTON, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.L., K.S G., G.R.G., F.R.S. (Admiral of the Red, 1837. f-p., 28; h-p., 36.)

Sir Edward Codrington, born in 1770, is third son of the late Edw. Codrington, Esq. (a descendant of John Codrington, standard-bearer to King Henry V. in his French wars), by Miss Ann Sturgeon; grandson of Sir Edw. Codrington, of Dodington, co. Gloucester, the first Baronet of that name; and cousin of the present Sir Wm. Raimond Codrington, Bart.

This officer entered the Navy, 18 July, 1783, on board the Augusta yacht. Until confirmed in the rank of Lieutenant, 28 May, 1793, he afterwards served, on the Halifax, Mediterranean, and Home stations, in the Brisk sloop, Assistance 44, Commodore Herbert Sawyer, Leander 50, bearing the flag in succession of the same officer and of Rear-Admiral Peyton, Ambuscade 32, and Formidable and Queen Charlotte, flag-ships of Admirals Leveson Gower and Earl Howe. In the course of 1793 he was next appointed to the Santa Margaritta 36, and also, for the purpose of repeating the signals of the latter nobleman, to the Pegasus 28. He then rejoined his lordship in the Queen Charlotte, and after participating in the actions of 28 and 29 May, and 1 June, 1794, was intrusted with the duplicate despatches containing the details of the victory and of the safe arrival of the fleet and prizes off Dimnose. On 7 Oct. following, Mr. Codrington was in consequence promoted to the command of the Comet fire-ship, in which he continued until posted into the Babet, of 22 guns, 6 April, 1795. In the next June he bore a part in Lord Bridport’s action with the French fleet off Ile de Groix, and on removing, in July, 1796, to the Druid 32, cruized for some time off Lisbon, and was in company with the Unicorn and Doris frigates at the capture, 7 Jan. 1797, of the troop-ship La Ville de l’Orient. From that period we do not again find Capt. Codrington employed until appointed, 24 May, 1805, to the Orion 74, for his conduct in which ship at the battle of Trafalgar he received a gold medal. In Nov. 1808 (having left the Orion in Dec. 1806) he obtained command of the Blake 74, and being ordered in the following year to accompany the expedition against Walcheren, hoisted on that occasion the flag of Lord Gardner, by whom he was mentioned in the highest terms of praise for his assistance at the forcing of the Scheldt on 14 Aug., on which day the Blake, having no pilot on board, grounded under the batteries of Flushing, and suffered, during a consequent engagement with the enemy of two hours and three quarters, a loss of 2 men killed and 9 wounded, besides being twice set on fire.[1] While afterwards at the defence of Cadiz, in Aug. 1810, we find the subject of this memoir, as a measure rendered necessary by the rapid advances of the besieging army, charged with the premature removal of four Spanish line-of-battle-ships to Minorca, the whole of which, although old and leaky, quite destitute of men to navigate them, only half-provisioned, and crowded with refugee passengers, were ultimately anchored in safety at Port Mahon after a distressing passage of 38 days. In 1811 Capt. Codrington was invested with the command of a squadron on the east coast of Spain, where, by collecting reinforcements of troops and other means, he strenuously co-operated with the patriots in the defence of Tarragona; and on the fall of that place in June, was night and day employed, with all the warmth of benevolence, in rescuing the unfortunate inhabitants from the ruthless destruction that everywhere assailed them, numbers being brought away in the boats and transports, and gratuitously supplied with whatever clothing and provisions they required.[2] In Jan. 1812 he was further present on shore at the defeat of the French near Villa Succa, where 600 men were taken prisoners, and about the same period he supported the Baron d’Eroles in an attempt to regain Tarragona;[3] after which he successfully carried on a desultory species of warfare that lasted for several months, and was productive of the greatest annoyance and mortification to the enemy. On the night of 26 April, 1812, he again co-operated with the Baron d’Eroles in a manner that caused the mole of Tarragona to be swept of all the vessels and boats that had there sought protection.[4] Capt. Codrington at length returned home in the early part of 1813, bearing with him the good wishes of all with whom he had been in any way connected, and recommended in the strongest manner both by the Spanish government and by Sir Edw. Pellew, the Commander-in-Chief, for the zeal, ability, and judgment which he had on every occasion displayed, and for the signal manner in which he had contributed by his advice and assistance to the various successes of the Catalonian army. He was nominated a Colonel of Marines 4 Dec. following; and sailing soon afterwards for North America with his broad pendant in the Forth 40, was, while there, promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral June, 1814, and appointed, in the Tonnant 80, Captain of the Fleet under Sir Alex. Cochrane. Of the latter officer he received the thanks for the alacrity with which, during the operations connected with the capture of Washington, he conducted the laborious duties of conveying supplies to the army; and also for the counsel and assistance he afforded during the expedition against Baltimore.[5] Hoisting his flag on board the Havannah 36, the Rear-Admiral next took part in the attack on New Orleans,[6] and at the conclusion of hostilities with the United States returned to England with the official announcement of the capture of Fort Bowyer. For his varied services he was created a K.C.B. 2 Jan. 1815; and, assuming the rank of Vice-Admiral 10 July, 1821, was appointed, 1 Nov. 1826, Commander-in-Chief on the Mediterranean station, with his flag in the Asia 84. A treaty being soon afterwards formed between the, courts of St. James’, the Tuileries, and St. Petersburg, having for its object the suppression of hostilities which for several years had raged with deadly animosity between the Ottoman Porte and the inhabitants of the Greek provinces and islands. Sir Edw. Codrington, through a concatenation of circumstances into which our limits forbid us to enter, found it his duty, on 20 Oct. 1827, as Commander-in-Chief of the British, French, and Russian squadrons, to enter the port of Navarin, where lay in battle order a Turco-Egyptian fleet, consisting of 3 sail of the line, 5 double-banked frigates of from 60 to 64 guns each, 15 frigates, 26 corvettes, 11 brigs, and fire-ships, in all 65 sail, carrying 2082 guns. The result of the tremendous conflict which was doomed to follow is well known.[7] It is sufficient for us to record that the victorious fleet, amounting altogether to 11 sail of the line, 9 frigates, and 4 brigs, suffered a loss of 172 men killed and 481 wounded[8] – that promotions and rewards were abundantly distributed among the conquerors – and that the hero of the fight, the gallant Sir Edward, was immediately nominated a G.C.B. by his own Sovereign, and subsequently presented by those of France, Russia, and Greece, with the Grand Cross of St. Louis, the Order of St. George of Russia, and the Gold Cross of the Redeemer of Greece. In consequence, however, of political disunion at home, he was recalled from the Mediterranean in 1828. He afterwards, with his flag in the Caledonia 120, commanded a squadron of observation in the Channel in 1831; and attaining the rank of full Admiral 10 Jan. 1837, was appointed, 22 Nov. 1839; Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, where the Queen 110, and St. Vincent 120, appear to have been his successive flag-ships. He returned to half-pay at the expiration of his command in Dec. 1842; and since that period has been unemployed.

Sir Edw. Codrington, who, in addition to his other dignities, holds that of a G.C.M.G., and is also a F.R.S., sat in Parliament for Devonport from 1832 until Jan. 1840. He married, 27 Dec. 1802, Miss Jane Hall, of Old Windsor, and by that lady, who died in 1837, had, with other issue, a son, the present Capt. Henry John Codrington, R.N., C.B., and a daughter, now wife of Capt. Sir Thos. Bourchier, R.N., K.C.B. His eldest son, Edward, Midshipman of the Cambrian frigate, Capt. Gawen Wm. Hamilton, was drowned off the island of Hydra, while proceeding thither in the ship’s cutter.

  1. Vide Gaz. 1809, p. 1325.
  2. Vide Gaz. 1811, p. 1588.
  3. Vide Gaz. 1812, p. 563.
  4. Vide Gaz. 1812, p. 2296.
  5. Vide Gaz. 1814, pp. 1940, 2076.
  6. Vide Gaz. 1815, p. 449.
  7. Vide Gaz. 1827, pp. 2320-4.
  8. It was nearly miraculous how Sir Edward Codrington escaped without injury. He was almost the whole time on the poop, which was once or twice cleared during the action, – once in particular, – when there was no person to be seen on it but himself. A musket-ball passed through the sleeve of his coat at the wrist; his watch was smashed by a splinter; a cannon-ball passed through the rolled-up awning under which he was standing, and just cleared his hat; he was twisted round several times, and his coat was torn in several places by splinters.