Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Talbot, John (1769?-1851)

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TALBOT, Sir JOHN (1769?–1851), admiral, third son of Richard Talbot (d. 1783) of Malahide Castle, co. Dublin, and of his wife Margaret, eldest daughter of James O'Reilly of Ballinlough, co. Westmeath, was born about 1769. Three years before her death in 1834, his mother was created Baroness Talbot of Malahide. His elder brothers, Richard Wogan Talbot (1766?–1849) and James Talbot (1767?–1850), succeeded her as second and third barons respectively. Thomas Talbot (1771–1853) [q. v.] was a younger brother.

John entered the navy in March 1784 on board the Boreas with Captain Horatio (afterwards Viscount) Nelson [q. v.], and served in her during the commission in the West Indies. After the Boreas was paid off Talbot was borne on the books of the Barfleur and of the Victory, guardships at Portsmouth, and on 3 Nov. 1790 was promoted to be lieutenant of the Triton in the West Indies. In April 1793 he was appointed to the Windsor Castle, going out to the Mediterranean with Lord Hood. He was afterwards in the Alcide in the Mediterranean, and in 1795 was first lieutenant of the Astræa, attached to the western squadron under Rear-admiral Colpoys, and in sight of some of the ships of that squadron when, on 10 April, she captured the French frigate Gloire, after a sharp action of one hour's duration. Both in size and armament the Gloire was considerably heavier than the Astræa, and ‘nothing was wanted but a meeting less likely to be interrupted to render her capture a very gallant performance’ (James, i. 316). Talbot was put in charge of the prize, which he took to Portsmouth; and on 17 April he was promoted to the command of the Helena sloop, in the Channel, from which on 27 Aug. 1796 he was posted to the Eurydice of 24 guns. He commanded the Eurydice for upwards of four years in the West Indies and in the Channel, during which time he made many prizes, and in May 1798 assisted in the defence of the isles of St. Marcouf. In 1801 he commanded the Glenmore on the Irish station; and in October 1804 was appointed to the Leander of 50 guns on the Halifax station. There on 23 Feb. 1805 he captured the French frigate Ville de Milan and her prize, the Cleopatra, both of them greatly disabled in the action in which the Cleopatra had been taken, and incapable of offering any effective resistance (ib. iv. 24; Troude, iii. 418). In December 1805 Talbot was moved into the Centaur, when, on leaving the Leander, he was presented by the officers of the ship with a sword of the value of a hundred guineas. In February 1806 he took command of the Thunderer, one of the fleet in the Mediterranean, and in the following year one of the detachment under Sir John Thomas Duckworth [q. v.], which in February forced the passage of the Dardanelles. Continuing in the Mediterranean, in October 1809 Talbot was moved into the Victorious, and in February 1812 was sent off Venice to keep watch on a new French 74-gun ship, the Rivoli, which had been built there and was reported ready for sea. In the afternoon of the 21st the Rivoli put to sea, but was seen and followed by the Victorious, and brought to action on the morning of the 22nd. The Victorious captured her after a very severe engagement lasting for nearly five hours, during which the Rivoli, both in hull and rigging, was ‘dreadfully shattered,’ and out of a complement of eight hundred and ten had upwards of four hundred killed or wounded. Talbot, who was severely wounded in the head by a splinter, was awarded a gold medal and was knighted. The first lieutenant of the Victorious was promoted (James, v. 338; Troude, iv. 157). The Victorious was then sent home to be refitted, and, still commanded by Talbot, sailed for the West Indies in November 1812. From the West Indies she went to the coast of North America, and in the summer of 1814 was sent to Davis's Straits for the protection of the whale fishery. Striking on a rock, she sustained so much damage that she was obliged to return to England, and in August she was paid off.

Talbot had no further service. On 2 Jan. 1815 he was nominated a K.C.B. He became a rear-admiral on 12 Aug. 1819, vice-admiral on 22 July 1830, admiral on 23 Nov. 1841, and was made a G.C.B. on 23 Feb. 1842. He died at Rhode Hill, near Lyme Regis, Dorset, on 7 July 1851. He married, in October 1815, Mary Julia (d. 1843), third daughter of the ninth Lord Arundell of Wardour, and by her had a large family.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; James's Naval History; Troude's Batailles navales de la France; Chevalier's Hist. de la Marine Française sous le Consulat et l'Empire, p. 395; Foster's Peerage.]

J. K. L.