Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/George, Lord Anson

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1854410Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, Volume II — George, Lord Anson

ANSON, George, Lord, the famous circumnavigator, was born at Shuckborough Manor, Staffordshire, on the 22d of April 1697. He entered the navy at the age of fifteen. By the time he was twenty-one he had been promoted to the command of the "Weasel" sloop, and by 1724 to the command of the man-of-war "Scarborough." Between this year and 1735 he was engaged in active service, chiefly on the Carolina stations in America, and a town and county, named Ansonborough, in South Carolina, commemorate his residence there. He was recalled in 1739, on the outbreak of the Spanish war, and entrusted with the command of a squadron of eight vessels, equipped to annoy the Spaniards in the South Seas, and to co-operate with Admiral Vernon across the Isthmus of Darien. Anson sailed in September 1740; doubled Cape Horn in a dangerous season; lost most of his men by the scurvy; and with only one remaining ship, the "Centurion," crossed the Pacific Ocean. If no considerable national advantage resulted from this voyage, Commodore Anson made his own fortune, and enriched his surviving companions, by the capture of a rich galleon on her passage from Acapulco to Manilla. He was no less fortunate in escaping a French fleet, then cruising in the Channel, by sailing through it during a fog. Soon after his return, in 1744, he was appointed rear-admiral of the blue, and one of the lords of the Admiralty. In April 1745 he was made rear-admiral of the white, and the following year vice-admiral of the blue, when he was chosen member of parliament for the borough of Heydon. In 1747 he intercepted, off Cape Finisterre, a powerful fleet, bound from France to the East and West Indies, taking six men-of-war and four East Indiamen, not one of them escaping. The French admiral, Jonquiere, on presenting his sword to the conqueror, said, Monsieur, vous avez vaincu l'Invincible, et la Gloire vous suit—"Sir, you have conquered the Invincible, and Glory follows you," pointing to the ships named the "Invincible" and the "Glory," which he had taken. For his signal services he was created Baron Anson, of Soberton, in Hants, and vice-admiral of the red; and, on the death of Sir John Norris, vice-admiral of England. In 1748 he was made admiral of the blue. In 1757 he became first lord of the Admiralty, and in 1761 admiral of the fleet, in which rank he continued, with a very short interval, until his death; and the last service he performed was to convey Queen Charlotte to England. He died 6th June 1762. No book ever met with a more favourable reception than Lord Anson's Voyage Round the World, which, though printed under the name of his chaplain, was composed by Benjamin Robins under the inspection of, and from materials furnished by Lord Anson.