Hood, Samuel (1762-1814) (DNB00)

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HOOD, Sir SAMUEL (1762–1814), vice-admiral, third son of Samuel Hood of Kingsland, Dorset, and younger brother of Captain Alexander Hood (1758-1798) [q. v.], was born on 27 Nov. 1762. He entered the navy in 1776 on board the Courageux with his cousin Samuel (afterwards Lord) Hood. In 1778 he was moved into the Robust with Alexander Hood, the future Lord Bridport, and in her was present in the action off Ushant 27 July 1778. In 1779-80 he served in the Lively sloop in the Channel; and in October 1780 was appointed to the Barfleur, again with Sir Samuel Hood, going out to the West Indies as second in command. He was shortly afterwards promoted to be lieutenant; and continuing in the Barfleur, was present in the several actions with De Grasse—off Martinique, 29 April 1781; off Cape Henry, 5 Sept. 1781; and at St. Kitts, 25-6 Jan. 1782. On 31 Jan. he was promoted by his cousin to the nominal command of the Renard sloop, then lying as a hospital ship at Antigua. Hood remained in the Barfleur as a volunteer, and was thus present in the actions off Dominica on 9 and 12 April, and at the capture of the French squadron in the Mona passage on 19 April 1782. He continued in the Barfleur till the conclusion of the war, when he joined the Renard and took her to England. He then went to France, and in a two years' residence acquired an intimate knowledge of the language. On his return to England in 1785 he was appointed to the Weasel sloop on the Halifax station, and was there, 24 May 1788, posted to the command of the Thisbe frigate, which he brought home and paid off in the autumn of 1789. In May 1790 he commissioned the Juno, a 32-gun frigate, in which he went out to Jamaica. On 3 Feb. 1791, while lying in St. Anne's harbour, he succeeded, during a violent storm and at great personal risk, in bringing off three men from a wreck. The boat's crew seemed unwilling to make the attempt, on which Hood himself jumped in, saying, ‘I never in my life gave a sailor an order that I was not ready to execute myself,’ and shoved off. The House of Assembly of Jamaica voted a hundred guineas for a sword to be presented to him, to mark their sense of this gallant act.

The Juno returned to England in the summer of 1791, and through the autumn and the following year was stationed at Weymouth, in attendance on the king. Early in 1793 she went out to the Mediterranean with the fleet under Lord Hood, and was with it at the occupation of Toulon. She was then sent to Malta to bring up supernumeraries, and during her absence Toulon was evacuated. On her return she made the harbour about ten o'clock on the night of 9 Jan. 1794. It was dark, with drizzling rain, and Hood, ignorant of what had occurred, and without having his suspicions roused, stood in, passed into the inner harbour, and let go his anchor. A French boat came on board and directed him to go into another branch of the harbour for quarantine; but while he was endeavouring to find out from the pretended health officers where Lord Hood was, a gleam of moonshine revealed their tricoloured cockades. Finding themselves discovered, they admitted that ‘the English admiral had been gone some time.’ At the same moment a flaw of wind came down the harbour; and Hood, promptly taking advantage of it, sent the Frenchmen below, made all sail, and cut the cable. As the Juno gathered way, the batteries opened fire on her, but in the rain and darkness the ship got out with little damage.

During the following months Hood was engaged in the operations on the coast of Corsica, and after the capture of S. Fiorenzo was transferred to the Aigle, a 36-gun frigate, in which, in 1795, he commanded a small squadron sent into the Archipelago to protect the trade and watch some French frigates which had taken refuge in Smyrna. For the able execution of this service he received the complimentary thanks of the English merchants. In April 1796 Hood was moved into the Zealous of 74 guns, one of the fleet with Sir John Jervis (afterwards Earl St. Vincent) [q. v.] off Toulon, and in 1797 off Cadiz. She was absent from the battle of Cape St. Vincent, being at the time refitting at Lisbon; but in July she was one of the squadron with Nelson at Santa Cruz; and after the failure of the attack, Hood was employed by Troubridge [see TROUBRIDGE, Sir THOMAS] to conduct the extraordinary negotiations by which the squadron was released from its dangerous position. During the early months of 1798 the Zealous was in the Bay of Biscay and off Rochefort; but having again joined the fleet before Cadiz, she was one of the ships sent in May to reinforce Nelson in the Mediterranean, and under his command to win the battle of the Nile. In that action the part of the Zealous was particularly brilliant: closely following the Goliath [see Foley, Sir Thomas], Hood let go his anchor on the bow of the Guerrier, the leading French ship, which was completely beaten within twelve minutes, her masts shot away, her side smashed in, most of her guns disabled, and half her ship's company killed or wounded (James, ii. 184–7; Chevalier, Histoire de la Marine française sous la première République, p. 372). The loss of the Zealous was trifling, and she passed on to engage other ships. The next morning she was starting in pursuit of the French ships that escaped; but alone and unsupported, the odds against her would have been too great, and she was recalled by signal. When Nelson quitted the coast of Egypt, Hood was left as senior officer in command of the squadron which continued the blockade of the French army, and captured or destroyed some thirty of their transports. In February 1799 he rejoined Nelson at Palermo, and was employed during the spring in the defence of Salerno, and afterwards as governor of Castel Nuovo at Naples. As an acknowledgment of his services the king of the Two Sicilies conferred on him the order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit.

In May 1800 the Zealous was paid off, and Hood was appointed to the Courageux, which formed part of the squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren [q. v.] off Ferrol. In January 1801 he was moved into the Venerable, which after a few months in the Channel joined Sir James Saumarez (afterwards Lord de Saumarez) [q. v.] in time to take prominent parts in the unfortunate action at Algeciras on 6 July, and in the brilliant victory in the Straits on the 12th. On this occasion the Venerable had all her masts shot away and sustained a loss of thirty killed and a hundred wounded. The Venerable was paid off at the peace, and in October 1802 Hood was sent out as a commissioner for the government of Trinidad. By the death of Rear-admiral Totty he became commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands station, hoisting a broad pennant on board the Centaur; and on the renewal of the war captured, in conjunction with the land forces, the islands of St. Lucia and Tobago, and, on the mainland, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, and Surinam. Under his command also a large number of the enemy's privateers and ships of war were captured or destroyed, to the great advantage of the English trade; and for the closer blockade of Martinique, as well as for harassing the enemy's cruisers, the Diamond Rock was occupied, armed with five heavy guns, and commissioned as ‘a sloop of war’ (James, iii. 245). Hood's services were acknowledged by complimentary addresses from the legislative assemblies of the islands, and the present of plate of the value of three hundred guineas; he was also nominated a K.B. Early in 1805 he returned to England, and continuing in the Centaur was sent off Rochefort in command of a squadron of six sail of the line. On 25 Sept. he fell in with a French squadron of five large frigates and two brigs bound for the West Indies with troops, and succeeded in capturing the four largest; the other, with the brigs, got away. In this skirmish the loss of the English was six killed and thirty-two wounded, including Hood, whose right elbow was smashed by a musket-shot, entailing the amputation of the arm; he was afterwards granted a pension of 500l. per annum as compensation. In 1807 the Centaur was one of the fleet under Lord Gambier at Copenhagen [see Gambier, James, Lord]. On 2 Oct. Hood was advanced to the rank of rear-admiral, and with his flag in the Centaur had the naval command of the force which reduced Madeira, 26 Dec. 1807. In the following year, still in the Centaur, he was second in command of the fleet in the Baltic, under Sir James Saumarez; and on 26 Aug., being then, with Captain Thomas Byam Martin [q. v.] in the Implacable, attached to the Swedish fleet, which at the time was ten miles to leeward, he cut off the 80-gun ship Sewolod from the Russian line, and captured her after a stubborn defence, in which she lost, it was said, upwards of three hundred killed and wounded: the ship herself had to be burnt. This brilliant achievement won for him a complimentary letter from the king of Sweden, with the grand cross of the order of the Sword.

In January 1809 he commanded in the second post at Corunna during the re-embarkation of the army. He was created a baronet on 13 April 1809, and for the next two years he commanded a division in the Mediterranean. On 1 Aug. 1811 he was advanced to be vice-admiral, and towards the end of the year was appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies, where he arrived in the early summer of 1812. His command was uneventful, the war having been brought to an end with the reduction of Java and Mauritius; and the time was mainly occupied in regulating and reforming points of organisation or discipline and the methods of victualling, in which he introduced some substantial reforms, effecting a saving to the government of something like thirty per cent. He died at Madras on 24 Dec. 1814, carried off by a fever, after three days' illness. In 1831 a subscription monument to his memory, in the form of a column 110 feet high, was erected on a hill at Butleigh in Somersetshire (Gent. Mag. 1832, vol. cii. pt. i. p. 190). In the church is another monument with a long inscription by Southey (Southey, Poetical Works; cf. Hood, Alexander, 1758–1798).

Although essentially a war officer, whose whole life, with few and short intermissions, was spent in active service, Hood is described as well versed in the more theoretical branches of his profession, and as having an exceptional knowledge of navigation, geography, shipbuilding, fortification, and mechanical philosophy: he is also said to have ‘studied the language, laws, and customs of every country he visited.’ There is, at any rate, reason to believe that he was a good French and Spanish scholar. He married in 1804 Mary, the eldest daughter of Lord Seaforth; but dying without issue, the baronetcy, by a special clause in the patent, passed to the son of his brother Alexander, in whose family it now remains. His portraits by Beechey, before he lost his arm, and by Hoppner and Downman when armless, have been engraved.

[Naval Chronicle, xvii. 1 (with a portrait); this memoir, largely based on a memorial by Hood himself, drawn up after the loss of his arm, is the foundation of all others, e.g. in Ralfe's Naval Biog. iv. 55, or Gent. Mag. 1816, vol. lxxxvi. pt. i. p. 68; it ends with 1806, and of the last eight years of Hood's life no adequate memoir has been published; the notice in Naval Chronicle, xxxiv. 30, is extremely inaccurate, and that in Ralfe or the Gent. Mag. is little if any better; for this period his service can only be traced in his official correspondence in the Public Record Office, more especially Admirals' Despatches, East Indies, vols. xxv–ix.; see also Nicolas's Nelson Despatches (freq.); James's Naval Hist. (edit. of 1869) (freq.); and Brenton's Naval Hist. (freq.), where the index has made some confusion between the two brothers; Foster's Baronetage.]

J. K. L.