Moresby, Fairfax (DNB00)

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MORESBY, Sir FAIRFAX (1786–1877), admiral of the fleet, son of Fairfax Moresby of Lichfield, entered the navy in December 1799, on board the London, with Captain John Child Purvis, whom he followed in 1801 to the Royal George. In March 1802 he joined the Alarm, with Captain (afterwards Sir William) Parker (1781–1866) [q. v.] and in November went with him to the Amazon, in which he served in the Mediterranean, and in the chase of the French fleet to the West Indies. In December 1805 he was appointed to the Puissant at Portsmouth, and on 10 April 1806 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Ville de Pans. A few months later he was appointed to the Kent, in which, and afterwards in the Repulse, in the Mediterranean, he was frequently engaged in boat service. After some weeks in acting command of the Eclair and Acorn he was promoted to be commander of the Wizard brig, 18 April 1811, and was sent to the Archipelago to repress the pirates who, as well as the French privateers fitted out in Turkey, were just then extremely active. Of these he captured several, and in acknowledgment of his services he was presented by the merchants of Malta with a sword. Towards the end of 1812 the Wizard was sent to England with despatches, but, returning to the Mediterranean, was through the summer of 1813 attached to the squadron in the Adriatic, under the command of Rear-admiral, (afterwards Sir) Thomas Fremantle [q. v.] On several occasions, and more especially at the siege of Trieste in October, Moresby's services were highly commended. With the other captains of the squadron he was permitted to accept the cross of the order of Maria Theresa, 23 May 1814. He was advanced to post rank 7 June 1814, and was nominated a C.B. 4 June 1815.

In April 1819 he was appointed to the Menai, a 24-gun frigate, in which he went out to the Cape of Good Hope. In 1820 he surveyed Algoa Bay and its neighbourhood, arranged the landing of the settlers, to the number of two thousand, and organised the infant colony. In 1821 he was senior officer at Mauritius, with orders to suppress the slave trade. He captured or destroyed several of the more notorious vessels engaged in that trade, prosecuted the owners, and concluded a treaty with the imaum of Muscat conferring on English men-of-war the right of searching and seizing native vessels. At the request of Wilberforce he was kept out an additional year, till June 1823. The Menai was paid off in September. The arduous service on the coast of Africa had broken Moresby's health. From 1837 to 1840 he commanded the Pembroke in the Mediterranean, and from 1845 to 1848 the Canopus on the home station. On 20 Dec. 1849 he was promoted to be rear-admiral, and from 1850 to 1853 he was commander-in-chief in the Pacific. In 1854 he was made a D.C.L. of Oxford. He was nominated vice-admiral 12 Nov. 1856, admiral 12 April 1862, G.C.B. 28 March 1865, and admiral of the fleet 21 Jan. 1870. He died on 21 Jan. 1877, in his ninety-first year.

Moresby married at Malta in 1814 Eliza Louisa, youngest daughter of John Williams of Bakewell, Derbyshire, and by her had two daughters and three sons, the eldest of whom, Fairfax, a commander in the navy, was lost in the Sappho brig, which went down with all hands in Bass's Straits early in 1858 (Times, 30 May, 30 June 1859).

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biog:. Dict.; Ann. Keg. 1877, cxix. 135; Navy Lists.]

J. K. L.