Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 51.djvu/335

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

commanded the Britannia as flag-captain to Sir John Acworth Ommanney [q. v.], and from her was moved to the Powerful, which he brought home and paid off early in 1842.

From 1845 to 1848 he commanded the Vindictive as flag-captain to Sir Francis William Austen [q. v.] on the North American and West Indies station. In 1849 he made a prolonged tour in France, visiting the dockyards, arsenals, and engineering works, and after his return wrote a very full and careful report to the admiralty. In December 1850 he was appointed superintendent of Sheerness dockyard, from which, in September 1851, he was transferred to Devonport, with the rank of commodore of the first class. On the imminence of the war with Russia in 1854, he was appointed captain of the fleet ordered to the Baltic under the command of Sir Charles Napier, and held that office during the campaign of that year. On 27 May 1854 he was promoted to be rear-admiral, and the following year was again in the Baltic as second in command, with his flag in the Exmouth, a screw ship of ninety-one guns. While examining one of the ‘Jacobis’ (i.e. small sea mines), which had been picked up off Cronstadt, it exploded, wounding him in the face, and destroying the sight of one eye.

In the spring of 1856 Seymour went out overland to take command of the China station, and, after having visited Japan, had returned to Hong Kong when, early in October, he received news of the seizure of the British lorcha Arrow by the Chinese authorities at Canton. The governor of Hong Kong, Sir John Bowring [q. v.], put the matter into Seymour's hands with a request that he would bring pressure to bear on the Chinese viceroy. Accordingly Seymour seized the forts which covered the approaches to Canton, and, when the viceroy proved unyielding, occupied the Bogue forts. Troops were sent out from England, and Lord Elgin arrived with full powers to negotiate [see Bruce, James, eighth Earl of Elgin]. But the outbreak of the mutiny in India rendered it necessary to change the destination of the troops, and Lord Elgin followed them to Calcutta. Meantime the Chinese junk fleet was destroyed after a sharp action in the Fatshan creek on 1 June 1857; and on the arrival of other troops and the return of Lord Elgin, as the Chinese viceroy still refused all concessions, Seymour pushed up the river, and, after a clever feint, attacked and captured Canton with very little loss on 28–29 Dec. 1857. The viceroy was seized [see Key, Sir Astley Cooper] and sent, a prisoner, to Calcutta; but as the court of Peking refused to negotiate, Lord Elgin considered it necessary to move the scene of action to the north. In the end of April 1858 Seymour in his flagship, the Calcutta, arrived in the Gulf of Pecheli, and, on the request of Elgin, took the forts at the mouth of the Pei-ho on 20 May, and forced the passage up the river as far as Tientsing, where on 26 June a treaty was signed, in which the Chinese government conceded the demands of the English minister. Seymour afterwards escorted Lord Elgin to Japan, and then returned to Hong Kong, reaching England early in the following summer, on the expiration of his term of three years. The invariable success which attended his operations in the war in China was entirely due to his calm foresight and careful attention to the minutest details. On 20 May 1859 he was nominated a G.C.B., and shortly afterwards was presented by the China merchants with a handsome service of plate. On 9 Aug. 1859 he was returned to parliament for Devonport, resigning his seat in February 1863.

On 1 Nov. 1860 he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral, and on 5 March 1864 to be admiral. From March 1863 to March 1866 he was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. In 1870 he was put on the retired list, and in 1875 was nominated to the then honorary office of vice-admiral of the United Kingdom. He died on 23 Feb. 1887. He married, in 1829, his first cousin, Dorothea, daughter of Sir William Knighton [q. v.], and left issue two daughters. A good portrait in crayons, by A. de Salome, was engraved by F. Holl the elder.

[Journals, letter-books, &c., and information from the family; The Wreck of His Majesty's Ship Challenger, 1836, 8vo; G. W. Cooke's China; Oliphant's Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan; Parliamentary Papers: Correspondence relative to Operations in the Canton River, 1857; Correspondence between Lord Elgin and the Chinese High Commissioner Yeh, 1857–8; Correspondence respecting insults in China, 1857; Papers relating to the proceedings of Her Majesty's Naval Forces at Canton, 1857; Correspondence relative to the Earl of Elgin's Special Mission to China and Japan, 1859; Correspondence respecting the Affairs of China, 1860; Correspondence relating to the Non-arrival of Gunboats off the Peiho at the time required by the Earl of Elgin, 1860; Navy Lists; Personal knowledge.]

J. K. L.

SEYMOUR, MICHAEL HOBART (1800–1874), controversialist, born on 29 Sept. 1800, was sixth son of John Crossley Seymour, vicar of Caherelly (d. 19 May 1831), who married in January 1789 Catherine,