Seymour, George Francis (DNB00)

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SEYMOUR, Sir GEORGE FRANCIS (1787–1870), admiral of the fleet, eldest son of Vice-admiral Lord Hugh Seymour [q. v.], was born on 17 Sept. 1787. He entered the navy in October 1797 on board the Princess Augusta yacht, with Captain Edward Riou, and from March 1798 to September 1801 was with his father in the Sanspareil and the Prince of Wales in the Channel and the West Indies. In 1802–3 he was in the Endymion, mostly on the home station, with Captain John Larmour, and afterwards with the Hon. Charles Paget [q. v.] Towards the end of 1803 he was sent out to the Victory, flagship of Lord Nelson in the Mediterranean, and in February 1804 was sent to the Madras as acting lieutenant. A few weeks afterwards he was moved into the Donegal with Sir Richard John Strachan [q. v.], who, early in 1805, was succeeded by Pulteney Malcolm [q. v.] On 12 Oct. 1804 Seymour was confirmed as a lieutenant, and, continuing in the Donegal, took part in the chase of the allied fleet to the West Indies and back, and in the capture of the Spanish ship El Rayo immediately after the battle of Trafalgar. Early in 1806 he joined the Northumberland, flagship of Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane [q. v.], in the West Indies, and on 6 Feb. took part in the battle of St. Domingo, where he was severely wounded in the jaw by a grape shot. He had already been promoted to the rank of commander on 22 Jan. 1806, and on 9 Feb. was appointed to the Kingfisher sloop, in which, on 14 May, he was in company with Lord Cochrane in the Pallas, and was able to rescue him from a dangerous position in the entrance of the Basque roads [see Cochrane, Thomas, tenth Earl of Dundonald]. On 29 July 1806 he was posted to the command of the Aurora in the Mediterranean, from which, in February 1808, he was moved to the Pallas on the home station. In April 1809 she was attached to the fleet with Lord Gambier off the Basque roads, and on the 12th Seymour made a gallant effort to support Cochrane in his attempt to destroy the French ships. Afterwards, at the court-martial on Lord Gambier, he gave evidence strongly in favour of Cochrane's assertion—that the whole might have been destroyed (Dundonald, Autobiography of a Seaman, i. 392, ii. 54–5).

In September 1809 Seymour was appointed to the 36-gun frigate Manilla, which was lost off the Texel in January 1812 during his temporary absence. In June 1812 he was appointed to the Fortunée, and from January 1813 to September 1814 he commanded the Leonidas in the West Indies. On 4 June 1815 he was nominated a C.B., and on 28 May 1816 was awarded a pension of 250l. for his wound received in the battle of St. Domingo. From 1818 to 1841 he was sergeant-at-arms to the House of Lords. In 1827 he commanded the Briton for a few months on particular service. He was naval aide-de-camp to William IV from August to November 1830, and from that time till the king's death was master of the robes. In 1831 he was made a K.C.H., and G.C.H. on 9 Dec. 1834. He was promoted to be rear-admiral on 23 Nov. 1841. From September 1841 to May 1844 he was one of the lords of the admiralty; and from 1844 to 1848 was commander-in-chief in the Pacific, where ‘the tact, ability, and decision’ he showed during the strained relations with France in respect of ‘the Pritchard affair’ [see Pritchard, George], and the negotiations with the United States about the fisheries, were formally recognised by the government.

On 27 March 1850 he was made a vice-admiral, and on 7 April 1852 a K.C.B. From January 1851 to November 1853 he was commander-in-chief on the North America and West Indies station; and from January 1856 to March 1859 commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. On 14 May 1857 he was promoted to the rank of admiral, was nominated a G.C.B. on 18 May 1860, rear-admiral of the United Kingdom in April 1863, vice-admiral in September 1865, and admiral of the fleet on 30 Nov. 1866. He died of bronchitis on 20 Jan. 1870. He married, in 1811, Georgiana Mary, daughter of Sir George Cranfield Berkeley [q. v.], and had issue four daughters and three sons, the eldest of whom, Francis George Hugh (1812–1884), in August 1870 succeeded his second cousin as fifth marquis of Hertford [see under Seymour, Francis (Ingram)]. He was appointed groom of the robes in 1833, was lord-chamberlain 1874–1879, and died at Ragley on 25 Jan. 1884, from injuries caused by a fall from his horse.

[O'Byrne's Naval Biogr. Dict.; Times, 24 Jan. 1870, 26 Jan. 1884; Navy Lists; Forster's Peerage.]

J. K. L.