Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Symonds, Thomas Matthew Charles

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SYMONDS, Sir THOMAS MATTHEW CHARLES (1813–1894), admiral of the fleet, son of Sir William Symonds [q. v.] by his first marriage, was born on 15 July 1813; entered the navy on 25 April 1825, passed his examination in 1831, and was promoted to be lieutenant on 5 Nov. 1832. In May 1833 he was appointed to the Vestal, from which he was removed in September to the Endymion on the Mediterranean station, and from her again to the Britannia. In December 1834 he joined the Rattlesnake with Captain William Hobson, ordered to the East Indies. On 21 Oct. 1837 he was made commander and returned home; and from 27 Aug. 1838 he commanded the Rover Sloop on the North American and West Indian station, till on 22 Feb. 1841 he was promoted to the rank of captain. In May 1846 he was appointed to the Spartan for the Mediterranean, where he remained till 1849. In January 1850 he commissioned the Arethusa, which in 1852 went to the Mediterranean. There she was detained by the imminence of war with Russia. In 1854 Symonds served in the Black Sea, took part in the bombardment of Fort Constantine, and early in 1855 returned home and paid off. He was nominated a C.B. on 5 July 1855, and received the Crimean medal with the Sevastopol clasp and the Medjidie of the third class. On 1 Nov. 1860 he became a rear-admiral, a vice-admiral on 2 April 1866, and a K.C.B. on 13 March 1867. From December 1868 to July 1870 he commanded the Channel squadron, and gained in the service a reputation as a tactician, being the originator of the group formation in the form of a scalene triangle, which replaced the older isosceles group. On 14 July 1871 he became an admiral, and from 1 Nov. 1875 till 1 Nov. 1878 was commander-in-chief at Devonport. On 15 July 1879 he became admiral of the fleet, G.C.B. on 23 April 1880, and died at Torquay on 14 Nov. 1894. He married, on 25 Sept. 1845, Anna Maria, daughter of Captain Edmund Heywood, R.N.

From the date of his retirement he devoted himself to writing pamphlets and letters to the ‘Times’ with a view to forcing on the government the need for a stronger navy.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Times, 15 Nov. 1894; Army and Navy Gazette, 17 Nov. 1894.]

J. K. L.