BYRON, HON. JOHN (1723–1786), British vice-admiral, second son of the 4th Lord Byron, and grandfather of the poet, was born on the 8th of November 1723. While still very young, he accompanied Anson in his voyage of discovery round the world. During many successive years he saw a great deal of hard service, and so constantly had he to contend, on his various expeditions, with adverse gales and dangerous storms, that he was nicknamed by the sailors, “Foul-weather Jack.” It is to this that Lord Byron alludes in his Epistle to Augusta:—
A strange doom is thy father’s son’s, and past
Recalling as it lies beyond redress,
Reversed for him our grandsire’s fate of yore,
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.”
Among his other expeditions was that to Louisburg in 1760, where he was sent in command of a squadron to destroy the fortifications. And in 1764 in the “Dolphin” he went for a prolonged cruise in the South Seas. In 1768 he published a Narrative of some of his early adventures with Anson, which was to some extent utilized by his grandson in Don Juan. In 1769 he was appointed governor of Newfoundland. In 1775 he attained his flag rank, and in 1778 became a vice-admiral. In the same year he was despatched with a fleet to watch the movements of the Count d'Estaing, and in July 1779 fought an indecisive engagement with him off Grenada. He soon after returned to England, retiring into private life, and died on the 10th of April 1786.