1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Exmouth, Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10
Exmouth, Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount
14624251911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10 — Exmouth, Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount

EXMOUTH, EDWARD PELLEW, 1st Viscount (1757–1833), English admiral, was descended from a family which came originally from Normandy, but had for many centuries been settled in the west of Cornwall. He was born at Dover, on the 19th of April 1757. At the age of thirteen he entered the navy, and even then his smartness and activity, his feats of daring, and his spirit of resolute independence awakened remark, and pointed him out as one specially fitted to distinguish himself in his profession. He had, however, no opportunity of active service till 1776, when, at the battle of Lake Champlain, his gallantry, promptitude and skill, not only saved the “Carleton”—whose command had devolved upon him during the progress of the battle—from imminent danger, but enabled her to take a prominent part in sinking two of the enemy’s ships. For his services on this occasion he obtained a lieutenant’s commission, and the command of the schooner in which he had so bravely done his duty. The following year, in command of a brigade of seamen, he shared in the hardships and perils of the American campaign of General Burgoyne. In 1782, in command of the “Pelican,” he attacked three French privateers inside the Île de Batz, and compelled them to run themselves on shore—a feat for which he was rewarded by the rank of post-captain. On the outbreak of the French War in 1793, he was appointed to the “Nymphe,” a frigate of 36 guns; and, notwithstanding that for the sake of expedition she was manned chiefly by Cornish miners, he captured, after a desperate conflict, the French frigate “La Cléopâtre,” a vessel of equal strength. For this act he obtained the honour of knighthood. In 1794 he received the command of the “Arethusa” (38), and in a fight with the French frigate squadron off the Île de Batz he compelled the “Pomona” (44) to surrender. The same year the western squadron was increased and its command divided, the second squadron being given to Sir Edward Pellew in the “Indefatigable” (44). While in command of this squadron he, on several occasions, performed acts of great personal daring; and for his bravery in boarding the wrecked transport “Dutton,” and his promptitude and resolution in adopting measures so as to save the lives of all on board, he was in 1796 created a baronet. In 1798 he joined the channel fleet, and in command of the “Impétueux” (74) took part in several actions with great distinction. In 1802 Sir Edward Pellew was elected member of parliament for Dunstable, and during the time that he sat in the Commons he was a strenuous supporter of Pitt. In 1804 he was made rear-admiral of the blue, and appointed commander-in-chief in India, where, by his vigilance and rapidity of movement, he entirely cleared the seas of French cruisers, and secured complete protection to English commerce. He returned to England in 1809, and in 1810 was appointed commander-in-chief in the North Sea, and in 1811 commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In 1814 he was created Baron Exmouth of Canonteign, and in the following year was made K.C.B., and a little later G.C.B. When the dey of Algiers, in 1816, violated the treaty for the abolition of slavery, Exmouth was directed to attack the town. Accordingly, on the 26th of August, he engaged the Algerine battery and fleet, and after a severe action of nine hours’ duration, he set on fire the arsenal and every vessel of the enemy’s fleet, and shattered the sea defences into ruins. At the close of the action the dey apologized for his conduct, and agreed to a renewal of the treaty, at the same time delivering up over three thousand persons of various nationalities who had been Algerine slaves. For this splendid victory Exmouth was advanced to the dignity of viscount. Shortly before his death, which took place on the 23rd of January 1833, he was made vice-admiral.

He had married Susan (d. 1837), daughter of James Frowde of Knoyle, Wiltshire, who bore him four sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Pownoll Bastard Pellew (1786–1833), became 2nd Viscount Exmouth, and his descendant, Edward Addington Hargreaves Pellew (b. 1890), became the 5th viscount in 1899.

Exmouth’s second son, Sir Fleetwood Broughton Reynolds Pellew (1789–1861), was like his father an admiral. The third son was George Pellew (1793–1866), author and divine, who married Frances (d. 1870), daughter of the prime minister, Lord Sidmouth, and wrote his father-in-law’s life (The Life and Correspondence of Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, 1847).

Exmouth had a brother, Sir Israel Pellew (1758–1832), also an admiral, who was present at the battle of Trafalgar.

A Life of the 1st viscount, by Edward Osler, was published in 1835.