Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Affleck, Edmund

AFFLECK, Sir EDMUND (1723?–1788), admiral, fifth son of Mr. Gilbert Affleck, of Dalham Hall, Suffolk, was raised to the rank of lieutenant in July 1745, commander in May 1756, and captain 23 March 1757; but though he served throughout the seven years' war, first in the Mercury of twenty guns, and afterwards in the Launceston of forty, he had no opportunities for distinction. During the years of peace he continued still actively employed, and in 1778 was appointed to the Bedford, seventy-four, and sailed with Vice-Admiral Byron for North America. After refitting at New York Byron took the fleet to sea in October; it was dispersed in a violent gale of wind, and the Bedford so shattered that she had to make the best of her way home. She was thus in the Channel with Sir Charles Hardy in the ignominious campaign of 1779, and afterwards formed part of the force with which Sir George Rodney was sent out to relieve Gibraltar. When they fell in with the Spanish squadron off Cape St. Vincent on 16 Jan. 1780, and when Rodney made the general signal to chase, the Bedford was the first ship that got in amongst the retiring enemy, and the conduct of Affleck at once pointed him out as a man of remarkable energy and decision. After the relief of Gibraltar the Bedford returned to England, and was again sent out to North America with Rear-Admiral Graves, to reinforce the squadron with Arbuthnot in Gardiner's Bay. In the following January, whilst out on a cruise looking for some expected French transports, the Bedford was dismasted in a violent gale, which at the same time drove the Culloden on shore. The Culloden's masts were, however, fortunately saved, and when the bad weather which lasted through February had quieted, they were used to refit the Bedford, which, by a brilliant display of energy and seamanship, was got ready for sea and sailed with the squadron on 10 March 1781. In the action of the 16th [see Arbuthnot, Marriott] the Bedford was in the rear of the line, and, owing to the peculiar tactics devised by the admiral, had no effective share. Affleck was afterwards, and throughout the summer, employed as commissioner of the port of New York, with a broad pennant on board any opportune small craft; whilst the Bedford went to sea with the fleet in September. Afterwards, however, he resumed the command of the Bedford, having now the established rank of commodore, and on 12 November sailed with Sir Samuel Hood for the West Indies. He had a very important share in the repulse of the French at St. Christopher's on 26 Jan. 1782. ‘The enemy,’ wrote Sir Samuel Hood, ‘gave a preference to Commodore Affleck; but he kept up so noble a fire and was so well supported by his seconds, Captain Cornwallis and Lord Robert Manners, that the loss and damage sustained in those ships were very trifling, and they very much preserved the other ships in the rear.’ On retreating from St. Christopher's, Hood's squadron joined Sir George Rodney, and formed part of the fleet which fought to leeward of Dominica on 9 and 12 April 1782. In these actions, and more especially in the decisive one of the 12th, Affleck distinguished himself; and by his promptly taking on himself to pass through a gap in the enemy's line, at almost the same moment that Rodney, unseen in the smoke, passed through another, contributed in a very marked degree to the decisive character of the victory. For this important and distinguished service he was rewarded with a baronetcy. He remained on the station till the peace, and on his return to England became, in 1784, rear-admiral of the blue. He, however, never hoisted his flag, and died 19 Nov. 1788.

[Official Letters, &c. in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.3
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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171 ii 26 Affleck, Sir Edmund: after blue insert He was M.P. for Colchester from 1782 till his death, and was a supporter of Pitt