Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dillon, William Henry

DILLON, Sir WILLLAM HENRY (1779–1857), admiral, son of Sir John Talbot Dillon [q. v.], by a daughter of Henry Collins, was born in Birmingham on 8 Aug. 1779. Entering the navy in May 1790, he served as a midshipman under Captain Gambier in the Defence, and was stunned by a splinter in the action of 1 June 1794. He was present in Lord Bridport's action off Ile de Groix on 23 June 1795, and at the reduction of St. Lucie in May 1796, when he carried a flag of truce to take possession of Pigeon Island. Having become an acting-lieutenant in the Glenmore (1798), he co-operated with the army at Wexford during the rebellion, where he succeeded in arresting the Irish chief Skallian. As senior-lieutenant of the Africaine, with a flag of truce from Lord Keith to the Dutch commodore, Valterbach, at Helvoetsluys, he was (20 July 1803) made, most unjustifiably, a prisoner, handed over to the French, and detained in captivity until September 1807. In the meantime (8 April 1805) he had been made a commander, and on obtaining his release he took the command of the sloop Childers, carrying only fourteen 12-pound carronades and sixty-five men, and in her on 14 March 1808, on the coast of Norway, after a long action, drove off a Danish man-of-war brig of twenty guns and one hundred and sixty men. In this service he was severely wounded, and his gallant conduct was acknowledged by the Patriotic Fund at Lloyd's by the presentation of a sword valued at one hundred guineas. After obtaining his post commission (21 March 1808) he served at Walcheren, on the coasts of Portugal and Spain, at Newfoundland, in China, India, and finally in the Mediterranean, in command of the Russell, 74, when he rendered much service to the Spanish cause. He obtained flag rank on 9 Nov. 1846. He was nominated K.C.H. on 13 Jan. 1835, on 24 June following was knighted by William IV at St. James's Palace, and in 1839 received the good-service pension. He was gazetted a vice-admiral of the blue on 5 March 1853, and of the red in 1857, and died on 9 Sept. 1857, leaving in manuscript an account of his professional career, with a description of the many scenes in which he had been engaged.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict. p. 290; Gent. Mag. October 1857, p. 460; Times, 22 Sept. 1857, p. 12.]

G. C. B.