Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Burrard-Neale, Harry


SIR HARRY (BURRARD) NEALE,

Baronet; Vice-Admiral of the White; Knight Grand Cross of the most honorable Military Order of the Bath; M.P. for Lymington; Riding Forrester of the New Forest; and Mayor of Christchurch, Hants.

There can be little doubt that the name of Burrard is a pure Saxon compound, consisting of Burh or Burgh, a town or city, and Heard, a shepherd or keeper; which circumstance alone is sufficient to denote, that the family is of considerable antiquity.

The subject of this memoir is the eldest son of the late William Burrard, of Lymington, co. Hants, Esq. by Miss Mary Pearce, his second wife, and succeeded to the title on the demise of his uncle, Sir Harry Burrard, the first Baronet of that name, who died April 12, 1791.

Previous to the war with France, in 1793, our officer commanded the Nautilus sloop; and on the 1st Feb. in that year, obtained the rank of Post-Captain. He was soon after appointed to l’Aimable, of 32 guns, and in that ship assisted at the reduction of Bastia. On the 23d May, 1794, he captured la Moselle, French corvette of 18 guns, off the Hieres islands.

In April 1795, our officer married a daughter of the late Robert Neale, of Shaw House, co. Wilts. Esq., on which occasion he adopted the name of Neale. About the same time he obtained the command of the St. Fiorenzo, of 42 guns, in which frigate his late Majesty occasionally made short marine excursions, Sir Harry being stationed off Weymouth during the King’s summer residence at that place.

On the 9th March, 1797, being off Brest in company with Captain John Cooke, of la Nymphe, who afterwards fell at Trafalgar, he discovered two French men of war standing in for the land. The wind being at this time off shore, and the enemy’s fleet in Brest Road visible from their tops, it was necessary to make as decided and prompt an attack as possible; for this purpose both ships bore down on the headmost and largest of the French vessels, which they attacked so warmly, that after a short resistance she struck. By this time the other came up, and being instantly attacked in the same manner, soon also surrendered. They proved to be la Resistance, of 48 guns and 345 men, and la Constance, of 24 guns and 189 men. The total loss sustained by the enemy was 18 killed and 15 wounded. The British ships had not a man hurt. The prizes were taken into the service; the name of la Resistance was changed to the Fisgard, in consequence of these being two of the French squadron which had recently landed a party of convicts, disguised as soldiers, in the Bay of that name, on the coast of Wales.

Soon after this event, the St. Fiorenzo was fitted up to carry the Princess of Wirtemberg to Germany. Previous to her sailing, the mutineers at the Nore endeavoured to seduce her crew from their duty; but finding their loyalty was not to be shaken, she was ordered to anchor close under the stern of the Sandwich, on board of which was the chief ringleader, Parker. A few days after, much to the honor of her commander, the officers, and patriotic crew, she effected her escape, and proceeded to Harwich. On the 7th June following, the thanks of the merchants, ship-owners, insurers, and others concerned in commerce and navigation, were voted, at a meeting held at the Royal Exchange, to Sir Harry Neale, &c. &c., for their spirited conduct in carrying the ship through the mutinous fleet[1].

On the 8th Oct, 1798, the Royal family and a number of the nobility partook of a public breakfast given by Sir Harry on board the St. Fiorenzo, in honor of Sir Horatio Nelson’s victory at the Nile.

In the month of April following, the St. Fiorenzo being off Belleisle, in company with the Amelia, discovered three French frigates at anchor in the Great Road, with their topsail yards ready hoisted to come out. A heavy and sudden squall of wind unfortunately carried away the Amelia’s main top-mast, and fore and mizen-top-gallant masts. The enemy, encouraged by this accident, immediately got under weigh, accompanied by a large cutter, and made sail towards the British frigates. Sir Harry Neale, with great firmness and resolution, notwithstanding the disaster which had befallen the Amelia, made the signal to prepare for battle, and manifested a readiness to meet the enemy. When he had run a little to leeward, he shortened sail, that the Amelia, whose crew had by this time with great exertions and activity cleared the wreck, might close and keep under command with her fore and mizen top-sails. The enemy soon arrived up with the British frigates, and a brisk action ensued. As the French ships kept edging down on the islands of Houat and Hedic, it obliged the English commanders to bear down three times to close with them, by which they became also exposed to the fire of the batteries on these islands. After engaging an hour and fifty-five minutes, the enemy wore and stood in towards the Loire, two of them in a shattered condition. The loss sustained by the St. Fiorenzo was 1 man killed and 18 wounded. The Amelia had 2 slain and 17 wounded. The loss on board the enemy’s squadron is said to have been very severe, but was never correctly ascertained.

This action, as gallant and well fought as any during the war, reflects the highest honor on the officers and men concerned in it. They were so near the land, that they could see the shore lined with spectators. When the enemy retreated the British seamen gave them nine hearty cheers, whilst their own batteries actually fired on them. After the battle, the St. Fiorenzo captured a French letter of marque from Cape François, laden with sugar, coffee, and indigo.

In the spring of 1801, Sir Harry was appointed to the Centaur of 74 guns; and subsequently to the Royal Charlotte yacht, the command of which he retained until May 1804, when he became one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. In the ensuing month of July, he vacated his seat at the Board, on being appointed to the Royal Sovereign, a new yacht, from which he afterwards removed into the London of 98 guns, attached to the squadron under Sir John B. Warren.

On the 13th March, 1806, at 3h 30’ A.M. the London, being to windward of the squadron, fell in with a line-of-battle ship and a frigate; and after a running fight which continued from before day-light until 43 minutes after nine, in which she was joined by the Amazon, compelled them to strike, They proved to be the Marengo, of 80 guns and 740 men, and Belle Poule, of 40 guns and 320 men, returning to France from the East Indies; these ships being the remainder of the French squadron that had committed so much depredation upon the British commerce in the Eastern hemisphere In this action, the London had 10 men killed and 22 wounded; the Amazon 4 killed and 6 wounded. The loss sustained by the enemy amounted to 65 slain and 80 wounded; among the latter was the French Admiral Linois.

Early in 1808, Sir Harry Neale was appointed Captain of the Channel fleet, under Lord Gambier. In the following year he was present at the destruction of the French ships in Aix Roads, and in common with the other officers received the thanks of Parliament for his conduct on that occasion. He afterwards commanded the blockading squadron off Rochefort. At the beginning of 1811, we find his flag in the Boyne of 98 guns, on board which ship it remained till the spring of 1813, when he shifted it into the Ville de Paris, a first rate, where it continued until the peace.

Our officer became a Rear-Admiral, July 31, 1810; Vice-Admiral, June 4, 1814; K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; and G.C.B. Sept. 14, 1822. He has for many years sat in Parliament as representative for Lymington, in which borough, being lord of the manor, he possesses great influence.

At the funeral of his late Majesty, Sir Harry Neale walked in the procession as a Groom of the Bedchamber.

Residence.– Walhampton, near Lymington, co. Hants.



  1. For an account of the mutiny at the Nore, see p. 160, et seq.