Vansittart, Edward Westby (DNB12)

VANSITTART, EDWARD WESTBY (1818–1904), vice-admiral, born at Bisham Abbey, Berkshire, on 20 July 1818, was third son (in a family of five children) of Vice-admiral Henry Vansittart [q. v.] of Eastwood, Canada, by his wife Mary Charity, daughter of the Rev. John Pennefather. He entered the navy as a first-class volunteer in June 1831, and passed through the course at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth. As a midshipman of the Jaseur he served on the east coast of Spain during the Carlist war of 1834-6, and having passed his examination on 2 Aug. 1837, served as mate in the Wellesley, flagship on the East Indies station, being present at the reduction of Karachi in Feb. 1839 and at other operations in the Persian Gulf. In Dec. 1841 he was appointed to the Cornwallis, flagship of Sir William Parker [q. v.] on the East Indies and China station, and in her took part in the operations in the Yangtse-kiang, including the capture of the Woosving batteries on 16 June 1842. He received the medal, was mentioned in despatches, and was promoted to lieutenant on 16 Sept. 1842. In Feb. 1843 he was appointed to the sloop Serpent, and remained in her in the East Indies for three years, and, after a short period of service on board the Gladiator in the Channel, joined in Dec. 1846 the Hibernia, flagship of Sir William Parker in the Mediterranean. During the Portuguese rebellion of 1846-7 he acted as aide-de-camp to Sir William Parker, and was present at the surrender of the Portuguese rebel fleet off Oporto. On 1 Jan. 1849 he was appointed first lieutenant of the royal yacht, and on 23 Oct. of that year was promoted to commander.

In August 1852 Vansittart commissioned the Bittern, sloop, for the China station, where he was constantly employed in the suppression of piracy, for which he was mentioned in despatches. During the Russian war the Bittern was attached to the squadron blockading De Castries Bay in the Gulf of Tartary. In Sept. and Oct. 1855 Vansittart destroyed a large number of piratical junks and the pirate stronghold of Sheipoo, and rescued a party of English ladies from the hands of the pirates. For these services he was thanked by the Chinese authorities, and received a testimonial and presentation from the English and foreign merchants. On 9 Jan. 1856 he was promoted to captain. In Nov. 1859 he was appointed to the Ariadne, frigate, which in 1860 went out to Canada and back as escort to the line of battleship Hero, in which the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII) visited the North American colonies (see T. Bunbury Gough, Boyish Reminiscences of the visit, passim). The Ariadne then returmed to the American station for a full commission. In Sept. 1864 Vansittart was appointed to the Achilles in the Channel squadron, and remained in command of her for four years. He was made a C.B. in March 1867, and awarded a good service pension in Nov. 1869. In September 1871 he commissioned the Sultan for the Channel squadron, in which he was senior captain, and continued in her until retired for age on 20 July 1873. In the Sultan he saluted at Havre in 1872, M. Thiers, president of the new French republic. He was promoted to rear-admiral, retired, on 19 Jan. 1874, and to vice-admiral on 1 Feb. 1879. He died at Worthing on 19 Oct. 1904.

[C Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict.; The Times, 20 Oct. 1904; R.N. List.]

L. G. C. L.