Vernon, Edward (1723-1794) (DNB00)


VERNON, Sir EDWARD (1723–1794), admiral, fourth son of Henry Vernon (1663–1732) of Hilton, Staffordshire, was born on 30 Oct. 1723. Richard Vernon (1726–1800) [q. v.] was his younger brother. Admiral Edward Vernon [q. v.] belonged to a widely different branch of the family, their common ancestor in the male line having lived in the time of Henry III, though an intermarriage in the time of Charles I had brought them a little closer together. Neither was the service of the younger man in any way connected with that of his older relative. The younger Edward Vernon entered the Royal Academy at Portsmouth in November 1735; continued there for three years and three months; was then appointed as a volunteer per order to the Portland with Captain John Byng [q. v.], whom he followed to the Sunderland, one of the fleet off Cadiz, and in the Mediterranean under Rear-admiral Nicholas Haddock [q. v.] In 1742 he was in the Sutherland, still in the Mediterranean, and he passed his examination on 3 March 1742–3. On 4 April he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Granada sloop, and in June 1743 was appointed to the Berwick, then commissioned by Captain Edward (afterwards Lord) Hawke [q. v.], with whom he went out to the Mediterranean and was present in the action off Toulon on 11 Feb. 1743–4. On 5 Dec. 1747 he was promoted to be commander of the Baltimore sloop, and on 3 April 1753 to be captain of the Mermaid. In May 1755 he was appointed to the Lyme of twenty guns, attached to the fleet in the Bay of Biscay during 1755–6, and sent out to the Mediterranean with Admiral Henry Osborn [q. v.] in 1757. In November 1758 he was moved into the 64-gun ship St. Albans, one of the fleet with Admiral Edward Boscawen [q. v.] when he defeated and destroyed the French fleet on 18–19 Aug. 1759. In 1760–1–2 he commanded the Revenge under Hawke or Boscawen in the Bay of Biscay.

After the peace he was for some time captain of the Kent, flagship of Vice-admiral Pye at Plymouth; in 1770 he successively commanded the Yarmouth and Bellona, guardships at Portsmouth, and from March 1771, the Barfleur, the flagship of Pye. When the king reviewed the fleet in June 1773, he knighted Vernon [see Pye, Sir Thomas], who remained in the Barfleur with Sir James Douglas [q. v.], till in May 1775 he was appointed to the Ramillies as commodore and commander-in-chief at the Nore. In May 1776 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies, and went out with his broad pennant in the Ripon of sixty guns. Besides the Ripon, he had only two small frigates and a corvette under his orders, and when war with France broke out in 1778, he naturally thought that he might be opposed by a very superior force. As it happened, the French commodore, M. de Tronjolly, whose squadron was of almost exactly the same strength as Vernon's, was similarly impressed with the sense of his own weakness, and thus neither of them sought out the other. An indecisive action off Pondicherry on 10 Aug. led to the French squadron retiring to the Mauritius and staying there. Vernon, who was promoted to be rear-admiral on 19 March 1779, returned to England early in 1781. He had no further service in the navy, but in the spring and summer of 1785 he attracted some notice by making a couple of balloon ascents from Tottenham Court Road, descending, the first time at Horsham, the second at Colchester. He was made a vice-admiral on 24 Sept. 1787, admiral on 12 April 1794, and died a few weeks later, 16 June 1794. His arrears of pay were paid to his widow, Dame Hannah, who is not otherwise mentioned.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. vi. 112; Commission and Warrant Books, Paybooks, &c., in the Public Record Office; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Mem. iv. 407, vi. 121; Chevalier, Hist. de la Marine Française, i. 376.]

J. K. L.