Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Westphal, George Augustus

WESTPHAL, Sir GEORGE AUGUSTUS (1785–1875), admiral, son of George Westphal, and younger brother of Admiral Philip Westphal [q. v.], was born on 26 July 1785. He entered the navy in 1798 on board the Porcupine frigate, on the North American station. He afterwards served on the home station and in the West Indies, and in March 1803 joined the Amphion, which carried Lord Nelson out to the Mediterranean. Off Toulon he was moved into the Victory, and, continuing in her, was present in the battle of Trafalgar, where he was severely wounded. While lying in the cockpit Nelson's coat, hastily rolled up, was put under his head for a pillow. Some of the bullions of one of the epaulettes got entangled with his hair and was cemented to it with dried blood, so that the coat and Westphal could only be separated by cutting off some four or five of the bullions, which Westphal long treasured as memorials of the hero (Nicolas, Nelson Despatches, vii. 249 n.) He afterwards served in the Ocean, flagship of Lord Collingwood, and in the Caledonia, flagship of Lord St. Vincent, off Brest; and on 15 Aug. 1806 was made lieutenant into the Demerara sloop in the West Indies. In 1807 he had to be invalided, and was returning to England in a merchant ship when, after a gallant resistance, the ship was captured by a French privateer and taken to Guadeloupe. Westphal, who had been severely wounded, afterwards succeeded in escaping, and was picked up at sea by an American schooner, from which he got on board an English privateer and was carried to Antigua, ultimately returning to England in the Venus frigate. He was then appointed to the Foudroyant, from which he was removed to the Neptune, and from her to the Belle-isle in the West Indies, and served on shore at the reduction of Martinique. The Belle-isle, under the command of Commodore (Sir) George Cockburn, then returned to England, and in July and August was employed in the Scheldt, Westphal being in command of a division of the gunboats.

He afterwards followed Cockburn to the Indefatigable, and in the expedition to Quiberon Bay in March 1810 had the actual command of the boat which landed the agents of the king of Spain. Continuing in the Indefatigable, he took part in the defence of Cadiz and in escorting the Spanish ships to Havana. He was again with Cockburn in the Marlborough, both at Cadiz and afterwards in the Chesapeake, where, on several occasions his gallant conduct called forth strong approval from Cockburn, and led directly to his being promoted to the rank of commander on 8 July 1813. He then was appointed to the Anaconda sloop, and commanded her in the Gulf of Mexico and in the expedition against New Orleans, where he was landed with the naval brigade. In July 1815 the Anaconda was condemned at Jamaica, and Westphal returned to England as a passenger in the Moselle. On 12 Aug. 1819 he was advanced to post rank. In May 1822 he was appointed to the Jupiter, in which he carried out Lord Amherst to India. On his return he was knighted on 7 April 1824, being, said Sir Robert Peel, then home secretary, recommended for the honour ‘more in consideration of his gallant and distinguished services against the enemy than for his having taken out the governor-general of India.’ In 1832 he joined the Vernon as flag-captain to Sir George Cockburn on the North American station, but was compelled to invalid in the spring of 1834. He had no further service, but was advanced in regular gradation to be rear-admiral on 17 Aug. 1851, vice-admiral on 10 Sept. 1857, and admiral on 23 March 1863. For nearly forty years he lived in the same house, 2 Brunswick Square, Hove, Brighton, and there he died on 11 Jan. 1875. He was a magistrate of Brighton and Hove, but seldom sat. He married, in 1817, Alicia, widow of William Chambers.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Times, 14 Jan. 1875. A certificate of baptism attached to his passing certificate (1 Jan. 1806) gives the date of his birth as 26 July 1785; O'Byrne, whom the Times copies, gives it 27 March 1785.]

J. K. L.