Well, yes, it’s really another instalment in my ‘Dead Admirals Society’ occasional series, but I couldn’t resist…
One of the great joys of working on seventeenth century naval history is that one deals on a daily basis with some truly outstanding names; and if you don’t believe me, all I have to say to you is ‘Cloudesley Shovell’. But there are plenty of others too, and one of the best of the lot surely has to be Sir Richard Haddock. Not only was there a real, live Captain Haddock (Tintin fans, eat your hearts out), but there were actually several of them – even an Admiral Haddock (Nicholas, third son of Sir Richard, who was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean at the start of the ‘war of Jenkins’ ear’). What’s more, you can find all the dead Haddocks in one place, namely the churchyard of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, which I revisited last week as part of the final fieldwork for the new Quinton novel Death’s Bright Angel – of which more anon, the other side of the festive season.
So here, without further ado, are some dead Haddocks:
The tomb contains Sir Richard’s grandfather Captain Richard, who died in 1660 aged 79, his father William (died 1677, aged 60), his mother Anna (died 1688, aged 78) and his wife Elizabeth (died 1710), as well as Sir Richard himself, who died on 29 January 1715, aged 85. Here’s a closeup of the inscription:
Seriously, Sir Richard Haddock’s a pretty remarkable individual, principally because of his astonishing longevity, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to write his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Given his first captain’s commission during the Protectorate of Richard Cromwell, he was still in harness as Controller of the Navy when George I came to the throne. He was joint admiral of the fleet in 1690-1, the last time that the Royal Navy employed the ‘generals at sea’ concept from the time of the Commonwealth – i.e. having joint commanders-in-chief serving together in the same ship. One wonders why no British warship of the twentieth century was named after him: say, one of the Captain-class frigates of World War II, or one of the Blackwood-class frigates of the 1960s.
Ah, yes, of course.
Finally, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers! The blog will return in the New Year.