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Home-Loney-Background-The Royal Navy-Obituaries

The following obituary for Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary from the Times newspaper
DateObituary
1 April 1895

DEATH OF LORD ALCESTER.

We regret to announce the death of Admiral Lord Alcester, which took place on Saturday morning, after a long illness, at his chambers in Ryder-street.

Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour belonged to a family which has had intimate and distinguished connexion with both services. His grandfather, Vice-Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, commanded the Latona, frigate, at the relief of Gibraltar in 1782, and the Leviathan, 74, on "the Glorious First of June," 1794, and, as a Rear-Admiral, flew his flag in the Sanspareil, 80, on the occasion of Lord Bridport's action with the French off the Ile de Groix in 1795. Four years later he commanded at the capture of Surinam. Lord Hugh Seymour's eldest son, the late Sir George Francis Seymour, accompanied Lord Nelson to the West Indies, participated in the capture of the Spanish three-decker El Rayo after Trafalgar, fought in the Northumberland, 74, at St Domingo, where he was badly wounded, took part in Lord Cochrane's action in Basque Roads, and, after attaining flag-rank, was Commander-In-Chief in the Pacific. Another son of Lord Hugh's was Sir Horace Beauchamp Seymour, a military officer of distinction and for several years a member of Parliament. This gentleman married, first, Elizabeth Mallet, eldest daughter of Sir Lawrence Palk, Bart., and, secondly, the Dowager Lady Clinton. By his first wife he had two sons, the elder of whom entered the Army, The younger lived to become Lord Alcester.

Born on April 12, 1821, Beauchamp Seymour entered the Navy in 1834, and after serving in the Mediterranean as a mate in the Britannia, 120, received his lieutenant's commission on March 7, 1842. His next service was in the Pacific, on board the Thalia, 42. In 1844, still on the same station, he joined the Collingwood, 80, as flag-lieutenant to his uncle, Sir G.F. Seymour; and there he remained until 1847, in the summer of which year he was promoted to be commander. In 1848 he was appointed to the Harlequin, 12. In 1852-53, as a volunteer in the East Indies, he took an active part in the Burmese war, and, as aide-de-camp to General Godwin, gallantly led the storming party of Fusiliers at the capture of the Pagoda at Pegu. Returning to England, he was appointed at the outbreak of the war with Russia to the steam-vessel Brisk, 14, in which he saw service in the White Sea. In 1854 he was posted, and in 1856-57 he commanded the Meteor, one of the slow and ugly floating batteries which were our earliest ironclads, and of which a specimen, the Thunderbolt, still survives at Chatham, where she is attached to a temporary pier. Captain Seymour's next war service was seen in New Zealand, where, in 1860-61, as Commodore, he commanded the Naval Brigade. From 1868 to 1870, when he attained flag-rank, he was private secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty. Then he hoisted his flag for the first time as Commander-in-Chief of the Flying or Detached Squadron, hauling it down in 1872 to go almost immediately to the Admiralty as Junior Naval Lord. In 1874, after two years' work at Whitehall, he again went to sea, with his flag in the Agincourt, as senior officer in command of the Channel Squadron, which then included the Agincourt, Monarch, Sultan, Devastation, Triumph, Northumberland, and Resistance. His captain was Lord Walter F. Kerr, who accompanied him, in the following year, into the Minotaur, and who again joined him when, in 1880, the Admiral hoisted his flag at the fore in the Alexandra and assumed the chief command in the Mediterranean. Sir Beauchamp Seymour was senior officer of the International Squadron which, in November, 1880, obtained the evacuation of Dulcigno by the Turks in favour of the Montenegrins; and, soon afterwards, having been promoted to the rank of Admiral, it became his duty to carry out the series of operations with which his name will always be most intimately associated.

With the political events which led up to the bombardment of Alexandria we have here no concern. Suffice it to say that, Arabi Pasha having refused to desist from his efforts to strengthen the defences on the sea-front of the town, the bombardment took place on July 11, 1882, opening at 7 in the morning, and ceasing after the fort on Bluff Point had been silenced at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The battleships engaged were the Inflexible, Monarch, Téméraire, Alexandra, Sultan, Invincible, Superb, and Penelope; and the mounted rifled guns on each side were as follows:-

 British.Egyptian. British.Egyptian.
16in. 80-ton4-9in. 12-ton1615
12in. 25-ton4-8in. 9-ton812
11in. 25-ton5-Smaller guns35
10in. 18-ton.385   

Thus, as regards rifled weapons, the Egyptians were at a great disadvantage. They had, however, great store of smooth-bore guns, including 10 of 15in., 72 of 10in., and 100 of 6½in. calibre, and 31 large smooth-bore mortars. Still the material, as well as the human superiority, was, upon the whole, so much in favour of the attack that one can only wonder at the pluck with which, during many hours of furious action, the Egyptians fought their crumbling batteries. The arrangements made by Sir Beauchamp Seymour were in all respects admirable; the ships suffered very little injury, and all the forts which engaged were very seriously damaged. The state of anarchy which followed the expulsion of Arabi from Alexandria might, no doubt, have been promptly repressed if the bombardment had been at once followed by a landing in force; but for the omission to take this precautionary step Sir Beauchamp Seymour received blame which he did not deserve; and when he did land he and his officers almost immediately reduced the place to order. From that time until Lord Wolseley arrived on the scene the Admiral was in supreme command in Egypt, ashore as well as afloat. He subsequently took part in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, and, returning to England in the following year, received a well-merited welcome from all classes of the people. While still abroad he was created for his services Baron Alcester, and, in addition to receiving the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, he was voted a grant of £25,000. Upon reaching home he found other honours awaiting him. He was given the freedom of the City of London and presented with a sword and an address; he was made free of the Cutlers' Company; and a little later the University of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of D.C.L. Once more, from 1883 to 1885, the Admiral served at the Admiralty, this time as Second Naval Lord; but in 1886 the operation of the age-clause shut out all prospects of further professional employment, and placed Lord Alcester, still an active and remarkably young-looking officer, upon the retired list. This was notoriously a great blow to him. He found compensation, however, in society, where he was always a great favourite, and he never ceased to take a very lively and practical interest in all naval questions. In his later years he aged rapidly, and came almost completely blind.

Lord Alcester, who was appointed aide-de-camp to her Majesty in 1866, was created a C.B. in 1861, a K.C.B. in 1877, and a G.C.B. in 1881, and wore the Burmese medal, with Pegu clasp, the Baltic medal, the New Zealand medal, the Egyptian medal, with Alexandria and Tel-el-Kebir clasps, the Grand Cordons of the Medjidieh and the Osmanieh, and the Khedive's Bronze Star. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a corresponding member of the Royal United Service Institution. His commissions were dated - lieutenant, March 7, 1842; commander, June 6,1847; captain, October 19,1854; rear-admiral, April 1, 1870; vice-admiral, December 31, 1876; and admiral, May 6,1882; and he retired on April 12,1886, giving promotion to the rank of admiral to Sir J.E. Commerell. Lord Alcester never married.

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