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Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood
naval officer who earned distinction during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution
Samuel Hood was born at Butleigh, Somerset, on December 12, 1724, to Vicar Samuel Hood and his wife Mary. He entered the navy on May 6, 1741, as servant to Captain Thomas Smith on H.M.S. Romney, and rose to Able Seaman under Smith's successor, Captain Thomas Grenville. In November 1743, he was appointed Midshipman of the Sheerness under Captain George Rodney, under whom he also served as Midshipman on the Ludlow Castle. In January 1746, he was assigned to the Exeter under Commodore Thomas Smith.
Appointed Acting Lieutenant under Captain Henry Dyve on H.M.S. Winchelsea in June 1746, Hood subsequently served off the north coast of Scotland, in the North Sea, and in the English Channel. On November 19, 1746, while cruising off the Scilly Isles, the Winchelsea was involved in action against the French frigate Subtile, during which Hood was wounded in the hand. In March 1748, Hood was appointed to the Greenwich under Captain John Montagu, followed a few months later to the Lyon, on which he served in North America until returning home in November 1748 and being paid off.
In 1749, Hood married Susannah Linzee, the daughter of Portsmouth's Mayor. The couple's only child, Henry, was born in 1753.
In January 1753, Hood was appointed to H.M.S. Invincible, a guardship at Portsmouth, and then in May to the Terrible. The following year, he was promoted to Captain and appointed to the Jamaica, on which he served once again in North America. He subsequently commanded the Lively and Grafton, before returning to England at the end of 1756.
Seven Years' War
In January 1757, Hood offered to take temporary command of any ship whose captain was absent due to the court martial of Admiral John Byng, and in such capacity he served on the Torbay, Tartar and Antelope. On May 14, while commanding the Antelope, he drove ashore and wrecked the French ship Aquilon, in Audierne Bay, and a week later captured a couple of privateers and brought the crews in as prisoners. The Admiralty approved of his actions and accordingly gave him command of the frigate Bideford, which took part in Sir Edward Hawkes cruise in the Bay of Biscay. On February 7, 1758, he joined H.M.S. Vestal and took part in Hawkes second visit to Basque Roads, as well as the destruction of the fortifications on the Isle of Aix.
The Vestal was sailing for North America when, on February 21, 1759, she engaged and captured the French frigate Bellona off Cape Finisterre. The Vestal was so badly damaged during the action, however, that she was forced to return to Spithead for repairs. After being refitted, the ship joined Rear Admiral George Rodneys squadron, and, in July 1759, Hood was involved in the bombardment of Le Havre. Hood continued to be employed on the blockade of the French coast until the spring of 1760, when, at his own special request, he was sent to the Mediterranean. He spent the next three years on convoy escort duties aboard the Levant, until returning home in April 1763.
After the Levant was paid off, Hood was given command of the Thunderer, a guardship at Portsmouth. In April 1767, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's ships on the New England station in North America, in which capacity he served until returning to England in October 1770. He subsequently commanded the guardship Royal William (1771-1773) and the Marlborough (1773-1776). Following a devastating and fatal magazine explosion, the Marlborough was taken out of service and Hood was transferred to H.M.S. Courageux.
In January 1778, Hood accepted appointment as Commissioner of the Dockyard at Portsmouth and Governor of the Naval Academy, even though those posts were usually only given to officers who were retiring from the sea. He was made a Baronet on May 20, 1778, while King George III was visiting Portsmouth.
On September 26, 1780, Hood was promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Blue and appointed to command a squadron sent out to reinforce Admiral Rodneys fleet in the West Indies. Hoods squadron, led by his flagship H.M.S. Barfleur, joined Rodney at St. Lucia in January 1781, and, on April 29, was involved in an indecisive action against a slightly larger French fleet under Admiral Comte de Grasse.
When Rodney decided to return to Britain for the sake of his health in the autumn of 1781, Hood was ordered to take the bulk of the fleet to the North American coast, where he joined Admiral Thomas Graves in the unsuccessful effort to relieve the British Army at Yorktown. Upon returning to the West Indies in January 1782, Hood made an unsuccessful attempt to prevent de Grasse's capture of St. Kitts and Nevis. In April 1782, Hood took part in a British fleet under Rodney (who had resumed his command in February) which defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet which was planning an invasion of Jamaica.
On his return to England in September 1782, Hood was created Baron Hood of Catherington and given the freedom of the City of London. Promoted to Vice-Admiral in September 1787, he also served as M.P. for Westminster (1784-1788), as Commander-In-Chief at Portsmouth (1786-1789), and on the Board of Admiralty under the second Earl of Chatham (1788-1795).
Upon outbreak of the French Revolution in 1793, Hood was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Station, with H.M.S. Victory as his flagship. In August of that year, he occupied Toulon on the invitation of the French royalists, and in cooperation with the Spaniards. After the allies were driven out of Toulon that December, Hood turned his attention to Corsica, which was occupied in mid-1794. He was promoted to Admiral of the Blue in April 1794, and was recalled to England in October of that same year.
Hood retired from active naval service in 1795, but in March 1796 was named Governor of Greenwich Hospital, a post he held until his death. A peerage of Great Britain was conferred on his wife as Baroness Hood of Catherington in 1795, and he was himself created Viscount Hood of Whitley in June 1796. Baron Hood died at Greenwich on January 27, 1816.
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This page was last updated on June 19, 2017.