Horatio Nelson KB
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Horatio Nelson KB (1758 - 1805)

Sir Horatio "1st Viscount Nelson of the Nile and Burnham Thorpe, Duke of Bronte" Nelson KB
Born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 11 Mar 1787 (to 21 Oct 1805) in Montpelier, Nevis, West Indiesmap
Descendants descendants
Died in HMS Victory, off Cape Trafalgar, Spainmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Feb 2010 | Last significant change: 3 Jun 2020
10:17: N Gauthier edited the Biography and Prefix for Horatio Nelson KB (1758-1805). (713 Suffix in Prefix) [Thank N for this]
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Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson KB was Killed in Action during War of the Third Coalition.
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Nelson's baby clothes

Horatio Nelson, the second son of that name born to the Reverend Edmund Nelson, rector of Burnham Thorpe and his wife, Catherine Suckling, was born on 29 September 1758 [1] at Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk and baptised there privately on 05 October 1758, presumably by his father. [2] He was named for his mother's uncle, Horace Walpole. At the Buckler's Hard Museum in Hampshire there is a collection of baby clothes said to have been Horatio's first clothes, presented to Catherine Nelson by the villagers of Burnham Thorpe. The middle one of the five surviving sons of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, Horatio, who preferred to be called Horace, was educated as a boarder at the Royal Grammar School in Norwich. [3]

Catherine Nelson died on the day after Christmas day in 1767 when Horatio was 9 years old. [4] [5] A kindly, firm but ineffectual father, Edmund Nelson was at a loss about what to do for his children and looked for help to his wife's more worldly wise relations. Catherine's brother, royal navy officer, Maurice Suckling, visited Burnham Thorpe to see if he could help. Small, frail Horatio wanted to go to sea. Instead he was transferred to Sir William Paston's School at North Walsham. It wasn't until 1771 that the boy got his way. Maurice Suckling agreed to take him to sea as a midshipman on the newly commissioned Raisonnable, with the comment "the first time we go into action a cannon-ball might take his head off and provide for him at once". [3]

HMS Triumph

The expected war with Spain did not develop so Horatio's first experiences at sea were aboard a guardship on the Medway, but when Maurice Suckling transferred to HMS Triumph, he took his nephew with him as captain's servant. [6] The next few years were spent transferring from ship to ship, learning the ways of the Navy and of the sea until in 1776 he went to HMS Worcester as acting 4th Lieutenant, a rank that was later made substantive.[7] By this time he had surely discovered that he was prone to debilitating bouts of seasickness [8] to add to the recurrent malaria he had contracted while serving in the East Indies. [3]

Captain Nelson

Horatio's first command was HMS Badger on 1 January 1779 when he was 20 years old.[7] [9] In November 1782 he was in the West Indies where he made the acquaintance of Admiral Lord Hood who presented him to Prince William, Duke of Clarence, sailor son of George III. The Prince observed that Horatio appeared to be a mere boy, in an old-fashioned uniform with unpowdered hair and a pigtail of extraordinary length yet the two young men were drawn to one-another. [10] [11]

In 1785, while serving on Boreas he was ashore on Nevis where he was introduced to Mrs Frances Nisbet, widow of Dr Josiah Nisbet and daughter of William Woolward and his wife, Mary Herbert. She and her five year old son, also Josiah, were living with her uncle, John Richardson Herbert, President of the Council of Nevis.

Fanny Nelson

Horatio and Fanny were married on 11 March 1787 at the Montpelier estate on Nevis. [7] Prince William gave the bride away. [12] He returned to England in July, to be followed by Fanny and Josiah, and found himself on half pay once the Boreas had been paid off. They began their married life in the Rectory at Burnham Thorpe with the reverend Edmund Nelson.

It wasn't until 06 January 1793 that Horatio was recalled by the Admiralty and on the 30th was given command of the Agamemnon. He took Josiah with him as a midshipman. [13] On 1 February France, having sent Louis XVI to the guillotine on the 21st of January, declared war on Britain. Agamemnon was sent to join the blockade of Toulon in the Mediterranean. In September he was sent on a mission to Naples to ensure that the King, Ferdinand IV, and his wife, Maria Carolina remained steadfast in the treaty which had recently been signed between England and Naples. It was on this mission that he met the envoy, Sir William Hamilton. At the siege of Calvi in 1794 the sight in his right eye was badly damaged by flying debris. [14] [15]

He was in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797. [7] [16] In July that year he led an assault on Tenerife and was shot in the arm. It was a serious wound and HMS Theseus' surgeon, James Farquhar, saw no alternative to amputating the limb. [17]His close friend, Thomas Fremantle also sustained a serious injury to his arm in the attack. Both men returned to England aboard HMS Seahorse, cared for by Betsey Fremantle, Thomas' young wife. [18] Horatio arrived to join his family in Bath early in September with an infected stump that was causing him great pain and found that Fanny was reluctant to perform her duties as nurse. They moved to London but even there the doctors agreed that nothing could be done and the septicaemia would have to run it's course. Late in September, accompanied by his brother, William, and his former lieutenant, Captain Edward Berry he was invested by George III as a knight of the Bath at St James's Palace. [19] Towards the end of the year he bought a house at Ipswich in Suffolk. [3]

He was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue on 20 February 1797 [3] and had his flag aboard HMS Vanguard at the Battle of the Nile on 1 August 1798.[7] [20] During the Battle he was shot in the head,[17] but it was an important victory as it gave the Royal Navy control of the Mediterranean. On 22 September he arrived in Naples to be greeted with rapturous delight by the Neapolitan court and the British Ambassador, Sir William Hamilton and his wife, Lady Emma.

The King, Ferdinand, took the opportunity afforded by the victory at the Nile to march against the French in the north of Italy but although he succeeded in entering Rome he was compelled to fall back to Naples. On 23 December Vanguard carried the royal family and the Hamiltons to safety at Palermo in Sicily. [21] By this time Horatio was hopelessly in love with Lady Hamilton and had become her lover. Sir William seemed not to mind regarding Horatio as a friend. He was promoted Rear Admiral of the Red on 14 January 1799. [3] Wikipedia says 14th February citing the London Gazette but his name is not on that list.[22]

Nelson 1799

When King Ferdinand offered to confer a title on him in August 1799 he accepted without first obtaining the consent of his own monarch. He was created Duke of Bronte with an estate on the slopes of Mount Etna which would yield an income of about £3000 a year. [3] As Duke he was painted by Lemuel Francis Abbott.

When eventually they were ordered home the trio travelled overland together, reaching England on 06 November 1800. [1]

Fanny Nelson had been hearing rumours about her husband's behaviour and she was not as accepting as Sir William; she made a fuss, she begged him to leave Emma and soon he could not bear to be in the same room as his wife. On the 20th of November he took his seat in the House of Lords and in December spent Christmas with the Hamiltons. Emma was highly pregnant. [3]


Promoted to Vice Admiral of the Blue on the 1st of January he hoisted his flag aboard the San Jose. On 29 January 1801 Emma gave birth to Horatio's only surviving child, Horatia. It is now thought that there were two babies, the other being stillborn or dying shortly after birth. The baby called Horatia Nelson Thompson was given out for fostering. [23] In February he transferred his flag to to the St George and joined Admiral Sir Hyde Parker at Yarmouth as his second in command. In March they sailed for the Baltic to break up the League of Armed Neutrality whose intention was to enforce free-trade with France. Needing a ship of lesser draught Horatio transferred his flag to HMS Elephant. Battle was joined with the Danish fleet on the 2nd of April in shallow, unfamiliar waters. When things seemed to be going badly Parker gave the signal to retreat. Horatio ignored the signal. Both sides fought to exhaustion, a truce was declared and the subsequent negotiations led to the Danes leaving the League. Hyde Parker was recalled and Horatio was given his command. [7] [24] He was created Viscount Nelson of the Nile and Burnham Thorpe on 22 May 1801.[22][3] In September he bought Merton Place in Surrey where Emma set up home for him and Sir William. When Edmund Nelson died at Bath on 26 Apr 1802, [25] his illustrious son did not attend the funeral, pleading indisposition. [3] William Hamilton died in London on 6 Apr 1803, Emma and Horatio at his bedside. [1] Horatio soon after, on 10 May wrote his will which extends to 15 pages. [26]

HMS Victory

On 14 May Horatio was appointed Commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, [7] and on the 16th war against France was declared. On the 18th he hoisted his flag on the Victory at Portsmouth, and in July he joined the fleet already off Toulon.[18] Nelson's Victory (for the two words belong together in English minds) was a first rate three-decker, built at Chatham and launched in 1765. Not the fastest ship in the Royal Navy she was a good sailer [13] and remains in commission in dry dock at Portsmouth. [27] His Captain was his friend, Thomas Masterman Hardy. With Napoleon threatening to invade England it was important to prevent the French fleet from reaching the English Channel. His move to be Vice Admiral of the White came on 21 April 1804 and was published in the Gazette on the 23rd. [28] Late in 1804 Spain declared war on Britain and early in 1805 the French fleet left port and was chased across the Atlantic to the West Indies and back to Ferrol in Spain. With the French fleet again blockaded Horatio took the opportunity to return to England in August. In his absence the French managed to join the Spanish fleet at Cadiz. From then on the plan was to keep the Franco-Spanish fleet in Cadiz until the Royal Navy had assembled a fleet large enough to deal with the enemy once and for all, but to run a blockade loose enough to encourage the enemy to sail.

Horatio rejoined Victory at Portsmouth on the 14th of September [29] reaching the fleet two weeks later. The combined fleet sailed on the 18th of October and was brought to battle on the 21st.[7] [30] The unorthodox tactic he employed had been developing since Rodney's success at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782, designed to prevent an indecisive encounter. [31] Victory broke the line of the combined fleet at around 12.30 [13] and about an hour later Horatio was shot, the bullet entering his shoulder, passing through a lung and smashing into his spine where it lodged. He was taken below but there was nothing that the surgeon, William Beatty could do except make him comfortable. [1] After three hours of agony he died at about half past four, around the time that the Achille blew up and the Intrépide struck her flag. [1]

The Death of Nelson

Amid the joy of victory strong men wept. "We all cry for him" wrote Richard Anderson, Master of the Prince. [32]His body was carried home preserved in spirits to lie in state in the Painted Hall at Greenwich. His magnificent State funeral did not take place until the 9th of January 1806 when he was buried at St Paul's Cathedral, his coffin resting in the sarcophagus that Cardinal Wolsey had paid for to hold the remains of Henry VIII. [1]

Vice Admiral of the White The Right Honourable Horatio, Viscount Nelson, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Hillborough in the County of Norfolk, Duke of Bronte in the nobility of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit and a Knight of the Ottoman Empire's Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim, Colonel of the Marines, Freeman of Norwich, Bath, Yarmouth, London, Salisbury and Exeter. (1758-1805) [33]

First Nelson's Column
The first Nelson's Column was raised between 1807 and 1808 on Portsdown Hill, overlooking the harbour, funded by two days pay from the men who served and from RN prize money. [29]
Nelson's Column

Nelson's Column in London was raised in 1843 in the newly built Trafalgar Sq. [34]

Nelson was portrayed by Laurence Olivier in the 1941 film "That Hamilton Woman" [35]

Admiral Horatio Nelson is on the

Wikitree Roll of Honor


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900 v40 by John Knox Laughton; for Horatio Nelson
  2. Baptismal record; bapt: 05 Oct 1758 at Burnham Thorpe for Horatio Nelson, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Nelson, a Personal History" by Christopher Hibbert in 1994; ISBN#0-670-84342-3
  4. Wikipedia: Catherine Suckling
  5. Find A Grave, database and images : accessed 27 July 2019; maintained by Iain MacFarlaine (contributor 46514200); Find A Grave: Memorial #92419473 for Catherine (Suckling) Nelson, b: 09 May 1725; d: 26 Dec 1767; buried: All Saints Churchyard, Burnham Thorpe, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough, Norfolk, England
  6. Wikipedia: HMS Raisonnable (1768)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Trafalgar Ancestors: Horatio Nelson
  8. Reuters
  9. Wikipedia: HMS Badger (1777)
  10. Encyclopaedia Britannica 1962 v16 page 203
  11. "The Life and Times of William IV": Anne Somerset. Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1980, page 29
  12. Wikipedia: Frances Nelson
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "The Trafalgar Companion " Mark Adkin, Aurum Press 2005 ISBN#1 84513 0189; page 66
  14. Answers.dotcom
  15. Wikipedia: Siege of Calvi
  16. Wikipedia: Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797)
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Independant
  18. 18.0 18.1 "‘Fremantle, Sir Thomas Francis" (1765–1819)’, by John Knox Laughton & rev. by Roger Morriss; published in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2014 accessed 24 Aug 2017]; This is a subscription site but access is free to readers of British libraries whose library subscribes.
  19. "Knights of England" page 175
  20. Wikipedia: Battle of the Nile
  21. Wikipedia: Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
  22. 22.0 22.1 Wikipedia biography of Admiral Nelson
  23. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by Tom Pocock; for Hamilton (née Lyon), Emma, Lady Hamilton (bapt: 1765, d: 1815)
  24. Wikipedia: Battle of Copenhagen 1801
  25. Cambridge Alumni: Edmund Nelson Vennand Venn
  26. Will of Admiral Horatio Nelson dated 10 May 1803
  27. National Historic Ship UK
  28. London Gazette, issue#15695; 21 April page 495
  29. 29.0 29.1 Hampshire History
  30. Wikipedia: Battle of Trafalgar
  31. Wikipedia: Sailing ship tactics
  32. "The Diary of Richard Anderson" 1805, Greenwich Museum (The diary is kept at Greenwich Museum and may be viewed there. It has also been photographed and a DVD is available by post)
  33. solarnavigator.net Horatio Nelson
  34. Wikipedia: Nelson's Column
  35. IMDb

See also

  • London Gazette, published: 25 Feb 1797; issue#13986 page 200
  • London Gazette, published: 02 Oct 1798; page 916
  • London Gazette, published: 02 Oct 1798; page 917
  • London Gazette, published: 02 Dec 1798; page 1239

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Horatio by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Horatio:

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Horatio is 17 degrees from Jaki Erdoes, 13 degrees from Wallis Windsor and 10 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.