/13berry.htm" 13Berry

Sir Edward Berry



"Here comes Berry . . . 

now we shall have a fight!" - Nelson

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Lieutenant 20 Jan 1794
Commander 12 Nov 1796

St Vincent - 14 Feb 1797

Captain (volunteer)

Captain 6 Mar 1797
Kt 1798

The Nile - 1 August 1798

Vanguard (74)

Trafalgar -21 Oct 1805

Agamemnon (64)

Cr. Baronet 12 Dec 1806
KCB 2 Jan 1815
CRM 12 Aug 1819
R-Adm - Blue 19 Jul 1821
R-Adm - White 27 Mar 1825
R-Adm - Red 22 Jul 1830

13 Feb 1831

(Biographical summary from a publication of the navy Records Society)

Sir Edward Berry, 1768-1831, rear-admiral, was one of a large family left in straitened circumstances by the early death of his father, a merchant in London. Lord Mulgrave had been a pupil of his uncle, the Rev. Titus Berry of Norwich, and through him, then one of the lords of the admiralty, the boy was in 1779 appointed as a volunteer to the Burford, (70) with Captain Rainier, then sailing for the East Indies, where she remained till after the conclusion of the war in 1783. He was made lieutenant on 20 Jan. 1794, as a reward, it is said, for his gallantry in boarding a French ship of war; he is said also, in a vague way, to have distinguished himself on the First of June; but the first distinct mention of him is on his appointment to the Agamemnon with Captain Nelson in May 1796. He quickly won Nelson's esteem (Nelson Despatches, ii. 175), followed him to the Captain (11 June), and whilst Nelson was on shore conducting the siege of Porto Ferrajo, Berry, then first lieutenant, commanded the ship in such a manner as to call forth an official expression of his captain's 'fullest approbation' (ib. ii. 209, 272). This special service won for him his commander's rank, 12 Nov. 1796; but whilst waiting for an appointment, he remained as a volunteer on board the Captain, and was thus present in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent: when the order was given to board the San Nicolas, 'The first man,' wrote Nelson, 'who jumped into the enemy's mizen chains was Captain Berry, late my first lieutenant; he was supported from our spritsail-yard, which hooked in the mizen-rigging' (ib. ii. 342). Captain Berry afterwards assisted Nelson into the main chains of the San Josef. Berry was posted on 6 March, and, being in England in October, was taken to court by Nelson, who, on the king remarking on the loss of his right arm, promptly presented Berry as his right hand (ib. ii. 448 n. ) It was agreed between them that, when Nelson hoisted his flag, Berry was to go as his fiag-captain; and on 8 Dec. Nelson wrote to him: 'If you mean to marry, I would recommend your doing it speedily, or the to-be Mrs. Berry will have very little of your company, for I am well, and you may expect to be called for every hour' (ib. ii. 456). On 12 Dec. Berry was married to his cousin Louisa, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Forster of Norwich. On 19 Dec. he was appointed to the Vanguard, but the ship did not leave England till 10 Apri11798. In the Battle of the Nile Berry, as captain of the flag-ship, had his full share, and when Nelson was wounded caught him in his arms and saved him from falling (ib. iii. 55). He afterwards published anonymously 'An authentic Narrative of the Proceedings of his Majesty's Squadron under the command of Rear-admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, from its sailing from Gibraltar to the Conclusion of the glorious Battle of the Nile, drawn up from the Minutes of an Officer of Rank in the Squadron' (reprinted from the 'True Briton' and the 'Sun' newspapers, with additions, 8vo, 1798), a pamphlet which, under the special circumstances of its authorship, is of singular interest and value.
            Within a few days of the battle Berry was sent off in the Leander with the admiral's despatches. On 18 Aug. the little 50-gun ship was met by the Genereux, 74 guns, and captured after a stout defence, in the course of which Berry received a severe wound in the arm. He was taken, with the ship, to Corfu, and did not reach England till the beginning of December. The news of which he was the bearer had been already received in duplicate, but Berry was welcomed with the utmost enthusiasm, was knighted on 12 Dec., and presented with the freedom of the city. Early in the spring of 1799 he was appointed to the Foudroyant, in which he arrived at Palermo on 6 June. On the 8th Nelson hoisted his flag on board, but afterwards, staying at Palermo, sent the Foudroyant to strengthen the blockade of Malta. Berry had thus the gratification of assisting in the capture of his former captor, the Genereux, 18 Feb., and of the Guillaume Tell, 31 March, the last of the French ships which had been in the battle of the Nile. In the following June the Foudroyant carried the queen of Naples from Palermo to Leghorn, on which occasion her majesty presented Berry with a gold box set with diamonds and a diamond ring. A few months later Berry quitted the ship and returned to England. In the summer of 1805 he was appointed to the Agamemnon, and joined the fleet off Cadiz only just in time to share in the glories of Trafalgar; he had, however, no opportunity of special distinction in it, nor yet, the following year, 6 Feb., in the action off St. Domingo. The Agamemnon was put out of commission towards the end of 1806, and Berry was made a baronet. He is said to have been the only officer in the navy, of his time, except Collingwood, who had three medals, having commanded a ship in three general actions, namely, the Nile, Trafalgar, and St. Domingo. If to these we add St. Vincent and the First of June, and the five actions in the East Indies between Hughes and Suffren, together with the loss of the Leander and the capture of the Genereux and the Guillaume Tell, it will be seen that the record of his war services is in the highest degree exceptional. In 1811 he commanded the Sceptre, and in September 1812 changed into the Barfleur, which he took to the Mediterranean. In December 1813 till the peace he commanded one of the royal yachts, and on 2 Jan. 1815 was made a K.C.B. On 19 July 1821 he attained the rank of rear-admiral, but never hoisted his flag. His health was much broken, and for several years before his death, on 13 Feb. 1831, he had been quite incapable of any active duties. He left no children, and the baronetcy became extinct. His portrait by Copley is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, to which it was presented by his widow in 1835; another and perhaps more pleasing portrait, drawn and engraved by Orme, is given in the 'Naval Chronicle.'

(Biographical detail from the Dictionary of National Biography - 1885)


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