Sir Edward Codrington

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Sir Edward Codrington (April 27, 1770- April 28, 1851) was a British admiral, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Navarino.

Early Life and Career

The youngest of three brothers, Codrington was educated by an uncle named Mr Bethell. He was sent for a short time to Harrow, and entered the Royal Navy in July 1783. He served in the American Colonies, in the Mediterranean and at home, until he was promoted to lieutenant on the May 28 of the same year.

Lord Howe selected him to be signal lieutenant on the flagship of the Channel fleet at the beginning of the French Revolution. In that capacity he served on the 100-gun HMS Queen Charlotte during the operations which culminated in the Glorious First of June. On the October 7 1794 he was promoted to commander, and on the April 6 1795 attained the rank of Post-Captain and the command of the 22-gun Babet. He continued to serve in the Channel, and was present at the action off L'Orient on the June 23, 1795. He next commanded the frigate Druid in the Channel and on the coast of Portugal, till she was paid off in 1797.

Codrington remained largely on land and on half-pay for some years. In December 1802 he married Jane Hall, an English woman from Kingston, Jamaica.

Service in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

On the renewal of hostilities with France after the breach of the Peace of Amiens he was appointed (May 1805) to the command of the 74-gun ship of the line Orion and was attached to the fleet off the coast of Spain. Orion played a major part in the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21 1805.

For the next several years, Codrington fought alongside the Spanish against the French in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1814 he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral, at which time he was serving off the coast of North America as captain of the fleet to Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane during the operations against Washington, Baltimore and New Orleans during the War of 1812.

In 1815 he was made a Knight Commander of the Bath and a vice admiral on the July 10 1821.

The Greek War of Independence and the Battle of Navarino

In December 1826 Codrington was appointed once again to the Mediterranean command, and sailed on the February 1 1827.

From that date until his recall on the June 21 1828 he was engaged in the arduous duties imposed on him by the Greek War of Independence, which had led to anarchy in Greece and surrounding areas. On October 20 1827, along with French admiral Henri de Rigny and Russian admiral Login Petrovich Van Der Heyden, he destroyed the Turkish and Egyptian naval forces at the Battle of Navarino while in command of a combined British, French and Russian fleet.

After the battle Codrington went to Malta to refit his ships. He remained there till May 1828, when he sailed to join his French and Russian colleagues on the coast of the Morea. They endeavoured to enforce the evacuation of the peninsula by Ibrahim Pasha peacefully. The Pasha made diplomatic difficulties, and on the 25th of July the three admirals agreed that Codrington should go to Alexandria to obtain Ibrahims recall by his father Mehemet Ali.

Codrington had heard on the 22nd of June of his own supersession, but, as his successor had not arrived, he carried out the arrangement made on the 25th of July, and his presence at Alexandria led to the treaty of the August 6, 1828, by which the evacuation of the Morea was settled. His services were recognized by the grant of the Grand Cross of the Bath, but there is no doubt that he was treated as a scape-goat at least to some extent.

Later Years

After his return home Codrington spent some time in defending himself, and then in leisure abroad. He commanded a training squadron in the Channel in 1831 and became admiral on the 10th of January 1837. He was elected Member of Parliament for Devonport in 1832, and sat for that constituency until he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds in 1839. From November 1839 to December 1842 he was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth.

Codrington died on the April 28, 1851. He left two sons, both of whom achieved distinction in the British armed forces. Sir William John Codrington (1804-1884) was a commander in the Crimean War. Sir John Henry Codrington (1808-1877), a naval officer, became an Admiral of the Fleet.