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Admiral Lord James de Saumarez  

Guernsey's local naval hero


 

Born on 11 March 1757 in St Peter Port, Guernsey, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Guernsey's Naval hero, Admiral James Saumarez was marked in 2007.  While Saumarez's career is not as well known as that of his contemporary Horatio Nelson it is arguably just as important to the British Navy and very important to Guernsey.

 

Educated at Elizabeth College in Guernsey, Admiral the Right Honourable James Lord de Saumarez, or James Saumarez as he was known, entered the books of a British naval vessel in 1767 aged only ten, although he had to wait until he was 12  before he went to sea.

Admiral James Saumarez
  Admiral James Saumarez

Throughout his career James Saumarez was involved in many notable moments of naval history. He was involved with the War of American Independence and was even offered a commission in the army, which he turned down and continued serving in the navy, at that time onboard the HMS Bristol.

Following this he was given command of a schooner-rigged galley, the Spitfire, at the rank of lieutenant. Saumarez served for a time as 3rd, and later 1st, Lieutenant aboard the HMS Victory and was involved in the Battle of Dogger Bank against the Dutch.

As the captain of the HMS Crescent, with a crew of mostly Guernseymen, he captured the 36-gun French frigate La Reunion off Cherbourg in 1793.  An exciting Naval actions took place off the West Coast of Guernsey as the Crescent escaped a French squadron through the local knowledge of a Guernsey pilot.

At the Battle of the Nile in 1798 where Nelson was severely injured, Saumarez was Nelson's second in command. In 1801 he was made a baronet and a rear-admiral, making full admiral in 1814 following his time spent in command of the Baltic squadron.

In 1803 Saumarez led the Channel Islands' squadron with a fleet including six frigates and six brigs when the islands were made a naval station.

A daring escape from a superior French fleet

In 1821 he was elevated to Vice-Admiral of Great Britain and made a Lord in 1831.

He later held the position of Commander-In-Chief of the Baltic Fleet and it was during these Baltic conflicts that Saumarez became a hero in Sweden.

Saumarez built a reputation as a 'Lucky Captain' and came home a very rich man indeed.

 

A daring escape from a superior French fleet  
 

Following his death in 1836 the Admiral was buried in the Saumarez family vault in the Castel Churchyard.

His memory is still recognised by the Royal Navy, Sweden and in Guernsey where the base of a 99 foot tall monument remains in Delancey Park, following the demolition of the monument by occupying forces during the Second World War. The large brass plaques from the monument still hang on the walls of Castle Cornet.

 

Saumarez as seen on the Delancey Monument
  Saumarez as seen on the Delancey Monument
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

  

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