History - Admiral Lord St Vincent

Thus (From the old steering order; "Keep her thus")

A brief History of Admiral Lord St Vincent

John Jervis, who became Admiral Lord Vincent. St Vincent, who was born twenty-three years before Nelson, and survived for eighteen years after Trafalgar, fundamentally influenced the younger man's career despite the two men being diametrically different characters. Yet without him, Nelson's genius might have been submerged by professional jealousy or emotional fragility.

It was St Vincent's strategy and preparation which positioned Nelson to win his three famous victories, but St Vincent himself made vital contributions not only to the defeat of Napoleon but to the well-being of the Royal Navy. 

Before he became First Lord of the Admiralty, the Navy had been severely weakened by corruption in the dockyards, nepotism in appointments and the appalling conditions under which the seamen lived and worked.

St Vincent deserves the profound gratitude of the Nation; not only for enabling Nelson to exercise his tactical brilliance, but also for the role he played in preventing Napoleon from invading the British Isles.

Battle of Cape St Vincent

1797 was an eventful year - two of the Royal Navy's greatest victories were achieved in this year - St. Vincent in February and Camperdown in October. Yet, between these two dates the navy passed through a serious crisis of fleet mutinies at Spithead and The Nore. 1797 also saw the rise to fame of Horatio Nelson, whose dramatic action at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent secured victory.

At the battle Admiral Sir John Jervis (later Earl St. Vincent) led a squadron of 15 sail against a numerically far superior Spanish fleet. He fell on them off the southern coast of Portugal as they were running for Cadiz and divided their line into two parts.

From his flagship, HMS Victory he ordered his ships to tack in succession and prevent the gap from being closed. Nelson, last but two in the line, saw that this manouevre would not be completed in time and made a quick decision to turn his ship, HMS Captain into the gap. He took on seven Spanish ships, including the Santissima Trinidad, the largest ship in the world and two other ships, the San Nicolas and San Josef.

Through a hail of pistol and musket fire he led boarding parties onto both and captured both.

By nightfall four ships had been taken and ten others crippled. Admiral Jervis was generous in his praise of Nelson who was knighted (KB). Commodore Nelson was to fly his flag as Rear Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson - the promotion had been approved before the battle but Nelson did not hear of it until after St. Vincent