Naval Memorials in Westminster Abbey


A Guide by Anthony Gary Brown


© 18th August 2004 (with revisions:  08/25/04.)









Westminster Abbey is one of my favorite places to visit in London, primarily because it offers a wonderfully casual tour through British history via the many hundreds of gravestones and memorials of the nation’s great and good over many hundreds of years.  Naturally, my own interests are especially naval, and the Abbey has some 80 points of interest strongly connected with sailors and the sea (out of over 800 visible memorials):  indeed, the Visitors’ Entrance at the Abbey’s North Door is immediately flanked by imposing statues of Admirals *Vernon and *Wager..  However, although some of these memorials are inherently informative (though sometimes in Latin rather than English!), some are tantalizingly vague or brief.  Moreover there is no handy way of fleshing out the maritime tales the Abbey has to tell:  the Abbey’s 120-page Official Guide covers some of the more famous characters in detail, but is rather compact on the rest (with a handful totally unmentioned);  nor, of course, does it always indicate in its index which characters are naval, though the text unfailingly does so.  I have used my trusty old 1977 edition.  The present web-site, organized alphabetically, enables an easy focus on “The Abbey and the Sea”.. 


Although there are thought to be about 3,000 individuals buried in the Abbey - with several hundred more buried in the adjacent St Margaret’s Church and in the grave-yard sites associated with the two buildings – less than a third of these have any visible marker.  Moreover, many of the visible memorials mark the life and passing of distinguished (or sometimes merely well-connected) individuals who are in fact buried elsewhere.  This is especially true of those naval and military characters who died on overseas service and whose bodies never made it home to the British Isles.  It’s also true that, the more distinguished the family of the deceased, the more likely it was that the final burial would take place in vaults on the family estates, rather than in the Abbey itself.  So, when standing on or near a naval memorial, you are not necessarily close to old naval bones!  The Abbey’s own web-site does offer some useful information on the practice of burial and commemoration in the Abbey, and has some potted biographies of selected characters.


[Note:  This Anthony G Brown Fine Nautical Books web-site will be extended to cover the 50 or so naval memorials in London’s other great national church, St. Paul’s Cathedral, before the end of 2005.]



In each entry below, links are given to a variety of useful web-sites, led by those of the National Maritime Museum, Find-A-Grave, the very useful on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, the sites of Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as a small selection of private sites giving useful information on particular individuals, ships or events.  The Abbey, Church and Cathedral sites have useful general maps of their premises, so that those unfamiliar with, say “the North Choir Aisle” as a memorial location can more easily plan their visit.  Where the individual has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, I have added the reference ‘DNB’, though there is at present no free online access to those mighty volumes;  DNB in print nevertheless remains, a century and more after it was published, the indispensable first port-of-call for biographical researchers.   Also very useful for naval scholars, though again only available in print, are Peter Kemp’s The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea and Sir William Laird Clowes’ 7-volume, early 20th century masterpiece, The Royal Navy.


Finally, names preceded by  * in the text ( e.g., “… his daughter married Admiral Temple *West.”) have their own headline entry in this listing.








Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church








BAKER, Vice Admiral John, 1661-1716

Memorial on North Aisle Wall, just west of Sacristy doorway.

NMM 4787


Baker was a distinguished fleet officer who served much of his career in the Mediterranean commands under *Shovell, Byng, Norris and Jennings.  Baker is buried on Minorca, where he was Governor.



BALCHEN, Admiral Sir John, 1670-1744 & Commander George, d. 1745

Wall tablet in West Aisle of North Transept, to the right of the HMS *Captain window.

NMM 4814

Family Biography


John Balchen enjoyed an active and successful career, fighting in a number of important fleet actions early in his career and then rising to substantial commands in the Mediterranean and the Channel.  He later became Governor of Greenwich Hospital, but was restored to the active list for a final service off the Portuguese coast.  On his return from this mission his HMS Victory was lost in a storm off the Channel Islands, with all 1100 hands.  His son George died of illness the following year in the West Indies;  his daughter married Admiral Temple *West.



BARHAM, HMS  (sunk off Libya in 1941)

Case at western end of North Aisle of Nave

Web History

The case contains an Honour Roll of all the 865 crew – some two thirds of her full complement - lost when the battleship HMS Barham was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Libya on November 25th 1941.



BAYNE, Captain William, 1729?-1782 (with W. *Blair and R. *Manners)

Monument in central aisle of North Transept, opposite HMS *Captain window

NMM 4795


Bayne had a long fighting career in frigates and ships of the line before being killed in his HMS Alfred by a long-range cannon shot during an inconclusive fleet skirmish three days before Lord Rodney’s defeat of the French at the Battle of the Saintes, the final battle of the American Revolutionary War.  Bayne was buried at sea.



BEAUCLERK, Captain Lord Aubrey, 1710?-1741

Monument in west aisle of North Transept under HMS *Captain window.

NMM 4801


Beauclerk, a son of the Duke of St Albans (whose own parents were King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwynne), was killed by cannon fire aboard his HMS Prince Frederick during Admiral Vernon’s assault on Cartagena (in modern Colombia).



BEHN, Mrs Aphra, 1640-1689

Floor slab in East Walk of Cloisters

FG 10242


Mrs Behn is of course a famous playwright;  but she was also a British spy active against the Dutch on behalf of King Charles II, who had befriended her.  In 1666, now a widow, she obtained - supposedly from numerous lovers - details of the Dutch plan to attack British shipping in the Thames and Medway.  Returning to England with this intelligence, she was shipwrecked and nearly drowned;; sadly, her reports were met with widespread disbelief and the Dutch attack was not headed-off.  Mrs Behn retired from spying and dedicated the rest of her life “to pleasure and poetry”.



BERKELEY, Vice Admiral Sir William,  1639-1666

Buried in North Ambulatory, but memorial not visible.

NMM 1070


Berkeley was a very young, and newly promoted, Admiral at the Four Days Fight against the Dutch;  he was shot by a musket-ball during a ferocious action defending his HMS Swiftsure and later buried here in the Abbey.



BERKLEY, Captain Sir Charles, Earl of Falmouth, 1630-1665

Floor slab in Chapel of St John the Baptist

FG 20891

Berkley  was the commander of James, Duke of York’s flagship HMS Royal Charles at the Battle of Lowestoft, where he was killed along with several of his officers (including *Muskerry) by a single Dutch chain-shot, Falmouth’s decapitated head is said to have knocked the future King James II off his feet.  The Earl is actually interred in the Chapel.



BLACKWOOD, Vice Admiral Sir Henry, 1770-1832

Tablet in west  aisle of North transept

NMM 4802


The Irishman Sir Harry Blackwood was one of the most dashing of Lord Nelson’s “band of brothers”, making his early reputation as a bold frigate commander and later taking charge of the frigate squadron at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.



BLAIR, Captain William, 1741-1782  (with W. *Bayne and R. *Manners)

Monument in west central aisle of North Transept, opposite HMS *Captain window

NMM 4795


Blair was commander of HMS Anson at Rodney’s defeat of the French fleet at the Battle of the Saintes, the final battle of the American Revolutionary War.  He was killed by cannon fire during the latter stages of the engagement and was buried at sea.



BLAKE, Admiral Robert, 1599-1657

Monument in South Choir Aisle;  also Stained Glass Window at eastern end of North Aisle of St Margaret’s Church.

NMM 4808

NMM 4760

NMM 4761

FG 12188

St Margaret's Church

Royal Navy Biography


Blake was one of the very greatest British admirals, much admired a hundred or so years later by Lord *Nelson for his introduction of formal tactical organization into the navy.  He had studied at Oxford University but had been cast into near-poverty by the death of his father and then made a career at sea in the merchant service.  He appears to have been a republican from his early days and joined the Parliamentary army at the beginning of the civil war, soon distinguishing himself.  In 1649 he moved to a sea command and showed himself an active and successful officer, soon rising to fleet authority.  In 1657 he took a Spanish treasure fleet off Tenerife, but was wounded in the action.  General ill-health and these wounds sent him home to England in his HMS George, but he died whilst the ship entering Plymouth Sound.  Although he was buried in the Abbey (in the Henry VII Chapel) with honours, like other Parliamentarians he was disinterred on the restoration of Charles II and either re-buried in St Margaret’s graveyard or tossed into the Thames:  the existing Abbey monuments to him are of more recent origin.



BRUNEL, Isambard Kingdom, 1806-1859

Stained glass window in South Aisle of Nave

Westminster Abbey notes

Web biography


Brunel was one of the great engineers of the early industrial revolution.  Famous especially for his railway construction, Brunel also designed and built three of the most formidable commercial iron steam-ships of his age, the Great Western, the Great Britain and the Great Eastern.  He also designed many docks, piers and even floating gun-platforms.






BURGOYNE, Captain Hugh, 1833-1870 (with C. Coles and crew of HMS Captain;  also a memorial in St Paul’s)

Brass plaque and stained glass window in North Transept

NMM 5088

Westminster Abbey notes

The Loss of the Captain





CAPTAIN, HMS (lost with all hands in 1870; also a memorial in St Paul’s)

Brass plaque and stained glass window in North Transept

NMM 5088

Westminster Abbey notes

The Loss of the Captain

HMS Captain was a controversial experimental ship, with a very low freeboard and, consequently, a wicked vulnerability when heeled by an excess of sail in a stiff wind.  On her run-up cruise she duly capsized in the Bay of Biscay – in what conventional sea-officers described as rather unexceptional wind conditions - with the loss of almost all her 500 hands.  Her commander Hugh Burgoyne, an experienced officer who had been awarded the Victoria Cross in the Crimea, was one of the very few men somehow to clamber onto the upturned hull – but he then refused to jump to the safety of the ship’s launch and went down atop his ship.  Cowper Coles was the half-pay navy officer who had designed and promoted the Captain (and a number of similar vessels) to facilitate the rotating gun turrets he had introduced into naval gunnery.  He was aboard the ship as a passenger and observer and was one of those many lost.



CHICHESTER, Sir Francis, 1901-1972

Part of “Navigators Memorial”, wall plaque in South Cloister, honoring *Drake, *Cook and Chichester

Navigators Memorial


Chichester was a private ocean yachtsman (as well as pioneering aviator) who specialized in high-speed, long-distance solo voyages in his series of Gipsy Moth sloops and ketches.  After completing a rapid, single-handed circumnavigation in 1966, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II with the same sword that Queen Elizabeth I had used to honour Sir Francis *Drake in 1581.



CHURCHILL, Admiral George, 1654-1710

Monument in South Choir Aisle, towards Nave

NMM 4809


George Churchill was a younger brother of the famous general, the Duke of Marlborough, and seems to have risen to the highest naval ranks and administrative offices by trading on his brother’s name and fame.  A more roundly disliked and derided officer it would be difficult to conceive, whatever his memorial may say.  He is buried near his memorial.



CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spenser, 1874-1965

Floor slab at west end of Nave

Westminster Abbey note

Web biography

Amongst his many other claims to fame, Churchill – whose military experience was in the army - was First Lord of the Admiralty (in effect, Minister for the Navy) at the outbreak of both World War I and World War II.  In 1908 Churchill married Clementine Hozier, a granddaughter of the Earl of Airlie, in the adjacent St Margaret’s Church.  Churchill and his wife are both buried at Bladon, in Oxfordshire, near the estates of the Duke of Marlborough, into whose family Churchill was born.



COCHRANE, Admiral Thomas, Earl of Dundonald, 1775-1860

Floor slab in centre of Nave

NMM 1027

Westminster Abbey biography

Royal Navy Biography


Cochrane was one of the most enterprising and controversial officers of the navy of his age.  A Scottish nobleman (who inherited the family Earldom later in life) he joined the navy at a somewhat later age than was usual at the time, but soon made a splash as the commander of the sloop Speedy and the frigates Pallas and Imperieuse.  He entered Parliament in 1806 and was as outspoken there as he was in the sea-service.  His British career crashed in 1814 when he was involved in a stock market fraud, resulting in his expulsion from the service and from the House.  He spent the next 20 years as a roving admiral, leading in turn the navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece.  Re-instated in the Royal Navy in 1832, he saw active command service and ended up as Admiral of the Fleet, the title given to the senior serving officer of the navy.  He is buried beneath his slab.



COLES, Captain Cowper, 1819-1870  (with H. Burgoyne and crew of HMS Captain;  also a memorial in St Paul’s)

Brass plaque and stained glass window in North Transept

NMM 5088

Westminster Abbey notes

The Loss of the Captain






Roll of Honour and Battle Honours Flag in St George’s Chapel in Nave (the “Warrior’s Chapel”);  Monument in West Cloister

Cloister Monument

The United Kingdom’s Commando units were first formed in World War II as unorthodox assault troops, such as are now generally known as “Special Forces”.   They drew from all branches of the services and all parts of the Empire (together with volunteers from the USA) and were officially known as “Combined Operations Command” – as might be expected, the Royal Marines were especially well represented in the various units.  Although today “Commando” is still a term commonly used for any specialist assault soldier, strictly it is now only the Royal Marines themselves who bear the official title.  However, Royal Marine Commando Brigades, when brought up to full battle strength, frequently include battalions of the Parachute Regiment from the Army, and other specialist support units from the services as a whole.



COOK, Captain James, 1728-1779

Part of “Navigators Memorial” wall plaque in South Cloister

Navigators Memorial

Royal Navy Biography


Cook, a man of humble origins, went to sea at age 18 and rapidly made a name for himself as a prime navigator and ship technician in coastal waters;  10 years later he enlisted in the Royal Navy in order to see more of the world.  His navigational and explorations skills advanced his career rapidly, though still in non-commissioned ranks.  In 1768 he was finally commissioned Lieutenant and given command of HMS Endeavour for the first of his great scientific voyages to the south seas and circumnavigations of the globe.  In 1775, now a full Captain, he set of on his final voyage, this time in search of the northwest passage.  The battering his ships took in the far north necessitated his return in 1779 to the Hawaiian islands, which he had discovered for the European world in the previous year.  Cook was initially greeted and feted as a near-god,  but the islanders’ mood turned sullen as more demands were made on their resources and hospitality.  A large ship’s boat was stolen and, when Cook went ashore to demand a hostage against its safe return, he was clubbed and stabbed to death in a brief melée.



COOKE, Captain Edward, 1772-1799

Monument in Chapel of St John the Evangelist

NMM 4774


Cooke was a well-connected and able young man from a large military, naval and political family.  He had early success as a Lieutenant and assistant to senior officers in the Mediterranean and then enjoyed even more as a frigate captain on detached commands.  In his HMS Sybille he roved the Indian Ocean with great dash and eventually ambushed the much larger French frigate Forte in the Bay of Bengal.  In the course of a brilliant action in which the Frenchman was forced to surrender, Cooke was severely wounded by grape-shot and, a few months later, died in Calcutta.



CORNEWALL / CORNWALL, Captain James, 1699-1744

Monument in Cloisters (moved from original location in Nave in 1932)

NMM 4779

FG 20545


Cornewall spent much of his career in small independent commands and had a reputation for enterprise and efficiency.  In 1741 he was moved to the larger ships of the Mediterranean fleet and there, in the battle off Toulon of 1744, he was killed by French chain-shot in his HMS Marlborough during a furious exchange of fire, command then devolving on his nephew, Lieutenant Frederick Cornewall.  The battle itself was an ill-managed and inconclusive affair for both the British and their French and Spanish opponents.  On the British side, several Admirals and Captains were subsequently court-martialed and dismissed the service for poor judgment or for lack of pluck.



COTTRELL, Lieutenant Clement, 1650?-1672  (with C. *Harbord)

Monument in south aisle of Nave, towards Altar

NMM 4783

Westminster Abbey biography

Cotterell and *Harbord were Lieutenants in HMS Royal James, the flagship of Admiral *Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, at the Battle of Solebay against a Dutch fleet.  The monument suggests that the young men were loyal protégés of the Admiral and went down with him and the ship, whilst others managed to slip away.  However, other accounts of the Admiral’s demise suggest he was drowned when his overcrowded, small boat capsized as he was being rowed from his burning flagship to – quite properly – transfer his command to another ship.  It is possible, then, that the Lieutenants were with him at that point.



DALRYMPLE, Midshipman William, 1766?-1782

Monument in South Choir Aisle, near Cloister Door

NMM 4807

Dalrymple, a member of a prominent Scottish family of lawyers, politicians and military men, was killed as Captain Elliott Salter’s frigate HMS Santa Margarita took the somewhat larger French frigate Amazone in the West Indies in July 1782.  However, the French ship was recaptured by its own fleet the following day.



DARWIN, Charles, 1809-1882

Wall Monument and Small Floor slab in North Choir Aisle, towards Nave

FG 1279

Westminster Abbey biography


Darwin is of course one of the great names of science, and many of his later theories on the origin and development of species were based on the voyage of exploration he took from 1831-1836 in HMS Beagle, an account of which he published in 1839.  Darwin is buried beneath his slab.



DEANE, General-at-Sea Richard, 1610-1653

Originally buried in the Chapel of Henry VII, but now no memorial

FG 12185


Deane spent his early career in the army, taking the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War.  He participated in the trial of King Charles I and was a signatory of the warrant for his execution.  At the end of the war he moved to the Admiralty and took the rank of General-at-Sea (the equivalent of Admiral, though Deane was, strictly, never a commissioned sea-officer), fighting in a number of engagements against the Dutch.  In the last of these, the Battle of the North Foreland (fought over a large area between the Dutch and English coasts), he was killed by a cannon shot aboard his Resolution as the engagement commenced;  at that moment he was standing near General George *Monck, his co-commander.  Deane was buried in the Abbey but was disinterred on the restoration of Charles II in 1660 re-buried in a pit in St Margaret’s Churchyard.



DRAKE, Admiral Sir Francis 1540?-1596

Part of “Navigators Memorial”, wall plaque in South Cloister

Navigators Memorial

Web Biography

Royal Navy Biography


Drake is one of the great names of the Elizabethan age, a time when the English fleet, part-Royal and part-private, was as much an international plundering and slave-trading machine as a means of national defense.  Between 1566 and 1580 he amassed great wealth and fame roving round the world as a virtual buccaneer but in 1585 first took the royal command that led, in 1588, to his participation in the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the prevention of an invasion of the home islands.  His successes after then were less marked, and he died of yellow fever off Puerto Rico in an unsuccessful foray against the Spanish colonies.



DRUMMOND, Rear Admiral Charles, 1692?-1771

Slab in East Cloister

NMM 4778

Drummond is a fairly obscure naval character, though from a large and influential family of Scottish military men, politicians, financiers and lawyers.  His main claim to fame was his participation in the Battle of Toulon in 1744, in command of HMS Cambridge;  he appears to have retired in 1747.



FALMOUTH, Earl of;  see BERKLEY, Captain Sir Charles



FRANKLIN, Captain Sir John, 1786-1847 (joint with F. *McClintock)

Monument at doorway to Chapel of St John the Evangelist, north aisle of North Transept

NMM 4776

Westminster Abbey biography


Franklin’s primary reputation is as an explorer of the Arctic, in search of the fabled North West Passage. After many arduous voyages, Franklin’s HMS Erebus became locked in extreme ice off King William Island, and he and all his men perished of exposure, starvation and associated diseases in 1847 and early 1848.  The fate of the party was not discovered until Captain *McClintock’s voyage of 1859, which confirmed Franklin’s demise in 1847 – Franklin, posted ‘missing’ rather than dead, had been promoted Rear Admiral by seniority in 1852, but this promotion was withdrawn when his earlier demise became clear.  Though primarily a figure of the mid-Victorian age, Franklin had fought as a Midshipman at two of Lord *Nelson’s great battles, Copenhagen in 1801 and Trafalgar in 1805.



HAKLUYT, Richard, 1553-1616

Hakluyt is buried in the South Transept (or “Poets’ Corner”), but there is no visible memorial to him.

Web Biography


Hakluyt (pron. ‘Hack-lit’) was an Elizabethan writer, editor and translator often credited with establishing the great British tradition of travel literature, publishing in his lifetime vast and important collection of accounts of voyages, explorations and discoveries:  his Principal Navigations of the English Nation.  Hakluyt was also a priest and, later in life, an official of Westminster Abbey, where he is buried.  The Hakluyt Society, founded in 1847,  remains dedicated to publishing modern editions of great works of early travel literature.



HALLEY,  Captain Edmond, 1656-1742

Wall plaque in Cloisters

Web Biography

FG 10247


Edmond, or Edmund, Halley was a great scientist and astronomer, many of whose discoveries and publications were intended to facilitate navigation at sea.  In 1698 Halley was given a temporary, two-year Post Captaincy in the Royal Navy to allow him command of the scientific pink-sloop Paramour, and in 1729 he was awarded the half-pay of a Retired Captain.  Halley also served as Secretary of the Royal Society (then as now, Britain’s premier scientific institution) and as Astronomer Royal.  He is buried near Greenwich, the site of his beloved Royal Observatory..



HALY, Lieutenant Richard Standish, 1779?-1835

Floor slab in North Transept

NMM 4798

Haly’s memorial emphasizes his role in campaigns against compulsory naval service (‘impressment’, or the press gang) and, more widely, the institution of slavery.  Impressment effectively ended at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, though it was only finally abolished by acts of 1835 and 1853.  Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807, though the practice of slavery in the colonies was not abolished until 1833.



HANWAY, Jonas, 1712-1786

Memorial in north aisle of North Transept

NMM 4799

Web Biography


Hanway was a merchant, traveler and philanthropist from a family of naval officers and administrators (both his father and brother were Captains).  He founded the Marine Society in 1756 primarily to offer training and careers at sea to London street urchins, and the youngsters so sent to ships were generally regarded as good-quality, willing recruits.  Hanway was similarly industrious in his campaigns to better the lot of young chimney sweeps.



HARBORD, Lieutenant Sir Charles, 1642?-1672  (with C. *Cottrell)

Monument in south aisle of Nave, towards Altar.

NMM 4783

Westminster Abbey note

Harbord and *Cotterell were Lieutenants in HMS Royal James, the flagship of Admiral *Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, at the Battle of Solebay against a Dutch fleet.  The monument suggests that the young men were loyal protégés of the Admiral and went down with him and the ship, whilst others managed to slip away.  However, other accounts of the Admiral’s demise suggest he was drowned when his overcrowded, small boat capsized as he was being rowed from his burning flagship to – quite properly – transfer his command to another ship.  It is possible, then, that the Lieutenants were with him at that point.



HARDY, Vice Admiral Sir Thomas, 1666-1732

Monument in Nave, near West Door

NMM 4784


We should perhaps first note that this is not the Admiral Hardy, the close colleague of Admiral Nelson, who is buried in Greenwich Naval Hospital.  This earlier Hardy, unrelated to his later namesake, was from the British Channel Islands and his very active naval career ended in somewhat mysterious circumstances.  In 1715 he returned, as a Rear Admiral, from a command in the Baltic only to be dismissed the service, supposedly for holding Jacobite sympathies (i.e., supporting the claims to the English crown of the male heirs of the deposed King James II as against those of the incoming Hanoverian King George I).  However, no legal action was ever taken against him, and by some accounts he was later promoted to Vice Admiral, though on the ‘retired’ list.



HARRISON, Rear Admiral John, 1722?-1791

Wall tablet over East Cloister Door

NMM 4805

Harrison spent the height of his career as Flag Captain to Admiral Sir George *Pocock but, as his memorial records, he suffered some sort of stroke in  about 1763 and was forced to retire.  He was nevertheless promoted Rear Admiral by seniority in 1779.  Harrison is buried in the South Transept.



HARVEY, Captain John, 1740-1794 (with J. *Hutt)

Monument in North Aisle of Nave

NMM 4791


Harvey was a successful officer from a large naval family.  He commanded HMS Brunswick at Lord *Howe’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Glorious 1st of June, but was wounded at least three times during the engagement and died ashore a few weeks later, on exactly the same day as his co-honoree Captain *Hutt.



HERSCHEL, Sir William, 1738-1822

Floor Plaque in north-east corner of Nave

Herschel’s fame is as the founder of the modern science of astronomy (though he was also a distinguished organist and composer) but it is interesting to recall that the main practical application of his work during and after his life was sea-navigation by reference to star and planet positions, mapped with a hitherto unheard of accuracy and painstakingly recorded in charts and tables (often prepared by his almost equally distinguished sister, Caroline).  Herschel was buried at Slough, west of London, but his son Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), an astronomer himself of great distinction, is actually interred in the Nave, near the great mathematician Sir Isaac Newton.

FG 7071




HOLMES, Rear Admiral Charles, 1711-1761

Monument in North Ambulatory

NMM 4788


Holmes had a lively career until his relatively early death as Commander in Chief of the Jamaica station.  He had been one of the few officers to emerge with his reputation unscathed after a series of court-martials ordered by Admiral Knowles on his captains following the inconclusive actions against a Spanish squadron off Havana in 1748.  In 1757 he sat on the court-martial panel that – reluctantly - ordered Admiral Byng to be shot for dereliction of duty;  and in 1759 he had been third in command of the fleet, led by Sir Charles *Saunders, that assisted General Wolfe in the capture of Quebec.




HOPE, Rear Admiral Sir George, 1767-1818

Monument under North West Tower, in Nave

NMM 4804

Nelson Soc. Biog.

Hope, a Scottish officer, was a prominent member of Lord *Nelson’s Mediterranean fleet, especially admired for his organizational abilities, and he then commanded HMS Defence with great distinction at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  From 1808-1811 he was Captain of the great HMS Victory herself, though much of his service after 1812 was at the Admiralty in London.



HUTT, Captain John, 1746-1794  (with J. *Harvey)

Monument in North Aisle of Nave

NMM 4791


Hutt was the Flag Captain of Rear Admiral Sir Alan Gardner’s HMS Queen at Lord *Howe’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Glorious 1st of June.  He lost his leg to a cannon shot during the battle and died ashore a few weeks later, on exactly the same day as his co-honoree Captain *Harvey.



JULIUS, Captain William, 1665?-1698

Wall plaque in South Choir Aisle, near Poet’s Corner

NMM 4811

Little is known of Julius’s life and career other than that he had commanded HMS Chester and later HMS Colchester in the West Indies, where he died of fever.  Julius is buried somewhere in the South Aisle.



KEMPENFELD, Rear Admiral Richard, 1718-1782

Monument in Chapel of St Michael

NMM 4777


Kempenfeld (who family was once Swedish) was a fighting commander of a distinctly scientific bent, always keen to research and try out new ideas for equipment, communications, crew organization and battle tactics.  However, in 1782 he was flying his Rear Admiral’s flag in HMS Royal George at Spithead whilst she was undergoing a re-fit.  The fully-manned ship was heeled over to come at her lower hull when she began to flood through her gun-ports and, as the sudden weight of water strained her internal timbers, some part of her structure collapsed and she flipped over, taking the Admiral and most of those aboard – including many visiting women and children – to the bottom of the rather shallow anchorage. Kempenfeld is buried in Hampshire.



KENDALL, Colonel James, 1646?-1708

Monument in South Choir Aisle

Colonel Kendall, a member of a plantation-owning family, served as Governor of Barbados from 1694-1696 and, on his return to England, as an Admiralty Commissioner from 1696-1699.



LAWRENCE, Major General Stringer, 1697-1775

Monument in North Aisle of Nave

Web Biography


Lawrence, a Welshman, achieved his chief fame as a soldier in the East India Company forces, establishing British military dominance of the sub-continent.  However, in his early career, in the late 1720s and early 1730s, he had served as a Marine officer under Sir Charles *Wager in the Mediterranean, even though at the time he held an army commission.



LE NEVE, Captain Richard, 1646?-1673

Monument in North Choir Aisle

NMM 4789

Westminster Abbey biography

Le Neve was the young captain of HMS Edgar when he was killed fighting the Dutch fleet at the Battle of the Texel, the English being under the overall command of Prince *Rupert (*Spragge also perished in the same battle).  Le Neve is buried under the Organ Loft.









McCLINTOCK, Admiral Francis, 1819-1907 (joint with J. *Franklin)

Monument at Chapel of St John the Evangelist, north aisle of North Transept

NMM 4776


McClintock was an Irish officer who made his career in Arctic exploration from his earliest service.  In 1857 he commanded the private yacht Fox on a mission paid for by Sir John *Franklin’s wife to discover her missing husband’s fate and was able to establish that Franklin and his party has all perished in the winter of 1847-1848.  McClintock ended his career in warmer climes, as commander-in-chief of the West Indies station.



MANNERS, Captain Lord Robert, 1758-1782  (with W. *Bayne and W. *Blair)

Monument in North Transept, opposite HMS *Captain window

NMM 4795


Manners, a son of Lieutenant-General the Marquis of Granby, was commander of HMS Resolution at Rodney’s defeat of the French fleet at the Battle of the Saintes, the final battle of the American Revolutionary War.  He was several times injured during the battle and even lost a leg to a cannon shot;  he died of tetanus complications whilst en route to England in HMS Andromache, and was buried at sea.



MARLBOROUGH, Captain James Ley, Earl of, 1618-1665

Buried in North Ambulatory, but no memorial visible.


Marlborough, a Royalist Captain during the Civil War, was appointed to command HMS Old James at the Restoration, and was killed fighting against the Dutch at the Battle of Lowestoft.



MONCK, General and Admiral George, Duke of ALBEMARLE, 1608-1670

Buried in Henry VII Chapel, with a monument in South Aisle thereof

Funeral Armour in Museum

NMM 4782

FG 20907

Web Biography


Monck was a career military man who, when the English Civil War broke out, initially continued to serve King Charles I with great distinction.  He was captured by the Parliamentary General Fairfax in 1644 and, after Charles was defeated, was persuaded to now serve the Commonwealth, first as a General and then, because of his expertise with artillery, as an Admiral (or ‘General-at-Sea’, as the Commonwealth term was).  He was a successful as an seaman as he had usually been as a soldier.  However, after Lord Protector Cromwell’s death in 1658, Monck was the chief proponent of Parliament’s inviting King Charles II to assume his throne in 1660, for which work he was created Duke of Albemarle.  He then served more years at sea, though not always with his former success.



MONTAGU, Admiral Edward, Earl of SANDWICH 1625-1672

Monument in North Aisle of Henry VII Chapel

NMM 4781


Montagu was one of many of the Civil War-era military men who, after success as soldiers, became Generals-at-Sea and then, if they continued to serve the restored Charles II, Admirals.  Montagu, like *Monck, played a leading role in the return of the King, and was made Earl of Sandwich for his service.  His actual naval career was somewhat overshadowed by financial scandals, though he will now always be recalled as the patron of the great diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys.  Montagu was killed at the Battle of Solebay against a Dutch fleet when his HMS Royal George caught fire and blew up;  although his body was recovered, it is not clear whether he was lost in the explosion or drowned when a small boat in which he was trying to transfer his command to another ship capsized.  The Earl’s body was later washed ashore and buried in the Chapel.



MONTAGU, Mr Edward Wortley, 1750-1777

Wall monument in West Walk of Cloisters

NMM 4813

Montague was a grandson of the famous traveler and writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762).  The memorial gives few details of his death in a shipwreck, though we know he was sailing home from the East Indies when calamity struck.



MONTAGU, Captain James, 1752-1794

Monument under North West Tower in Nave

NMM 4803


Montague was part of a large naval and political family, the son and brother of admirals.  He had a very active career as a frigate captain before being appointed to the 74-gun HMS Montagu at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War with France (he was not directly related to Admiral Edward *Montagu, Earl of Sandwich for whom the ship was probably named).  He fought that ship in Lord *Howe’s victory at the Battle of the Glorious 1st of June, but was killed during the action.



MOUNTBATTEN, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1900-1979

Floor plaque at west end of Nave

NMM 4780


Mountbatten, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was a controversial admiral whose social position and dashing personal lifestyle sometimes served to overshadow his very real accomplishments as a serving military officer holding high and important commands, especially during World War II.  He also occupied the challenging job of Viceroy of India after the war, up to Indian independence in 1948.  Somewhat unusually, after such a grand title, he returned to naval service until his retirement in 1964.  Mountbatten and several of his family were murdered by Irish terrorists whilst on a boating holiday in 1979.



MUSKERRY,  Charles / Cormac McCarthy, Viscount Muskerry and Earl of Clancarty, 1594-1665

Buried in North Ambulatory, but no memorial visible.

Lord Muskerry (who was never a formally commissioned naval officer) was killed aboard HMS Royal Charles at the Battle of Lowestoft, alongside his Captain Sir Charles *Berkley.



NELSON, Vice Admiral Lord Horatio, 1758-1805

Wax funeral effigy in Abbey Museum

Westminster Abbey Museum

Nelson Society Biography

Royal Navy Biography


Although Nelson led the boarding of the Spanish San Josef at the Battle of Cape St Vincent with the cry “Westminster Abbey or Glorious Victory!”, his main memorial is in fact in St Paul’s, and a short biography will be found in that section of this page.  The effigy in the Abbey (placed here in 1806 to attract visitors away from St Paul’s!)  was thought by those who knew Nelson well to be an uncanny likeness, giving the impression that the great man was standing in the room.






PARKER, Captain Sir Peter Parker (1785-1814),

Monument below North Aisle Windows of St Margaret’s Church

NMM 4762

St Margaret's Church


Parker was a member of one of Britain’s largest and most famous naval families;  he was also related to the Byron family, themselves a curious mix of seamen and poets.  Parker had served as a junior officer in Lord *Nelson’s HMS Victory before being promoted Commander into a small scouting ship, HMS Weazel.  It was in her, in late October 1805, that Parker was the first man to spot the Spanish and French fleets getting under way off Cadiz, and was able to relay the message out to Nelson’s fleet at sea.  He was promoted Captain for this service and continued as an active frigate commander.  In 1814, his HMS Menelaus led an attack on American positions along the Chesapeake River;  near Baltimore Parker was downed by a musketball during a skirmish ashore.  Lord Byron the poet commemorated the death of his cousin with an Elegy on the Death of Sir Peter Parker.



PARSONS, Sir Charles, 1854-1931

Stained glass window in North Aisle of Nave

Marine engineer

Westminster Abbey note


Parsons great contribution to British naval power, especially in the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods, was the “Parsons Marine Steam Turbine”, a revolutionary design of great power, robustness and ingenuity.



POCOCK, Admiral Sir George, 1706-1792

Monument in Chapel of St John the Evangelist

NMM 4773


Pocock was a well-connected seaman from a large naval family who rose to high command rather more on account of those connections than his rather average abilities.  He is perhaps most famous for his participation in the capture of Havana in 1762, which won him a colossal sum in prize-money and enabled him to retire the following year to a life of leisure.



PRIESTMAN, Captain Henry, 1647?-1712

Monument in North Aisle of Nave, near Altar

NMM 4785

FG 9565

Priestman commanded ships and small squadrons between 1672 and 1689, in which year he went ashore as a naval administrator until he resigned, following some involvement in a financial scandal, in 1699.  The Abbey Guide gives Priestman’s  as an Admiral, but he was never in fact promoted to that rank.



RALEIGH, Sir Walter, 1552-1618

Memorial window at west end of St Margaret’s Church, and a brass plaque near East Door in South Aisle of same

NMM 4771

NMM 4767

St Margaret's Church

Web Biography

Raleigh was one of the most flamboyant figures of his age, famous as an explorer, seaman, courtier, author and spy.  He charmed a skeptical Queen Elizabeth I into funding his many adventures – some more successful than others, but always startling – but fell out of favor under her successor James I.  He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason for a while;  and, when released, embarked on an unauthorised campaign against Spanish interests in the West Indies, for which temerity James eventually had him beheaded.



RUMSEY, James, 1743-92

Memorial slab in South Aisle of St Margaret’s Church

NMM 4769

St Margaret's Church

Web Biography

Rumsey, an American engineer, was a pioneer of steam propulsion in Maryland and Virginia.  He died in London whilst on an extended fund-raising visit sponsored by Benjamin Franklin, amongst others.



RUPERT, Admiral, Prince of Bavaria and Duke of Cumberland, 1619-1682

Buried in Henry VII, in Mary Queen of Scots’ vault;  small floor inscription lists those so interred

Westminster Abbey note

Web Biography


Prince Rupert of the Rhine was a professional soldier, a nephew of King Charles I of England, whom he served with great dash on land and sea in the English Civil War.  After Charles’ defeat, Rupert turned to buccaneering in the West Indies, but returned to the English royal service on the restoration of Charles II in 1660.  He then served at sea with his old colleague George *Monck, but was more renowned for style, courage and an attacking spirit than for actual naval success.






SAUMAREZ / SAUSMAREZ, Captain Philip de, 1710-1747

Monument in North Aisle

NMM 4786


Saumarez was one of a very famous British Channel Islands family of seamen.  He distinguished himself as an officer in Lord Anson’s great circumnavigation of the early 1740s and went onto to further success as a leading fighting commander.  He commanded HMS Nottingham in Lord Hawke’s action against off Cape Finisterre in late 1747, when he was killed by one of the last cannon shots of the fight. He is buried at Plymouth.



SAUNDERS, Admiral Sir Charles, 1713?-1775

Buried in Islip Chapel, but no visible memorial.

Westminster Abbey note


Saunders had a reputation as an able and steady officer, reliable in the most challenging or adverse of circumstances.  His greatest claim to fame is his command of the naval forces supporting General Wolfe’s capture of Quebec in 1759, during which he took his fleet further up the St Lawrence River than had been thought possible by many navigators who had viewed the very difficult currents and rocks downstream of the town. 



SHOVELL, Admiral Sir Cloudesley, 1650-1707

Monument in the South Choir Aisle

NMM 4806

Westminster Abbey biography


Shovell was the youngest of a band of famous 17th century seamen (the others being Myngs and Narborough) who came from the same tiny corner of rural Norfolk that would later give birth to Lord *Nelson.  He was a fine sailor and fighting admiral who shared in many brilliant victories.  He tends, however, to be more remembered for his fate, when his HMS Association and several accompanying ships ran onto rocks off the Scilly Isles in a squall, owing to faulty charts and navigation (see also *Twysden).  The immensely fat Shovell actually managed to be washed ashore just alive, but was murdered on the beach by a local woman who saw and coveted the large emerald ring on his finger.  Shovell is buried near his monument.




Small plate and badge mounted on west inner doorway of St Margaret's Church

Web note

The Speaker was an escort carrier commissioned in 1943 as the USS Delgada in the USA and then transferred to the Royal Navy under the “lend-lease” arrangement. She was re-named for the post of Speaker of the House of Commons, who always has a special relationship with St Margaret’s, the local “parish church” across the square from Parliament.



SPRAGGE, Admiral Edward,  (d.1673)

Buried in North Choir Aisle, but no memorial visible

Battle of the Texel


Spragge was a fiery, brilliantly accomplished Irish seaman who fought in many great actions after the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.  He was killed in action against the Dutch fleet at the Battle of the Texel (in which *Le Neve was also killed), the English being under the overall command of Prince *Rupert.  Spragge, second-in-command, was shifting his flag to another undamaged ship for the second time in the fierce battle when his small boat was hit by cannon fire;  the Admiral was injured but in fact died by drowning.  His body was later recovered and buried in the Abbey.



STEWART, Captain John, 1775?-1811

Wall plaque on central North Aisle of Nave

NMM 4792

Stewart, a Scottish officer, fought one of the most remarkable, but least known, small actions of the Napoleonic period, as his memorial mentions.  In 1808 his 42-gun frigate HMS Seahorse encountered two Turkish ships, the 52-gun Badere-i-Zaffer and the 26-gun Alis Fezzan:  not only was Stewart heavily outgunned, but he was outmanned nearly 3-to-1.  Over a two day fight Stewart avoided being boarded, shattered and drove off the Alis Fezzan, and reduced Badere-i-Zaffer to a combined wreck and slaughterhouse that was obliged to surrender.  Stewart is buried in the center of the Nave.



STORR, Rear Admiral John, 1709-1783

Wall plaque in Chapel of St John the Evangelist

NMM 4775

Storr’s chief claim to distinction was as the Captain of HMSS Revenge and Monmouth during the Seven Years War.  He is buried in the North Transept, where this memorial originally was placed.



TOTTY, Rear Admiral Thomas, 1746?-1802

Monument in Chapel of St Andrew

NMM 4797

Totty, a Welsh officer, had his career as the recently arrived commander of the Leeward Islands station in the West Indies cut short by yellow fever, of which he died.  In 1801 he had survived the harrowing loss of his ancient flagship, HMS Invincible, when she drove onto sandbanks off the coast of East Anglia.  Totty and his immediate staff were taken off in a passing fishing smack but were then forced, over an evening, night and morning, to watch Invincible break up and to see over 400 of her crew (including her Captain John Rennie) drown.  Totty is buried at Portsmouth.



TWYSDEN, Lieutenant John, d.1707

Monument in North Aisle of Nave

The young Lieutenant Twysden was in the doomed fleet of Sir Cloudesley *Shovell that was wrecked on the Scilly Isles in 1707.  The memorial also recalls his two army brothers, killed in action in 1708 and 1709.



TYRELL, Rear Admiral Richard, 1716?-1766

Monument in South Aisle of Nave

NMM 4812

Tyrell, an Irish officer, was a nephew of Sir Peter *Warren, and spent most of his active service in the West Indies, especially in command of the 74-gun HMS Buckingham.  Having resigned command of the Antigua station in 1766, he died of fever aboard his HMS Princess Louisa en route back to England, and was buried at sea




Floor slab at west end of Nave

Westminster Abbey biography

FG 2964

The inscription on this famous slab begins, “Beneath this stone rests the body of a British warrior unknown by name or rank brought from France to lie among the most illustrious of the land….”.  The Union Flag that covered the coffin at the 1920 funeral hangs in St George’s Chapel (the “Warrior Chapel”, at the south west corner of the Nave).  Although the body is likely that of a soldier, it is at least possible that it is that of a sailor, airman or even a non-combatant.  By tradition, it is the only floor marker in the Abbey that may never be stepped on, and is usually surrounded by memorial poppies and lit candles.  Whilst reading the slab text, look over to your right where, mounted on a column, is a rather inconspicuous frame holding the Congressional Medal of Honor that was presented to the Warrior by US General Pershing in 1921.  At the foot of the column are also two modern memorial slabs to the holders of Britain’s premier bravery awards, the purely military Victoria Cross and the military / civil George Cross;  many men and women connected with the sea have received these awards.



VERNON, Admiral Edward, 1684-1757

Monument in North Transept, by North Door

NMM 4794


Vernon was an officer of many military and organizational accomplishments but will always enjoy fame as the originator of the official Royal Navy “grog” ration of rum diluted with water (or, sometimes, lemon juice):  his service nickname had been “Old Grogham” from the top-coat made of waterproof grogham fabric he habitually wore on deck.  Vernon was also one of the most intemperate officers of his period, continually at odds with his political and naval masters and eventually ignominiously fired in 1746 for writing pamphlets wildly critical of official policy.



VILLIERS, Lord High Admiral George, Duke of BUCKINGHAM,  1592-1628

Monument at Chapel of Henry VII

NMM 4772

Web Biography


Villiers, a flamboyant courtier of massive self-confidence, usually misplaced, was chief minister to Kings James I and Charles I successively.  He always took a lively interest in naval affairs – fancying himself as a strategist and commander – and added the post of Lord High Admiral to his collection in 1619.  Though his naval strategy was usually as calamitous as his other schemes, he was responsible for vastly increasing its funding and power, thus ensuring that it was at least a professional, full-time service.  Villiers several times threatened to take personal command of expeditions, though thankfully he was always thwarted by events from doing so.  His demise was somewhat naval:  as his star began to wane, he was assassinated at Portsmouth outside the house of one of his Captains by John Felton, a disgruntled former naval officer who regarded him as a tyrant.  Villiers and many of his immediate family, are buried in the Chapel.



WAGER, Admiral Sir Charles, 1666-1743

Monument in North Transept, by North Door

NMM 4796

Westminster Abbey biography


Wager’s chief claim to fame was his defeat and capture of a Spanish treasure squadron in 1708, an action that brought him immense wealth   It could have brought him colossal wealth almost beyond belief if his two accompanying frigate captains had not been somewhat combat shy (both were court-martialed and dismissed the service), for not only did half the treasure go to the bottom when one of the Spanish ships blew up (Wager, fighting alone, had to pour too much fire into her), but a good deal of the other half escaped a weak-willed pursuit.  Although Wager could still have then retired in ease, he continued in active, and distinguished, naval service for many years.  Wager is buried near his monument.



WARREN, Vice Admiral Sir Peter, 1703-1752

Monument in North Transept, under HMS *Captain window.

NMM 4793


Warren, an Irish officer, achieved fame as “the enterprising admiral” who won vast prize money by capturing French and Spanish ships in the 1740s and who then invested his wealth in property, stocks, and trade to increase it several fold:  at one point he owned several hundred acres of the island of Manhattan (his wife was a New Yorker), but these were sold out of the family after Warren’s early death at home in Ireland.



WATSON, Vice Admiral Charles, 1714-1757

Monument in West Aisle of North  Transept

NMM 4800


Watson came from a naval family but was actually the son of an official of Westminster Abbey itself.  His rise in the navy was swift and well-deserved and he went onto play a brilliant role in support of General Lord Clive’s campaigns to supplant French influence in India.  However, the local climate broke his health and he died aged only 43;  he is buried at Calcutta.



WEST, Vice Admiral Temple, 1713-1757

Monument in North Choir Aisle

NMM 4790


West, from an influential political family was the son-in-law of Sir John *Balchen and for a time was Sir Peter *Warren’s flag-captain.  West’s connections gave him access to important commands at the centre of events, and he usually performed well.  However he is often best remembered for declining a command late in his career, following the execution of Admiral Byng for negligence in the Minorca campaign of 1756.  West had been a part of that action and like many officers – including some of those who tried the unfortunate admiral – he felt that Byng’s death sentence was out of all proportion to his offence.  In refusing the offered command of a squadron West famously wrote to the Admiralty that “although he could answer for his loyalty and good intentions, he could not undertake to be capitally responsible on all occasions for the correctness of his judgment”. 



WRAGG, Mr William, 1714-1776?

Monument in South Choir Aisle

NMM 4810

Web Biography

Wragg was a wealthy American lawyer and politician from South Carolina who went into exile as a Crown loyalist on the outbreak of the Revolution, but was drowned in a wreck off the Dutch coast en route to England.  Although his memorial gives a death date of September 1776, other sources place his death exactly one year later, in 1777.