Where Was Horatio Nelson Born?
The great British naval hero, Horatio Nelson, who defeated the French at Trafalgar in 1805 in one of the most memorable of all sea battles, was born at Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk, England. His father was rector of that parish. Horatio’s mother (née Suckling) was related to Sir Robert Walpole the British statesman and Prime Minister.
Nelson’s uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, who later became Comptroller of the Navy, gave Horatio his first taste of the sea. Horatio, who was educated in his home country of Norfolk by the North Sea, was entered in the ship Raisonnable by Captain Suckling in 1770 when there was an alarm of war with Spain.
But the dispute with Spain was quickly settled, and Nelson was packed off in a merchant vessel to the Indies to gain experience. This was the beginning of a hard apprenticeship during which time Nelson visited such remote areas as the Arctic and the East Indies. Five years after his appointment at sea Nelson fell ill and was invalided home. It was not until two years later, having just passed his examination as lieutenant that his remarkable career began in earnest.
He was noted for his inspirational leadership, superb grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, all of which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded several times in combat, losing most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the sight in one eye in Corsica.
He rose rapidly through the ranks and served with leading naval commanders of the period before obtaining his own command in 1778. He developed a reputation in the service through his personal valour and firm grasp of tactics and fought in several minor engagements off Toulon and was important in the capture of Corsica and subsequent diplomatic duties with the Italian states. In 1797, he distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.
Shortly after the battle, Nelson took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where his attack was defeated and he was badly wounded, losing his right arm, and was forced to return to England to recuperate. The following year, he won a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile and remained in the Mediterranean to support the Kingdom of Naples against a French invasion.
In 1801, he was dispatched to the Baltic and won another victory, this time over the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen. He subsequently commanded the blockade of the French and Spanish fleets at Toulon and, after their escape, chased them to the West Indies and back but failed to bring them to battle. After a brief return to England, he took over the Cádiz blockade in 1805.
On 21 October 1805, the Franco-Spanish fleet came out of port, and Nelson’s fleet engaged them at the Battle of Trafalgar. The battle was Britain’s greatest naval victory, but during the action Nelson, aboard HMS Victory, was fatally wounded by a French sharpshooter. His body was brought back to England where he was accorded a state funeral.
Nelson’s death at Trafalgar secured his position as one of Britain’s most heroic figures. The significance of the victory and his death during the battle led to his signal, “England expects that every man will do his duty”, being regularly quoted, paraphrased and referenced up to the modern day. Numerous monuments, including Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London, and the Nelson Monument in Edinburgh, have been created in his memory and his legacy remains highly influential.