John Byron, by Joshua Reynolds, 1758
|Born||8 November 1723|
|Died||10 April 1786|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of Great Britain|
|Commands held||HMS Siren
Byron was the son of William Byron, 4th Baron Byron and Frances Berkeley. He joined the navy in 1731, accompanying George Anson on his circumnavigation of the globe as a midshipman. On 14 May 1741, Byron's ship, HMS Wager, was shipwrecked on the coast of Chile. The survivors decided to split in two teams, one to make its way by boat to Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic coast; the other, John Byron's, to sail North and meet Spaniards.
He later wrote about his adventures and the Wager Mutiny in The Narrative of the Honourable John Byron (1768). His book sold well enough to be printed in several editions. His experiences form the basis of the novel The Unknown Shore by Patrick O'Brian, which closely follows Byron's account.
Seven Years War
In 1760 during the Seven Years' War, Byron commanded a squadron sent to destroy the fortifications at Louisbourg, Quebec, which had been captured by the British two years before. They wanted to ensure it could not be used by the French in Canada. In July of that year he defeated the French flotilla sent to relieve New France at the Battle of Restigouche.
Between June 1764 and May 1766, Byron completed his own circumnavigation of the globe as captain of HMS Dolphin. This was the first such circumnavigation that was accomplished in less than 2 years. During this voyage, in 1765 he took possession of the Falkland Islands on behalf of Britain on the grounds of prior discovery. His action nearly caused a war between Great Britain and Spain, as both countries had armed fleets ready to contest the sovereignty of the barren islands. Later Byron encountered islands and extant residents of the Tuamotus and Tokelau Islands, and Nikunau in the southern Gilbert Islands; he also visited Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands.
In 1769 he was appointed governor of Newfoundland off the mainland of Canada, an office he held for the next three years. He was promoted to rear admiral on 31 March 1775, and vice admiral on 29 January 1778.
In 1778 and 1779, he served as Commander-in-chief of the British fleet in the West Indies during the American War of Independence. He unsuccessfully attacked a French fleet under the Comte d'Estaing at the Battle of Grenada in July 1779. Byron was briefly Commander-in-Chief, North American Station from 1 October 1779.
On 8 September 1748 he married Sophia Trevanion, daughter of John Trevanion of Caerhays in Cornwall, by whom he had two sons and seven daughters, three of whom died in infancy. Their eldest son, John "Mad Jack" Byron, in turn fathered the poet George Gordon Byron, the future 6th Baron Byron. John Byron was also the grandfather of George Anson Byron, another admiral and explorer and later the 7th Baron Byron. He was the brother of Hon. George Byron, married to Frances Levett, daughter of Elton Levett of Nottingham, a descendant of Ambrose Elton, Esq., High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1618 and a surgeon in Nottingham.
- Baron Byron
- Cape Byron in Australia, named after Byron
- List of Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governors
- List of people of Newfoundland and Labrador
- European and American voyages of scientific exploration
- W. A. B. Douglas. "BYRON, JOHN". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- "Circumnavigation: Notable global maritime circumnavigations". Solarnavigator.net. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
- Officer on Board the Said Ship. (1767). A voyage round the world in His Majesty’s Ship the ‘Dolphin’, commanded by the honourable commodore Byron. London: J. Newbery and F. Newbery.
- James Gambier, "John Byron", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- The Genealogy of the Existing British Peerage with Brief Histories of the Family Histories of the Nobility, Edmund Lodge, London, 1832. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
- A Genealogical Account of the Mayo and Elton Families of the Counties of Wilts and Hereford, Charles Herbert Mayo, London, 1882. Books.google.com. 2006-06-26. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Byron, Hon. John.|
- Biography of John Byron at thePeerage.com
- Biography at Government House The Governorship of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia - HMS Dolphin
- "Byron, John". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900.
Sir Hugh Palliser
|Commodore Governor of Newfoundland
|Commander-in-Chief, North American Station