Alexander Buller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Alexander Buller
Born (1834-06-30)30 June 1834
Died 3 October 1903(1903-10-03) (aged 69)
Exford, Somerset
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1848–1899
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Modeste
China Station
Battles/wars Crimean War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Admiral Sir Alexander Buller, GCB (30 June 1834 – 3 October 1903) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, China Station.

Early life[edit]

Alexander Buller was born on 30 June 1834, the second son of Rev. Richard Buller, rector of Lanreath, Cornwall, and his wife, Elizabeth Hornby, daughter of John Hornby of Hook, near Titchfield, Hampshire. His father was from a wealthy and well-connected family with a naval tradition; the rector's father, James Buller, was the younger son of John Buller, who owned Morval House, near Looe, Cornwall. This James Buller, who died in 1830, was a Lord of the Admiralty in 1811 and later a Clerk to the Privy Council.[1] [2]

The rectory had previously been occupied by his cousin, another Richard Buller, who had died in 1826[3] and, having graduated from Oriel College, Oxford with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1826 (proceeding to Master of Arts in 1829), Richard Buller succeeded his cousin in 1829.[4] He married his wife the following year and he appears to have brought his children up in the rectory, employing a nurse and later a governess to assist in their upbringing and tutoring.[5][6]

Naval career[edit]

Buller joined the Royal Navy in 1848.[1] He served in the Black Sea during the Crimean War.[1] Promoted to Captain in 1869, he was given command of HMS Modeste in 1874.[7] Buller served in the Naval Brigade as part of the Perak expedition to Malaya in 1875.[1] He became Admiral-Superintendent of Malta Dockyard in 1889.[1]

He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, China Station in 1895.[7] Buller had to respond at this time to the Far Eastern Crisis of 1897/98 when the Russian Pacific Fleet was threatening to attack the Korean port of Chemulpo to back up Russia’s demands for a peacetime coaling station at Deer Island.[8] He dispatched eight warships to Korea and the Russian forces promptly retreated.[8] The fact that the Japanese Government had also put three battleships and ten cruisers at his disposal may have also influenced the outcome.[9] He retired in 1899.[1]

Following the succession of King Edward VII, he was among several retired admirals advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1902 Coronation Honours list published on 26 June 1902,[10][11] and received the insignia in an investiture on board the royal yacht Victoria and Albert outside Cowes on 15 August 1902, the day before the fleet review held there to mark the coronation.[12]

Family and later life[edit]

Admiral Buller married, in 1870, Emily Mary Tritton, a daughter of Henry Tritton of Beddington, Surrey, and had the following issue:[13]

  • Jane Elizabeth Buller (born 1871), who married, in 1892, Major Charles Turner of the 49th Royal Berkshire Regiment.[14]
  • Admiral Sir Henry Tritton Buller GCVO CB (1873 - 1960).[15]
  • Richard Edward Buller (1875 - 1921). Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge.[16]
  • Rear Admiral Francis Alexander Waddilove Buller DSO RN (born 1879) who married, in 1916, Mary Caroline, daughter of Stephen Hammick.[17]
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Cecil Buller (1882 - 1916) who was commissioned into Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and died at Hooge, Belgium, on active service in the First World War.[18]
  • Edward Maxwell Buller (1883 - 1931). Having fought in France during the First World War, he was discharged from the Army in 1917 due to him being "no longer physically fit for war service", and died at the nursing home at Minehead, Somerset.[19]

Through his daughter, he became grandfather to two Victoria Cross recipients, Alexander Buller Turner and Victor Buller Turner.[20]

He inherited the estate of his uncle, Charles Reginald Buller, which included the family seat of Erle Hall,[1] and died at Exford, Somerset, in 1903, aged 69, having been taken ill while hunting.[21][1] King George V telegraphed the Admiralty to express his "deep regret" upon hearing of the news of Buller's death.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Late Admiral Buller", The Straits Times, 3 November 1903, p. 2
  2. ^ Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 1871, vol. i, p. 171
  3. ^ Foster, Alumni Oxonienses: 1715-1886, vol. i, p. 188
  4. ^ Foster, Alumni Oxonienses: 1715-1886, vol. i, p. 188
  5. ^ Census of England and Wales, 1841, Class: HO107, Piece: 153, Book: 7, Civil Parish: Lanreath, County: Cornwall, Enumeration District: 4, Folio: 17, Page: 1, Line: 4, GSU roll: 241274.
  6. ^ "House History", (accessed 6 August 2014).
  7. ^ a b William Loney RN
  8. ^ a b British Imperial Defence Strategy and Russia: The Role of the Royal Navy in the Far East, 1878–1898
  9. ^ Japan's ships for Britain: A Fleet Placed at Admiral Buller's Disposal for Concerted Action Against Russia New York Times, 8 January 1898
  10. ^ "The Coronation Honours". The Times (36804). London. 26 June 1902. p. 5. 
  11. ^ "No. 27448". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1902. p. 4189. 
  12. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36848). London. 16 August 1902. p. 8. 
  13. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1929, p. 255
  14. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1905, p. 183 ; see also 1881 Census (Class: RG11; Piece: 2199; Folio: 87; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1341529) for age then, and her corresponding birth index, Q4 1871, vol. 5b, p. 181 ; marriage notice in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 26 May 1892, p. 6.
  15. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1929, p. 255
  16. ^ Venn and Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, 1940, vol. ii, pt. i, p. 441 ; Civil Registration Indices for England and Wales, birth, Q1 1875, vol. 5b, p. 179.
  17. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1929, p. 255 ; National Archives, ADM 196/44/465
  18. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1905, p. 183 ; bate of birth given therein as 1862 - this appears to be an error; in fact, he was born in 1882, as his birth records show (Index of Civil Registration for England and Wales, Births, Q1 1882, vol. 5b, p. 286). National Probate Calendar, 1917 (listed as "of Erle Hall").
  19. ^ Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, 1929, p. 255 ; WO364, Piece: 501. ; National Probate Calendar 1931.
  20. ^ Yorkshire Evening Post, 21 November 1942, p. 4, confirms they were brothers and that they were the sons of Major and Mrs Charles Turner; "Personal", Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 4 December 1942, p. 4, confirms their relation to the Admiral.
  21. ^ Obituary: Admiral Sir Alexander Buller, The Times, 5 October 1903
  22. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 7 October 1903, p. 6
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Douglas
Admiral Superintendent, Malta Dockyard
Succeeded by
Richard Tracey
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Fremantle
Commander-in-Chief, China Station
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Seymour