|Sir Geoffrey Hornby|
Sir Geoffrey Hornby
10 February 1825|
|Died||3 March 1895
Lordington House, Sussex
|Years of service||1837–1895|
|Rank||Admiral of the Fleet|
|Commands held||Portsmouth Command
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
West Africa Squadron
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath|
|Relations||Admiral Sir Phipps Hornby (father)
James John Hornby (brother)
Edmund Phipps-Hornby (son)
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Thomas Phipps Hornby GCB (10 February 1825 – 3 March 1895) was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer, he saw action at the capture of Acre in November 1840 during the Egyptian–Ottoman War. As a captain he arrived at Vancouver Island with a naval brigade and found that a unit of American troops was about to take over the San Juan Islands in a dispute known as the Pig War: he used his powers of diplomacy to facilitate a peaceful handover of the islands to the United States.
Hornby went on to be Commander-in-Chief, West Africa Squadron, Commander-in-Chief of the Flying Squadron and then Commander-in-Chief, Channel Squadron. After that he became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and finally Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.
Born the son of Admiral Sir Phipps Hornby and Sophia Maria Hornby (daughter of General John Burgoyne), Hornby was educated at Winwick Grammar School and Southwood's School in Plymouth and joined the Royal Navy in March 1837. He was appointed, as a first class volunteer, to the first-rate HMS Princess Charlotte, flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet and saw action at the capture of Acre in November 1840 during the Egyptian–Ottoman War. He transferred to the fourth-rate HMS Winchester, flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station, in August 1842. He went on to be mate in the sixth-rate HMS Cleopatra, in the West Africa Squadron, and took part on anti-slavery operations. Promoted to lieutenant on 15 June 1845, he became flag-lieutenant in the second-rate HMS Asia, flagship of his father, who was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station, in September 1847. He was promoted to commander on 12 January 1850 and to captain on 18 December 1852.
Hornby had no patron once the Aberdeen ministry came to power in December 1852 and instead cared for his father's estate at Lordington and played no part in the Crimean War. Following a change of government, Hornby became commanding officer of the frigate HMS Tribune on the Pacific Station in August 1858. When he arrived at Vancouver Island with a naval brigade, he found that a unit of American troops was about to take over the San Juan Islands in a dispute known as the Pig War. Hornby used his powers of diplomacy to facilitate a peaceful handover of the islands to the United States.
Hornby became commanding officer of the first-rate HMS Neptune in the Mediterranean Fleet in February 1861 and then became flag captain to the Commander-in-chief, Channel Squadron in the second rate HMS Edgar in May 1863. In January 1864 the squadron was instructed to shadow the ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy on route to Prussia and to sink their ships if they bombarded Copenhagen as their answer to the Schleswig-Holstein Question.
Promoted to commodore, he became Commander-in-Chief, West Africa Squadron, with his broad pennant in the frigate HMS Bristol in September 1865. He condemned the independent rulers of West Africa for continuing to supply slaves when all civilised countries except Brazil had abolished slavery.
Promoted to rear admiral on 1 January 1869, Hornby became Commander-in-Chief of the Flying Squadron, with his flag in the frigate HMS Liverpool, in June 1869 and undertook a circumnavigation of the World to demonstrate that Royal Navy could reach any part of the globe. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Channel Squadron, with his flag in the armoured frigate HMS Minotaur, in September 1871 and in that capacity entertained President Ulysses S. Grant at Gibraltar.
Hornby became Second Naval Lord under the Second Disraeli ministry in December 1874 and was promoted to vice admiral on 1 January 1875. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, with his flag in the battleship HMS Alexandra, in January 1877. He forced his way through the Dardanelles, despite Turkish protests, in a display of British naval power intended to deter Russian aggression during the Russo-Turkish War. Sir John Fisher, who served under Hornby in the Mediterranean Fleet, wrote that he was 'the finest Admiral afloat since Nelson. [...] There never lived a more noble character or a greater seaman. He was incomparable'. The naval historian Sir William Clowes, who knew him well, wrote that '... he was a natural diplomatist, and an unrivalled tactician; and, to a singular independence and uprightness of character, he added a mastery of technical detail, and a familiarity with contemporary thought and progress that were unusual in those days among officers of his standing'. Hornby was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 12 August 1878.
Promoted to full admiral on 15 June 1879, Hornby became President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in March 1881 and went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth in November 1882. He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 19 December 1885, appointed First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to the Queen on 18 January 1886 and promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 1 May 1888. He was appointed to the staff of the German emperor Wilhelm II during his visits to England in 1889 and 1890. He retired in February 1895 and died of influenza at Lordington House on 3 March 1895; his ashes were scattered at Compton Church.
In 1853 Hornby married Emily Frances Coles (sister of Captain Cowper Coles), with whom he had three sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Edmund Phipps-Hornby, a major in the artillery, won the Victoria Cross in South Africa in 1900; another, Robert Hornby, became an admiral in the Royal Navy.
- "Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hornby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 118
- Heathcote, p. 119
- The London Gazette: . 5 January 1869. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 8 January 1875. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 120
- Lambert, p. 276
- Lambert, p. 265
- The London Gazette: . 13 August 1878. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 17 June 1879. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 22 December 1885. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 22 January 1886. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 15 May 1888. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 22 February 1895. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6.
- Lambert, Andrew (2008). Admirals. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0571231577.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hornby, Sir Geoffrey Thomas Phipps". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Sir George Wellesley
|Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Sir Beauchamp Seymour
Sir John Tarleton
|Second Naval Lord
Sir Arthur Hood
Sir James Drummond
|Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
Sir Beauchamp Seymour
Sir Charles Shadwell
|President, Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Sir William Luard
Sir Alfred Ryder
Sir George Willes
Sir Astley Key
|First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp
Sir Algernon Lyons