Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood

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Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood
Northcote, Samuel Hood.jpg
1784 portrait by James Northcote
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Rank Admiral
Battles/wars Battle of the Chesapeake, 1781
Battle of the Nile, 1798
For other related uses, see Admiral Hood

Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood (12 December 172427 January 1816) was a British Admiral.


Early life

The son of Samuel Hood, vicar of Butleigh in Somerset, and prebendary of Wells, Samuel the younger entered the Royal Navy on 6 May 1741.


He served part of his time as midshipman with Rodney in the Ludlow, and became a lieutenant in 1746. He was fortunate in serving under active officers, and had opportunities to see service in the North Sea. In 1754, he was made commander of the sloop Jamaica and served in her on the North American station. In July 1756, while still on the North American station, he took command of the sloop HMS Lively.

Later that year Hood was promoted to Post Captain and given command of HMS Grafton. In 1757, while in temporary command of Antelope (50 guns), he drove a French ship ashore in Audierne Bay, and captured two privateers. His zeal attracted the favourable notice of the Admiralty and he was appointed to a ship of his own.

In 1759, when captain of the Vestal (32), he captured the French Bellone (32) after a sharp action. During the war, his services were wholly in the Channel, and he was engaged under Rodney in 1759 in destroying the vessels collected by the French to serve as transports in the proposed invasion of England.

In 1778, he accepted a command which in the ordinary course would have terminated his active career, becoming Commissioner of the dockyard at Portsmouth and governor of the Naval Academy. These posts were generally given to officers who were retiring from the sea.

American Revolutionary years

In 1778, on the occasion of the King's visit to Portsmouth, Hood was made a baronet.

Many admirals had declined to serve under Lord Sandwich, and Rodney, who then commanded in the West Indies, had complained of a lack of proper support from his subordinates, whom he accused of disaffection. The Admiralty, anxious to secure the services of trustworthy flag officers, promoted Hood to rear-admiral on 26 September 1780, and sent him to the West Indies to act as second in command under Rodney, who knew him personally. He joined Rodney in January 1781 in his flagship Barfleur, and remained in the West Indies or on the coast of North America until the close of the War of American Independence.

The expectation that he would work harmoniously with Rodney was not entirely justified. Their correspondence shows that they were not on friendly terms; but Hood always did his duty, and he was so able that no question of removing him from the station ever arose. The unfortunate turn taken by the campaign of 1781 was largely due to Rodney's neglect of Hood's advice. If he had been allowed to choose his own position, he could have prevented the Comte de Grasse from reaching Fort Royal with the reinforcements from France in April.

When Rodney decided to return to England for the sake of his health in the autumn of 1781, Hood was ordered to take the bulk of the fleet to the North American coast during the hurricane months. Hood joined Admiral Thomas Graves in the unsuccessful effort to relieve the army at Yorktown, when the British fleet was driven off by the French Admiral, the Comte de Grasse, at the Battle of the Chesapeake.

When he returned to the West Indies, he was for a time in independent command owing to Rodney's absence in England. De Grasse attacked the British islands of St Kitts and Nevis with a force much superior to Hood's squadron.

Hood made an unsuccessful attempt in January 1782 to save them from capture, with 22 ships to 29, and the series of bold movements by which he first turned the French out of their anchorage at Basseterre of St Kitts and then beat off their attacks, were the most brilliant accomplishments of any British admiral during the war.

Later career

Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood, from the painting by L.F. Abbott, in the National Portrait Gallery

Hood was made an Irish peer for his share in the defeat of the Comte de Grasse on 9 April and 12 April near Dominica.

During the peace, he entered Parliament as Member for Westminster in the election of 1784, was promoted to vice-admiral in 1787, and in July 1788, was appointed to the Board of Admiralty under the Second Earl of Chatham.

On the outbreak of the French Revolution, he was sent to the Mediterranean Sea as Commander-in-Chief. His period of command, which lasted from May 1793 to October 1794, was very busy. In August, he occupied Toulon on the invitation of the French royalists, in co-operation with the Spaniards. In December of the same year, the allies, who did not work harmoniously together, were driven out, mainly by the generalship of Napoleon.

Hood then turned to the occupation of Corsica, which he had been invited to take in the name of the King of England by Paoli. The island was for a short time added to the dominions of George III, chiefly by the exertions of the fleet and the co-operation of Paoli.

While the occupation of Corsica was being effected, the French at Toulon had so far recovered that they were able to send a fleet to sea. In June, Hood sailed in the hope of bringing it to action. The plan which he laid to attack it in the Golfe Jouan in June may possibly have served to some extent as an inspiration, if not as a model, to Nelson (who has been recorded as saying that Hood was "the greatest sea officer I ever knew.") for the Battle of the Nile, but the wind was unfavourable, and the attack could not be carried out.

In October, he was recalled to England in consequence of some misunderstanding with the admiralty or the ministry, which has never been explained.

He attained the rank of full Admiral in April 1794. However, he held no further command at sea. In 1796, he was named governor of Greenwich Hospital, which he held until his death.

A peerage of Great Britain was conferred on his wife, Susanna, as Baroness Hood of Catherington in 1795, and he was himself created Viscount Hood of Whitley in 1796. The titles descended to his son, Henry (1753–1836), the ancestor of the present Viscount Hood.

There are several portraits of Lord Hood by Abbot in the Guildhall and in the National Portrait Gallery. He was also painted by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.


A biographical notice of Hood by McArthur, his secretary during the Mediterranean command, appeared in the Naval Chronicle, vol. ii. Charnock's Biogr. Nay. vi., Ralfe, Nav. Biog. i., may also be consulted. His correspondence during his command in America was published by the Navy Record Society.

The history of his campaigns will be found in the historians of the wars in which he served: for the earlier years, Beatson's Naval and Military Memoirs; for the later, James's Naval History, vol. i., for the English side, and for the French, Troudes, Batailles navales de la France, ii. and iii., and Chevalier's Histoire de la marine française pendant Ia guerre de l'indépendance américaine and Pendant Ia République.

In 1792, Lieutenant William Broughton, sailing with the expedition of George Vancouver to the Northwest Coast of North America, named Mount Hood in present-day Oregon, and Hood's Canal in present-day Washington, for Hood.

Two of the three ships of the Royal Navy named HMS Hood were named after him as well, including HMS Hood (51), sunk by the Bismarck in 1941 during World War II.

See also

Several other members of the Hood family were notable officers of the Royal Navy:


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
New Creation
Viscount Hood
Succeeded by
Henry Hood