We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Sir  Thomas Troubridge (c.1758–1807), by Samuel DrummondSir Thomas Troubridge (c.1758–1807), by Samuel Drummond
Troubridge, Sir Thomas, first baronet (c.1758–1807), naval officer, born in London, was the only son of Richard Troubridge, a baker of Temple Bar and Cavendish Street, and Elizabeth, née Squinch, of Marylebone. He was educated at St Paul's School, London (1768 – in or before 1773).

Early career

Richard Troubridge became known to Sir Charles Saunders at the Admiralty, who expressed an interest in his son, and while the boy may have made an early merchant voyage to the West Indies, he was certainly entered as able seaman on the Seahorse (24 guns) on 8 October 1773. In her he went to the East Indies where he was rated midshipman (21 March 1774) and master's mate (25 July 1776). In 1780 Troubridge was moved into the Superb (74 guns), flagship of Sir Edward Hughes, after heroic conduct during the capture of the French frigate Sartine. As a result of this activity he was, on 1 January 1781, promoted lieutenant of the Chaser, a newly commissioned small vessel which Hughes had bought in 1778 for the navy. Two months later, on 3 March 1781, he was moved to his old ship, the Seahorse, and in her he was present at the battle off Sadras on 17 February and the battle off Trincomalee on 12 April 1782. On the following day he returned to the Superb as a junior lieutenant, and he was present at Hughes's third and fourth actions against the French. On 10 October 1782 he became first lieutenant of the Superb and on the following day he was promoted commander of the sloop Lizard (10 guns). Just over two months later, on 1 January 1783, he was made post captain in the frigate Active (32 guns), and he took part in Hughes's fifth action off Cuddalore. Hughes appointed him captain of the Defence (74 guns) on 23 December 1783 and in the following November captain of the Sultan, so that he became flag captain to Hughes, with whom he came home, arriving at Spithead on 16 May 1785.

During the Spanish armament of 1790 Troubridge was appointed to the Thames (32 guns) and again went out to the East Indies under Commodore Cornwallis. On his return to England two years later he was appointed to the Castor (32 guns). Just over a year later, on 10 May 1794, he was captured with the convoy by part of the French Brest fleet while convoying fourteen merchant vessels from the Channel Islands to Newfoundland. The Castor was retaken three weeks later but Troubridge had been moved to the French flagship Sans Pareil (80 guns) and in her was present at the battle of 1 June 1794. He had been imprisoned in the bosun's storeroom, ‘where he amused himself in pouring forth every invective against the French and the man appointed to guard him’, and on hearing the Sans Pareil's mainmast go overboard ‘began to jump and caper with all the gestures of a maniac’ (Kennedy, 80). When she surrendered Troubridge hauled down her colours and then saw to necessary repairs before taking her into port. Shortly after this he was appointed to the Culloden (74 guns) which in February 1795 was part of Lord Howe's command, convoying the East and West India fleets through the channel and then cruising off Brest.

Career under Lord St Vincent

Troubridge's activity was given more scope when Sir John Jervis became commander-in-chief in 1796. Jervis had not previously met Troubridge but his letters to Lord Spencer began to record Troubridge's merits. He was employed with an inshore squadron watching Toulon so successfully that for five months no French ship escaped. He and Horatio Nelson, friends since serving together in the Seahorse, were the captains on whom Jervis relied for important detached operations. Jervis thought Troubridge capable of commanding the fleet and once declared him ‘the best Bayard of the British Navy: the ablest adviser and best executive officer, with honour and courage bright as his sword’ (Tucker, 2.402–3).

At the battle of Cape St Vincent (14 February 1797) the Culloden led the British line and was the first to open fire on the Spanish ships and to pass through the gap which opened between them. Troubridge anticipated Jervis's signal to tack in succession, which would bring him round to encounter the larger of the two divisions into which the Spanish fleet was now split. He acknowledged the order as the signal for it appeared aboard the Victory, swinging his ship on the opposite tack. Jervis was delighted. ‘Look at Troubridge there!’ he urged the master:
He tacks his ship in battle as if the eyes of England were upon him; and would to God they were, for they would see him to be, what I know him to be, and, by Heaven, sir, what the Dons will soon feel him to be! (Lloyd, 68)
In July 1797 the Culloden formed part of a small squadron—four ships of the line, three frigates, and a cutter—detached under Nelson for an attack on Santa Cruz at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The plan had been first to take the fort between the landing place and the town, and, once successful, summon the governor to surrender the garrison and town of Santa Cruz. Bad weather prevented the ships arriving before daylight and all surprise was lost, but Nelson determined to press on. Forces under Troubridge were landed to take the heights above the fort, while Nelson with his ships attempted to stand in and bombard the garrison. But the Spaniards occupied the heights, local currents prevented the British ships getting sufficiently close to act, and the attempt was unsuccessful. Nelson faced a similar reversal shortly afterwards during a direct night assault on the town on 25 July.

The Spaniards were well prepared and successfully counter-attacked. Nelson himself was seriously wounded and at daylight Troubridge, who was left on shore in command, found himself in the presence of a numerically overwhelming force which rapidly surrounded his men. In an act of tremendous bluff or impertinent defiance he sent Captain Samuel Hood with a flag of truce to the governor, threatening that if the Spanish forces advanced further he would burn down the town. If the governor would provide them with boats the British would withdraw peacefully, but they must have an answer within five minutes. The governor accepted the terms, inviting Hood and Troubridge to dinner and allowing the detachment to march to the embarkation with drums beating and colours flying. But the expedition was a costly failure while Britain remained excluded from the Mediterranean.

A French expedition from Toulon early in 1798 posed a threat which could not, however, be ignored. On 24 May 1798 Troubridge, in the Culloden, was sent as one of a squadron of ten sail of the line by Jervis (now earl of St Vincent) into the Mediterranean to reinforce Nelson, already searching for the French fleet [see ]. The French were eventually discovered on the evening of 1 August, moored in Abu Qir Bay at the mouth of the Nile, and the British fleet attacked immediately, forming its line as it entered the bay. Troubridge, who had been some distance astern, was pressing forward to get into station when the Culloden struck heavily on the shoal which runs out from Abu Qir Island. All efforts to get her off failed and they were forced to watch the battle without being able to take part in it. This was a bitter disappointment. Culloden was got off the next day, though her rudder was torn away and she was making 7 feet of water an hour. But Troubridge was an excellent and resourceful seaman and patched her up sufficiently for her to limp to Naples with the French prizes.

Troubridge's depression at missing the action was increased by news, received en route to Naples, of the death of his wife. Troubridge had married Frances Richardson, the widow of ‘Governor’ Richardson and daughter of Captain John Northall, on 20 December 1787. She died on 13 June 1798 and was buried at St Andrew's Church, Plymouth, leaving two children: , Troubridge's heir, and a daughter, Charlotte. The weeks that followed, spent in repairing the damage to his own and the other English ships, exacerbated his nerves and his letters are full of complaints and violent diatribes about the neutral American vessels which hid English deserters, the dilatoriness of the Portuguese ships acting as British allies, and the cheating and laziness of the Neapolitans.

Relations with the Neapolitans

In October 1798 the king of Naples, with promises of Austrian support, attacked Leghorn. Having conveyed the troops there Nelson returned to Naples, leaving Troubridge in command of a force which was unwilling to act vigorously and whose commanders he suspected of taking bribes. At first Troubridge had longed to be useful to the Neapolitan government, was delighted that King Ferdinand and his troops had taken possession of Rome, and called for ‘a war if possible of extermination as long as a Frenchman is left alive’ (Troubridge to Sir William Hamilton, November 1798, BL, Egerton MS 2638, fols. 377–8). But when the Neapolitans fled before the French counter-attack and advance on Naples, which forced the court, government, and many refugees to flee to Sicily in December 1798, his opinions changed.

By the time of his arrival at Palermo (1 January 1799) Troubridge was convinced that the Admiralty disapproved of his conduct on 1 August, since he had not received the gold medal awarded to all the captains who had fought at the battle of the Nile. Both Lord St Vincent and Nelson urged Lord Spencer, first lord of the Admiralty, to redress this slight, arguing that, through no fault of his own, Troubridge had been unable to take part in the battle. For Nelson he was ‘the most meritorious sea-officer of his standing in the service’ (Ralfe, 4.404) while St Vincent considered him ‘the greatest man in his walk that the English navy ever produced’ (Corbett, 2.472). This energetic lobbying had the desired effect and Troubridge learnt, while off Alexandria, that he was to have his medal. He returned to Palermo on 17 March 1799 and on 31 March was detached by Nelson, with three ships of the line, to take the islands of Ischia, Procida, and Capri in the Bay of Naples, preventing the French getting supplies and enforcing the allied blockade of Naples. By noon on 3 April he had succeeded. By the beginning of May the French began to evacuate Naples and success seemed in sight.

The arrival of a French fleet under Bruix in the Mediterranean led to Troubridge's recall to Palermo, so that it was not until mid-June that he was able to return to Naples. The Neapolitan rebels had surrendered and the French garrison in St Elmo Castle alone held out. Troubridge, charged with its capture, took the castle in ten days and immediately left with 1000 seamen and marines to take the French garrison left at Capua. When Troubridge returned, successfully, to Naples in July, Nelson appointed him senior officer with a broad pendant and ordered him to reduce the remaining French garrisons at Rome and Civita Vecchia. He did so, warning the commander of the latter that Russian troops under Marshal Suvorov were approaching and that all prisoners taken by them were invariably sent to Siberia. Such savage humour expressed Troubridge's mood. Although he was granted a baronetcy on 23 November 1799 as a reward for retaking Naples and awarded the newly created order of St Ferdinand and Merit by Ferdinand, Troubridge was thoroughly disillusioned with the Neapolitans. No supplies had been forthcoming from them for the virtually starving inhabitants of Procida, Ischia, and Capri, whom Troubridge had supplied at his own expense. He became increasingly embittered by his experiences during the siege of Malta, where he arrived on 15 December 1799, with troops from Messina. In the following months he begged Nelson and Sir William Hamilton to get the Neapolitans to send money and supplies to help the Maltese, without success. Condemnation of the Neapolitan court was mixed with complaints and abuse of fellow officers in terms, and in handwriting, which became increasingly uncontrolled.

In February, when he was ill with jaundice and fever, Troubridge acknowledged he felt too deeply and ‘that I hate myself for staying in the country, the more I think of what has pass'd the more I am disgusted’ (Troubridge to Hamilton, 7 Feb 1800, BL, Egerton MS 2638, fols. 445–6). He longed to see and confide in Nelson and found the latter's suggestion that he might settle at Bronte inexplicable. But Troubridge, who had been Nelson's most intimate friend and confidant, was vainly struggling against the stronger influence of Lady Hamilton. He remained virtually in command of the blockade at Malta, until Culloden was finally ordered home in May 1800. He had hopes that Sir William Hamilton, now replaced as ambassador to Naples, might come to Malta and go home with him, and that Nelson, who had chosen to return home on grounds of ill health, would hoist his flag in the Culloden and travel with them. But Troubridge went home alone.

Worsening relations with Nelson and political career

Despite expressing his need for a rest, within three weeks Troubridge was appointed flag captain to St Vincent in the Channel Fleet. St Vincent was engaged in introducing the discipline of the Mediterranean Fleet he had so successfully commanded into that of the channel, despite the resistance and resentment of many of its captains. Troubridge, the ideal executive officer, was admirably suited to this task. Believing in the virtue of strict discipline, devoted to the service, and contemptuous of anyone not as devoted and professional as himself, he thoroughly supported St Vincent's measures and his troubled emotions must have been soothed by the approbation of ‘the Chief’ as he usually referred to St Vincent. Troubridge had been very upset by his differences and misunderstandings with Nelson, so he was deeply grateful when Nelson persuaded the Neapolitan government to pay Troubridge an annual pension of £500. However, on meeting Nelson in London, Troubridge saw enough of the Hamilton–Nelson ménage to realize that the relationship was permanent, though he perhaps did not realize its strength.

In February 1801 St Vincent became first lord of the Admiralty in Addington's government. He appointed Troubridge one of the Admiralty commissioners, a position he held from 19 February 1801 to 15 May 1804. His relationship with Nelson now began to cool. Although still a friend, Troubridge, as a commissioner, was technically Nelson's superior. Instead of being allowed to return home after the victory at Copenhagen, Nelson was appointed commander-in-chief in the Baltic. When he finally came home, in June 1801, he was given command of a squadron of frigates and gun boats, defending the south-east coast from a French invasion force at Boulogne. St Vincent, and particularly Troubridge, correctly argued that public fears were calmed by Nelson's presence, but Nelson interpreted these appointments (with some justification) as pretexts to separate him from Lady Hamilton. When his requests for the promotion of protégés were delayed and sometimes rejected, he grew more angry. He dismissed Troubridge's pleas that the Admiralty's problems with promotion were considerable.

Troubridge, who wrote almost daily to Nelson in August and September 1801, made every effort to please. But he was deeply upset by Nelson's accusations of enmity and prejudice, protesting that his gratitude to Nelson was considerable, that his whole study since at the Admiralty had been ‘to act in every [way] regular’ and pay attention to Nelson's interests. ‘I really feel so much hurt and particularly at the latter part [of Nelson's letter] when you say you never had but one real Friend, I know many hundreds who certainly are firm friends to your Lordship’ (17 Aug 1801, NMM, CRK/13, T32–86). A further angry letter in which Nelson declared that the Admiralty would envy any success he had, brought a distraught response from Troubridge, accusing unknown enemies of poisoning Nelson's mind against his true friends, and declaring himself ‘so unhinged’ by this unmerited charge that he was distressed beyond measure. ‘I really wish myself out of this’, he declared soon after: ‘I am ruining my health and losing my friends tho' I feel conscious that I have acted religiously upright’ (ibid., 20 Aug and 9 Sept 1801).

Nelson was deaf to these appeals. A cold hostility now informed his view of Troubridge. He wrote most bitterly to Emma Hamilton that Troubridge owed him everything, not merely the gold medal but ‘tithes, the colonelcy of marines, diamond boxes from the King of Naples, 1000 ounces of money for no expenses that I know of’, plus the Neapolitan pension, and that he now showed his ingratitude (Kennedy, 265). Although Nelson took Troubridge's son, Edward, into the Victory as a midshipman in 1803, at his father's request, this was, on his part, the virtual end to a twenty-eight-year friendship.

As an Admiralty commissioner Troubridge entered enthusiastically into the exposure and redress of abuses in the civil departments of the navy, to which St Vincent was committed. With St Vincent and John Markham he formed a triumvirate committed to rooting out corruption (much of it imagined), by force if necessary. His letters reveal his hard work and his almost frenzied contempt for wrongdoers. Once again there were diatribes against ‘jobs’, and trenchant accusations of bribery against named individuals. His letters sometimes show an unpleasant zest in discovering and exposing such people, reminiscent of his gloating enjoyment over the punishment of rebels and French sympathizers at Naples and Malta. In Troubridge's eyes all were similarly guilty of treachery and undermining the established social order.

To strengthen his political position St Vincent wanted Troubridge in the House of Commons and had undertaken to find him a seat. In October 1801 he sent him, with his nephew Thomas Jervis, to canvass Yarmouth, which he himself had once represented to the satisfaction of the borough and to where Troubridge was returned in 1802, without a contest. During his four years as an MP he never took an active part in the Commons, speaking only once, on 29 February 1804. This was perhaps as well. During the Admiralty's investigation of abuses at Chatham Dockyard, St Vincent was anxious that the disclosures should not provoke a Commons debate in which Troubridge would take too violent and partisan a part.

On 16 March 1803 references were made in the Commons to the fact that Troubridge had been in the City earlier that month and sold out £40,000 of stock. Since he had advance news of an intended press of seamen, which foreshadowed renewed war with France, the inference was of improper use of news for his financial advantage. Admiral Markham refuted the charge on Troubridge's behalf, declaring that the latter's broker had complete authority to deal in his client's stock on any market fall, since Troubridge was engaged in buying an estate. Markham declared Troubridge ‘spotless’ and moved for a committee of inquiry. Addington, the prime minister, contributed a further explanation and the matter was dropped. But this left lingering suspicions which professional and political enemies were glad to believe and may help to explain Troubridge's references in his letters to Nelson about his pure motives and his claims that his job was ruining both his health and peace of mind.

Troubridge was created rear-admiral of the blue on 23 April 1804, just before Addington's government resigned. He was angry with Addington for supporting William Pitt's succeeding ministry. Because of the bitter political feelings stirred up by St Vincent's reforms, he did not ask for employment from the new Admiralty since he thought it unlikely they would offer it. In August he and St Vincent visited Liverpool and the Lake District. Troubridge, who still tried to keep up a correspondence with Nelson, confessed he was ‘still ahankering for Sea’, wishing he was with Nelson in the Mediterranean, and promising he had lost neither his zeal nor his health and strength (18 Aug 1804, NMM, CRK/13, T32–86). If this was a hint to be asked to join Nelson it was ignored. In February 1805 he still considered ‘lying and scheming … the order of the day … supported openly in the house by ministers’ (ibid., Troubridge to Nelson, 12 Feb 1805) and his next appointment seemed to give some credence to this view.

The East India station

One of the last acts of Addington's ministry, in April 1804, was the appointment of Sir Edward Pellew as commander-in-chief on the East India station. This was, at least in part, a reward for Pellew's support of St Vincent's naval policy in the Commons debates in March 1804. Such support had made an enemy of Pitt and Lord Melville, first lord of the Admiralty, but Pellew's seat in the Commons saved him from immediate reprisals, and he sailed in July 1804 in the Culloden. By January 1805 Addington had joined Pitt's ministry, making a condition that the members of St Vincent's Admiralty board should be ‘provided for’. It was unclear to whom this would apply, but Troubridge, though angry and hostile, wished for his son's promotion and was open to offers from the ministry. Hopes of introducing successful reforms on the East India station may also have contributed to his decision. Letters to Admiral Sir C. M. Pole in 1802–3 indicate Troubridge was already concerned with reform there. So when the government, dividing the East India command in two, and reducing Pellew's authority, offered Troubridge one half and his choice of flagship, he accepted, hoisting his flag, in March, in the Blenheim, a former three-decked ship, now cut down to carry 74 guns.

He sailed on 27 April 1805 with a convoy of eleven East Indiamen and leaving Madagascar, fell in with the French admiral Linois, in the Marengo, on 6 August. Linois at first thought the British ships were an undefended convoy, but on identifying the Blenheim he made off. Troubridge arrived at Madras on 22 August. Here he met Pellew who was, as rear-admiral of the white, senior to Troubridge and prepared for confrontation. Troubridge showed Pellew his orders, to take half Pellew's squadron and to command east of a line due south from the Point de Galle on the south-west coast of Ceylon. Such division, as well as causing friction between senior officers, put the whole squadron at risk during the monsoon season, was strategically inept, and was dictated by political malice. Troubridge never imagined that Pellew would disobey Admiralty orders. But he did so, taking Troubridge under his command, despite the latter's violent protests.

After a few days the admirals no longer met but exchanged notes. Troubridge rejected the first compromise Pellew suggested, but when they came together at Penang (Prince of Wales Island) with their respective convoys, on 25 September 1805, he agreed to consider Pellew's written proposals. These offered Troubridge all the ships assigned to him, except in emergency; suggested that the boundary between the two stations should be modified to bring Madras and Trincomalee, essential harbours for a western squadron during the monsoon, under Pellew's command; and suggested that they share the patronage and emoluments equally between them. Troubridge, whose feelings must have been exacerbated by seeing his former ship, the Culloden, now the flagship of his rival, received these decent solutions on 27 September and rejected them the following day. At a final meeting on 30 September Pellew declared he would, nevertheless, act on this basis. The two men never spoke to each other again.

On 1 October 1805 Pellew received secret and incorrect news of a French squadron on its way to India. Without giving the details to Troubridge he informed him that the imminent danger necessitated a concentration of forces and proceeded to Madras, where he wrote to the Admiralty, protesting at the division of his command. Troubridge was given the choice of convoying the China trade in the Blenheim, or remaining, without her, at Penang, where he would fly his flag in the only ship left, the sloop Rattlesnake (18 guns). He chose the latter option but his emotions can only be imagined and can hardly have been soothed by his promotion to rear-admiral of the white (9 November 1805).

But events in Britain were resolving an impossible situation. Lord Melville fell from office in 1805 and Pitt died in January 1806. A ministry more favourable to both Pellew and Troubridge now took office, to confront the scandal of two senior officers so publicly quarrelling. In a navy all too prone to faction, some were shocked by Pellew's disobedience, notably St Vincent who sided with Troubridge. The government finally decided to restore Pellew to his original, undivided command and to make Troubridge commander-in-chief at the Cape of Good Hope, recently taken from the Dutch. This news was sent on 23 April 1806.

In the meantime Troubridge remained at Penang without news of Pellew. He ‘saw nothing to hinder us from Launching 74-Gun Ships, Frigates and Sloops, Admiralty and one or two large Ships for the Company besides’ (Parkinson, Edward Pellew, 359), though the money sent out to build them would need strict control. Troubridge still anticipated reforming the navy's civil establishment at Madras. He later accused Pellew of keeping him out of the command ‘because I would not give him up the Control of the Civil Departments which I thought wanted much correction’ (Troubridge to Admiral Sir Francis Fremantle, 25 June 1806?, Fremantle papers, D/FR/32/4). The rumours of an approaching French force had proved false and Troubridge's squadron returned to him. In August 1806 they took two Dutch prizes, an action in which his son Edward took part. Troubridge made him acting captain into one of the prizes, writing to friends at the Admiralty to get him confirmed.

News of the Admiralty decision in Pellew's favour arrived in October, though the official confirmation did not come until January 1807 and proved a shattering blow. Troubridge had believed that the new Admiralty would decide in his favour and was mortified by the news. Moreover he was merely notified of his transfer, the Admiralty leaving Pellew to give him his instructions and sailing orders, including the ships assigned him. This would not have included the Blenheim, old, worn out, and badly damaged the previous year in the strait of Malacca. In a letter to Fremantle in June 1806 he had declared he would return home if unsupported by the Admiralty, ‘marry and live quiet and enjoy my friends’ (Fremantle papers, D/FR/32/4), and Pellew told Admiral Markham in mid-October that Troubridge reportedly talked of going home with his prize money rather than to the Cape. Whatever he intended and despite his captain's protests, Troubridge sailed from Madras on 12 January 1807 in the Blenheim, taking with him the Java (36 guns), a worn out Dutch prize, and the brig Harrier (18 guns). Pellew arrived ten days later.

On 1 February 1807 Troubridge's ships were caught in a cyclone near the south-east end of Madagascar. When last seen by the Harrier, both the Blenheim and the Java had hoisted distress signals and the Blenheim was visibly settling in the water, but the Harrier herself was in great danger and could do nothing. She lost sight of them in a violent squall and no doubt both of them foundered. When the news reached India in June, Pellew sent Troubridge's son in the Greyhound to make inquiries. The French governor of Mauritius gave every help and sent an account of pieces of wreck cast ashore in different places, but nothing could be identified as belonging to either of the missing ships. Rumours that survivors had been seen in Madagascar, and vicious gossip that Pellew had somehow insisted Troubridge take the Blenheim and had refused him a better ship, were equally unfounded.


Though Troubridge lacked the qualities which make a great commander, his professionalism and abilities, as a seaman and an executive officer, were unsurpassed. Nelson, writing to St Vincent in September 1798, urging that Troubridge be allowed to remain with him, confessed ‘I know he is my superior: and I so often want his advice and assistance’ (Dispatches and Letters, 3.133–4). Troubridge's tragedy was that after Naples and the arrival of Lady Hamilton his advice was sought less and less and the assistance eventually rejected. The friendship with Nelson seems the key to Troubridge's emotional and to some degree his professional life. The rupture of that friendship drove him at times to despair. It is apparent that the rigid naval framework of discipline was essential to him and that he regarded the established order as sacrosanct. Threats to them, from mutiny, from inefficiency and indifference, and from corruption made him, as he often wrote, ‘mad with rage’. Troubridge's view, common to most naval officers, was that the role of seamen was to obey without offering opinions. When he was asked by Lord Eldon how he could detect a mutineer, Troubridge replied ‘whenever I see a fellow look as if he was thinking, I say that's mutiny’ (HoP, Commons, 1790–1820, 5.417). This attitude to the lower deck was that of St Vincent rather than of Nelson.

Troubridge had risen by his own merits, with little patronage to help him and from a humbler background than many service contemporaries. Pellew's description, to a confidential friend, of Troubridge as ‘un garcon patisser (sic) from St Martin's Lane’, and his further comments on Troubridge as ‘a weak man—entirely commanded by his passion; who is every week dishonouring himself by striking some of his Midshipmen or anybody else who comes in his way’ (Parkinson, Edward Pellew, 367), implied that Troubridge's lack of control could be attributed to his humble background. Pellew's remarks certainly describe a man suffering severe stress and present a sadly recognizable picture to those who read Troubridge's letters, though Pellew admitted that even brothers could not have agreed in their situation.

Little is known of Troubridge's early life or family background. Most of his personal and many of his professional papers have not survived. The intemperance of his language and occasionally of his behaviour, and his frequent emphasis on his strong feelings, indicate an emotionalism which make Troubridge more of a Byronic hero than he would have liked. He would have despised such an image. His unnecessary death was largely the result of his impatient desire to escape from an intolerable situation, disregarding professional protests which he knew were well founded. His courage and daring were unquestioned. Writing to Sir William Hamilton on 31 March 1800 he confessed, ‘Death does not give me much concern. I meet him cheerfully’ (BL, Egerton MS 2638, fol. 459). The finest and happiest period of his career was serving under St Vincent in the Mediterranean, when the latter's victory and the subsequent search for the French fleet, culminating in the battle of the Nile, allowed his active nature full play. United in a common purpose with fellow seamen he respected, faced with difficulties it was a joy to overcome, serving commanders he admired and loved, undistracted by non-professional matters, Troubridge found his true vocation.

P. K. Crimmin


DNB · J. Ralfe, The naval biography of Great Britain, 4 (1828), 397–421 · R. G. Thorne, ‘Troubridge, Sir Thomas’, HoP, Commons, 1790–1820 · Naval Chronicle, 23 (1810), 1–29 · D. Syrett and R. L. DiNardo, The commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660–1815, rev. edn, Occasional Publications of the Navy RS, 1 (1994) · Troubridge's corresp. with Nelson, BL, Add. MSS 34902, 34906–34917 · St Vincent's letters, vol. 3, 1799–1801, BL, Add. MS 34940 · corresp. of William Hamilton, 1767–1800, BL, Egerton MS 2638 · T. Troubridge, letters to Nelson, NMM, Croker collection, CRK/13, T32–86, 1801–5 · The dispatches and letters of Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, ed. N. H. Nicolas, 7 vols. (1844–6) · L. Kennedy, Nelson's band of brothers (1951) · C. N. Parkinson, Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth, admiral of the red (1934) · C. N. Parkinson, War in the eastern seas, 1793–1815 (1954) · letters, 1806–7, CBS, Fremantle papers, D/FR/32/4 and 5 · GEC, Baronetage · J. S. Tucker, Memoirs of Admiral the Rt Hon. the earl of St Vincent, 2 vols. (1844) · D. Lyon, The sailing navy list: all the ships of the Royal Navy, built, purchased and captured, 1688–1860 (1993) · Private papers of George, second Earl Spencer, ed. J. S. Corbett and H. W. Richmond, 2, Navy RS, 48 (1924) · C. Lloyd, St Vincent and Camperdown (1963) [British Battles ser.]


BL, corresp. with Sir William Hamilton, Egerton MS 2638 · BL, corresp. with Lord Nelson, Add. MSS 34902–34917, 34940 · BL, letters to General Rainsford, Add. MS 23670 · CBS, corresp. with Admiral Fremantle · NL Scot., letters to Sir Thomas Graham · NMM, letters to Lord Nelson, CRK/13, T32–86 · NMM, papers of Sir C. M. Pole, letters, WYN/103


W. Bromley, J. Landseer, and Leney, group portrait, line engraving, pubd 1803 (Victors of the Nile; after Victors of the Nile by R. Smirke), BM, NPG · Worthington and Parker, group portrait, line engraving, pubd 1803 (Commemoration of the 14th February 1797; after Naval victories by R. Smirke), BM, NPG · W. Beechey, oils, c.1804–1805, NMM · H. R. Cook, stipple (after oils by S. Drummond), BM; repro. in Naval Chronicle · S. Drummond, oils, priv. coll. [see illus.]