Vernon, Sir Edward
- J. K. Laughton
- , revised by Nicholas Tracy
Vernon, Sir Edward (1723–1794), naval officer, was born on 30 October 1723, the fourth son of Henry Vernon (1663–1732), a politician, of Hilton, Staffordshire, and Penelope (d. 1726), daughter and coheir of Robert Phillips of Newton Regis, Warwickshire. Richard Vernon was Edward's younger brother and Admiral Edward Vernon (1684–1757) a distant relation. He entered the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth in November 1735, where he remained for three years and three months. He was then appointed a volunteer per order to the Portland, which had as its captain John Byng, whom he followed to the Sunderland, one of the fleet off Cadiz, and in the Mediterranean under Rear-Admiral Nicholas Haddock.
In 1742 Vernon was in the Sutherland, still in the Mediterranean, and he passed his examination on 3 March 1743. On 4 April he was promoted lieutenant of the sloop Granada, and in June 1743 he was appointed to the Berwick, then commissioned by Captain Edward Hawke, with whom he went out to the Mediterranean and was present in the action off Toulon on 11 February 1744. He was promoted commander of the sloop Baltimore on 5 December 1747, and captain of the Mermaid on 3 April 1753. In May 1755 he was appointed to the Lyme (20 guns) which was attached to the fleet in the Bay of Biscay during 1755–6, and in 1757 he was sent out to the Mediterranean with Admiral Henry Osborn. In November of the following year he was moved into the St Albans (64 guns), one of the fleet with Admiral Edward Boscawen when he defeated and destroyed the French fleet on 18–19 August 1759. Between 1760 and 1762 he commanded the Revenge under both Hawke and Boscawen in the Bay of Biscay.
After peace in 1763 Vernon was for some time captain of the Kent, flagship of Vice-Admiral Thomas Pye at Plymouth. In 1770 he successively commanded the guardships Yarmouth and Bellona at Portsmouth, and from March 1771, the Barfleur, Admiral Pye's flagship. Vernon was knighted by George II during a review of the fleet in June 1773. He remained in the Barfleur with Sir James Douglas until May 1775 when he was appointed to the Ramillies as commodore and commander-in-chief at the Nore. In May 1776 he became commander-in-chief in the East Indies, and went out with his broad pennant in the Ripon (60 guns) accompanied by only two small frigates and a corvette. When war with France broke out in 1778, Parker supposed his ships would come under attack from a superior French force. However, a similar sense of limited capability also curbed French action. An indecisive action off Pondicherry on 10 August led to the French squadron's retiring permanently to Mauritius.
Vernon, who was promoted rear-admiral on 19 March 1779, returned to England early in 1781. He had no further service in the navy, but in the spring and summer of 1785 he attracted some notice by making a couple of balloon ascents from Tottenham Court Road, London, descending the first time at Horsham and the second at Colchester. Vernon became vice-admiral on 24 September 1787 and admiral on 12 April 1794; he died a few weeks later on 16 June 1794. After his death his arrears of pay were collected by his widow, Hannah, about whom no further details are known.
- NMM, papers, VER/2
- attrib. F. Hayman, oils, 1755, NMM
- plaster medallion, 1785 (after J. Tassie), Scot. NPG
- H. Singleton, oils, 1791, NMM