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Lyons, Sir Algernon McLennanlocked

  • L. G. C. Laughton
  • , revised by Roger Morriss

Lyons, Sir Algernon McLennan (1833–1908), naval officer, born at Bombay on 30 August 1833, was the second son of Lieutenant-General Humphrey Lyons (1802–1873), officer in the Indian army, and his first wife, Eliza, daughter of Henry Bennett. Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons was his uncle. After education at a private school at Twickenham, Middlesex, he entered the navy in 1847. His first service was in the frigate Cambrian bearing the broad pennant of Commodore James Hanway Plumridge on the East Indies and China station, and on the return of the ship to England in November 1850 Lyons joined the Albion (90 guns) in the Mediterranean. In October 1853 he was promoted mate, and on 28 June 1854 was transferred, as acting lieutenant, to the paddle frigate Firebrand (Captain Hyde Parker).

The Crimean War was in progress, and Parker, with the Vesuvius and a gunboat, had for some weeks been blockading the mouths of the Danube; on 27 June 1854 he had destroyed the Sulineh batteries. He now decided to try to destroy the guardhouses and signal stations higher up the river, through which communication was maintained with all the Russian forts, and on 8 July he entered the Danube with the ship's boats, one division of which was commanded by Lyons. The first station reached was defended by a stockade and battery, and the banks were lined by Cossacks, who maintained a heavy fire. Parker was fatally wounded, and the command of the Firebrand's boats devolved on Lyons. The attack was successful, five signal stations being destroyed and the Cossacks dispersed. Lyons was mentioned in dispatches and, his promotion to lieutenant having already been confirmed, he was noted for future consideration. On 17 October the Firebrand took an important part in the bombardment of Sevastopol, towing into action the Albion, flagship of his uncle, Sir Edmund Lyons. The Albion was set on fire by the batteries and was for some time in a dangerous position; the Firebrand had a difficult task to tow her off. In December 1854 Sir Edmund Lyons became commander-in-chief and chose his nephew to be his flag lieutenant. Lyons shared in further operations in the Black Sea, especially at Kerch and Kinburn, and was promoted commander on 9 August 1858 in his uncle's hauling-down vacancy.

In 1861–2 Lyons commanded the Racer on the North American station during the American Civil War, a duty which called for the exercise of tact in the protection of British interests. On 1 December 1862 he was promoted captain, and after waiting for employment, as was then customary, was appointed in January 1867 to command the Charybdis in the Pacific, where he remained until 1871. In October 1872 he was appointed to the frigate Immortalité and acted as second in command of the detached squadron. From 1875 he was for three years commodore-in-charge at Jamaica, and in April 1878 took command of the Monarch on the Mediterranean station, where he served until promoted rear-admiral on 26 September of that year.

In 1879 Lyons married Louisa Jane (bap. 1853), daughter and heir of Thomas Penrice of Kilvrough Park, Glamorgan; they had two sons and two daughters. In December 1881 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Pacific, on 27 October 1884 became vice-admiral, and in September 1886 assumed command of the North America and West Indies station, whence he was recalled home by promotion to admiral on 15 December 1888. From June 1893 he was for three years commander-in-chief at Plymouth, became admiral of the fleet on 23 August 1897, and reached retirement age on 30 August 1903. He was made KCB in 1889 and GCB in June 1897. In February 1895 he was appointed first and principal naval aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. He died on 8 February 1908 at Kilvrough, Glamorgan, of which county he was a deputy lieutenant and a JP. He was survived by his wife.


Wealth at Death

£14,043 8s. 6d.: probate, 22 April 1908, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

, 3 vols. (1875–7); continued as , 2 vols. (1878–9); continued as , 94 vols. (1880–1973)
F. Boase, , 6 vols. (privately printed, Truro, 1892–1921); repr. (1965)
J. Burke, A general [later edns A genealogical] and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the United Kingdom [later edns the British empire] (1829–)
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Calendars of the grants of probate … made in … HM court of probate [England and Wales]