Codrington, Sir Edward
CODRINGTON, SIR EDWARD (1770-1851), British admiral, belonged to a family long settled at Dodington in Gloucestershire. He was the youngest of three brothers, who were left orphans at an early age, and were educated by an uncle, Mr Bethell. Edward Codrington was sent for a short time to Harrow, and entered the navy in July 1783. He served on the American station, in the Mediterranean and at home, till he was promoted lieutenant on the 28th of May 1783. Lord Howe selected him to be signal lieutenant on the flagship of the Channel fleet at the beginning of the revolutionary war with France. In that capacity he served in the "Queen Charlotte" (100) during the operations which culminated in the battle of the 1st of June 1794. The notes he wrote on Barrow's account of the battle in his Life of Howe, and the reminiscences he dictated to his daughter, which are to be found in her memoir of him, are of great value for the history of the action. On the 7th of October 1794 he was promoted commander, and on the 6th of April 1795 attained the rank of post-captain and the command of the "Babet" (22). He continued to serve in the Channel, and was present at the action off L'Orient on the 23rd of June 1795. Codrington wrote notes on this encounter also, which are to be found in the memoir. They are able and valuable, but, like all his correspondence throughout his life, show that he was of a somewhat censorious disposition, was apt to take the worst view of the conduct of others, and was liable to be querulous. He next commanded the "Druid" (32) in the Channel and on the coast of Portugal, till she was paid off in 1797. Codrington now remained on shore and on half-pay for some years. In December 1802 he married Jane, daughter of Jasper Hall of Kingston, Jamaica.
On the renewal of the war after the breach of the peace of Amiens he was appointed (May 1805) to the command of the "Orion" (74) and was attached to the fleet on the coast of Spain, then blockading Villeneuve in Cadiz. The "Orion" took a conspicuous part in the battle of Trafalgar. Codrington's correspondence contains much illuminative evidence as to the preliminaries and the events of the victory. From 1805 till 1813 he continued to serve first in the "Orion" and then (1808) in the "Blake" (74) in European waters. He was present on the Walcheren expedition, and was very actively employed on the Mediterranean coast of Spain in co-operating with the Spaniards against the French. In 1814 he was promoted rear-admiral, at which time he was serving on the coast of North America as captain of the fleet to Sir Alexander Cochrane during the operations against Washington, Baltimore and New Orleans. In 1815 he was made K.C.B., and was promoted vice-admiral on the 10th of July 1821. In December 1826 he was appointed to the Mediterranean command, and sailed on the 1st of February 1827. From that date until his recall on the 21st of June 1828 he was engaged in the arduous duties imposed on him by the Greek War of Independence, which had led to anarchy and much piracy in the Levant. On the 20th of October 1827 he destroyed the Turkish and Egyptian naval forces at Navarino (q.v.), while in command of a combined British, French and Russian fleet. As the battle had been unforeseen in England, and its result was unwelcome to the ministry of the day, Codrington was entangled in a correspondence to prove that he had not gone beyond his instructions, and he was recalled by a despatch, dated the 4th of June.
After the battle Codrington went to Malta to refit his ships. He remained there till May 1828, when he sailed to join his French and Russian colleagues on the coast of the Morea. They endeavoured to enforce the evacuation of the peninsula by Ibrahim peacefully. The Pasha made diplomatic difficulties, and on the 25th of July the three admirals agreed that Codrington should go to Alexandria to obtain Ibrahim's recall by his father Mehemet Ali. Codrington had heard on the 22nd of June of his own supersession, but, as his successor had not arrived, he carried out the arrangement made on the 25th of July, and his presence at Alexandria led to the treaty of the 6th of August 1828, by which the evacuation of the Morea was settled. His services were recognized by the grant of the grand cross of the Bath, but there is no doubt that he was treated as a scape-goat at least to some extent. After his return home he was occupied for a time in defending himself, and then in leisure abroad. He commanded a training squadron in the Channel in 1831 and became admiral on the 10th of January 1837. From November 1839 to December 1842 he was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. He died on the 28th of April 1851.
Sir Edward Codrington left two sons, Sir William (1804-1884), a soldier who commanded in the Crimea, and Sir John Henry (1808-1877), a naval officer, who died an admiral of the fleet.
See Memoir of the Life of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, by his daughter Jane, Lady Bourchier, wife of Sir T. Bourchier, R.N. (London, 1873).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)