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the effect of negligence or imprudence. He always proceeded upon solid principles, and left nothing to fortune, that could be accomplished by foresight and application. His firmness and plain dealing were so apparent to the foreigners, who treated with him upon business, that it contributed much to the dispatch and success of his transactions with them; for they could depend upon what he said, and, as they saw he used no arts or chicanes himself, and had too discerning a spirit to suffer them to pass unobserved in others, they often found it their best policy to leave their interests in his hands and management, being very sure of a most impartial and punctual performance of whatever he engaged in. His reputation was so thoroughly established in this particular, that in the frequent disputes and altercations which arose between the Savoyards and Germans in the course of the war, and between the latter and the Spaniards, at the conclusion of it, wherein little faith or confidence was given to the promises or asseverations of each other, he was the common umpire between them, always stemming and opposing any extravagant or unjust demands (which the over-bearing temper of the German general was very apt to suggest, where he had the superior hand) and reconciling, as much as possible, the violences of war with the rules of honour and justice. When he departed from Italy to attend his late Majesty at Hanover, the King, among many gracious expressions, told him, that he had found out the secret of obliging his enemies, as well as friends, and that the court of Spain had mentioned, with great acknowledgments, his fair and friendly behaviour in the provision of transports, and other necessaries, for the embarkation of their troops, and in protecting them from many violences and oppressions that had been attempted. No wonder, that a man endowed with such talents, and such a disposition, left behind him in Italy, and other foreign parts, the character of a great soldier, an able statesman, and an honest man.”
His Lordship married, in Covent-Garden church, on March 5th, 1691, Margaret, daughter of James Master, of East Langdon, in the county of Kent, Esq. by Joice his wife, daughter of Sir Christopher Turnor, of Milton Erneys, in the county of Bedford, Knight, one of the Barons of the Exchequer; and by her Ladyship, who died on April 1st, 1756, aged eighty-seven, and was buried at Southill, had eleven sons, and four daughters, of which those that survived him were,
First, Pattee, second Viscount Torrington,
Second, George, of whom afterwards, as third Viscount Torrington.
Third, Robert, born in 1703, chosen member of parliament for Plymouth in 1727 ; was appointed one of the commissioners of his Majesty's navy, on June 21st, 1731 ; and, in 1739, governor of Barbadoes, where he died, in 1740, and was buried at Southill, leaving issue, by Elizabeth his wife, daughter and cobeir of Jonathan Forward, Esq. three sons, viz. George; Robert, who was smothered in the Black Hole at Calcutta in the East Indies, June 20th, 1756; and John, who was born in Barbadoes, A.D. 1740, departed this life, on June 16th, 1764, at Boulogne, in France, and was buried at Southill. George, the eldest, on March 16th, 1761, was appointed major-commandant of the ninety-ninth regiment of foot, and in 1774, member of parliament for Wigan, in Lancashire ; and was afterwards member for Middlesex in ·several parliaments. He died October 27th, 1789, having married, March 5th, 1761, Anne, daughter of William Conolly, of Castletown in Ireland, Esq. grand-daughter of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and sister to Caroline, Countess of Buckinghamshire, and by her (who died in December, 1805) had issue : first, Anne, born February 14th, 1762 ; second, George, member of parliament for the county of Middlesex, born May 17th, 1764, married Miss Montgomery, daughter of Sir William Montgomery, Bart. and sister to Anne, Marchioness Townshend ; third, William, deceased; fourth, Caroline; fifth, Robert ; sixth, Frances; seventh, John, lieutenant-colonel in the third regiment of footguards, married June 14th, 1804, Mary, eldest daughter of Peter Mackenzie, Esq. of Twickenham.
Fourth, John, born at Southill, in 1704, was brought op in the sea service, into which he entered when about thirteen years of age ; and, in 1727, had the command of the Gibraltar man of war, stationed in the Mediterranean. After several services, being commander of the Sutherland man of war, he was, on March 13, 1741-2, appointed governor and commander in chief in and over his Majesty's island of Newfoundland, in America, fort of Pla. centia, &c.
On August 5th, 1745, he was declared rear-adıniral of the Blue squadron; and after passing gradually through the intermediate stations of rear-admiral of the White, and Red, and vice, admiral of the Blue, White, and Red squadrons, was, in the sequel, promoted to the rank of admiral of the Blue. Upon the
breaking out of the rebellion in Scotland, A. D. 1745, he was appointed commander of a fleet on the Scottish coast; and gave manifest proofs of his zeal for the service in which he was em. ployed.
In 1756, when repeated advice had been received at London, that the French intended a descent upon the island of Minorca, admiral Byng was selected to take the command of a fleet, consisting of eleven ships of the line, in very indifferent condition, and poorly manned, for the defence of that important place; and, in obedience to his orders, departed from St. Helen's, on April 6th, four days before the French arinament set sail from Toulon.
He came in view of Minorca upon May 19th, and next day had an engagement with the French squadron. But, as an account of that action, and the infamous steps taken against the unfortunate admiral, either before or after his arrival in England, would far exceed the limits allotted to this work, we shall beg leave to refer our readers to his trial, and the history of those times ; and only observe, that being brought before a court-martial, and that tribunal having resolved, on January 27th, 1757, that “ he fell under part of the twelfth article of an act of parliament of the 22d year of Geo. II. for amending, explaining, and reducing into one act of parliament, the laws relating to the government of his Majesty's ships, vessels, and forces by sea ; and as that article positively prescribes death, without any alternative left to the discretion of the court under any variation of circumstances; the court did therefore unanimously adjudge the said admiral Byng to be shot to death, at such time, and on board such ship, as the lords commissioners of the admiralty should direct : but, as it appeared by the evidence of Lord Robert Bertie, lieutenant-colonel Smith, captain Gardiner, and other officers of the ship, who were near the person of the admiral, that they did not perceive any backwardness in him during the action, or any marks of fear or confusion, either from his countenance or behaviour, but that he seemed to give his orders coolly and distinctly, and did not seem wanting in personal courage, and from other circumstances, the court did not believe that his misconduct arose either from cowardice or disaffection, and did therefore unanimously think it their duty most earnestly to recommend him as a proper object of mercy.”
In consequence of this last result, when the court-martial transmitted a copy of their proceedings to the board of admiralty, they likewise sent their lordships a letter, which concluded in these
terms : .....“ We cannot help laying the distresses of our minds before your lordships, on this occasion, in finding ourselves under a necessity of condemning a man to death, from the great severity of the twelfth article of war, part of which he falls under, and which admits of no mitigation, even if the crime should be committed by an error in judgment; and therefore, for our own consciences sake, as well as in justice to the prisoner, we pray your lordsbips, in the most earnest manner, to recommend him to his Majesty's clemency."
However, notwithstanding that recommendation, the warrant, for putting the devoted admiral Byng to death, was subscribed by four of the lords of the admiralty, but the Honourable John Forbes absolutely refused, and for his dissent gave reasons, which are subjoined by way of note;o and, without regard to the inter
• 11 may be thought presumption in me to differ from so great authority as that of the twelve judges; but, when a man is called upon to sign his name to an act, which is to give authority to the shedding of blood, he ought to be guided by his own conscience, and not by the opinions of other men.
In the case before us, it is not the merit of admiral Byng that I consider : whether he deserves death, or not, is not a question for me to decide; but whether or not his life can be taken away by the sentence pronounced on him by the court-martial, and after having so clearly explained their motives for pronouncing such a sentence, is the point alone which has employed my most serious consideration.
The twelfth article of war, on which admiral Byng's sentence is grounded, says (according to my understanding of its meaning), “ That every person, who, in time of action, shall withdraw, keep back, or not come into fight, or who shall not do his utmost, &c, through motives of cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall suffer death." The court-martial does, in express words, acquit admiral Byng of cowardice and disaffection, and does not name the word Negligence. Admiral Byng does not, as I conceive, fall under the letter or description of the twelfth article of war. It may be said that negligence is implied, though the word is not mentioned; otherwise the court-martial would not have brought his offence under the twelfth article, having acquitted him of cowardice and disaffection. But it must be ack nowledged, that the negligence implied cannot be wilful negligence ; for wilful negligence, in ad. miral Byng's situation, must have proceeded from either cowardice or disaffection, and he is expressly acquitted of both these crimes : besides, these crimes, which are implied only, and not named, may indeed justify suspicion and private opinion, but cannot satisfy the conscience in case of blood. Admiral Byng's fate was referred to a court
martial ; his life and death were left to their opinions. The court-martial condemned him to death, be. cause, as they expressly say, they were under a necessity of doing so, by reason of the letter of the law, the severity of which they complained of, because it admits of no mitigation. The court-martial expressly say, that, for the sake of their consciences, as as in justice to the prisoner, they most earnestly recommended him to his Majesty for mercy; it is evident then,
cession of his friends, and although several steps were taken for saving him, particularly appealing to the twelve judges, the sentence was carried into execution on Monday, March 14th, 1757, when he submitted to his fate with great composure and intrepidity.
Immediately before he kneeled down to receive the fatal volley, he thus addressed himself to William Brough, Esq. marshal to the admiralty : “Sir, these are my thoughts on this occasion. I give them to you, that you may authenticate them, and prevent any thing spurious being published, that might tend to defame me. I have given a copy to one of my relations." At the same time the admiral delivered him a paper, containing those his sentiments, in the following words :
“ A few minutes will now deliver me from the virulent persecution, and frustrate the farther malice, of my enemies. Nor
that in the opinions and consciences of the judges, he was not deserving of death.
The question then is, shall the opinions, or necessities, of the court-martial, determine admiral Byng's fate? If it should be the latter, he will be executed contrary to the intentions and meaning of the judges; if the former, his life is not forfeited. His judges declare him not deserving of death; but, mistaking either the meaning of the law, or the nature of his offence, they bring him under an article of war, which, according to their own description of his offence, he does not, I conceive, fall under ; and then they condemn him to death, because, as they say, the law admits of no mitigation Can a man's life be taken away by such a sentence? I would not willingly be misunderstood, and have it believed that I judge of admiral Byng's deserts : that was the business of a court-martial, and it is my duty only to act according to my conscience; which, after deliberate consideration, assisted by the best light a poor understanding can afford, still remains in doubt, and therefore I cannot consent to sign a warrant whereby the sentence of the court-martial may be carried into execution; for I cannot help thinking, that however cri. minal admiral Byng may be, his life is not forfeited by that sentence. I do not mean to find fault with other mens opinions : all I endeavour at is to give reasons for my own; and all I desire, or wish, is, that I may not be misunderstood: I do not pretend to judge of admiral B yog's deserts, nor to give any opinion on the propriety of the act. Signed 16 Feb. 1757, at the admiralty.
N. B. Mr. Forbes was removed from his seat at the board of admiralty, about the beginning of April following; but was reinstated in about three months afterwards, and continued in that department until April, 1763, when he was constituted general of marines, which he long worthily retained. He died March 10th, 1796, leaving two daughters his coheirs; Catherine-Elizabeth, wife of the Hon. William Wellesley Pole; and Maria-Eleanor, wife of the Rt. Hon. John Charles Villiers.