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Admiral of the Fleet The Earl Jellicoe
5 December 1859 - 20 November 1935
John Jellicoe Admiral of the fleet.jpg
Place of birth Southampton, Hampshire
Place of death London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1872-1919
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held First Sea Lord
Second Sea Lord
Third Sea Lord
Battles/wars Urabi Revolt

Boxer Rebellion
World War I

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, GCB, OM, GCVO (5 December 1859 – 20 November 1935) was a British Royal Navy admiral who commanded the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in World War I. His handling of the fleet at Jutland remains controversial. Jellicoe later served as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, but he was removed by a new First Lord because of differences over policy and Britain's ability to carry on the war.

Contents

Early career

He was born in Southampton into a seafaring family. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1872. His first active service was during the Egyptian War of 1882. He was appointed to the Admiralty in 1888.

Jellicoe was an intelligent and dedicated officer. Popular with his crews, he was very concerned with the well-being and morale of his sailors. He was also a micro manager, driving himself to the point of exhaustion at times.

Promoted to commander in 1891, Jellicoe was the executive officer (i.e. second in command) of HMS Victoria when she was accidentally rammed and sunk with heavy loss of life in the Mediterranean in 1893.

Jellicoe had a number of commands in the 1890s, and was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1897. In 1900, he was part of the command for the land relief of Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion, the First Peking Relief Expedition. He showed conspicuous bravery at this time and was seriously wounded.

Director of Naval Ordnance

Under Admiral John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, Jellicoe was Director of Naval Ordnance (1905-1907) and then Controller of the Navy (1908-1910). Jellicoe had been promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1907 during his tenure as Director of Naval Ordnance. He pushed hard for funds to modernise the navy, supporting the construction of new classes of dreadnought battleships and submarines. Jellicoe became very knowledgeable about his profession, much more so than most of his contemporaries, especially appreciating the strong points of the Kaiserliche Marine (German navy).

He supported F. C. Dreyer's improvements in gunnery fire-control systems, and favoured the adoption of Dreyer's "Fire Control Table", a form of mechanical computer for calculating firing solutions for warships.

In a letter to Admiral Fisher dated 4 December 1911, Admiral Francis Bridgeman gave a shrewd summation of Jellicoe's most serious faults as he saw them at the time of his next promotion, to Vice-Admiral:

"Directly I go, up he comes automatically to command of the 2nd Division, and a splendid opportunity for him! He has no experience of fleet work on a big scale, and is so extremely anxious about the work in it, that he really does too much. He must learn to work his captains and staff more, and himself less! At present he puts himself in the position of, say, a glorified gunnery lieutenant. This will not do when he gets a big fleet. He must trust his staff and captains, and if they don’t fit, he must kick them out! I am sure you will agree with me on this view, and I wish, if you get the opportunity, you would drop him a hint. He would take it from you, but perhaps not from me."

World War I

Kitchener, Jellicoe and French

In 1911 Jellicoe became deputy to George Callaghan, the Commander of the British Home Fleet. At the start of World War I, 4 August 1914, Callaghan was prematurely put on the shelf by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. Vice-Admiral Jellicoe was promoted to Admiral and assigned command of the renamed Grand Fleet in Admiral Callaghan's place, though he was appalled by the treatment of his predecessor. Churchill described Jellicoe later as 'the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon'.

Jellicoe was in command of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland (1916), history's largest (and only major) clash of dreadnoughts, albeit undecisive. His handling of the Grand Fleet during the Battle remains controversial, with some historians[1] faulting the battle cruiser commander, Admiral David Beatty, and others criticizing Jellicoe[citation needed]. However, Jellicoe certainly made no significant mistakes during the battle: based on limited intelligence, he correctly deployed the Grand Fleet with a turn to port[1], so as to "cross the T" of the German High Seas Fleet as it appeared. After suffering heavy shell damage the German fleet turned 180 degrees and headed away from the battle. Some critics claimed that he did not pursue the High Seas Fleet because he feared a torpedo attack, and overestimated the danger from a massed attack by enemy destroyers. At the time the British public were disappointed that the Royal Navy had not won a victory on the scale of Trafalgar, while the loss of more ships and men than the High Seas Fleet initially gave the impression of a German victory. Nevertheless Britain's fleet remained in strategic command of the sea, while Germany's fleet was almost entirely confined to port. At Jutland his Flag-Captain aboard the Flagship HMS Iron Duke was Dreyer.

Jellicoe and wife, 1924

Admiral Jellicoe was appointed First Sea Lord in November 1916, and turned over command of the Grand Fleet to Admiral David Beatty. His term of office in 1917 saw Britain brought within danger of starvation by German Unrestricted U-Boat Warfare. Although modern writers[1] tend to discount Lloyd George's self-serving claims to have imposed convoys onto a reluctant Admiralty[citation needed] (merchant ships traveling in groups, protected by warships - naval opinion had originally wrongly believed that this would make them a greater target), Jellicoe's pessimism (he doubted Britain's capacity to carry on fighting, a policy to which Lloyd George, whatever his quarrels with the generals, was committed) cost him the confidence of the Prime Minister. On Christmas Eve 1917, Admiral Jellicoe was rather abruptly dismissed as First Sea Lord by the new First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Eric Campbell Geddes and was succeeded by Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss - who was to be present as the British representative when the Germans were granted an armistice by the Allied Generalissimo, Marshal Foch, in November 1918.

Jellicoe was made a Viscount in 1918 and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet in April 1919, along with David Beatty. Admiral of the Fleet the Viscount Jellicoe served as Governor-General of New Zealand from September 1920 to November 1924. On his return to England in 1925, he was made an Earl. He died in November, 1935 and his estate was probated at 13,370 pounds sterling. He was succeeded in the Earldom by his only son George, then styled Viscount Brocas.

Jellicoe was a controversial figure after the war in British naval circles, with persons tending to be supporters of him or of Beatty. Part of his problem was a reluctance to engage in the political manoeuvring needed in such a post.

Chronology

Admiral, or as the French knew him: Amiralissime Jellicoe
(from The Royal Navy List, London, January 1916, and DNB and ODNB).
  • Born 5 December 1859;
  • Entered Navy 15 July 1872, to HMS Britannia, on the River Dart;
  • passed out top of his term, promoted midshipman;
  • joined wooden steam fully rigged frigate, HMS Newcastle of the flying squadron, September 1874-early 1877;
  • joined HMS Agincourt, flagship of the channel squadron, July 1877;
  • six months on HMS Alexandra, flagship of the Mediterranean, as signal sub-lieutenant;
  • promoted Lieutenant, three firsts, 23 August 1880;
  • specialized in gunnery;
  • returned to HMS Agincourt, February 1881;
  • Lieutenant of HMS Agincourt during Egyptian war, from May 1882 (Egyptian Medal, Khedive's Bronze Star);
  • received prize of 80 pounds, Royal Naval College, Greenwich, 1883;
  • appointed to staff of HMS Excellent gunnery school, gunnery lieutenant, May 1884;
  • awarded Board of Trade Silver Medal, May 1886 (on rescuing the crew of a capsized steamer near Gibraltar) when on HMS Monarch, a gunnery lieutenant;
  • joined HMS Colossus, April 1886;
  • in charge of HMS Excellent experimental department 6 December 1886 - 10 May 1888;
  • assistant to Director of Naval Ordnance, 1888-91;
  • promoted commander, June 1891;
  • joined Mediterranean Fleet at Malta in HMS Sans Pareil;
  • wrecked in HMS Victoria (when it collided with HMS Camperdown), Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon's flag-ship, when the Admiral, 21 officers and 350 men drowned, off Tripoli, 22 June 1893;
HMS Victoria sinking
  • was wounded in Admiral Sir E. H. Seymour's expedition to relieve the Legations at Pekin, June-July 1900, when he was Chief Staff Officer;
  • C.B. for services rendered during this expedition, November 1900;
  • Naval Assistant to Controller of the Navy, February 1902- August 1904;
  • marries, in London, July 1902;
Jellicoe as Captain, in command of H.M.S. Centurion, flag ship on the China Station (his depiction on an a contemporary cigarette card shows he was in the public eye long before becoming an admiral).
  • Captain of HMS Drake, Cruiser Squadron, August 1903-January 1905;
  • Decorated by the German Emperor with 2nd class of the Red Eagle, with Crossed Swords, 1902;
  • CVO, 1904;
  • Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes, 1 February 1905, to August 1907;
  • K.C.V.O., on occasion of Review of the Home Fleet in the Solent by HM King Edward VII, 3 August 1907;
  • Aide-de-Camp to the King, 8 March 1906 to 8 February 1907;
  • Rear-Admiral 8 February 1907;
  • Rear-Admiral in the Atlantic Fleet, second-in-command, August 1907 to August 1908, flag hoisted on HMS Albemarle;
  • a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Controller of the Navy, October 1908;
  • appointed Vice-Admiral commanding Atlantic Fleet, 20 December 1910, flag hoisted on HMS Prince of Wales (1902), holding temporary acting rank until...
  • appointed Vice-Admiral on 18 September 1911;
  • K.C.B., on the Coronation of King George V, 19 June 1911;
  • Vice-Admiral commanding Second of the 'Red' Fleet during the Naval Manoevres July-August 1913, with his flag in HMS Thunderer, retaining his seat at the Admiralty Board;
  • Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleets, 4 August 1914, with acting rank of Admiral;
  • on promotion to Admiral, was appointed by Order in Council (London Gazette, 9 March 1915), 'to retain seniority as Admiral of 4 August 1914, while holding his present command'.
  • Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916;
  • HMS Hampshire sank with Lord Kitchener aboard, 5 June 1916;
  • received the Order of St. George, 24 June 1916;
  • left Grand Fleet, 28 November 1916;
  • arrived Admiralty, as First Sea Lord, 4 December 1916;
  • sacked, 24 December 1917;
  • ennobled as Viscount Jellicoe, of Scapa, 15 January 1918;
  • son and heir born, 4 April 1918;
  • promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, and awarded 50,000 pounds, January 1919;
  • left England for his year long mission to and tour of the Dominions aboard HMS New Zealand, 21 February 1919 - 4 February 1920.
  • sailed for New Zealand, August 1920;
  • re-embarked for home, November 1924;
  • advanced to rank of Earl, June 1925.
  • Dies Novemebr 1935 leaving effects valued at £13,363 2s 5d.
  • Buried at St Paul's Cathedral.

Residences

A bust of Jellicoe rests on Trafalgar Square in London, alongside those of Beatty and Andrew Cunningham, Admiral of the Fleet in World War II. A blue plaque stands on the wall of his house in Blacklands Terrace (25 Draycott Place), Chelsea, London.

Blue plaque at 25 Draycott-place, (Blacklands Terrace), Cadogan gardens, London, SW3

Some of Jellicoe's London residences:

  • 14, Highbury Place, Islington, N.1.
(house of JRJ's great-grandfather, Adam Jellicoe, who died there 30 August 1789)
  • 67, Talgarth Road, Fulham, W.14. (visitor, 1891 census);
  • 33, Hans Mansions, Hans Crescent, S.W.1. (above Harrods), (c1903);
  • 25, Draycott Place, Cadogan Gardens, S.W.3. (c1905-1907);
  • 29, Sussex Square, Hyde Park, W.2. (c1914,1916, 1919);
  • 80, Portland Place, W.1. (c1926-1929);
  • 19, Princes Gardens, S.W.7. (c1930);
  • 39, Egerton Gardens, Chelsea, S.W. (dies there 20/11/1935).

Two of Jellicoe's childhood homes in Southampton:

  • 39, Anglesea Place, All Saints, Southampton (1861, census);
  • 1, Essex Park Terrace, St. Mary, Southampton (1871, census);
  • 12, Portland Terrace, Southampton (1909, an aunt, Miss Jellicoe).

Ancestors

Some of Admiral Jellicoe's ancestors
John Rushworth Jellicoe (1859-1935)
JohnHenryJellicoe.jpgCaptain John Henry Jellicoe (1825-1914) of Southampton

Samuel Jellicoe (1788-1861), contractor/banker of Millbrook (Hants) then 12, Portland Terrace, All Saints, Southampton.

Samuel Jellicoe (c1758-1843), ironmaster/contractorof Fontley, then Uplands House, Fareham, then of Brighthelmstone, Brighton.

Catherine Lee

Elizabeth Jane Whalley (Smythe Gardiner) (1792-1872), also of 30 Portland Street, Southampton

Sir James Whalley Smythe Gardiner, 2nd Bt. (d.1805) of Clerk Hill, Whalley, Lancs., & Tackley, & Cuddesdon (Oxon), & Roche Court, Fareham

Jane Master

LucyHenriettaJellicoe.jpgLucy Henrietta Keele (1834-1916)

Dr. John Rushworth Keele (1787-1856) Mayor of Southampton 1823-26

John Keele (1760-1835) surgeon of Southampton & Hythe

Elizabeth Rushworth (1761-1817), daughter of Capt. Edward Rushworth, RN, sister of Edward Rushworth, MP

Constantia Patton (1798-1854)

Admiral of the Red Philip Patton (1739-1815) of Fareham

Elizabeth Dixon

Legacy

  • The junior boarding house at Bearwood College, Winnersh, UK, is named after Jellicoe.

Arms

References

  • Vanity Fair, 26 December 1906. (MXLVI). (Men of the Day : 'Naval Ordnance', Captain John Rushworth Jellicoe, RN).
  • The Life of John Rushworth, Earl Jellicoe, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O, L.L.D., D.C.L., by Admiral Sir R. H. Bacon, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O., Cassell, London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney, 1936.
  • Geoffrey Callender in The Dictionary of National Biography, OUP, 1949.
  • Jellicoe, by John Winton, Michael Joseph, London, 1981.
  • Andrew Lambert in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, OUP, 2004-7.
  • The First Sea Lords from Fisher to Mountbatten by Malcolm H. Murfett. Westport. ISBN 0-275-94231-7
  • The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 - 1995. Heathcote T. A. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0 85052 835 6

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Liverpool
Governor-General of New Zealand
1920 – 1924
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Fergusson
Military offices
Preceded by
Henry Jackson
Third Sea Lord
1908 – 1910
Succeeded by
Charles John Briggs
Preceded by
Prince Louis of Battenberg
Second Sea Lord
1912 – 1914
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Hamilton
Preceded by
Sir Henry Jackson
First Sea Lord
1916 – 1917
Succeeded by
Sir Rosslyn Wemyss
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Jellicoe
1925 – 1935
Succeeded by
George Jellicoe
Viscount Jellicoe
1917 – 1935







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