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Rear Admiral Sir John Narborough, 1st Baronet RN (c. 1640 – 1688) was an English naval commander of the 17th century, who served with distinction during the Anglo-Dutch Wars and against the Barbary Coast pirates. He was descended from an old Norfolk family and married Elizabeth Hill, with whom he had two surviving sons. Her father was John Hill, a Commissioner of the Navy.[1] After her husband's death, Lady Narbrough married Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.[2]

He received his commission in 1664, and in 1666 was promoted lieutenant for gallantry in the action with the Dutch fleet off the Downs in June of that year. After the peace he was chosen to conduct a voyage of exploration in the South Seas. He set sail from Deptford on 26 November 1669, and entered the Straits of Magellan in October of the following year. In 1670 he visited Port Desire in Argentina and claimed the territory for the Kingdom of Great Britain, but returned home in June 1671 without accomplishing his original purpose. A narrative of the expedition was published at London in 1694 under the title An Account of several late Voyages and Discoveries to the South and North.

Battle of Sole Bay, 28 May 1672.

During the Third Anglo-Dutch War Narbrough was second captain of the Lord High Admiral's ship the HMS Prince, and conducted himself with such conspicuous valour at the Battle of Sole Bay in May 1672 that he won special approbation, and shortly afterwards was made rear-admiral and knighted. In 1675 he was sent to suppress the Barbary piracies, and by the bold expedient of despatching gun-boats into the harbour of Tripoli at midnight and burning the ships he induced the dey to agree to a treaty. There is an eye-witness account of the raid in the diary of the naval chaplain Henry Teonge.[3]

Shortly after his return he undertook a similar expedition against the Algerines. In 1680 he was appointed commissioner of the Navy, an office he held till his death. He was buried at Knowlton church, Kent, where a monument has been erected to his memory.[4] Upon his death in 1688, the Baronetcy passed to his eldest son John (afterwards Sir John Narborough, 2nd Baronet), who died with his brother James and his stepfather Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell aboard HMS Association during the Scilly naval disaster of 1707.[2] Narborough's widow is buried in St Paulinius Church, Crayford, where there is a memorial to her and her second husband.[5] Narborough's two sons were buried in Old Town Church on St Mary's.[1] They are also commemorated in Knowlton Church where their memorial displays an incredible rendition of the grounding of the Association.[5]

The island of Fernandina, the youngest and westernmost island of the Galapagos Archipelago, was originally named 'Narbrough Island' in his honour by the 17th century buccaneer William Ambrosia Cowley.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.


  1. ^ a b "Biography: Cloudesley Shovell". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  2. ^ a b James Herbert Cooke, The Shipwreck of Sir Cloudesley Shovell on the Scilly Islands in 1707, From Original and Contemporary Documents Hitherto Unpublished, Read at a Meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, London, 1 February 1883
  3. ^ The Diary of Henry Teonge Chaplain on Board HM’s Ships Assistance, Bristol and Royal Oak 1675-1679. Edited by Sir E. Denison Ross and Eileen Power. London: Routledge, 1927, reprinted 2005.
  4. ^ See Charnock, Biog. Nav. i.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rept.
  5. ^ a b - The legacy of Sir Cloudsley Shovel

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