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Richard King

Sir Richard King
Born 28 November 1774(1774-11-28)
Maypowder, Dorset, England
Died 5 August 1834 (aged 59)
Sheerness, Kent, England
Cause of death Cholera
Resting place All Saints Church, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, England
Nationality England English
Occupation Royal Navy Vice Admiral

Vice Admiral Sir Richard King, 2nd Baronet KCB (28 November 1774 – 5 August 1834) was an officer in the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, who fought with distinction at the battle of Trafalgar despite being amongst the youngest captains present.

King was the son of Sir Richard King, 1st Baronet, a wealthy and high ranking member of the Navy. King was placed on board ship at fourteen thanks to the influence of his father and made Post Captain[1] just six years later, an achievement made possible by his father's rank of admiral. Normally an officer would be waiting double or triple that time before gaining such a prestigious rank. Nonetheless, King was no incompetent, and proved his worth as captain of the HMS Sirius, capturing four enemy privateers whilst in command, as well as sitting on the navy board which condemned Richard Parker to death for his part in the Nore mutiny in 1797. At the Action of 24 October 1798, King captured two Dutch ships. In 1801 he captured a French frigate, and was rewarded with command of the large 74 gun ship of the line HMS Achilles (sometimes reported as Achille).

A month before the battle of Trafalgar, sensing that there was glory to be won in the coming operations off Cadiz, King used his influence with his father in law, Admiral Sir John Duckworth, to persuade Nelson to give him a position in the blockading fleet. Since his reputation was good, Nelson endorsed the move and King joined just in time to catch the combined fleet off Trafalgar on the 21 October 1805. The seventh ship in Collingwood's division, Achilles was heavily engaged, chasing off the Spanish Montanez and the battling alongside HMS Belleisle with the Argonauta. Whilst chasing this ship through the melee, Achilles was cut off by her namesake, the Achille, with whom she began a savage cannonade until joined by the French ship Berwick, whom Achilles turned her attention on. An hour of savage fighting forced the French craft to eventually surrender, but at the cost of 13 dead and 59 wounded, severe losses in comparison with most of the British fleet.

King was, along with the other captains, voted many honours following the battle, and unlike several of him compatriots retained his command at sea, being engaged the following year in the action against a French frigate squadron in an action in which Sir Samuel Hood lost an arm. The same year he inherited his fathers baronetcy [2] and transferred to the Mediterranean, where in 1812 he made the jump to Rear-Admiral[3] and second in command to Edward Pellew. Continuing in service postwar in 1819 as a Vice-Admiral [4]and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath [5], King served as commander in chief in the East Indies and also remaried following his first wife's death to the daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, Maria Susannah. In command at the Nore in 1833 after an eventful life, King continued his successful career past the age many of his contemporaries retired at. Such devotion to duty often has a price, and King died in office in 1834 whilst at Sheerness from a sudden outbreak of cholera. He was buried near by [6], survived by twelve children and his second wife.

Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard King
King Baronets
Succeeded by
Richard King

Further reading

  • The Trafalgar Captains, Colin White and the 1805 Club, Chatham Publishing, London, 2005, ISBN 1-86176-247-X


  1. ^ Promoted to:-
  2. ^ November 1806
  3. ^ Rear Admiral of the Blue 12 August 1812, of the White 4 June 1814, of the Red 12 August 1819
  4. ^ Vice Admiral of the Blue 19 July 1821, of the White 27 May 1825, of the Red 22 July 1830
  5. ^ 2 January 1815
  6. ^ All Saints’ Church, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey

External links



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