Hon. Edward Michael Pakenham – 2nd Lord Longford
1743-92. He was born on 1 April 1743 in County Westmeath, Ireland, the eldest of four sons and four daughters of Thomas Pakenham, the 1st Lord Longford, an Irish peer and politician of modest means. His mother was Elizabeth Cuffe, and he was the elder brother by some fourteen years of Admiral Hon. Sir Thomas Pakenham. In 1806, fourteen years after his death, his daughter Catherine married Major-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.
Having been educated at Kilkenny College from 1753, Pakenham joined the Navy six years later, and he was commissioned lieutenant on 12 August 1761 after seeing service in the Seven Years War.
In 1765 he was the second lieutenant of the Romney 50, Captain James Ferguson, which vessel flew the flag of Rear Admiral Lord Alexander Colville on the North American station. Somewhat astonishingly, he was allowed to buy Captain James Feattus of the storeship Crown 18 out from his post for a sum of £1,200 and assume the command of that vessel himself. He took the Crown back to England where she was paid off in September at Woolwich, and where he found that he had already been promoted commander in his absence of the sloop Bonetta 10 on 20 June. It does not appear that he ever joined the latter vessel, however.
During 1765-6 Pakenham sat as the M.P for County Longford in the Irish Parliament, and on 30 April of the latter year he succeeded to his father’s Irish barony. He was posted captain on 31 May 1766 of the Sheerness 24, which appointment appears to have been for purposes of rank only. During the next dozen years he lived a quiet life, bar the occasional return from a visit to England, as in November 1775. Whilst continuing to sit in the Irish House of Lords, he was appointed to the Irish Privy Council in January 1777.
Longford was reluctant to fight against the rebellious American colonies as he held great sympathy with their cause, hence he remained unemployed until war with France became inevitable, whereupon he was appointed to the new but ill-sailing America 64 on 17 December 1777. This vessel was commissioned at Deptford in early 1778, and it was reported that Longford took an active part in pressing scores of Irish seamen for his command whilst they were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on 17 March. Even so, the difficulty of manning the America caused so much concern that adverts were still required in the Irish newspapers during early May, urging seamen to make for a rendezvous at Poolbeg near Dublin. By the end of the month the expectation was that a tender from Ireland would arrive at Spithead to complete the America’s manning, and when the Grand Fleet under Admiral Hon. Augustus Keppel did put to sea on 12 June, the America was able to sail with it.
On 18 June 1778, during proceedings before the Battle of Ushant on 27 July, Longford displayed great forbearance in refusing to return the fire of the French frigate Licorne 32 when she struck her colours immediately after firing into the America whilst Longford was still conversing with her captain from the gunwale. Unsurprisingly, it was reported that he refused both himself and his officers any conversation with the French captain once that gentleman was brought aboard the America.
After attending the King towards the end of November 1778, Longford departed for Holyhead to take the packet to Ireland, and during the winter Captain William Garnier temporarily acted for him as the captain of the America. He returned to Holyhead aboard another packet in early January 1779 to attend the court-martial of Admiral Keppel, relevant to the Battle of Ushant, and he provided evidence that assisted in the acquittal of the commander-in-chief.
Having been appointed to succeed Captain Richard Kempenfelt aboard the well-manned Alexander 74 on 5 April 1779, Longford was present in the Channel Fleet Retreat during August. Continuing in the Alexander, on 12 March 1780 he undertook an eighteen-hour chase of the Granville-based privateer Monsieur 40 to the west of the Scilly Isles, but upon getting alongside her in what became a three-hour engagement, he had the disappointment of seeing his own rotted foretopmast tumble overboard. With the enemy also having inflicted damage to the Alexander’s main mast, it was left to the Courageux 74, Captain Lord Mulgrave, to complete her capture.
Whilst at Spithead in April 1780, the Alexander was ordered to warp alongside the mutinous Invincible 74, Captain Hon. George Falconer, and threaten to fire into her unless the ringleaders of the insurrection surrendered. Once the other ship was brought back to duty, half of the Alexander’s crew were ordered aboard to take possession of her. The Alexander participated in the Channel Fleet campaign from June-December, although in October she was unable to put to sea with that force as her main mast had been carried away in a storm. On 26 November she reached Portsmouth after becoming detached from the fleet in a gale, and in the following month Longford took the packet to Dublin once more for a three-week leave.
At the beginning of January 1781, he broke his journey at Chester whilst heading back to Portsmouth, and the Alexander was already at sea under a temporary captain, Thomas Boston, when she captured the newly fitted out Le Havre privateer Duguesseau 28 off the coast of Ireland on 13 January, taking her into Portsmouth ten days later. In March Captain Boston took the Alexander out to join the Channel Fleet, but Longford was back in command at the Channel Fleet’s relief of Gibraltar on 12 April, on which occasion Rear-Admiral Sir John Lockhart-Ross shifted his flag into the Alexander to enter the harbour with three sail of the line and offer greater protection to the men unloading the convoy. Thereafter, Longford commanded the Alexander in the Channel Fleet campaign of June-November before on 20 November he took the packet to Carlingford in Ireland once more, arriving in Dublin the next day and going on to attend the Irish parliament. In his absence, Commander Thomas Farnham acted for him in command of the Alexander when she participated in Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt’s brilliant action with the Comte de Guichen’s squadron on 12 December.
Once back in England in 1782, Longford sat on a court martial at Spithead on 1 April which investigated the conduct of Captain Edward Thompson of the Hyaena 24, conversant with the loss of the captured Guinea colonies of Demerara and Essequibo. The Alexander was later employed off the Texel under Vice-Admiral Lord Howe’s orders during the Channel Fleet summer campaign of April-August, and at the relief of Gibraltar on 18 October, followed by the engagement with the allied fleet days later off Cape Spartel. He left the Alexander shortly afterwards and although he was appointed in January 1783 to the Carnatic 74, which was about to be launched at Rotherhithe, hostilities came to an end, and he resigned in the following month.
Thereafter, Longford retired to his estate and his growing family in Ireland whilst also attending the Irish parliament. In September 1790 it was mooted that the list of captains promoted to flag rank might be extended to include him, although the fact that it did not was attributed to a requirement for experienced captains to remain in their existing rank in case of war.
Lord Longford died at Packenham Hall in Ireland on 3 June 1792, having suffered several years of poor health and fading eyesight.
On 25 June 1768 he married Catherine Rowley, with whom he had issue five sons and six daughters. His second son, Major-General Hon. Sir Edward Michael Pakenham, served the Army in the Napoleonic Wars with distinction, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Army in North America in 1814, and was killed at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. His third son was Lieutenant-General Sir Hercules Robert Pakenham, and his fourth son was Captain Hon. William Pakenham who lost his life in 1811 when the frigate Saldanha 36 was wrecked off Lough Swilly. His daughter Catherine, known as ‘Kitty’, became the wife of Major-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, on 10 April 1806. Longford’s residence was Pakenham Hall Castle, near Castlepollard, County Westmeath, which he did much to improve. He also had a residence in Cavendish-Row, Dublin.
Regarded as humble, benevolent, and just, Longford was a friend of Captain Lord Mulgrave, who as a Lord of the Admiralty was influential in obtaining him a command in 1778. When sitting in the Irish parliament, it was reported that he spoke with his normal ‘honest and simple bluntness, and with his usual energy and sense’. Somewhat to the contrary at sea, one officer reported that his speech to the crew of the Alexander in 1781 was so inspiring of belligerence towards the enemy that the impassioned seamen nearly started fighting amongst themselves.