Sir Harry Burrard Neale


1765-1840. He was born in Lymington on 16 September 1765, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel William Burrard (1712-80), the governor of Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight, and his second wife, Mary Pearce, of Lymington. He was the first cousin of General Sir Harry Burrard.

After an education at Christchurch Grammar School, he entered the navy on 4 March 1778 under the name of Burrard aboard the Roebuck 44, Captain Andrew Snape Hamond, and was present at the capture of Charleston on 11 May 1780. On 3 July 1781 he moved into the Chatham 50, commanded by Hamond’s nephew, Captain Andrew Snape Douglas, in which he witnessed the capture of the French frigate Magicienne 32 off Boston on 2 September 1781. Appointed an acting-lieutenant on 19 April 1783, he returned to England later that summer aboard the Perseverance 36, Captain Skeffington Lutwidge, and on 24 June joined the Portsmouth guardship Hector 74, which was commanded until his death in January by Captain Sir John Hamilton.

From November 1784, Burrard served in the Europa 50, Captain Richard Fisher, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Alexander Innes at Jamaica, and whilst on that station he saved five seamen from a ship that had been wrecked in a hurricane. On 24 May 1786 he was appointed an acting-lieutenant of the Flora 36, Captain George Stoney, and in January of the following year he removed to the Astrea 32, Captain Peter Rainier, again acting as a lieutenant whilst remaining in the West Indies. He was finally commissioned lieutenant on 30 September 1787 aboard the Expedition 44, Captain Hon John Whitmore Chetwynd, flying the broad pennant of Commodore Alan Gardner at Jamaica. Having returned to England in May 1789, Burrard spent a period on the beach, and during the Spanish Armament of 1790 he was employed from June aboard the frigate Southampton 32, Captain Richard Keats, and thereafter from October the Victory 100, flagship of Vice-Admiral Lord Hood.Sir Harry Burrard Neale

On 3 November he was promoted commander, and on the 18th joined the sloop Orestes 18, engaged in anti-smuggling operations out of Portsmouth. He became a baronet on the death of his uncle, Sir Harry Burrard, on 12 April 1791, following which he was presented to the King at a levee in June. He retained the command of the Orestes until 24 December 1792.

On New Year’s Eve 1792, with the French Revolutionary War about to commence, Burrard was appointed to the temporary command of the Vengeance 74, in which he left the Downs to deliver a thousand men to Portsmouth for distribution amongst the fleet. He was posted captain on 1 February and on the 7th was appointed to recommissioned the frigate Aimable 32, sailing from Chatham in the last week of March. In the company of the Juno 32, Captain Sam Hood, he shared in the capture of several prizes, including the privateer Laborieux and a valuable French West Indiaman in the Channel, which he took into Portsmouth.

Going out to the Mediterranean in May 1793, the Aimable joined the Circe 28, Captain Joseph Yorke, in the capture of the Coureur 10 on 26 May, and she later served at the reduction of Bastia during the Corsican Campaign from February 1794. On 23 May she captured the French corvette Moselle 18 off the Hyères Islands, and at the end of the year she set off for home with the Cadiz convoy, reaching Cove in Ireland during January 1795. Burrard left her shortly afterwards on 18 March.

Up until this time he had still been known as Sir Henry Burrard, but on his wedding day, 15 April 1795, he added his wife’s maiden name, Neale, on becoming the heir to Robert Neale of Shaw House, Melksham in Wiltshire.

On 15 June 1795 he was appointed to command the French built eighteen-pounder frigate San Fiorenzo 36 at Chatham, seeing service in the Channel from July, and entertaining the King and four princesses at Weymouth in September. He spent the winter in a series of short cruises out of Portsmouth and was once more at the King’s disposal off Weymouth in the summer of 1796, his frigate remaining somewhat inactive inshore on the duty of guarding the coast around the resort.

On 9 March 1797, whilst in consort with the Nymphe 36, Captain John Cooke, the San Fiorenzo captured the French frigate Resistance 40 and corvette Constance 22, off Brest. Neale further added to his reputation during the mutiny at the Nore from 12 May when his men refused to join the rebellion, and after being ordered under the stern of the disloyal Sandwich 90 his frigate escaped on the 30th under fire from the disaffected ships. Returning to the Channel, the San Fiorenzo took the Morlaix-based lugger privateer Unité 14 off the Owers near Selsey Bill on 4 June, and captured the Malouin privateer lugger Castor 14 off the Scilly Isles on 1 July. Within days Neale was again detailed off to protect the King at Weymouth where his duties included entertaining the royal family, attending the theatre, and mixing with the nobility.

The San Fiorenzo saw service off Brittany in the first half of 1798 and succeeded in hauling the captured French frigate Seine 40 into deep water after she had become grounded and had struck to a British frigate squadron on 29 June. Neale then returned to Weymouth once more to protect the King during his long summer holiday, and when back at sea his command assisted the Triton 32, Acting-Captain Edward Griffith, in the capture of the privateer Rosée 14 and several other vessels in the Channel on 11-12 December.

On 9 April 1799 the San Fiorenzo was sailing off Lorient in company with the Amelia 38, Captain Hon. Charles Herbert, when the latter became dismasted in a squall. Upon noting her disability three French frigates, the Cornélie 40, Vengeance 40, and Sémillante 36, slipped their cables and dashed out of the outer roads in an attempt to overwhelm the San Fiorenzo. The Amelia managed to cast loose her wreckage, and the two British frigates successfully repelled the assault, the San Fiorenzo receiving casualties of one man killed and eight wounded, the Amelia two men killed and seventeen wounded. In July Neale was present in the Aix Roads with Rear-Admiral Charles Pole during the campaign generated by the breakout of the Brest squadron on 25 April, and in November his command took a convoy out to Oporto.

During February 1800 the San Fiorenzo escorted a body of troops from Portsmouth to Ireland, and after a short cruise and Portuguese convoy duty she underwent repairs at Plymouth in June before returning to Weymouth once more in July to attend the King. Neale then vacated the command on 28 October.

In March 1801 he was appointed to the Centaur 74, but it appears that she continued at sea under Captain Bendall Littlehales, and instead, in May, he was appointed to the command of the royal yacht Royal Charlotte, conveying the King, Queen, and princesses from Lymington to Weymouth, and then cruising off the resort. During June he was appointed a groom of the bedchamber, which office he held until 1820, and in November it was confirmed that in the likely event of peace he would continue in command of the yacht Royal Charlotte.

In November 1802, during the short peace, Neale and his family were collected from Lymington for passage out to Naples aboard the Resistance 36, Captain Hon. Phillip Wodehouse, before returning in the following June to be presented once more to the King by Admiral Lord Bridport. Shortly afterwards, Neale took command of the gunboats and Sea Fencibles in the protection of the Thames, a position he relinquished when in January 1804 he was appointed a lord of the Admiralty in Henry Addington’s government. At the end of May, following William Pitt’s return to government, it was announced that Neale was to resign his position at the Admiralty, although he remained in office until 13 September.

Meanwhile, on 5 May 1804, Neale was appointed to the sumptuous new yacht Royal Sovereign, which was fitting at Deptford. In the summer he was again summoned to attend the King on his annual holiday, arriving in London during August to take command of the Royal Sovereign in order to sail her around to Weymouth. During December he attended the King at Windsor, and remaining out of active employment he waited on the King at Windsor at the beginning of July 1805 to receive his orders respecting the royal yacht, which were to sail it from Deptford to Weymouth where he again remained for several weeks.

Neale returned to active duty in November 1805 with his appointment to the London 98, sailing from Plymouth in December to join the squadrons sent in chase of Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues and Rear-Admiral Jean Baptiste Philibert Willaumez, which pursuit ended with the former’s defeat at the Battle of San Domingo on 6 February 1806, and the latter dispersal in a hurricane on 18 August. During this campaign the London was in the thick of the action when Vice-Admiral Sir John Warren’s squadron captured the Marengo 74 and Belle Poule 40 on 13 March after a four and a half-hour chase, her casualties in the action numbering ten men killed and twenty-two wounded. Neale was a particular favourite of King George III

Concurrently, and unbeknown at the time to Neale, he had been re-selected to serve as a member of the Board of Admiralty on 10 February 1806 following the death of William Pitt and the installation of Lord Grenville as prime minister, and on returning home at the end of May he met the King to kiss hands on taking up his seat on the board. On 29 May he was succeeded in command of the London by Captain Edward Oliver Osborn. During August he attended the King at Windsor, and whilst residing in London he attended a levee in December. He left his position at the Admiralty on 6 April 1807 when the Duke of Portland assumed the reins of government, and he was again with the King at Windsor in September.

In May 1808 he became captain of the fleet to Admiral Lord Gambier in the Channel fleet aboard the Ville de Paris 110 and thereafter the Caledonia 120, both commanded by Captain William Bedford. Following the controversial Battle of the Basque Roads on 11 April 1809, which inshore operation he had wanted to personally direct, he was selected ahead of Captain Lord Cochrane to convey the despatches to England, taking passage home aboard this officer’s Impérieuse 38, and arriving at the Admiralty ten days later.

Neale became a rear-admiral on 31 July 1810, at which point he gave up the command of the royal yacht Royal Sovereign. On 25 August he hoisted his flag at Plymouth aboard the Caledonia 110, Captain William Bedford, sailing for the Basque Roads three days later to supersede Rear-Admiral Thomas Sotheby. After briefly returning home, he re-hoisted his flag at the beginning of February at Portsmouth aboard the Caledonia, Captain Francis William Austen and sailed once more for his station. In May the Boyne 98, Captain John Martin Hanchett, arrived in the Basque Roads to take over the role of his flagship, and in November 1811 Captain Charles Jones was appointed to the Boyne, which in February 1812 arrived back at Plymouth after twenty-six weeks off Lorient.

On 29 February 1812 Neale hoisted his flag in the Hamoaze aboard the Royal Sovereign 100, Captain Bedford, before the Boyne came around from Portsmouth with Captain Jones to receive his flag once more. Thereafter Neale served off Brest, transferring with Jones to the Ville de Paris 110 in March 1813. In April 1814 he was in Douarnenez Bay aboard the Zealous 74, Captain Thomas Boys, when a deputation from the town came out to announce that the Bourbons had been restored to power in France, and after proceeding to the Basque Roads he re-hoisted his flag aboard the Ville de Paris and came home.

On 4 June 1814 he became a vice-admiral, on 2 January 1815 was nominated a K.C.B., being invested by the Prince Regent at Carlton House on 12 August, and he spent some time on the Continent during 1818. He also continued his close relationship with the royals, as evidenced by his escorting Princess Augusta to the opera in April 1822, and he was nominated a G.C.B on 14 September that year.

On 31 July 1823 Neale was appointed the commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean with his flag aboard the Revenge 74, commanded by his first cousin once removed, Sir Charles Burrard, and in March 1824 he was ordered to reinforce the treaty of 1816 with the Dey of Algiers. Arriving off the port of Algiers on 11 July, he had a short engagement with over thirty Algerine gunboats a few days later before withdrawing. He then returned two weeks later to be initially met with the fire of the Algerine batteries and shipping, but after threatening to bombard the town negotiations were undertaken and they brought a resolution to the disagreement. During the autumn of 1825 his recall was demanded by the Turks over tensions regarding the Greek War of Independence, but even so he delivered the British ambassador, Stratford Canning, to Constantinople on 27 January 1826, returning to Malta in February before again sailing off the coast of Turkey in the summer. The Revenge returned to Portsmouth in April 1827 and Neale struck his flag.

On 16 January 1824 he was honoured with the G.C.M.G, he became an admiral on 22 July 1830, and when Admiral Sir Tomas Foley died in January 1833 he was offered, but refused, the command at Portsmouth, preferring instead to retain his seat in parliament.

Having maintained his position as a leading member of society, Admiral Neale died in Brighton on 7 February 1840, being buried at Walhampton near Lymington. He was succeeded in his baronetcy by his brother, Reverend George Burrard.

On 15 April 1795 by special licence at Admiral Lord Bridport’s residence in Harley Street, he married Grace Elizabeth Neale, the eldest daughter of Robert Neale of Shaw House, Melksham, Wiltshire. The couple did not have any children and Lady Neale, who had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, died in 1855.

Neale was lord of the manor and M.P. at Lymington from 1790-2, 1806-7, 1812-23, and 1832-34, and a monument was erected to his memory on Mount Pleasant, overlooking the town. He also acted as mayor of Christchurch after leaving the sea. He was regarded as a better administrator than seaman. His nephew, Leonard Rooke, was born in 1797, served with him at the end of the Napoleonic War, and was his flag lieutenant in 1823.

Thank you to Barry Jolly for providing details of Neale’s service record.