About Henry William Bayntun
Sir Henry William Bayntun GCB (1766 – 16 December 1840) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy, whose distinguished career in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars was a catalogue of the highest and lowest points of the Navy during the conflict. His record includes extensive operations in the West Indies followed by shipwreck, the battle of Trafalgar and the disastrous expedition to Buenos Aires in 1807.
Born in 1766 in Algiers, where his father was Consul general, Bayntun joined the navy at a young age and received his lieutenancy at just seventeen on 15 April 1783. Bayntun was actively employed following the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France in 1793. He took command of the sloop HMS Avenger following her captain's death on 4 May 1794 and proceeded to participate in the capture of the French frigate Bienvenue, as well as other shipping off Port Royal, Martinique. He was also prominent in the capture of both that island and Guadeloupe by the fleet under the command of Admiral Sir John Jervis.
Bayntun was given command of the 36-gun HMS Reunion. The ship was wrecked in December 1796, but he was absolved of blame for the loss and given HMS Quebec. He then commanded ships of the line, including HMS Thunderer and HMS Cumberland, with which he won acclaim during a successful blockade of the French Caribbean islands following their return to France under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens. In 1803 he captured the French frigate Créole, along with her convoy and hundreds of troops aboard returning to France.
In 1804 Bayntun returned to England after ten years in the West Indies, and was given command of the fast third rate HMS Leviathan. She joined Nelson's fleet off Brest and subsequently sailed to the West Indies again before arriving off Cadiz. Bayntun was in this way unusual amongst Trafalgar captains, many of whom had only just arrived on station for the blockade.
At the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October, Bayntun in Leviathan was fourth in Nelson's weather column, after HMS Victory, HMS Temeraire and HMS Neptune. Leviathan raked the French flagship Bucentaure and battled the French Neptune before engaging with the massive Santissima Trinidad. Seeing the distant approach of Rear-Admiral Dumanoir's squadron from the north, Captain Thomas Hardy ordered Leviathan and other ships to close the enemy. Leviathan managed to catch the Spanish ship San Agustín and easily capture her, but the remainder of the squadron fled, terminating the battle.
The Leviathan suffered only 26 casualties of the battle and was able to return to Gibraltar unaided in the growing storm. She did however lose her prize, the San Augustin, which was burnt as she foundered some days after the action. After the battle, Bayntun was among the many officers that the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund honoured with gifts. He also was the guidon bearer at Nelson's state funeral.
In 1807 Bayntun participated in the naval aspects of the failed invasion of Argentina, but escaped the condemnation received by other of the officers involved. He continued in service, taking command of the 74-gun HMS Milford in 1809, and commanding the royal yacht HMY Royal Sovereign from 1811 until his promotion to rear-admiral of the blue on 12 August 1812. With the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to Elba, Bayntun was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in January 1815.
Bayntun continued in the Navy as a semi-retired officer slowly gaining promotions, being advanced to rear-admiral of the white on 4 June 1814; rear-admiral of the red on 12 August 1819, and then to vice-admiral of the blue on 19 July 1819. He was further promoted to vice-admiral of the white on 27 May 1825 and vice-admiral of the red on 22 July 1830. On 10 January 1837 he was made an admiral of the blue and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 25 October 1839.
Henry William Bayntun died in Bath in 1840 and is buried in All Saints' Church, Weston, Bath, together with several family members.
The Captain-class frigate HMS Bayntun was named for him. She served during the Second World War.