Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB

Is your surname Blackwood?

Research the Blackwood family

Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


About Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB

Vice-Admiral Hon. Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Bt. was born on 28 December 1770.

He married, firstly, Jane Mary Crosbie, daughter of Lancelot Crosbie and Mary Blennerhassett, on 12 January 1795.

He married, secondly, Eliza Waghorn, daughter of Captain Martin Waghorn, on 3 June 1799.

He married, thirdly, Harriet Gore, daughter of Francis Gore, on 9 May 1803.

He died on 14 December 1832 at age 61.

He was also reported to have died on 17 December 1832.

He was the son of Sir John Blackwood, 2nd Bt. and Dorcas Stevenson, Baroness Dufferin and Clandeboye.

He was commissioned in April 1781, in the service of the Royal Navy.

He gained the rank of Signal Midshipman in 1790.

He gained the rank of Lieutenant on 3 November 1790.

He gained the rank of First Lieutenant on 1 June 1794.

He gained the rank of Captain on 2 June 1795.

He was commander of the inshore squadron under Nelson in the blockade of Cadiz in 1805.

On 21 October 1805 he witnessed with Hardy of the oral codicil to Nelson's will in which he commended the care of Emma Hamilton and their daughter, Horatia, to the country.

He gained the rank of Captain of the Fleet in May 1814.

He gained the rank of Rear-Admiral on 4 June 1814.

He was created 1st Baronet Blackwood [U.K.] on 1 September 1814.

He was invested as a Knight Commander, Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) in 1819.

He was Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies between 1819 and 1822.

He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Hanoverian Order (G.C.H.).

He gained the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Blue in 1825.

He gained the rank of Commander-in-Chief between 1827 and 1830 in the service of the The Nore.


Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB (28 December 1770 – 17 December 1832), whose memorial is in the St. John's Church, Killyleagh, was a British sailor.

Early life

Blackwood was the fourth son of Sir John Blackwood, 2nd Baronet, of Ballyleidy (later renamed Clandeboye), County Down, and of Dorcas Blackwood, 1st Baroness Dufferin and Claneboye. In April 1781 he entered the Royal Navy as a volunteer on board the frigate HMS Artois, with Captain John MacBride, and in her was present at the battle on the Dogger Bank.

With the frigates

He was promoted lieutenant, commander, and to the rank of post captain then appointed to the frigate HMS Brilliant, of 28 guns. Early in 1798 Brilliant was sent out to join Admiral Waldegrave on the Newfoundland station; and on 26 July, whilst standing close in to the bay of Santa Cruz in quest of a French privateer, she was sighted and chased by two French frigates of the largest size. By admirable seamanship, promptitude, and courage, Blackwood succeeded in checking the pursuit and in escaping. His conduct at this critical time was deservedly commended.

Early in 1799, the Brilliant returned to England, and Blackwood was appointed to the frigate HMS Penelope, of 36 guns, in which, after a few months of Channel service, he was sent out to the Mediterranean, and employed during the winter and following spring in the close blockade of Malta.

On the night of 30 March 1800 the Guillaume Tell, of 80 guns, taking advantage of a southerly gale and intense darkness, weighed and ran out of the harbour. As she passed the Penelope, Blackwood immediately followed, and, having the advantage of sailing, quickly came up with her: then — in the words of the log —

'luffed under her stern, and gave him the larboard broadside, bore up under the larboard quarter and gave him the starboard broadside, receiving from him only his stern-chase guns. From this hour till daylight, finding that we could place ourselves on either quarter, the action continued in the foregoing manner, and with such success on our side that, when day broke, the Guillaume Tell was found in a most dismantled state. 

At five o'clock the Lion, of 64 guns, and some little time afterwards the Foudroyant, of 80 guns, came up, and after a determined and gallant resistance the Guillaume Tell surrendered; but that she was brought to action at all was entirely due to the unparalleled brilliancy of the Penelope's action. Nelson wrote from Palermo (5 April 1800) to Blackwood himself: 'Is there a sympathy which ties men together in the bonds of friendship without having a personal knowledge of each other? If so (and I believe it was so to you), I was your friend and acquaintance before I saw you. Your conduct and character on the late glorious occasion stamps your fame beyond the reach of envy. It was like yourself; it was like the Penelope. Thanks; and say everything kind for me to your brave officers and men'.

HMS Euryalus

In April 1803 Blackwood was appointed to the Euryalus, of 36 guns. During the next two years he was employed on the coast of Ireland or in the Channel, and in July 1805 was sent to watch the movements of the allied fleet under Villeneuve after its defeat by Sir Robert Calder. On his return with the news that Villeneuve had gone to Cadiz, he stopped on his way to London to see Nelson, who went with him to the Admiralty, and received his final instructions to resume the command of the fleet without delay. Blackwood, in the Euryalus, accompanied him to Cadiz, and was appointed to the command of the inshore squadron, with the duty of keeping the admiral informed of every movement of the enemy. He was offered a line-of-battle ship, but preferred to remain in the Euryalus, believing that he would have more opportunity of distinction; for Villeneuve, he was convinced, would not venture out in the presence of Nelson. When he saw the combined fleets outside, Blackwood could not but regret his decision. On the morning of Trafalgar, 21 Oct., in writing to his wife, he added: 'My signal just made on board the Victory — I hope to order me into a vacant line-of-battle ship.' This signal was made at six o'clock, and from that time till after noon, when the shot were already flying thickly over the Victory, Blackwood remained on board, receiving the admiral's last instructions, and, together with Captain Hardy, witnessing the so shamefully disregarded codicil to the admiral's will. He was then ordered to return to his ship. 'God bless you, Blackwood,' said Nelson, shaking him by the hand; 'I shall never speak to you again.' 'He' (and it was Blackwood himself that wrote it) 'not only gave me the command of all the frigates, for the purpose of assisting disabled ships, but he also gave me a latitude seldom or ever given, that of making any use I pleased of his name in ordering any of the stern most line-of-battle ships to do what struck me as best'. Immediately after the battle Collingwood hoisted his flag on board the Euryalus, but after ten days removed it to the Queen, and the Euryalus was sent home with despatches and with the captured French admiral, Pierre-Charles de Villeneuve. Blackwood landed at Falmouth and was one of the first messengers to use the Trafalgar Way to deliver his dispatches to the Admiralty in London. He was thus in England at the time of Lord Nelson's funeral (8 January 1806), on which occasion he acted as train-bearer of the chief mourner, Sir Peter Parker, the aged admiral of the fleet.

Loss of HMS Ajax

In 1807, while captain of Ajax in the Dardanelles under the command of Admiral Sir John Duckworth, his vessel accidentally caught fire, with the loss of 252 lives. This still counts as one of the greatest tragedies in British naval history. Blackwood survived by clutching an oar for an hour in the water before being rescued by Canopus.

HMS Warspite

Following the obligatory court-martial hearing over the loss of Ajax, after being acquitted Blackwood was given command of Warspite, where one of his midshipmen was his nephew Price Blackwood, 4th Baron Dufferin and Claneboye. With this command he sailed in the North Sea and later with the Channel Fleet, receiving a small squadron command during the blockade of Toulon in 1810. He continued to serve in Warspite after her repairs in 1812, returning to the Channel Fleet, and serving at the blockades of Brest and Rochfort during a cruise that took Warspite to Vlissingen, Netherlands; Douarnenez, France; Basque Roads, France; and Cawsand, Cornwall.

One of his midshipmen, James Cheape, describes Blackwood as a disciplinarian who seemed to order lashings almost daily. Elsewhere Cheape describes the conflict between Blackwood and Lord Keith when in November 1813, Cheape says he wrote that Lord Melville ordered a line of battleships to the "Western Islands", and wanted the Warspite to be among them. Lord Keith, however, advised Captain Blackwood, "that he could not possibly send him as he had orders to send another ship" and sent his friend Captain West's ship instead. Captain Blackwood then sent a "private letter to Lord Keith - saying he wished the Warspite to have the preference before any other ship - when showed the letter to Lord Keith he would not read it - so I suppose they don't speak now." This caused Blackwood to resign his command immediately after a continuous active service of six years.

Rear admiral

On 4 June 1814 Blackwood attained the rank of rear-admiral, and in September he was created a Baronet, "of the Navy" for his conduct of the heads of royal families of Europe to England following the defeat of Napoleon. In August 1819 he was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, and appointed commander-in-chief of the East Indies Station, nearly suffering a shipwreck in Leander on his way there off the coast of Madeira. He returned from this station in December 1822. He became vice-admiral in May 1825, and from 1827 to 1830 he commanded in chief at the Nore; and still in the full vigour of life he died after a short illness, differently stated as typhus or scarlet fever, on 17 December 1832, at Ballyleidy, the seat of his eldest brother, Lord Dufferin and Clanboye.

Blackwood was married three times, and left a large family.

Blackwood River, Western Australia, is named in his honour; it was named by Captain (later Admiral Sir) James Stirling, who served under Blackwood as a youth from 1808 to 1810.

view all

Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB's Timeline

December 28, 1770
April 25, 1808
Age 37
December 14, 1832
Age 61