Honiton's long association with the Royal Navy
- Credit: Allhallows Museum
Margaret Lewis, curator of Allhallows Museum, writes for the Herald.
Admiral Horatio Nelson sent out the signal to his fleet 'England expects that every man will do his duty' before the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Nelson was killed a few hours later while leading the attack on the combined French and Spanish fleet.
Despite the distance from the coast, many Honiton residents played an important role in the nation's naval history. Some of these people and places were known to Nelson.
Admiral Thomas Graves lived at Combe Raleigh and was Nelson's second in command at the Battle of Copenhagen.
Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth whose family seat was at Upottery was the Prime Minister from 1801 to 1804.
Nelson was often seen riding around this area, and he once considered purchasing Hembury Fort House for Emma Hamilton, but she thought the area was far too cold and damp.
On January 13, 1801, during an argument with Lady Nelson, she told him he that must choose between herself and Emma. Horatio Nelson parted from her for the last time and set out for Plymouth.
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On the way he stopped in Honiton and enquired about Mrs Westcott, the mother of Honiton born George Blagdon Westcott.
He was the only captain killed in the Battle of the Nile at Aboukir Bay in 1798.
Mrs Westcott confided that she had not received her son's Nile medal and with typical generosity, Nelson gave her his own.
The Victory's signal Lieutenant John Pasco’s first daughter was baptised Horatia Victoria Elizabeth Atchinson Pasco and the local vicar noted that her name was chosen to commemorate the battle.
Lieutenant Thomas Groube was included in the Tonnant ship's muster list but was discharged as sick before the battle of Trafalgar.
He lived in High Street, Honiton, and was one of sixteen candidates for Saint Paul's Ward in the first election of councillors in the Borough of Honiton in February 1847.
Admiral Samuel Graves’ ward Elizabeth Gwillum married his godson John Graves Simcoe who was Lieutenant General in command of the forces along the Southwest of England.
Simcoe was notified of the victory at Trafalgar and ordered the Luppitt Artillery to fire a salute on St Cyres Hill.
Honiton's residents were terrified when they heard the gunfire, they thought that it was a warning that Napoleon and his army were invading.