Beachy Head, battle of

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Beachy Head, battle of, 1690. Command of the Channel was of critical importance in 1690, when William III and James II struggled for control of Ireland and the French threatened to invade England as a diversion. In June, de Tourville put to sea with a French fleet of 78 vessels. Torrington, commanding the joint Anglo-Dutch fleet, was apprehensive and cautious: ‘the odds are great,’ he wrote, and his main objective was not to hazard his fleet. On 29 June the brunt of the action fell upon the Dutch, who lost six ships. Torrington withdrew to the safety of the Thames estuary, leaving the French to dominate the Channel. Torrington was sent to the Tower, court-martialled, but acquitted.

J. A. Cannon