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Collingwood, Cuthbert, 1st Baron

Collingwood, Cuthbert, 1st Baron (1750–1810). The Newcastle upon Tyne-born Collingwood had no influence behind him, unlike Nelson, when he joined the navy in 1761; and again, unlike Nelson, with whom he was on terms of close friendship, Collingwood only obtained a captaincy when he was 30. The friends were strongly contrasted in temperament and physique, and Collingwood's reserve, which in fact concealed strong sensitivities, was very different from Nelson's transparent quality. A common devotion to the service excluded rancour when Collingwood succeeded Nelson in no fewer than three of their earliest commands in the Caribbean; and a shared experience cemented an association which continued through correspondence during their years ashore 1786–93. In dauntless courage Collingwood was unquestionably Nelson's equal, but a natural stoicism assisted Collingwood to more balanced judgements. Present at the ‘Glorious First of June’ battle 1794, and, pre-eminently, at Cape St Vincent in February 1797, Collingwood ruefully accepted not being within Nelson's command which resulted in victory at the Nile; and admiral rank only came in February 1799. At Trafalgar Collingwood commanded the lee division in Royal Sovereign, devastatingly opening the action at midday, the most resplendent hour of his life, and taking command of the fleet on Nelson's death at 4.30 p.m. Raised to the peerage, the overworked Collingwood died at sea in March 1810, but was buried close to Nelson in St Paul's.

David Denis Aldridge

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