Vernon, Edward

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Vernon, Edward (1684–1757). Admiral. Second son of James Vernon, secretary of state to William III, Vernon entered the navy at the age of 15, and was given his first command in 1706. In 1722 he came into Parliament as MP for Penryn but moved into opposition and lost his seat in 1734. At the outbreak of the war with Spain in 1739, Vernon offered his services and was sent to the West Indies with the rank of vice-admiral. On 21 November 1739 his forces stormed the fortress of Portobello in Panama. Vernon became a national hero. London made him a freeman, taverns were named after him, and the tiny resort outside Edinburgh commemorated his great victory. But attempts to repeat the success at Cartagena, Santiago, or Panama failed and Vernon returned home in December 1742. Returned to Parliament for Ipswich he became a noisy critic of government and though promoted admiral in 1745 was dismissed from the service in 1746 for publishing his letters to the Admiralty. ‘Henceforth’, wrote Namier, ‘he was merely a picturesque and turbulent politician, embarrassing to his friends … the erstwhile firebrand had become a bore.’

J. A. Cannon

Vernon, Edward

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Vernon, Edward

VERNON, EDWARD. (1685–1757). British admiral. In 1740 Vernon, popularly known as "Old Grog" from his grogram cloak, ordered that the daily rum issue in his squadron be diluted with three parts water—hence the naval name "grog" for watered-down rum. Vernon's capture of Porto Bello in 1739 made him famous, and his reputation survived the disastrous attempt on Cartagena in 1741. Lawrence Washington, the half-brother from whom George Washington inherited his estate, named Mount Vernon in his honor.

                              revised by John Oliphant

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Edward Vernon

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