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Jervis, John, 1st earl of St Vincent

Jervis, John, 1st earl of St Vincent (1735–1823). Promoted earl following his triumph over the Spanish fleet in February 1797, Jervis, son of a crooked Staffordshire lawyer, had an inauspicious start in life. But these circumstances formed an unflinching character of firmness and integrity; and as a hard yet humane disciplinarian Jervis attained a standing in the navy which was all his own. A symbol of professionalism, he was commanding in the Western Approaches in his 71st year. Jervis served with Wolfe at Quebec in 1759, and subsequent service in the North Sea and Mediterranean endorsed his talents as a seaman. In the 1770s he spent a year in France, familiarized himself with France's Biscay bases, and visited all the ports of the Baltic. He was present at Keppel's indecisive action off Ushant in July 1778, while at home he became MP for Launceston, Yarmouth (Walpole interest), and Wycombe 1783–94. Promoted admiral in 1787 he combined well with the army in the West Indies in 1793, but it was his command in the Mediterranean 1795–9 which established his fame, together with his affectionate tutelage of his subordinate Nelson. In 1801, as 1st lord of the Admiralty, St Vincent prosecuted an inquiry into theft in the dockyards which contributed to Lord Melville's impeachment in 1806 for malversation of funds. In 1810 Sheridan saluted St Vincent's ‘triple laurels over the enemy, the mutineer, and the corrupt’.

David Denis Aldridge

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Jervis, John, earl of St. Vincent

John Jervis, earl of St. Vincent (jär´vĬs, jûr´–), 1735–1823, British admiral. His most famous action as commander of the Mediterranean fleet was his defeat in 1797 of 27 Spanish ships off Cape St. Vincent with only 15 vessels. The victory was partly due to an unauthorized attack by Horatio Nelson and might have been more complete had Jervis realized the weakness of the enemy. However, it helped to reduce British concern at a time when a French invasion of Britain was threatened. Jervis received a peerage and pension. As first lord of the admiralty (1801–6), Jervis was especially concerned with the restoration of discipline and with problems of health and hygiene. He returned (1806–7) to a sea command until his health failed.

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