Hood, Samuel

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Hood, Samuel

HOOD, SAMUEL. (1724–1816). British admiral. Born in Budleigh, Somerset, on 12 December 1724, the eldest son of a country parson, Hood entered the navy in 1741 and for a time was a follower of Captain George Brydges Rodney. He saw action in the North Sea and the Channel and was in American waters between 1753 and 1756. A captain from 1756, he again served under Rodney when they broke up a French invasion flotilla at Le Havre in 1759. In 1767–1770, as commodore commanding the North American station, he encountered American discontents and warned the government to choose conciliation over provocation. In September 1780 he accepted promotion to rear admiral as the irascible Admiral Rodney's second in command in the West Indies.

After the capture of St. Eustatius in January 1781, Hood was detached to intercept Admiral de Grasse off Martinique, but in the action of 29 April he failed to close with his opponent. Hood blamed Rodney's interference with his initial dispositions, whereas Rodney was quick to criticize Hood's attention to duty. During the Yorktown campaign, Hood claimed later, Admiral Thomas Graves was too slow in starting for the Chesapeake and should have abandoned the strict line of battle to attack French ships as they came out of the bay. But in the ensuing action it was Hood who kept the line so rigidly that his rear division was never engaged. Hood then urged his superior to race back to reach Cornwallis at Yorktown, but Graves, who rightly feared being bottled up there by de Grasse, declined.

In short, Hood, as a subordinate admiral, while possessed of some strategic instinct, was excessively cautious in battle and insolent to the point of insubordination. By contrast, returning to the West Indies as his own master, he displayed unusual talent and determination. Although he failed to save St. Kitts in February 1782, his maneuvers against de Grasse's superior numbers were daring and masterly. When Rodney returned to assume command, Hood became his old self, bombarding him with gratuitous advice and later unreasonably criticizing his failure to pursue de Grasse after the victory of The Saints (or Saints Passage) on 12 April 1782. His relationship with Robert Pigot, Rodney's more amiable successor, was little better.

In September 1782 Hood was given an Irish barony and returned home in June 1783. In 1784 he entered Parliament, and from 1788 to 1794 he was a lord of Admiralty. In 1793–1794, as commander in chief in the Mediterranean, he briefly occupied Toulon and conquered Corsica. Dismissed for insubordination in 1795, he became governor of Greenwich Hospital, and Viscount Hood in 1796. He died after a fall at Bath on 27 January 1816.

SEE ALSO Grasse, François Joseph Paul, Comte de; Graves, Thomas; Pigot, Robert; Rodney, George Bridges; St. Eustatius.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Breen, Kenneth. "Divided Command in the West Indies and North America, 1780–1781." In The British Navy and the Use of Naval Power in the Eighteenth Century. Edited by Jeremy Black and Philip Woodfine. Leicester, U.K.: Leicester University Press, 1988.

Grainger, John D. The Battle of Yorktown, 1781: A Reassessment. Woodbridge, Suffolk, U.K., and Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, 2005.

Syrett, David. The Royal Navy in American Waters 1775–1783. Aldershot, U.K.: Scholar Press, 1989.

Hoare, Samuel, 1st Viscount Templewood

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Hoare, Samuel, 1st Viscount Templewood (1880–1959). Hoare came from a Norfolk family and was educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford. He entered Parliament in 1910 as a Conservative and sat for Chelsea until given his peerage in 1944. He took office under Bonar Law in 1922 as secretary of state for air and held the same office under Baldwin. In 1931 he became secretary of state for India in the National Government and carried the Government of India Bill, advancing towards self-government. Baldwin, in 1935, moved him to the Foreign Office. ‘Your stay at the Foreign Office will be memorable,’ wrote Beaverbrook in congratulation. It was. Hoare was plunged straight into the crisis over Italy's designs on Abyssinia. In December 1935 he drew up with Pierre Laval, French foreign minister, a plan which would have dismembered Abyssinia. The public outcry forced his resignation, though Hoare defended his deal as the best he could do for Abyssinia unless governments were prepared to fight Mussolini. Though he was brought back as a minister in 1936, and served as 1st lord of the Admiralty, home secretary, lord privy seal, and secretary of state for air, his career limped. After resigning with Chamberlain in 1940, he served for four years as ambassador to Spain, at a very critical juncture. Hoare had held high public office almost continuously for more than twenty years. He was unlucky about the Hoare–Laval pact. He was ill at the time and much of the abuse he suffered for ‘betraying the League of Nations’ was from people who would never have supported war. But there is no reason to believe that the episode brought down a future prime minister.

J. A. Cannon

Hood, Samuel

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Hood, Samuel (1724–1816). Admiral. Born of Dorset clerical stock, Hood and his brother Alexander entered the navy at the same time and prospered under the patronage of the Lyttelton family and its relatives the Grenvilles and Pitts. Given a commission in 1746, Hood served throughout the Seven Years War and was present at Quiberon Bay in 1759. In 1767, still a captain, he was appointed commander-in-chief in North America; subsequently from 1771 to 1780 he was stationed at Portsmouth, where, in 1778, George III entrusted to him the naval grounding of the future William IV. A baronet (1778) and rear-admiral (1780), Hood was Rodney's second at the battle of the Saints (April 1782), and was severely critical of Rodney's failure to pursue the French. An Irish peer in 1782, he was returned to Parliament in 1784 for Westminster after a celebrated and fierce contest. Ten years later he conducted, with considerable address, the combined operations which led to the capture of Toulon. Raised to a British viscountcy in 1796, Samuel Hood stood high in the navy's esteem and was outspoken about the primitive conditions under which the lower deck served.

David Denis Aldridge

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