Sir William Sidney Smith

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Smith, Sir Sidney (1764–1840). Admiral. Smith entered the navy in 1777 and saw action in the American War at Cape St Vincent (16 January 1780) and off the Chesapeake (5 September 1781). In 1785–7 he studied French at Caen before spending a year with the Swedish navy. In 1793 he was posted to Toulon and returned with dispatches after its fall. Smith was given command of the frigate Diamond which he used to conduct partisan warfare along the French coast. He was captured in 1796 off Le Havre and imprisoned in the Temple, Paris. Two years later he escaped and returned to command the Tigre in Levant. The most famous episode in his career came in 1799 when he undertook the defence of Saint-Jean d'Acre (3 March–8 May) and heroically repulsed Napoleon. Smith possessed a vainglorious streak to his character, but also showed great valour and judgement. He died in Paris and was buried in Père-Lachaise.

Richard A. Smith

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