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Item:  BSL - Admiral Lyons


All Signed "Lyons"
aboard Royal Albert
All Sent to Captain Giffard, later Rear Admiral Giffard

29 July 1857p1

29 July 1857 p2

30 July 1857 p1

30 July 1857 p2

30 July 1857 p3

31 August 1857 p1

31 August 1857 p2

31 August 1857 p3

4 January 1858 p1

4 January 1858 p2

4 January 1858 p3

At the time of these letters July 1857 through January 1858, the Sepoy or Indian Mutiny was in full activity and there was a rush to get British troops though to India. In one letter Admiral Lyons discusses the transit of Troops from Alexandria through the Suez and references Lt-Col Pocklington who was in charge of these movements, although Pocklington favoured a land route. See note below.

Historical Note

Vice Admiral Lord Edmund Lyons
1st Baron Lyons of Christchurch (1835-1895)

British admiral, born at Burton, near Christchurch, Hampshire, on the 21st of November 1790. He entered the navy, and served in the Mediterranean, and afterwards in the East Indies, where in 1810 he won promotion by distinguished bravery. He became post captain in 1814, and in 1826 commanded the "Blonde" frigate at the blockade of Navarino, and took part with the French in the capture of Kasteo Morea. Shortly before his ship was paid off in 1835 he was knighted. In 1840 he was made a baronet and until 1853 Lyons was employed in the diplomatic service, being successively minister to Greece, Switzerland and Sweden. On the outbreak of the Crimean War with Russia he was appointed second in command of the British Black Sea Fleet in the Black Sea under Admiral Dundas, whom he succeeded in the chief command in 1854. As admiral of the inshore squadron he had the direction of the landing of the troops in the Crimea, which he conducted with marvelous energy and despatch. According to Kinglake, Lyons shared the " intimate counsels " of Lord John Raglan in regard to the most momentous questions of the war, and toiled, with a " painful consuming passion," to achieve the object of the campaign. His principal actual achievements in battle were two—the support he rendered with his guns to the French at the Alma in attacking the left flank of the Russians, and the bold and brilliant part he took with his ship the " Agamemnon " in the first bombardment of the forts of Sebastopol; but his constant vigilance, his multifarious activity, and his suggestions and counsels were much more advantageous to the allied cause than his specific exploits. In 1855 he was created vice-admiral; in June 1856 he was raised to the title of Baron Lyons of Christchurch. He was the recipient of various other foreign honours, namely:

1828 - Knight of the Order of St Louis (France)
1833 - Knight Commander of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
1855 - Order of the Mejidie, 1st Class (Ottoman Empire)

Edmund, Lord Lyons, died on 23 November 1858, his body interred in the vault beneath the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel Castle. A full life-size marble statue by Matthew Noble was erected to his memory in 1860 in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, while Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, flew his flag in “Royal Albert”. The first-rate HMS 'Royal Albert', 131 Guns, Screw Steamer, was launched at Woolwich Dockyard on 13 May 1854. Queen Victoria presided over her launching ceremony. "Royal Albert" was immediately sent to the Crimea, where she saw active service in the Black Sea.

On May 22nd, 1855, the “Agamemnon” was one of a British fleet of 33 vessels co-operating with French, Turkish, and Sardinian forces, under Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, who flew his flag in “Royal Albert,” which sailed from Kamiesh Bay. On May 24th they reached Kertch and landed troops. The Russians blew up their fortifications, abandoned hundred guns, and retired, after having destroyed 3 steamers, several other heavily armed vessels, as well as large quantities of provisions, ammunition, and stores. These results were affected without loss to the Allies, who captured 12,000 tons of coal. The general handiness of the “Agamemnon” during these operations was much commented on. Sir Edmund Lyons used her with such constancy for small ship work that she was nicknamed “Lyon’s brougham.” Interestingly Algernon McLennan Lyons, Lyons nephew and flag-lieutenant, and later Admiral of the Fleet himself, served on the "Agamemnon". On October 7th, 1855, the “Agamemnon” sailed from Sebastopol in an Anglo-French fleet of about 90 vessels, with nearly 10,000 troops, under Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, with his flag in “Royal Albert.” They were to attack the fortress of Kinburn, and so harass the communications and rear of the large Russian army in the Crimea. They arrived off Kinburn on the 14th and landed the troops. The ships anchored with only 2 feet of water under their keels, and began a tremendous bombardment at 9.30 a.m. on October 17th, while the troops threatened from the landward side. After a few hours the Russians surrendered, and were permitted to march out with the honours of war, having only lost 45 killed and 130 wounded. The British had but 2 people hurt, and their injuries were due to a bursting of a gun in the “Arrow.” The employment of 3 French armoured vessels makes this action noteworthy, as well as the fact that only steam vessels were employed.

As an aside Edmund Moubray Lyons, the second son of Rear Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, was mortally wounded while engaging the batteries of Sebastopol, June 23, 1855 at Therapia in the Crimea, in command of HMS Miranda. The officers and crew of the Miranda paid for a memorial to him which can be seen today in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Text of Letters:

July 29, 1857
Dear Captain Giffard

I ... of your ... affairs and I am going to land at nine and go to Mount Inez? in Carriages – If you are not afraid of the heat perhaps you would like to be of the party -

Yours Respectfully,
Royal Albert
July 29, 1857

July 30, 1857

Dear Captain Giffard,
The President is to pay me a visit. Sir John Gr???r writes me that he is entitled to the same pennants as the L.W.C? so we must move guards … and as he Lands] his Corps come to the Palace to visit me. I think that we ought to return the compliment, and I should be pleased if you and Captain Carthurst? will come there at eleven o’clock in that I assume troops as we come in landing.

Yours Faithfully,
Royal Albert
July 30, 1857

August 31, 1857
Dear Captain Giffard,
I send you … the …. exam by the Lieutenant. I intend to send the Lieutenant into Agassis when we arrive off the Port to assume wharfing. This paper … anchoring or taking up moorings and wharfing things …. To shorten or trim ..and I will let you know his answers.
If you should separate from me do not go into the Port until I arrive.

Royal Albert
August 31, 1857

Jan 4, 1858
Dear Captain Giffard,

You were quite right in letting Commander Fremantle to expect to see what he said to you as to the difficulty there may possibly be in finding accommodation for the troops at Alexandria –

Lt. Colonel Pocklington is charged with the superintendence of the Transport of our Troops process Alexandria to Suez, and I have no doubt that you and he together will make the best arrangements, for he will readily [admit] that it is very desirable to get the Regiment on Terra Firma as soon as may be at this season of the year and as I have an opportunity of writing by a fast Steamer this Morning. I daresay that he will just proposed to receive them G ??? time past arrive or any find ???? ????? at Cathel

I wish you a fast passage and I remain Yours respectfully
Jan 4, 1858

Edmund Robert Fremantle (later Admiral in his own right) is listed as being only a Lieutenant Aboard the Royal Albert at this time in some naval records, but perhaps this is the same Lieutenant who passed his exams in August and was put aboard the "Agassis". His naval record, however, places him in the "Renown" in the Channel Fleet at this time as Flag Lieutenant to his uncle Rear Admiral Sir Charles Fremantle. Who was this Commander Fremantle who was in charge of transporting troops to Alexandria for their trip through the Suez and on to India?

As to Lt-Colonel Pocklington, he was Deputy Quartermaster-General, appointed in October, 1857, to direct and superintend the transit of the troops, and who, expressly prepared by order of the War Department a report for the Committee of Inquiry, states:

“The advantages of the overland route are very considerable, and the trajet is most simple. A thousand men per week can be conveyed across the isthmus by the Transit administration of Egypt without interference with the ordinary passenger traffic. Between 300 and 400 men can move at a time, and perform the distance from ship to ship in 26 hours. The transit by rail is completed to within almost twenty miles of Suez. This last portion of the journey is performed by the soldiers on donkeys in about six hours. There can be no doubt as to the experiment having succeeded.”

The time occupied by troops from England to India is, by the overland route, from 33 to 46 days. From Malta to India, from 16 to 18 or 20 days. Compare these periods with the 83 by steamers, or the 120 by sailing ships, on the long sea route, and the difference will appear striking. Again, during the longer route, Great Britain will have from 15,000 to 20,000 troops, in effect hors de combat, and beyond counter orders for a period annually, of from 3 to 4 months, while, with the shorter line, it will be but for the brief period of some 14 days, during the transit from Suez to India, that the troops will be beyond reach of recall, for any unexpected European contingency.

This is  very nice collection of Four Very Fine letters from a prominent Admiral of the Crimean War who worked with Ragland and mastered the art of the new "screw" battleships now run on coal. His heroics in the Crimean campaign are well documented and here is a fine example of his communications with a favourite captain in his fleet.

Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

End of Item - BSL - Admiral Lyons

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