Henry Digby (Royal Navy Officer)

Henry Digby (Royal Navy Officer)

Admiral of the Blue Sir Henry Digby GCB (20 January 1770 – 19 August 1842) was a senior British naval officer, who served in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in the Royal Navy. Born into a long established naval family, his uncle was the famous Admiral Robert Digby, Henry went to sea at the end of the American Revolutionary War aged fourteen.

As a Lieutenant aboard HMS Pallas, he received a commendation for rescuing the crew of a burning ship. Promoted to Commander in August 1795 and Captain in December 1796, Digby established a reputation as an aggressive prize taker, capturing 57 ships in less than twenty months. His richest capture came in October 1799 when he assisted in the taking of the treasure ship, the Santa Brigida. He commanded HMS Africa at the Battle of Trafalgar, manoeuvering her into the French and Spanish fleet against orders, having been instructed by Nelson to avoid battle, fearing Digby's small ship of the line would be overwhelmed.

In 1806 Digby married Lady Jane Elizabeth Coke, daughter of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester with whom he had three children. They moved to the estate in Dorset inherited from his uncle where the prize money amassed by Digby paid for a comfortable life. He continued to serve in the navy, was appointed Commander in Chief, Sheerness and attained the rank of Admiral in 1841.

Read more about Henry Digby (Royal Navy Officer):  Early Life, Naval Career, Later Life

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