John Byron

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Vice Admiral The Hon. John Byron, RN (8 November 1723 – 10 April 1786) was a Royal Navy officer. He was known as Foul-weather Jack because of his frequent bad luck with weather.


Early career

Byron was the sixth child of William Byron, 4th Baron Byron of Rochdale (4 January 1669/70 – 8 August 1736), and the third child (second son) William Byron had with his second wife Hon. Frances Berkeley.[1] He joined the navy in 1731,[1] accompanying Baron Anson on his circumnavigation as a midshipman. On 14 May 1741, Byron's ship, HMS Wager, was shipwrecked on the coast of Patagonia,[1] and the survivors decided to split in two teams, one to make its way by boat to Rio de Janeiro, the other, John Byron's, to sail North and meet Spaniards. He described his adventures and the Wager Mutiny in The Narrative of the Honourable John Byron (1768), which sold well enough to appear in several editions. These experiences form the basis of the novel The Unknown Shore by Patrick O'Brian, which closely follows Byron's own account.

Byron was commissioned Post Captain of HMS Siren (24) in December 1746.[1]

Seven Years War

In 1760 he was in command of a squadron sent to destroy the fortifications at Louisbourg, which had been captured by the British two years before. In July of that year he defeated the French flotilla sent to relieve New France at the Battle of Restigouche.

Between June 1764 and May 1766 Byron completed his own circumnavigation as captain of HMS Dolphin. This was the first circumnavigation in less than 2 years.[2] During this voyage he took possession of the Falkland Islands on the part of Britain, in 1765, on the ground of prior discovery, and his doing so was nearly the cause of a war between Great Britain and Spain, both countries having armed fleets to contest the sovereignty of the barren islands. Later Byron discovered islands of the Tuamotus, Tokelau and the Gilbert Islands, and visited Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands.

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