Thomas Saumarez (1827–1903)

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Thomas Saumarez (1827–1903) was a British naval captain. He is known for his actions in the Second Opium War.

Second Opium War war in China from 1857–1860

The Second Opium War (第二次鴉片戰爭), the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the United Kingdom and the French Empire against the Qing dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860.


Early life

One of the Saumarez naval family originating in Guernsey, he was born on 31 March 1827 at Sutton, Surrey, the son of Richard Saumarez R.N. and Anne Ellson, and a great-nephew of James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez. After education at the Western Grammar School, Brompton, he entered the Royal Navy in 1841. [1] [2]

Guernsey island in the bailiwick of Guernsey

Guernsey is an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. It lies roughly north of Saint-Malo and to the west of Jersey and the Cotentin Peninsula. With several smaller nearby islands, it forms a jurisdiction within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency. The jurisdiction is made up of ten parishes on the island of Guernsey, three other inhabited islands, and many small islets and rocks.

James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez Royal Navy admiral

Admiral James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez, GCB was an admiral of the British Royal Navy, notable for his victory at the Second Battle of Algeciras.

Brompton, London suburb of London, England

Brompton is an area located near the district of Knightsbridge in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. It is roughly defined by a triangle formed by the Brompton Cemetery, Old Brompton Road/Brompton Road/Cromwell Road, and Walton Street/Fulham Road.

Saumarez as a midshipman served on the east coast of South America, and was promoted lieutenant in March 1848. He served mainly on the west coast of Africa, where on 31 March 1851 he saved a man from drowning and received the Royal Humane Society's silver medal. Later that year he commanded a division of gunboats at Lagos and was severely wounded. [1]

The Royal Humane Society is a British charity which promotes lifesaving intervention. It was founded in England in 1774 as the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned, for the purpose of rendering first aid in cases of near drowning.

Lagos Metropolis in Nigeria

Lagos is a city in the Nigerian state of Lagos. The city, with its adjoining conurbation, is the most populous in Nigeria, and the most populous on the African continent. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and also one of the most populous urban agglomerations. Lagos is a major financial centre in Africa; the megacity has the highest GDP, and also houses one of the largest and busiest seaports on the continent.

The Cormorant and the Forte

In September 1854 Saumarez was promoted to commander. In May 1858 he had command of HMS Cormorant, a Vigilant-class gunvessel, and served with at the capture of the Dagu forts, in the Second Opium War. The Cormorant led the attack and broke through a boom. Her first broadside, simultaneously, dismounted the largest of the Chinese guns. He then took part in the operations in the Hai River and in the occupation of Tianjin. [1] At Ningbo he carried out a detailed investigation into the local Christian missionary work. [3]

<i>Vigilant</i>-class gunvessel

The Vigilant-class gunvessel of the Royal Navy was an enlarged version of the Arrow-class gunvessel of 1854. Both classes were designed for shallow-water operations in the Baltic and Black Seas during the Crimean War. Fourteen of the class were completed, but were ready too late to take part in that conflict. Cormorant was sunk in action at the Taku Forts, Osprey was wrecked on the coast of Africa in 1867 and the rest were all sold during the 1860s, with Sparrowhawk lasting until 1872.

Battle of Taku Forts (1858)

The First Battle of Taku Forts was the first invasion of the Anglo-French alliance against the Taku Forts along the Hai River in Tianjin, China, on 20 May 1858, during the Second Opium War.

Boom (navigational barrier) navigational barrier

A boom or a chain is an obstacle strung across a navigable stretch of water to control or block navigation. Booms could be military in nature, with the goal of denying access to an enemy's ships; a modern example is the anti-submarine net. Booms could also be used, especially along rivers, to force passing vessels to pay a toll.

Saumarez was promoted to the rank of captain, on 27 July 1858. [1] He then served as captain of HMS Forte, a steam frigate and flagship to Richard Laird Warren, on the east coast of South America in 1861. [4] [5] A diplomatic incident occurred after Brazilian police arrested officers from the Forte at Tijuca; in a strained atmosphere, it contributed to a breaking-off of diplomatic relations between Brazil and the United Kingdom, and helped end the career of William Dougal Christie. [6] Saumarez and the gunboat HMS Sheldrake were heavily involved in this "Christie crisis". [7]

HMS Forte may refer to more than one ship of the British Royal Navy:

Steam frigate

Steam frigates, also known as screw frigates, and the smaller steam corvettes and steam sloops were steam-powered warships. The first such ships were steam-powered versions of the traditional frigates, corvettes, and sloops.

Tijuca Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tijuca is a neighbourhood of the Northern Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It comprises the region of Saens Peña and Afonso Pena squares. According to the 2000 Census, the district has close to 150,000 inhabitants. It borders with Praça da Bandeira, Maracanã, Vila Isabel, Andaraí, Grajaú and Alto da Boa Vista neighbourhoods.

Later life

On 12 April 1870 Saumarez was retired, and he was nominated a C.B. in 1873. He became by seniority a rear-admiral in 1876, vice-admiral in 1881, and admiral in 1886. He resided at 2 Morpeth Mansions, Westminster, and died at Ramsgate on 22 January 1903. [1] [8]

Westminster area of central London, within the City of Westminster

Westminster is an area of central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Ramsgate town in Kent, England

Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century. In 2001 it had a population of about 40,000. Ramsgate’s main attraction is its coastline, and its main industries are tourism and fishing. The town has one of the largest marinas on the English south coast, and the Port of Ramsgate provided cross-channel ferries for many years.


Saumarez married (1) in 1854 Agnes Jean Block, daughter (d. 1866) of S. R. Block of Greenhill, Barnet; and (2) in 1868, Eleanor, daughter of B. Scott Riley, of Liverpool. He left no issue. [1] [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg   Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Saumarez, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. 1 2 "Anne Ellson", Kindred Britain". Stanford University . Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  3. Richard Blake (2014). Religion in the British Navy, 1815-1879: Piety and Professionalism. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 184. ISBN   978-1-84383-885-2.
  4. Great Britain. Admiralty (1861). The Navy List. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 167.
  5. Rif Winfield (30 April 2014). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. p. 496. ISBN   978-1-4738-3743-0.
  6. W. C. Lubenow (29 October 1998). The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 171. ISBN   978-0-521-57213-2.
  7. British and Foreign State Papers. H.M. Stationery Office. 1869. p. 608.
  8. Lambert, Andrew. "Saumarez, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35956.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Saumarez, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.