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  #76  
Old 03-03-2010, 13:35
Bee Bee is offline
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Seagull and welcome to the forum....I'm sure you'll be an addicted forumee in no time at all. Sorry about the long delay on replying to your post. (phone call)

Re: Admiral John Byng... From what I've read here, I don't think he should have been found guilty, let alone executed. They were very harsh times and punishments for all in those days. With regard to Admiral Byng though...it wouldn't surprise me if there was something "political" going on in the background.

Regards,
Bee
p.s. If you'd like more people to see your first posting...it might be worth your while to post a little "hello" in the introduction section on the first page and tell them of your area of interest, etc.
At least the regulars will then know we have a new member onboard and you'll be likely to get a few more replies.
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  #77  
Old 09-03-2010, 21:56
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Greeting's Seagull,
Will try very hard to be there, but this coming Sunday "The Saints" are at home and my wife has a season ticket, need I say more!!

See you Sunday all being well.

Baz
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  #78  
Old 10-03-2010, 03:06
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Just speaking from and "across the ocean" point of view, I read the original post as far as the following:

"Byng's account of the battle, sent to the Admiralty ... was held over and some parts deliberately deleted before it was published."

In the great tradition of humanity, this immediately tells you all you need to know...he was hung by the system, not by his own guilt. Somebody really had it in for him in the political/Admiralty hierarchy. No other explanation would result in his own report being bastardized before public scrutiny.

As you can see, I am forever the optimist.
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  #79  
Old 10-03-2010, 11:48
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Gunnersmate: You have a seat reserved for you on 14th March as "The Representative of the WNSF". Hope Killercarrot, First Sea Lord, approves? The Saints come matching in until 18th March - so they will let you off the 14th. Look forward to meeting you. If there may be more of you please let us know.

Hello Don Boyer: You are 'spot on' in your assessment of the treatment of Admiral Byng. Good for you that you can remain an "optimist" (in the face of humanity)?

Seagull
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  #80  
Old 14-03-2010, 16:51
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Greeting's Seagull,
Well, I was there, but could not pick you out? not knowing what you looked like. There was one or two people the wife and I thought could be you, but never certain. My dress was a dark suit and I have grey hair. My wife is a short blonde haired lady who walks very badly having just had a new knee. Maybe that will jog your memory. Anyway, the service was very good, the Padre sounded like one of our American cousins. After the tea and cakes we had to go, I felt a little disappointed not having met you, maybe next time?

Baz.
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  #81  
Old 15-03-2010, 19:40
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Gunnersmate

You are not the only one who is disappointed! Why did you not make contact with the church warden or report to an official of some sort? I asked several of them if the WNSF's representative had arrived! I was caught up chatting with several people who were interested in the history. The Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Samuel Whitbread (whose family bought the estate from the Byngs) arrived with his wife and black dog who all visited the Vault to see the newly renovated work. I will post a photograph when I learn how.

Some Byng family members were there and all would have been interested to meet you and your wife. I was looking for a lone male - not expecting you to be a couple. Please apologise to your wife who had given up her Rugby match! I hope that there will be another opportunity.
Seagull
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  #82  
Old 15-03-2010, 21:14
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Greeting's Seagull,
I did not take the WNSF bit seriously. But I did speak to the lady that gave the first reading during the service, I think that she was family and I sat just behind her. It's funny but I must have walked past you several times, particularly at the tea and cakes after the service.
The Whitbreads own most of the land around Old Warden and Southill.
Anyway, as you have already said, maybe next time.

Speak to you soon.
Baz.
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  #83  
Old 17-03-2010, 14:56
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Baz

If I had asked if any one had seen Baz, I might have been led to several Basils! I thought that there would be a good chance to be led to a WNSF member!

Do you realise that you are posting on the 'Did Byng deserve to be .... ' thread - rather than the 'Rare viewing' thread? No matter. As you say, hope there is another time

Seagull
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  #84  
Old 17-03-2010, 18:50
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

It seems quite obvious to me that Admiral Byng was set up, to be sacrificed for the ineptitude of the admiralty (he most likely knew who was on the fiddle). Reminds me of the "Shot at Dawn Soldiers" during the 1WW, to deflect the public's view from the mishandling of the war. These men were not exonerated, they were pardoned which was never good enough. I don't believe they will exonerate Admiral Byng, I think they will go for the same compromise, which again will not be good enough. I hope I am wrong.

Guz
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  #85  
Old 19-03-2010, 11:27
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello again Guz

Yes, I hope that you are wrong. Admiral Byng deserves an exoneration. His trial was illegal. The 12th Article of War at the time had no mention of "not doing (his) utmost".

Admiral Byng was shot for "not doing his utmost". You cannot legally kill any man (or woman) for "not doing (their) utmost".


Anyone else interested in the subject?
Seagull
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  #86  
Old 12-04-2010, 07:45
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Unhappy Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Came across this recently,hope it's of interest.'Annual Register Chronicle for 1806-Byng's executioner 'Last week in Pontefract workhouse a pauper named Venn,aged 84 years,hung himself.The deceased was one of the six marines to shoot Admiral Byng and often said that he was sure his ball killed him."
There's one bloke who didn't think Byng deserved what he got !
regards
Sid
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  #87  
Old 12-04-2010, 10:58
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by berry View Post
Came across this recently,hope it's of interest.'Annual Register Chronicle for 1806-Byng's executioner 'Last week in Pontefract workhouse a pauper named Venn,aged 84 years,hung himself.The deceased was one of the six marines to shoot Admiral Byng and often said that he was sure his ball killed him."
There's one bloke who didn't think Byng deserved what he got !
regards
Sid
Hello Berry / Sid
This is very interesting news! Thank you for posting it. I have often wondered about those who were forced to execute Byng. History (or historians) have not covered this as far as I am aware. I have wondered too if any descendants of the six marines have had the story handed down to them (as have the Admirals).
Have you any ideas? Can you throw some original light or sparks on the subject? Where to start looking? How?

In 2007, one of Admiral Byng's descendants wrote an oratorio called 'The Musket Ball'. It was inspired by a gift of an actual lead 18 century musket ball found on or near the Ramillies off the coast of Devon by a diver. It was given to her at the 250th Commemoration Ceremony of Admiral Byng's execution (jam-packed church). Church officials, bell-ringers, organist, choir-masters, musicians and singers from far and wide (locals - as well as from as far as Belgium) - rallied to the cause and it was performed exactly a year later in Southill in the church where Admiral byng is buried. The lead musket ball is placed in the church on a wall as a symbol: a symbol of remembrance but mainly as a symbol of justice. This actual musket ball represents the one that did not hit Admiral Byng. The underlying point being made is that none of them should have done so! Hence the title of 'The Musket Ball'.
Amazing what the strength of feelings can do after 250 years!

Royal Marine Venn's story might inspire a further creation!

Can anyone from RNRMRA help? How to find this information? Any clues where to start? Anyone willing to help?

Seagull
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  #88  
Old 12-04-2010, 12:39
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello again Berry
I've tried to find this information. I Google 'Annual Register 1806' and nothing comes up. Can you help?
Seagull
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  #89  
Old 12-04-2010, 23:22
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Smile Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hallo Seagull,I found the reference to Marine Venn in a book called 'Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras' by Terence Grocott.He gives as his source for this entry as (AR 1806,Chr,p453) -AR=annual register,.Chr=Chronicle (annual register).This is the only entry in this wonderful book relating to Admiral Sir John Byng.However in his acknowledgements he lists Commander John Smith RN (retd) of the Naval Historical section of Plymouth Public library.The book was published in 2002 so that gentleman could still be at the helm and perhaps be able to assist you.He also mentions help from the ladies of Plymouth public library so they may also be worth approaching.
Kind regards
Sid
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  #90  
Old 13-04-2010, 01:01
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seagull View Post
Hello again Guz

Yes, I hope that you are wrong. Admiral Byng deserves an exoneration. His trial was illegal. The 12th Article of War at the time had no mention of "not doing (his) utmost".

Admiral Byng was shot for "not doing his utmost". You cannot legally kill any man (or woman) for "not doing (their) utmost".


Anyone else interested in the subject?
Seagull

Article XII does seem to require Byng to do "his utmost":



22 Geo 11 c.33 (1749) -

"Article XII:

OF COWARDICE OR NEGLECT OF DUTY IN TIME OF ACTION:

Every Person in the Fleet, who through Cowardice, Negligence, or Disaffection, shall in Time of Action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the Fight or Engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every Ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of his Majesty's ships, or those of his Allies, which it shall be his Duty to assist and relieve, every such Person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the Sentence of a Court-martial, shall suffer Death."


The problem for the Court Martial, of course, was that , having found Byng guilty, the death sentence was mandatory (this provision was amended in 1778).
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  #91  
Old 13-04-2010, 18:48
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

it would seem to me that any failure to gain your objective during battle could be deemed to have failed to do your utmost, its very easy to say you could have done more to some one when you were not there at the time having to make decisions in the heat of battle
Nigel
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  #92  
Old 13-04-2010, 23:35
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Byng retired to Gibraltar when it was not absolutely nescessary that he should do so, ill-found ships or not. His conviction for not doing his utmost is not unreasonable. The Court obviously did not think his action merited death (and said so). However neither the government nor the King was disposed to alter the sentence and it was duly carried out. It must be remembered that there had been instances, in the recent past, of flag officers not doing their duty and there is some truth in Voltaire's conclusion that Great Britain found it nescessary to shoot an admiral from time to time "pour l'encourager des autres"
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  #93  
Old 14-04-2010, 03:22
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Smile Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

For those who argue that Admiral Byng's death was not justified surely the words of his contempories deserve a mention.here are the thoughts of Captain Augustus Hervey (after whom Hervey Bay in Queensland is named )-'I can never wipe if off my spirits'he wrote to his sister in 1757,'it gives a gloominess in everything relating to the profession I am in,and in such on all Sallies of Joy'-Byng was his patron admitedly,but he wrote again a year later in March 1758 on getting command of HMS Monmouth- he would have been in great spirits 'but that I have almost every minute of this day ,that this very day last year was that horrid,cruel and unjust execution which deprived me of the most agreeable as well as useful friend that I or any other body could ask"
For those who may say that Voltaire's cynical observation was true,it wasn't long after his death that the run of British naval victories got 'under-way'.
regards
Sid
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  #94  
Old 14-04-2010, 10:31
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Berry and Patroclus

Your posts (and others) are well appreciated. At present my mother-in-law is staying with us. She has just tried to ring an old friend on the TV zapper. Thanks for helping me through the week.
Hope to follow up later in more detail the points you have made - but until then:

I stand corrected about the wording I used regarding the 12th Article - but not the meaning. Words mean what you want them to mean (Red Queen).

Byng wrote a few minutes before his death: "( .............) who can be presumptiously sure of their own judgement (....)"

I ask, why did the judges judge 'not doing his utmost' a crime, if Byng was acquitted of cowardice and disaffection? How can 'not doing his utmost' be a crime on it's own? Surely it must go hand in hand with what can be judged a crime (cowardice and disaffection)?

Talking about words: Byng did not "retreat" from Menorca, he "withdrew". The Red Queen and Alice would have a lot to say about this. (see the letter to the Telegraph : )

Telegraph’s Letter. Printed 24th January 2010

TV unjust to Admiral Byng
SIR – We are collateral descendants of Admiral Byng, and have reacted to the BBC 2 programme Empire of the Seas in a similar way. While it is excellent to capture the imagination of the public, it is wrong to repeat historical inaccuracies.
Admiral Byng did not “retreat” from Minorca having failed to engage the enemy. After initially engaging with the French, he withdrew to Gibraltar when the enemy had disappeared, in order to mend his battered ships and to tend to his wounded sailors. It was also his duty to defend Gibraltar from the French.
He wrote to the Admiralty asking for reinforcements and stipulated he would then waste no time in attacking the enemy again. This letter was censored by the Admiralty for political reasons. He presented his full-length letter at his court-martial, yet was imprisoned in Greenwich and shot on the Monarch.
What he had written to the Admiralty, on May 25, 1756, was this: “I send their Lordships the resolutions of the council of war, in which there was not the least contention or doubt arose. I hope, indeed, we shall find stores to refit us at Gibraltar; and, if I have any reinforcement, will not lose a moment of time to seek the enemy again, and once more give them battle.”
Thane Byng Nelson
Chris Byng-Maddick
Sarah Saunders-Davies
John Byng-Hall
London NW3


Seagull

"A coward dies a thousand times before his death. The valiant never taste of death but once." (William Shakespeare)
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  #95  
Old 22-04-2010, 15:11
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Seagull Seagull is offline
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by patroclus View Post
Byng retired to Gibraltar when it was not absolutely nescessary that he should do so, ill-found ships or not. His conviction for not doing his utmost is not unreasonable. The Court obviously did not think his action merited death (and said so). However neither the government nor the King was disposed to alter the sentence and it was duly carried out. It must be remembered that there had been instances, in the recent past, of flag officers not doing their duty and there is some truth in Voltaire's conclusion that Great Britain found it nescessary to shoot an admiral from time to time "pour l'encourager des autres"
Patroclus (or any one else) - how many British Admirals have been shot in the whole of our history?
Seagull
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  #96  
Old 22-04-2010, 15:17
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Berry
Thank you for the information about Marine Venn. I'm following it up. Very gratefull. Any other original sparks?
Seagull
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  #97  
Old 24-05-2010, 10:47
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Berry

I contacted the Plymouth Library, and received a message from an Assistant Local and Naval Studies Librarian:

[i]"I searched Mr Grocott's book and found the following on page 222 (November - December 1806):

"3 November, Byng's executioner 'Last week in Pontefract workhouse a pauper named Venn, aged 84 years, hung himself. The deceased was one of the six marines selected to shoot Admiral Byng and often said that he was sure his ball killed him.' (AR 1806, Chr, p453)."

The 'Abbreviations' list at the front of the book gives: "Chr Chronicle (Annual Register)", presumably one and the same publication. I regret we do not have access to the Annual Register.

I have checked other sources detailing Byng's execution but nowhere have I found the name of any of the marines who formed the execution party. I suspect they may not have been recorded - perhaps to avoid repercussions."

Can any one add anything to this? Anyone interested?

Seagull
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  #98  
Old 25-05-2010, 06:42
Alaric Alaric is offline
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seagull View Post
"3 November, Byng's executioner 'Last week in Pontefract workhouse a pauper named Venn, aged 84 years, hung himself. The deceased was one of the six marines selected to shoot Admiral Byng and often said that he was sure his ball killed him.' (AR 1806, Chr, p453)."
I understand that, certainly in later years, it was customary for one of the weapons of an execution party to be loaded with powder only. The idea being that, whilst taking aim, the man could reassure himself that he might be carrying the "blank" musket. Obviously he would know as soon as he squeezed the trigger, which might have persuaded Venn that he had killed Byng, and subsequently to commit suicide ( often referred to as "lunacy" for other reasons). I'm not sure when the practice began, but am about to find out!
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  #99  
Old 25-05-2010, 13:57
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Its the same as asking if WW1 soldiers deserved to be shot or keel hauled or hung drawn and quartered etc
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  #100  
Old 10-06-2010, 21:30
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hello Welbran

Have you come back inside yet? !

I challenge you and anyone else out there to think of the difference. It is not the same.
Seagull
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