Sir Home Riggs Popham

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Popham, Sir Home Riggs, Admiral, was born in Ireland,53 12th October 1762. He was educated at Westminster, and having passed a year at Cambridge, entered the navy. In 1782 he attained the rank of lieutenant, and in 1795 was appointed post-captain, and won credit for his services in different parts of the world. He was envoy to Russia in 1799. His opening up the Red Sea to European commerce, in 1803, brought down upon him the displeasure of the House of Commons. On 8th January 1806 he commanded the fleet which contributed to the reduction of the Cape of Good Hope. Thence he proceeded to the Rio de la Plata, where he landed 2,000 troops, and captured the town of Buenos Ayres on the 26th June. The Spaniards retook the place on 12th August, and the British garrison were made prisoners. On the arrival of British reinforcements, Monte Video was carried by storm in February 1807.

In May, 8,000 men under General Whitelocke were defeated in an attempt to retake Buenos Ayres, and the British were ultimately obliged to evacuate the country. For the rash and unauthorized inception of the original attack on Buenos Ayres, Captain Popham was brought to a court-martial, and severely reprimanded. After this he served in the Baltic; and during the Peninsular War commanded the Venerable, 74. In 1813 he accompanied Lord Moira to India, in command of the Stirling Castle. In 1814 he attained the rank of rear-admiral, and in 1819 commanded in the West Indies. Returning on leave to England in 1820, he died at Cheltenham, on the 11th of September, aged 57. He wrote a vindication of his conduct in relation to the opening up of the Red Sea, and was the author of A Description of the Prince of Wales' Island, and Rules to be observed in the Royal Navy — all apparently published in 1805. His construction of a line of telegraph stations from Bridport to the Land's End in 1815 procured him admission to the Royal Society. His improvements in the system of naval signals constitute his best claim to remembrance.

Sources

35. Biographical Dictionary: John Cassell. London, N.D.

53. Burke, Sir Bernard: Landed Gentry. 2 vols. London, 1871.

124. Encyclopaedia Britannica. London, 1860.

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