Portrait of Admiral Samuel Barrington

GEORGE ARNALD (1763-1841)

Portrait of Admiral Samuel Barrington

1729 to 1800 United Kingdom

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George Arnald
ARA (1763-1841)
Portrait of Admiral Samuel Barrington (1729-1800)
Signed and dated 1791 on the reverse of the original canvas
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 63.5 cm
30 x 25 in

Samuel Barrington was the fifth son of John Shute Barrington, first Viscount Barrington (1678–1734), barrister and MP, and his wife, Anne (d. 1763), daughter of Sir William Daines, mayor of and MP for Bristol. Barrington entered the Lark in 1740, under the care of Lord George Gordon. He passed his examination for the rank of lieutenant on 25 September 1745. Early in 1747 he had command of the sloop Weasel, and on 29 May he became captain of the frigate Bellona. In her he captured the French East Indiaman Duc de Chartres off Ushant on 18 August; he was shortly afterwards advanced to the Romney.

After the peace Barrington commanded the frigate Seahorse in the Mediterranean, and negotiated at Tetuan the release of Britons held by the Barbary corsairs. He next had command of the Crown (44 guns) on the coast of Guinea, and in 1754–5, in the Norwich, accompanied Commodore Keppel to North America. In 1757 he commanded the Achilles (60 guns) in Sir Edward Hawke's expedition to Basque Roads; on 29 May 1758 he assisted in the capture of the French ship of the line Raisonnable; and on 4 April 1759, while cruising off Cape Finisterre, he fell in with and captured the Comte de Saint Florentin (60 guns), a convoy escort commissioned by the city of Bordeaux.

Barrington afterwards joined Hawke off Brest, and from here he was detached as part of a squadron ordered, under Rear-Admiral Rodney, to destroy the flat-bottomed boats at Le Havre. Rodney hoisted his flag in the Achilles, and the objectives of the expedition were successfully carried out on 4 July. The Achilles then returned to the fleet off Brest, and in September, while with the detached squadron in Quiberon Bay, and attempting to cut out some French ships anchored inshore, she grounded heavily. The Achilles was got off, but was so badly damaged that she had to be sent home immediately. Barrington commanded the Achilles again in 1760 when she was one of the squadron sent out, under the Hon. John Byron, to destroy the fortifications of Louisbourg; and in 1761 he was with Commodore Keppel in the operations against Belle Île, before being sent home with dispatches announcing the successful landing.

In 1762 Barrington was transferred to the Hero (74 guns), but continued in the channel under Sir Edward Hawke, and afterwards under Sir Charles Hardy.

After the treaty of Paris (1763) he was unemployed until 1768, when he was appointed to the frigate Venus (36 guns), as the governor of the duke of Cumberland, who served with him as volunteer and midshipman. In October he nominally gave up the command, to which the prince was promoted, but resumed it again after a few days, when the prince was further advanced to rear-admiral, and hoisted his flag on the Venus, with Barrington as his flag captain. In 1771, on the dispute with Spain about the Falkland Islands, Barrington was appointed to the Albion (74 guns); he continued in her, attached to the Channel Fleet, for the next three years. In 1777 he commissioned the Prince of Wales (74 guns), and on 23 January 1778, after a few months' cruising in the channel and on the soundings, he was promoted rear-admiral of the white.

Barrington was appointed to command the Leeward Islands squadron after Admiral Shuldham had turned down the post. On 20 June 1778 Barrington arrived at Barbados in the Prince of Wales; he was soon joined by another ship of the line. Here Barrington awaited the arrival of an expeditionary force from New York with which he was to attack the French island of St Lucia. The force was to consist of five ships of the line under Commodore Hotham and 5000 troops under General James Grant. However, events in North America delayed the departure of the force and the French at Martinique were able to strike the first blow when news of France's entry into the war over the colonies reached the area at the end of August. On 7 September a French force seized the British island of Dominica and Barrington could do nothing to prevent it. Instead he took his few ships to Antigua to protect the naval dockyard there. Barrington then cruised off Martinique before returning to Barbados in mid-November. At the end of the month the expeditionary force from North America finally arrived and Barrington was able to prepare the attack on St Lucia.

On 12 December 1778 Barrington and Grant sailed from Barbados. The following day found them off St Lucia, and Hotham directed the landing of the troops. The resistance of the French defenders was weak and on 14 December their principal position on Morne Fortuné was captured. However, on the same day the British observed a fleet approaching the island. It was d'Estaing's French squadron which had come from North America and, having collected further forces from Martinique, was intent on preventing the British from completing their capture of St Lucia.

During the night of 14–15 December Barrington and Grant worked feverishly to get their forces into defensive positions on land and at sea. In the morning d'Estaing found the British squadron of seven ships of the line drawn up in line of battle across the entrance to the grand cul de sac. The troop transports were safe inside the bay, behind Barrington's line, while coastal batteries manned by Grant's troops gave further protection to the British ships. Ten French ships of the line attacked Barrington's squadron, but were driven off. A second attack, by twelve ships, took place in the afternoon, with a similar result. The bolder French captains, notably Suffren, wished to anchor their ships opposite the British line and engage in a close combat until their superior numbers eventually prevailed. D'Estaing, however, declined further combat at sea. Instead on 16 December he began to land his troops on St Lucia; they joined the remaining French defenders and forced Grant to withdraw his troops into fortified positions. On 18 December the French launched a major assault against British positions on the Vigie peninsula, but were bloodily repulsed.

Although defeated on sea and land d'Estaing was not, it seemed, willing to give up and he seemed ready to seek to starve the British into surrender. However, he now received word that Admiral Byron's squadron had followed him from North America and was coming to assist Barrington and Grant. On 29 December d'Estaing sailed away from St Lucia and on the following day the French governor of the island surrendered. On 6 January 1779 Byron's storm-battered fleet reached St Lucia. As Byron's squadron had orders to follow d'Estaing wherever he went, the admiral at first tried to preserve a distinction between his force and Barrington's Leeward Islands squadron. However, this policy quickly proved unworkable, so the two forces were merged and Barrington became Byron's second in command. On 19 March 1779 Barrington was advanced to vice-admiral of the blue. In the battle with d'Estaing off Grenada on 6 July 1779 Barrington commanded the van division of Byron's fleet and was hotly engaged, receiving a slight wound. On 22 July he was with Byron's fleet at St Kitts when, anchored in line of battle in Basseterre Roads, it successfully defied d'Estaing's fleet, which then left the area.

Like Byron, Barrington now returned to England. Both wished to justify their conduct in relation to the loss of Grenada, while Barrington felt aggrieved at what he took to be a lack of official appreciation of his capture and defence of St Lucia. He believed he had received only faint praise from the Admiralty, and Lord Sandwich, the first lord, feared that Barrington might join the group of disaffected naval officers led by Admiral Keppel. When Admiral Sir Charles Hardy, commander of the Channel Fleet, died in May 1780 Barrington was offered the post, but he declined it and seemed hostile to Lord North's government, despite the fact that his brother, William Wildman Barrington, second Viscount Barrington, had served as secretary of war until December 1778. Barrington did, however, agree to be second in command to Admiral Geary when he took over the Channel Fleet. In August 1780 Geary fell ill through exhaustion and Barrington was ordered to take the fleet to sea. He declined to do so and was dismissed, Admiral Darby taking over the Channel Fleet.

Barrington was promoted vice-admiral of the white on 16 September 1781, and with the fall of North's administration in early 1782 he was ready to return to active service. Flying his flag in the Britannia Barrington became second in command to Admiral Lord Howe in the Channel Fleet. For a time, while Howe was ill, Barrington commanded the fleet off Ushant. On 20 April 1782 Barrington's ships intercepted a French convoy and escort bound for the East Indies. The French ships of the line Pégase and Actionnaire were captured, along with most of the eighteen-ship convoy. Barrington took part in Lord Howe's relief of Gibraltar (16–19 October 1782) and commanded the van division of his fleet in the subsequent action with the French and Spanish fleets off Cape Spartel (20 October). After returning to England Barrington struck his flag on 20 February 1783 at the end of the war. On 24 September 1787 he was promoted admiral, and in the 1790 armament against Spain in the dispute for Nootka Sound, off Vancouver Island, he hoisted his flag in the Royal George, again as second in command to Lord Howe. Peace was preserved, but when war broke out with France in 1793 Barrington did not return to active service. He died, unmarried, on 16 August 1800.

Whatever his problems with politicians, Barrington was popular with both officers and men in the navy. One of his achievements in the West Indies was to obtain for his men a remission of the postage on their letters, which was a burden on them because they did not receive their pay while abroad. A brave and capable officer in action, Barrington's greatest achievement was the capture and defence of St Lucia in 1778. Amphibious operations were notoriously difficult to carry out smoothly and successfully, often being hindered by bad relations between the naval and military commanders. At St Lucia Barrington's good relations with General Grant were as important for success as his defiance of d'Estaing.
with Appleby Brothers, London
(presumably) Society of Artists, 1791 (number 6 or 7)
Height 30.00 inch (76.20 cm)
Width 25.00 inch (63.50 cm)
Stock Code
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1791 on reverse
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