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Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’ : The Whitby man held his nerve to keep five enemy ships busy at Trafalgar, and subsequently led Nelson’s funeral procession.
Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’

The Battle of Trafalgar near Spain on October 21st, 1805, in which the victorious Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson was shot and killed, is one of the defining events in British history. Many played a vital part in it, including Captain Robert Moorsom of Whitby in Yorkshire.

AS soon as battle was joined at Trafalgar, Robert Moorsom, captain of HMS Revenge, alarmed his crew by sailing directly towards five enemy ships.

He had few forward-firing cannon, and the broadsides of the enemy tore through Revenge’s rigging and across her deck without reply, while Moorsom strolled among the flying splinters ‘as though walking to church’.

At last, Revenge rammed Aigle, swung around and let off a battery of pristine ‘carronades’, short-range cannon made in Falkirk. Aigle was literally blown away.

Tattered and leaking, Revenge disabled two more ships before reaching the giant Principe de Asturias, and waylaying her for an hour until the battle was won.

The Prince of Wales vowed to lead Nelson’s funeral procession to St Paul’s Cathedral on January 9th, 1806, but Royal protocol forbade it.

The honour of heading the cortège of thirty-two admirals, over a hundred captains, and an escort of 10,000 fighting men, fell to Captain Moorsom of Whitby in Yorkshire.

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Picture: © David Wright, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The harbour at Whitby today. James Cook, who discovered Australia in ‘Endeavour’, is Whitby’s most famous naval son, but Moorsom deserves to be better known.

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