This day two hundred and eleven years ago Lord Horatio Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar. By request, I’m posting a Nelson quiz I devised a few years ago. Test your knowledge of Nelson lore with these twenty questions. (Answers at the end of the blog.)
And there’s a copy of Victory, up for grabs. Just email me with the name of the the plucky little vessel that brought the news of the battle back to England. Please put ‘Victory’ in the subject line and don’t forget to include your full postal address.
Deadline: October 31
1. Where is purportedly the largest collection of Nelson memorabilia in the New World?
2. How many siblings did Nelson have?
3. In what year was Nelson’s Column erected in Trafalgar Square?
4. Which French admiral attended Nelson’s funeral?
5. What was the origin of Nelson’s famous term ‘Band of Brothers’?
6. At which first recorded public event was the toast ‘The Immortal Memory’ first used?
7. What wound did Nelson receive on 12 July 1794?
8. What was unusual about Nelson’s coat of arms?
9. In which English county was Nelson born?
10. From which English county were the greatest number of sailors in Nelson’s Trafalgar fleet?
11. How tall was Nelson?
12. What was Nelson’s nickname as a child?
13. How many men and officers served in HMS Victory at Trafalgar?
14. Name Nelson’s first command in the Royal Navy.
15. Who was Josiah Nisbet?
16. How was Nelson’s body preserved after his mortal wounding at Trafalgar?
17. How did the inn called ‘The Wrestler’s Arms’ find a place in Nelson lore?
18. Which of Nelson’s captains was the only one killed at the Battle of the Nile?
19. Who is Anna Tribe?
20. During his lifetime Nelson was a prolific letter writer. Approximately how many do we know of that have survived?
[ Answers below ]
1. The Horatio Nelson Museum, Nevis. Nelson had a number of associations with the Caribbean, especially in his early naval career, and married a young Nevis widow, Frances Nisbet, there in 1787.
2. Nelson’s parents had eleven children, of whom three girls and five boys survived. Nelson was the third boy.
3. 1843. Almost forty years after Nelson’s death!
4. Villeneuve. After the Battle of Trafalgar he was taken on board Euryalus. In England he was placed in open confinement in Bishop’s Waltham in Hampshire, but was given leave to attend Nelson’s funeral. Later that year he was returned to France following a formal exchange of prisoners, but only a few days after his arrival he was found dead in his hotel room in Rennes, stabbed through the heart. The official story was that he committed suicide, but rumour has it that he was murdered on Napoleon’s orders.
5. The famous Agincourt speech in Shakespeare’s King Henry V. Nelson used this phrase to describe the close relationship that existed between himself and his captains at the Battle of the Nile. By extension it has come to encompass all those officers who were particularly close to Nelson.
6. Each year Nelson is remembered with a special toast, ‘The Immortal Memory’, at Royal Navy Trafalgar Night dinners. Although the word ‘immortal’ was often applied to Nelson even when he was alive, the first recorded public event at which it occurred was at a dinner held on Trafalgar Day in 1811, at the Green Man public house near Greenwich. The toast was slightly longer than today: ‘The immortal memory of Nelson and those who fell with him.’
7. While directing his ship’s guns set up in a shore battery during the siege of Calvi a French shot struck the battery rampart in front of him and he was struck in the face with a shower of gravel. Nelson subsequently lost the sight in his right eye; the eye itself remained intact and he never wore an eyepatch.
8. Nelson’s family already had a coat of arms but Nelson’s knighthood entitled him to supporters on either side of the shield. Nelson insisted on having Jack Tar as a supporter – this was a heraldic innovation and set a precedent, which has been followed by a number of naval knights and peers since.
9. Norfolk. He was born at Burnham Thorpe, close to the coastal town of Great Yarmouth on 29 September, 1758, the very year a new first-rate, HMS Victory, was ordered by the Admiralty. His father was rector of the parish and the Nelson family lived in the parsonage, now no longer standing.
10. Devon, where I now live. Nelson’s men at Trafalgar included over 1,100 men born in Devon.
11. The popular image of Nelson is that he was quite a small man. However, modern research has established that he was about five feet, six inches (around the average male height in the eighteenth century).
13. Her full complement was 850, however at Trafalgar it was only 820.
14. The sloop Badger; he took command in January 1779.
15. Nelson’s step-son. In 1793 Nelson took Josiah to sea with him in HMS Agamemnon but their relationship deteriorated with Nelson’s infatuation with Emma Hamilton. Despite this, Nelson used his influence to have Josiah made a post captain at the early age of twenty. He was not fit for this responsibility, however, and left the sea shortly thereafter. He became a successful businessman and after the war ended moved to Paris. Nisbet died in 1830 and was buried in the churchyard at Littleham in Devon, where, just eleven months later, his mother was laid beside him.
16. Brandy and spirits of wine – not rum! Nelson’s body was placed in a large cask that was filled with brandy and lashed to Victory‘s mainmast, guarded by a sentry night and day. The popular nickname for rum, ‘Nelson’s blood’, originates from the sailors’ tall tale that Nelson’s body was preserved in rum, and then after the body had been removed, the alcohol was issued to all of Victory‘s Jack Tars!
17. When the landlady asked Nelson if she might change the inn’s name to ‘The Nelson’s Arms’ he delightedly told her that the name would be absurd, as he only had one.
18. Captain George Westcott, a Devon man, and like Kydd from humble origins as a common seaman to post captain and command. After Westcott’s death Nelson made a special visit to his widow and presented her with his own Nile medal.
19. Nelson’s closest living relative today. She is Nelson’s (and Emma Hamilton’s) great-great-great granddaughter. Mrs Tribe is also Life Vice President of the Nelson Society.
20. Well over 5000! Nelson’s letters were often characterised by an eager and somewhat unpolished style, almost as if speaking – like the diaries of Samuel Pepys, with which they have sometimes been compared.