Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757)

Head-and-shoulders/ upper torso marble bust on a carved square base. The sitter is shown facing half to his right, wearing a cloak draped over the right shoulder an under the left arm. Beneath he wears a surcoat over a cuirass with a lion's-head boss at the neck, over a pleated shirt with a high neck-cloth. His long curling hair or wig, parted centrally, falls slightly over his left shoulder and behind his right.

The base is signed on sitter's right side: 'After Roubiliac / by J. Francis / Albany St. London' and inscribed on the front 'ADMIRAL VERNON / Presented by The Rt. Hon. / George John Warren / Lord Vernon / 1838' (to Greenwich Hospital).

This is a copy of a bust at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire, the former Vernon seat which has been a National Trust property since 1967. The admiral is, however, from the Cheshire branch of the family and was son of James Vernon, William III's Secretary of State. The attribution of the original to Roubiliac is of long standing but it is now thought more likely to be by Rysbrack. It was commissioned by the aged Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, in 1743 and set up on a pillar in her house in Wimbledon with the following inscription: ' To / Admiral Vernon / Ever Victorious without a Colleague / who / Renouncing for the Publick every Private Enjoyment / Deserted by all but his own Courage and Virtue, / Supported solely by the Spirit of a Patriot / With Six Ships only / Repaired the Disgraces of a British Navy, / While the Honour of his Country / Was betrayed at Home, / He asserted it abroad / And / While the Councils of England / Were under the influence of France / Humbled the Pride of her and Spain'.

Vernon won fame by his capture, 'with only six' ships, of Puerto Bello, Panama, in the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739. In 1740 he ordered watering of seamen's rum, at first only as as a local health and discipline measure on his West Indies station, but the practice soon became general. The mixture was called 'grog' - from his nickname of 'Grog' , itself derived from his habit of wearing a grogram cloth boat-cloak. This was one of various measures which earned him the soubriquet of 'the seaman's friend' but he was dismissed by the Admiralty in 1754 for writing critical and unauthorized pamphlets on naval matters. He retired to Nacton, Suffolk, where there is a monument to him in St Martin's Church, where he was buried. The 5th Lord Vernon (1803-66), who presented this bust in 1838, was a noted 19th-century Dante scholar whose library survives at Sudbury. He was born George Venables-Vernon but, through his mother, was grandson and heir of Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, whose name he took as a condition of inheritance in 1837.

Object Details

ID: SCU0056
Collection: Sculpture
Type: Bust
Display location: Display - Sea Things Gallery
Creator: Francis, John
Date made: 1838
People: Vernon, Edward
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Measurements: Overall: 750 mm x 585 mm x 96 kg

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