Anson, George 1697 - 1762
- English; British
(1697-1762) Baron Anson, Admiral
George Anson, born on the 23rd April 1697 in Staffordshire was British admiral whose four-year voyage around the world is one of the great tales of naval heroism. The reforms he instituted as a naval administrator increased the efficiency of the British fleet and contributed to its success in the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) against France. Anson joined the Royal Navy in 1712 and became a captain 11 years later.
In June 1722 he was made master and commander of the sloop Weasel cruising in the North Sea, and in 1724 he became captain of the frigate Scarborough, appointed as station ship in South Carolina. In December 1737 he was appointed captain of the Centurion (60 guns) and sent to protect British trade in west Africa. From there he crossed to the West Indies and returned to England in the autumn of 1739. In September 1740 Commodore Anson set off across the Atlantic with six poorly manned, ill-equipped vessels to capture Spanish treasure ships in the Pacific. Anson managed to capture a Spanish treasure galleon near the Philippines. He sold this prize for £400,000 in Canton, China, the Centurion being the first British warship to enter Chinese waters. By the time he reached England in June 1744, more than half the original crew of nearly 2,000 men had died, chiefly of scurvy.
Anson was promoted rear-admiral in April 1745, vice-admiral in July 1746, and almost at once took command of squadrons in the channel. During 1745 and 1746 he and his colleagues were responsible for the most important single development in British naval strategy during the eighteenth century: the creation of the western squadron. On 15 July 1747 Anson was raised to the peerage as Baron Anson of Soberton, and he returned to the Admiralty leaving his second, Sir Peter Warren, to command the squadron
Because of the support of the Duke of Newcastle, Anson was first lord of the Admiralty from 1751 to 1756. Although sacked by William Pitt, Anson returned as first lord from 1757 to 1762. His reforms included a reorganization of the fleet, a revision of the articles of war, and the creation of a permanent marine corps.
He had always been keen on fresh food and vegetables to keep men healthy, and he was seriously worried by scurvy in his fleet in 1758. Back at the Admiralty, he set up a system of supplying the western squadron at sea with fresh meat and vegetables. It was this which made possible the close blockade which led to the victory of Quiberon Bay.
He died at his home, Moor Park, Hertfordshire, on 6 June 1762.