George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington

George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington

Infobox Military Person
name=George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington
lived=1668 – 17 January 1733

caption= Admiral of the Fleet George Byng by Jeremiah Davison in 1733
placeofbirth = Wrotham, Kent
placeofdeath = Southill, Bedfordshire
residence =
nationality =
allegiance=Kingdom of Great Britain
branch= Royal Navy
battles=Glorious Revolution
Battle of Beachy Head
Battle of Vigo Bay
Battle of Malaga
Battle of Cape Passaro
awards=Viscount Torrington
Order of the Bath
relations=Admiral John Byng
Brig. Gen. John Byng

George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington, KB PC (1668 – 17 January, 1733) was a British Admiral and statesman of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His career included service as First Lord of the Admiralty during the reign of King George II.

Byng was born at Wrotham, Kent, England. At the age of 10 (1678) he entered the Royal Navy as a King's Letter Boy. He left the navy for a brief time to join an army garrison stationed at Tangier, but in 1683 Byng rejoined the navy as a lieutenant, and shipped for the East Indies. In 1688 he was instrumental in instigating the British navy to switch allegiance to William III, Prince of Orange. This naval force took part in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and William was installed as King of England, thus insuring Byng's rapid rise in rank and fortune.

In 1702 Byng was given command of a vessel, the "Nassau", and took part in the capture and burning of the French Fleet at Vigo. The next year Byng was promoted to Rear-Admiral. In 1704 he was in the Mediterranean under the command of Sir Cloudesley Shovell whose force gained control of Gibraltar. Byng took part in the Battle of Malaga, for which he received a knighthood.

In 1708 Byng had been promoted to full admiral, and took part in the struggle against the Jacobean uprising in Scotland. In 1718 Byng commanded the fleet which routed the Spanish Fleet at the Battle of Cape Passaro, thwarting the attempt of the Spanish to take Sicily. Byng was rewarded handsomely for this victory by George I and given full power to negotiate with the various princes and states of Italy, on behalf of the English crown. In 1719 he assisted the Germans in taking Messina, and destroyed the remaining Spanish ships which forced the Spanish king to accept the terms of the Quadruple Alliance. On his return to England in 1721 he was made rear-admiral of Great Britain, a member of the privy council, Baron Byng of Southill in the county of Bedford, and 1st Viscount Torrington in Devon.

In 1725 Byng was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath and in 1727, on the accession of George II, he was made First Lord of the Admiralty.

Byng's administration of the Admiralty was distinguished by the establishment of the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth. He died in 1733 and is buried at Southill, Bedfordshire.

Byng had 15 children, and two of his 11 sons — Pattee (1699-1747) and George (1701-1750) — became respectively the second and third Viscounts Torrington. His third-eldest son was Admiral Hon. John Byng, who was controversially court-martialled and shot at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe. His fourth son Hon. Robert Byng was the grandfather of the soldier John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford.

The first Viscount Torrington's descendants retain the title to the present day.

External links

* [ List of Byng's battles]
* [ Biography of George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington]


* [ Leigh Rayment's Peerage Page]

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