A companion volume to the same author's "The British Field Marshals 1736-1997", this book outlines the lives of the 115 officers who held the rank of Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy from 1734, when it took its modern form, to 1995, when the last one was appointed. Each entry gives details of the dates of the birth and death of its subjects, their careers ashore and afloat, their family backgrounds, and the ships, campaigns and combats in which they served. Each is placed clearly in its domestic or international political context. The actions recorded include major fleet battles under sail or steam, single-ship duels, encounters with pirates on the Spanish Main and up the rivers of Borneo, the suppression of the Slave Trade (for which the Navy receives little gratitude), landing parties to deal with local dictators and revolutionaries, and the services of naval brigades in China, Egypt and South Africa.
The entries are arranged alphabetically rather than chronologically and, depending upon the eminence of the individual, their length ranges from less than a page to half a dozen. They are full of telling detail and anecdotes which add colour and depth to what could have been lists of dates, promotions, honours, ships and battles. They also reveal a remarkable web of family connections among the younger scions of the aristocracy, the country gentry and the professional classes. I found it an absolutely fascinating read and have decided that the best way to review or share my opinion of the book was to give a sample digest of some of the many times when I inwardly declaimed, “Well I never!” or “I didn’t know that.” Would a second volume be possible? It is certainly desirable if it is of the same high standard as this one.Farming Life