BYNG, John, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Executed 'pour encourager les autres'

BYNG, John (1704-1757). Admiral. Executed on the quarter-deck of the 'Monarque'.
Document Signed ('J Byng'), ½-page folio (a little tattered in the left hand margin, laid down), Port Mahon [Minorca], 5 February 1734/5. An order for gunners stores, including cartridge paper and musket rods, for HMS Falmouth.
Byng spent four years in command of the Falmouth, mostly at Port Mahon. He left the ship in June 1835 (i.e. four months after the date of the present document) and was then able to spend some time in England.

In March 1756 Byng was promoted admiral of the red and sent under orders to prevent the French from capturing Port Mahon. He was, however, seriously misled as to the true situation on the island, particularly by General Thomas Fowke at Gibraltar, with the result that he failed to take with him adequate forces to secure the principal fortress. For his failure to prevent the French from taking the island he was court-martialled and shot on the quarter-deck of the Monarque in Plymouth harbour (prompting Voltaire's celebrated observation that 'dans ce-pays-ci il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres').
[No: 25549]

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