Sir George Cockburn was the most influential serving officer in the politics of the British navy in the nineteenth century. He came to public notice as the man who burned the White House, following his part in the British attack on Washington in 1814. He also escorted Napoleon to St Helena after Waterloo. But his greatest impact was as the Admiralty Commissioner who presided over much of the transition of the British navy from sail to steam between 1818 and 1846. This book examines the career of a formidable personality who maintained the interests and professionalism of the British navy through one of the most difficult periods of political and technological evolution it has yet faced. It provides a unique insight into the conduct of the British Admiralty and will appeal to both the specialist and general reader.
Roger Morriss was a Curator at the National Maritime Museum, London until 1995. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the University of Exeter Centre for Maritime Studies, and in the History Department, University College London.
This is a very valuable book, and Cockburn will not likely need another biographer in our lifetimes.
The Northern Mariner Vol. VIII, No. 4
This well-researched and carefully written biography will be of particular interest to specialists in the 19th-century Royal Navy, but its examination of the impact of national politics on naval administration and individual reputations gives it wider appeal.
... thorough, scholarly and closely based on the documents ... This is very much an official Life, for not much survives to illuminate the private man, and he seems, perhaps unavoidably, somewhat colourless - but it is nevertheless a life full of interest and importance, not only for the "British Navy in transition", but for the political and social life of the era.
Times Literary Supplement