Cornwallis and Whitby Plaque

Sir William Cornwallis (1744-1819) was one of Britain's most famous admirals, admired by Nelson yet never won a major fleet action. His fame arises from something equally as important: by blockading Brest and the other French Mediterranean naval ports during the Napoleonic Wars, he prevented an invasion of England, an action comparable with Drake and the Spanish Armada and 'the few' in the Battle of Britain.

Amongst the many young officers whose careers he launched was Captain John Whitby (1774-1806) who served under him for most of his career. Whitby died early, worn out by the ravages at sea of the Brest blockade, leaving his wife Theresa (1783-1850) in the care of Cornwallis.

In due course, the roles were reversed and Mrs Whitby looked after Cornwallis in his last years. Such was the paternal relationship between Cornwallis and the Whitbys, that Cornwallis left his entire estate - minor bequests apart - to Mrs Whitby and her daughter.

                                                Milford-on-Sea Historical Record Society