HOOD, Sir Alexander (1726-1814), of Cricket St. Thomas, Som.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 2 Dec. 1726, 2nd s. of Rev. Samuel Hood, vicar of Butleigh, by Mary, da. of Richard Hoskins of Beaminster, Dorset; bro. of Sir Samuel, 1st Bt., 1st Baron Hood [I]*. m. (1) 21 Aug. 1758,1 Mary (d. 12 Sept. 1786), da. of Rev. Richard West, preb. of Winchester, s.p.; (2) 26 June 1788, Mary Sophia, da. and h. of Thomas Bray of Edmonton, Mdx., s.p. KB 7 May 1788; cr. Baron Bridport [I] 14 Nov. 1794; Baron Bridport [GB] 13 June 1796; Visct. Bridport [GB] 16 June 1800.
Entered RN 1741, lt. 1746, cdr. 1756, capt. 1756, r.-adm. 1780, v.-adm. 1787, adm. 1794.
Treasurer, Greenwich Hosp. 1766-99; r.-adm. of Gt. Britain 1790-6, v.-adm. 1796-d.; c.-in-c. Channel fleet 1797-1800; lt.-gen. marines 1799-1800, gen. 1800-d.
Hood, who voted with government on the Regency question, abandoned his seat for Bridgwater at the dissolution of 1790, after failing to obtain satisfactory terms for the renewal of his tenure from the patron, the 4th Earl Poulett. He soon found his way back into the House when the Marquess of Buckingham, to whom he was related by his first marriage, offered him the vacant seat for his pocket borough of Buckingham, on the understanding that they were both ‘zealous supporters of the present government’ and that Hood would surrender the seat in the unlikely event of a divergence in their political views.2 Hood presumably continued to support Pitt’s ministry, for in the government election forecast for 1796 he was marked ‘pro’, but after the outbreak of war in 1793 he was almost constantly absent on active service.
As a naval officer Hood was overshadowed by his elder brother. His share in the victory of 1 June 1794 won him an Irish peerage. His partial defeat of the French fleet, 23 June 1795, while in temporary command of the Channel fleet during Howe’s illness, was initially regarded as a brilliant success, but soon came to be viewed in a less creditable light. Hood’s acknowledgment of a vote of thanks, 2 Nov. 1795, was his only recorded utterance in the House in this period. When Howe expressed his unwillingness immediately to resume the active command in July 1795, George III proposed to transfer Hood to the North Sea and to vest the temporary Channel command in Sir John Jervis; but at the entreaty of Lord Spencer, on whom Hood had pressed his claims to the full Channel command, the King agreed to issue a commission to Hood constituting him commander ‘of a squadron to be employed on a particular service, which will give him all the emolument and rank to which he appears fairly entitled’. Hood was less than satisfied with the arrangement and his ingratitude was received regretfully by Spencer and sourly by the King:
it appears too plain that in his family self-value is so predominant that all other objects are not sufficiently attended to, and as much as I was desirous that Earl Howe’s strength may be restored, I cannot now but more eagerly wish it as the temper of the next in command is now so clearly seen.3
Hood, created a British peer in 1796, secured the Channel command the following year and resigned from active service in 1800.4 He died 3 May 1814.