A Blupete Biography Page

Admiral Francis Holburne

Admiral Holburne came up the ladder, as follows: he made lieutenant in 1727, captain in 1740 and Rear-admiral in 1755. It was in 1755 that Holburne was sent out to patrol the Nova Scotian coast in conjunction with Admiral Boscawen's fleet. Holburne was also in charge of the fleet which was to transport and assist in an attack on Louisbourg in 1757.

The plan to attack Louisbourg in 1757 came to nothing. Lord Loudoun, who was in charge of the land forces, was to form the view, though everything was ready at Halifax, that Louisbourg was too well fortified with thousands of trained troops behind the walls and a fleet of 23 war ships safely ensconced in the harbour. Loudoun, in August of 1757, took his troops back to New York and left Holburne with a secondary plan which he (Holburne) formed on the spot. In August, Holbourne took his fleet of 20 British men-of-war to see if he could get a shot in at the French men-of-war which rode comfortably at their cables in Louisbourg Harbour. An engagement could not take place unless the French admiral, de la Motte took his fleet out of Louisbourg Harbour. De la Motte recognized that his duty was to stay next to Louisbourg for its protection and stuck to it. Holburne could do nothing but parade back and forth beyond the mouth of Louisbourg Harbour. The fleets were not to trade shots. Indeed, while Holbourne was going back and forth off the coast of Cape Breton, a great storm, "a perfect hurricane," blew up and struck Holbourne's fleet; and Holbourne came close to losing it all to the breakers on the close-by granite shores. As it was he was to bring home a very shattered fleet.

While no one was to officially charge Holburne with the responsibility for the disappointing events of 1757; his career, nonetheless, thereafter, went downhill. During the years 1761-71 Holburne was a member of parliament. Because of his political connections (read family connections) Holburne was to get a hold of a retirement plum, he was made the Governor of Greenwich Hospital. It was a position, however, that he was not to enjoy for long: Admiral Francis Holburne died in 1771.1


[1] See "Biographical Directory" as contained in The Royal Navy and North America (London: Navy Records Society, Vol. 118, 1973) at p. 432; and see fn at pp. 19-20 in vol 1 of Knox's Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America, 1757-1760.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)