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Alexander Hood (1758-1798)

 

Alexander Hood, who sailed on Cook’s Second Voyage in Resolution, was baptised on 23 April, 1758 at Netherbury, Dorset, the second of three sons of Samuel and Anne (née Bere) Hood. 

 

His father, Samuel Hood, was a purser in the Royal Navy and the first cousin of two men destined for illustrious naval careers: Admiral Samuel Hood, first Viscount Hood; and Admiral Alexander Hood, first Viscount Bridport.1  Both of these men would help young Alexander Hood’s own career. 

 

Alexander Hood entered the navy about 1767 when he was assigned to the Katherine yacht under his namesake cousin, Captain Alexander Hood.  There is speculation that he served on HMS Romney under his other cousin Captain Samuel Hood. 

 

After four years, he joined Resolution as an AB on 5 March, 1772, for Cook’s Second Voyage.  During the voyage, he kept a journal.2 

 

Hood was nearly crushed by an arms-chest during a storm on 25 October, 1773.  John Elliott described him as a “clever steady young man”.  Hood was the first on board to sight the Marquesas Islands on 7 March, 1774.  Cook wrote, “the first isle was a new discovery, which I named Hood’s Island after the young gentleman who first saw it”.3 The small island was Fatu Huku, which quickly reverted to its local name. 

 

After the voyage, on 5 August, 1775, Hood transferred to HMS Marlborough.  He passed his lieutenant’s examination in September, 1775 but did not receive his commission for another two years.  In 1776 he went to North America, and was promoted to lieutenant in Raisonable on 18 July, 1777.  He commanded the Ranger cutter in early 1780 and sailed to the West Indies, where he was promoted commander on 17 May, 1781 and, two months later, on 27 July, was made post-captain.  Hood became flag captain to his cousin, Sir Samuel Hood, in Barfleur.

 

Hood then transferred in early 1782 to HMS Champion and took part in the Battle of the Saintes in April, 1782.  Afterwards, he captured the French corvette Cérès, forming a close friendship with her captain, the baron de Parois, a nephew of the comte de Vaudreuil.  Hood next moved to Aimable, in which he returned to Britain in the summer of 1783.

 

During the ensuing peace Hood visited France at the invitation of the comte de Vaudreuil.  Hood also experienced a long period of inactivity. He married Elizabeth Periam (1770-1855) on 11 July, 1792 at Butleigh in Somerset.  Together they had three children: Alexander (1793-1851), John (1796) and Elizabeth (1797-1867). 

 

Eventually his naval career resumed, and in 1790–92 and again in 1793, Hood commanded the frigate Hebe.  In 1794, he was appointed to Audacious but poor health forced him from active service for three years.  He resumed in February, 1797 in HMS Mars, part of the Channel Fleet under his cousin, Lord Bridport. 

 

On 21 April, 1798, Mars was with the fleet off Brest when they encountered a French ship, Hercule.  The ships engaged and fought at close quarters.  Hercule lost 315 men killed or wounded, and surrendered.  Hood, though, had been shot in the thigh, cutting a femoral artery, and died.4

 

As he was dying, Hood told the ship’s chaplain, Thomas Morgan, and others the details for a will, which Morgan transcribed the next day.  It was accepted as such and proven later in the year.5  He was buried at All Saints Church, Wootton Courtney in Somerset, where there is also a memorial to him. 

 

The only published image of Hood is the mezzotint “The Death of Capt. Alexander Hood, who Gloriously Fell in the Moment of Victory on the 21st April last” published on 1 October 1798 by Jeffryes & Co., Ludgate Hill, London.  Hood is shown receiving the sword of the French captain who likewise died of his wounds, while a lieutenant points to the lowering of the French colours by moonlight through an open window behind the scene. 

 

John Robson

 

References

  1. Cook’s Log, page 1493, vol. 21, no. 2 (1998). 
  2. Adm 51/4554/181-3 05 March 1772 to 10 March 1775.
  3. Cook’s Log, page 1626, vol. 22, no. 2 (1999). 
  4. Cook’s Log, page 18, vol. 30, no. 4 (2007). 
  5. PROB 11/1316.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 48, volume 36, number 4 (2013).

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