Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry

A living history unit

Captain Sir Edward Berry - Born 1768


Edward Berry a London Merchant and Elisabeth Forster of Haleworth, Suffolk. Married on 23rd January 1766 at St Mary’s, Marleybone, London.
Father died young and left mother, 5 sisters and one brother in perilous financial circumstances.

Early education provided by uncle, the Rev. Titus Berry, in Norwich.

Midshipman Berry

Entered the Navy at the age of 14 as a Midshipman in the Burford through the patronage of Lord Mulgrave, an old pupil of his uncles.

Signal Midshipman in HMS Duke when she attacked St. Pierre in Martinique - Berry was standing on the poop deck 'when a shot across him deprived him of all sense and feeling so that he was carried down as dead and intense was the surprise of those around him when he recovered the shock'.

Lieutenant Berry 1794

As a reward for gallantry in boarding a French ship, promoted to Lieutenant on 20 January 1794
May 1796 appointed to the Agamemnon under the command of  Captain Nelson.
Followed Nelson to HMS Captain in June.
Nelson wrote, 'I have as far as I have seen every reason to be satisfied with him [Berry], both as a gentleman and an officer'. On sending Nelson's report to the Admiralty, Jervis added 'Lieutenant Edward Berry, of whom the Commodore writes so highly, is a protégé of mine and I know him to be an officer of talents, great courage and laudable ambition'.

Commander Berry 1796

Indeed, whilst Nelson was ashore during the siege of Porto Ferrajo, Berry commanded the ship in such a way as to make him the subject of his captain's 'fullest approbation', and he received the rank of Commander on 12 November 1796

Whilst awaiting a posting he remained aboard  HMS Captain during the Battle of Cape St Vincent  in February 1797. Although Berry had no specific duties during the battle, when Nelson came alongside the Spanish ship San Nicholas and gave orders to board her.
Nelson wrote, 'The first man who jumped into the enemy's mizzen-chains was Captain Berry, late my first lieutenant; he was supported from our spritsail-yard, which hooked in the mizzen-rigging... Having pushed on to the quarter-deck, I found Captain Berry in possession of the poop, and the Spanish Ensign hauling down'.

In October of the same year Nelson was invested as a Knight of the Bath, accompanied on the occasion by Berry. When the King remarked upon the loss of Nelson's right arm, he wittily replied, indicating Berry, "But not my right hand, your majesty".
It was agreed between them that when Nelson next hoisted his flag, Berry would be his Flag Captain.

Captain Berry 1797

On 12 December Berry married to his cousin, Louisa Forster, and a week later appointed as Flag Captain of the Vanguard.

August 1798, The battle of the Nile, at Aboukir Bay.
Only 4 of the 17 major French ships escaped destruction or capture and with French losses six times greater than those of the British, it was a triumphant victory.

Berry embarked with Nelsons dispatches for Britain aboard the 50 gun HMS Leander commanded by Captain Thompson. During the voyage, however, the Leander was accosted and captured by one of the two surviving French ships, the 74-gun Généroux, and Berry was severely wounded by a flying fragment of another man's skull, which was "driven through his arm".

After a fierce action lasting six and a half hours, the Leander was forced to surrender. She had repelled several French attempts to board her. Her hull was badly shattered by gunfire and she could not strike her colours as no mast was left standing. Ninety-two of her crew were killed or wounded. The Genereux had suffered nearly 300 casualties. Captain Thompson, who lost a leg, was court- martialled for the loss of his ship and knighted for his gallantry.

As a result of his capture, Berry did not reach England until December, at which point the news of the Nile had already been received.

However, he wrote in a letter that upon his return to Norwich,
"the people received me with mad joy. In short, I'm so great a man that I'm very in and out everywhere to the great annoyance of my pocket and distress of my feelings." Britain revelled in Nile memorabilia, including ceramic jugs embossed with reliefs of Nelson and Berry - 'Heroes of the Nile'.

Captain Sir Edward Berry 1798

On 12 December knighted and given the freedom of the City of London
In the spring of 1799 he was appointed to captain the HMS Foudroyant  and sent to assist in the blockade of Malta. Here he assisted in the capture of the Guillame Tell and Generoux, the two French ships that escaped the Battle of the Nile, the latter being his own former captor.

The following June, the Foudroyant carried the Queen of Naples from Palermo to Leghorn (Livorno),
He was given a gift by the queen of a gold box containing a diamond ring and a letter of thanks from the queen.

The Fouderant went to Minorca to refit and Berry went to England in the Princess Charlotte Frigate.

Then commanded HMS Ruby of 64 guns in the North Sea.

It was five years before Berry again took significant command. His failure to obtain a posting had left him feeling restless and somewhat slighted by the Admiralty,

"A man's standing in the Service and his reputation all goes for nought," he wrote bitterly. It fell to Nelson to placate him, "It is vexing to be unemployed at such a moment, but it is useless to fret oneself to death when the folks aloft don't care a pin about it”

The end to Berry's yearnings came on his arrival at Trafalgar in 1805, captain of HMS Agamemnon. "Here comes that fool Berry! Now we shall have a battle," exclaimed Nelson.

The Agamemnon escaped the mêlée without heavy losses, engaging with the Santissima Trinidad and Admiral Dumanoirs division in the closing stages of the fight.

At the battle's close, Berry took to his ship's boat in order to speak to Nelson on the Victory but by the time he arrived Nelson had just died, an unfortunate piece of timing which Berry would regret for the rest of his life.

Captain Sir Edward Berry, Baronet 1806

In 1806 Captain Berry fought in the Agamemnon at the battle of San Domingo, being highly praised for his actions. On 12th December 1806 he became a baronet  Sir Edward Berry of Catton in Norfolk.
Commanded the 74 gun HMS Sceptre  during 1811,
In 1812 took over the 98 gun HMS Barfleur went to the Mediterranean.
In 1813 Became captain of the royal yacht the royal sovereign and attended the sovereigns of Europe at spithead
Then 1815 appointed to the Royal George
2nd Jan 1815 made KCB – Knight Commander  of the order of the bath.

And there good people is Sir Edward.  He has houses in Bath, London and Catton Hall in Norfolk.