Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Boat Races

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – The Boat Races

Among the most delightful incidents were the boatraces. It was before the time when fleet regattas were instituted. What happened was that a boat would row round from their ship, to the ship they wished to race, and toss oars under her bows in sign of a challenge. Then the boat’s crew of the challenged ship would practise with intense assiduity until they felt they were fit to meet the enemy. The bitterest feeling was aroused. Even the crews of “chummy ships” could not meet without fighting. Hundreds of pounds were wagered on the event. In the Marlborough we had the cutter, Black Bess, specially built for racing. Her stroke was John Glanville, the gigantic boatswain’s mate, who, when I joined the ship, told Dicky Horne, the quartermaster, that I was not likely to live long. He was the son of Ann Glanville, the redoubtable West country woman who pulled stroke in the crew of Saltash women that raced and beat a crew of Frenchmen at Cherbourg, under the eyes of the Queen, the Prince Consort, the Emperor Napoleon III., and the British and French navies. That notable victory was won in [1858], when Queen Victoria, accompanied by the Prince Consort, visited Napoleon III. The Queen and the Prince sailed in H.M.S. Victoria and Albert, escorted by a squadron of men-of-war. They were received by the French Navy. After the race, the Queen invited the Saltash women on board the Royal yacht. Later in life, it was my privilege to remove anxiety concerning her livelihood from fine old Mrs. Glanville.

I steered the Black Bess, and we beat the two best boats in the Fleet; and then we were challenged by the St. George. The St. George had taken the upper strake off her boat to make her row easier. Now the stroke of the St. George was George Glanville, brother to John, and of the same formidable weight and size. The race was rowed in Malta Harbour, over a 3-mile course, and we were beaten. We could not understand it; but beaten we were. That night George Glanville came aboard the Marlborough with a bag containing some £300, the money put up to cover the stakes. George came to receive the stakes, and according to custom he brought the cover-money to show that all was above-board. To him came John his brother; and scarce a word was said ere the two big men were fighting furiously, the bag of gold on the deck beside them. They were torn apart with difficulty. Nor could the respective crews be landed together for a long time afterwards. Next year we beat the St. George.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.


Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project