Sir Charles Vinicombe Penrose, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., Vice Admiral of the White

By Nauticus, published May 1943


Penrose was one of the great contributions that Cornwall has made to the Royal Navy. Born in 1759 into two old West Country families, in Penryn, Charles Vinicombe Penrose was raised in an atmosphere of piety and patriotism, both of which were to stand him in good stead throughout his life.  He made his mark as more than a military commander, by revealing great diplomatic skills. His sympathy for those he worked with allowed him to realize the different qualifications and characters of various races and persons. His practical understanding of actual conditions gave him the power not to demand from people more than they were able to perform, and never to allow mere theory to cast a fog over realities. He showed his diplomatic skills dealing with French forces during the restoration of the Bourbons. His great disappointment was to arrive in Algiers in 1816 just too late for Exmouth’s battle, but he remained in command in the Mediterranean for three successful years using the diplomatic skills that he had first exercised in Algiers as a midshipman in 1776. Little has been published of him apart from a few copies of the modest account of his career, compiled by his nephew in 1850. However his combination of tact and fearlessness, daring and diplomacy, affability and firmness reflected considerable credit upon England during a crucial time; which saw him rise from Midshipman in 1776 to Rear Admiral of the Blue in 1813. Tasked at this time with superintending the naval services connected with Wellington’s army near the Pyrenees in 1814, Penrose surmounted many difficulties, which lead to Sir John Hope commending him on the Navies bold and hazardous co-operation when serving with the Army. Mediterranean Command followed in 1815. After four years of service in Malta, where he experienced “the greatest possible attention and kindness”, his active career ended in Torpoint in 1819.


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Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Biography

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