Arthur William Acland Hood, First Baron Hood
Life & Career
Arthur William Acland Hood, born at Bath on 14 July 1824, was second son of Sir Alexander Hood, second baronet (1793–1851), by his wife Amelia Annie, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Hugh Bateman, baronet. Alexander Hood (1758–98) [q.v.] was his grandfather. Entering the navy in 1836, he saw early service on the north coast of Spain, and afterwards on the coast of Syria and at the reduction of Acre. In January 1846 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the President, on the Cape station, from which he was paid off in 1849. In 1850 he was appointed to the Arethusa, with captain (afterwards Sir Thomas M. C.) Symonds [q.v.] , and in the Channel, Mediterranean, Black Sea, and in the Crimea in front of Sevastopol, remained attached to her for nearly five years. For service at the defence of Eupatoria he was promoted to the rank of Commander dated 27 November, 1854. In 1856 went out to China in command of the Acorn brig. In her or her boats he was engaged at Fatshan on 1 June 1857, and at the capture of Canton on 27–28 Dec. 1857, for which he received his promotion to the rank of Captain on 26 February. 1858. After nearly five years on shore he was appointed in December 1862 to the Pylades, for the North American station, from which in the autumn of 1866 he was ordered home to take command of the Excellent and the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth. This may be described as to a great extent the turning-point in his service, leading him to settle down almost entirely as an administrator. The Excellent was, and is, the school of scientific gunnery, and after three years in her Hood was appointed director of naval ordnance. Here he remained for five years; a careful, painstaking officer, though without the genius that was much needed in a period of great change, and clinging by temperament to the ideas of the past, when they had ceased to be suitable. In May 1871 he was nominated a C.B.; and in 1874, as he still wanted some sea time to qualify him for his flag, he was appointed to the Monarch in the Channel fleet. On 22 March, 1876, he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, following the death of Vice-Admiral The Honourable George Fowler Hastings. From January 1877 to December 1879 was a lord commissioner of the admiralty. On 10 December, 1879, he was appointed in command of the Channel Squadron, flying his flag in the Minotaur. He was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 23 July, 1880, upon the death of Vice-Admiral Rowley Lambert.
In June, 1885 he was named as First Naval Lord in succession to Sir Astley C. Key. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral on 18 January, 1886, in succession to Key. The four years which followed were years of great change and great advance, but it was commonly supposed that Hood's efforts were mainly devoted to preventing the advance from becoming too rapid. Like his predecessor, he scarcely understood the essential needs of England as a great naval power; and several of his public declarations might be thought equivalent to an expression of belief that, useful as the navy was, the country could get on very well without it.
Lord George Hamilton later recalled that Hood was "one of the best administrators I ever met."
He was not a popular man in the Navy on account of his reserve and shyness. Though he was a very handsome man, he had one eye blue and the other half grey and half blue. In talking to him, do what you would, your eyes came back to his demi-coloured eye, and he did not like it. Whilst conservative in his tendencies, he was very scientific in his attainments, strict but thoroughly impartial in his appointments, absolutely fearless but with an intense hatred of gossip and intrigue. He was always reasonable, even when in opposition. More than once I have suggested to him changes of which he did not apparently approve. He would come back in a day or two after the conversation with a small piece of paper in his hand, for he was a very concise writer, and say, "I have been thinking over what you suggested. I still incline to my opinion; but if you wish the thing done, this is the way to do it," and on the piece of paper would be formulated all the steps necessary for the change. It was a real pleasure to work with him; he never went back on his word, and in trouble he was a rock upon which to rest.
An amusing account of how Hood dealt with the competitiveness which existed between Beresford and Ashmead-Bartlett is recounted by Lord George Hamilton:
One evening at Devonport, after we had dined on the Admiralty yacht, they were so chaffing each other, and Hood said, "Now, you two fellows must have it out with single-sticks." So we sent for single-sticks, but there were none on board. It was
then suggested that the encounter might take place with umbrellas and high hats. The disputants after some persuasion agreed to this ordeal, and they both came up under a screen-awning with umbrellas and high hats. We examined the umbrellas and found that they were not their own, so we insisted upon each arming himself with his own parapluie.
The encounter which ensued was indescribably ridiculous. Ashmead-Bartlett was the more scientific player of the two, and in splendid attitudes he was slicing off Beresford's legs and arms. Beresford, being the better tactician, soon discovered that being hit on the legs with an umbrella did not hurt. He therefore concentrated his attention on Ashmead-Bartlett's high hat, which he knocked first on one side and then the other. Every blow on his hat upset Bartlett's monocle, which had to be readjusted,and the fighting went on until the hat was battered out of all shape and both umbrellas broken; and then the two Lords indulged in an unseemly wrestle, resulting in their both tumbling over one another on the deck. I am afraid some of the crew witnessed this performance. Hood laughed so much that I thought he would have had a fit, and though perhaps the incident was a little derogatory to the dignity of my Lords, it was very human, and I am not sure that we lost much by it in the estimation of those who were onlookers.
In accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 22 February, 1870, on 14 July, 1889, Hood was placed on the Retired List, and at the same time resigned his seat at the admiralty. He continued, however, to take an active interest in naval affairs, and showed, in occasional letters in The Times and elsewhere, a more correct appreciation of the problems of naval supremacy than he was supposed to have done during his official life.
In September, 1889 he was nominated G.C.B., and in February, 1892 was raised to the peerage as Baron Hood of Avalon. He died at Wooten House, Glastonbury, the residence of his nephew, Sir Alexander Hood, Fourth Baronet, on 16 November, 1901. He married in October, 1855 Fanny Henrietta, third daughter of Sir Charles Fitzroy Maclean; she survived him with two daughters.
- "Death of Admiral Lord Hood of Avalon" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 18 November, 1901. Issue 36615, col A, p. 6.
- Allen, Matthew (July 2008). "The Deployment of Untried Technology: British Naval Tactics in the Ironclad Era". War in History 15 (3): pp. 269–293.
- The National Archives. ADM 196/36.
Astley C. Key
|Captain of H.M.S. Excellent
3 Sep, 1866
Geoffrey T. P. Hornby
|Second Naval Lord
15 Jan, 1877
Richard J. Meade
The Rt. Hon. Lord John Hay
|Senior Officer in Command, Channel Squadron
9 Dec, 1879
The Hon. Henry C. Glynn
Sir Astley Cooper Key
|First Naval Lord
2 Jul, 1885
Lord John Hay
Lord John Hay
|First Naval Lord
6 Aug, 1886
Sir R. Vesey Hamilton
- The London Gazette: no. 21656. p. 352. 30 January, 1855.
- The London Gazette: no. 22104. p. 1028. 26 February, 1858.
- The London Gazette: no. 24309. p. 2155. 28 March, 1876.
- The Navy List. (March, 1880). p. 188.
- The London Gazette: no. 24869. p. 4211. 30 July, 1880.
- The London Gazette: no. 25551. p. 329. 22 January, 1886.
- Hamilton. pp. 86-87.
- Hamilton. pp. 94-95.
- The London Gazette: no. 25955. p. 3895. 19 July, 1889.
- The Navy List. (December, 1868). p. 193.
- The Naval Staff of the Admiralty. p. 119.
- Hood Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36. f. 192.
- The Naval Staff of the Admiralty. p. 118.
- The Naval Staff of the Admiralty. p. 118.