Despite a supreme belief, the Royal Navy of the early eighteenth century was becoming over-confident and outdated, and it had more than its share of disasters including the devastating sickness in Admiral Hosier’s fleet in 1727; failure at Cartagena, and an embarrassing action off Toulon in 1744. Anson’s great circumnavigation, though presented as a triumph, was achieved at huge cost in ships and lives. And in 1756 Admiral Byng was shot after failure off Minorca.
In this new book, the bestselling author Brian Lavery shows how, through reforms and the determined focus of a number of personalities, that navy was transformed in the middle years of the eighteenth century. Much of this transformation was due to the forceful if enigmatic personality of George, Lord Anson. In a static society, he changed the navy so that it was fit for purpose, and in readiness for Nelson just decades later. Using a mass of archival evidence and a mix of official reports and personal reminiscences, Lavery offers a fascinating and engrossing analysis of all these far-reaching reforms, which in turn led to the radical transformation of Britain’s navy into a truly global force.