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SIR GEORGE POCOCK (1706-1792)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 873 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR GEORGE POCOCK (1706-1792), British admiral, son of Thomas Pocock, chaplain in the navy, was born on the 6th of March 1706, and entered the navy under the protection of his maternal uncle, Captain Streynsham Master (1682-1724), in the " Superbe " in 1718. He became lieutenant in April 1725, commander in 1733, and post-captain in 1738. After serving in the West Indies he was sent to the East Indies in 1754 as captain of the " Cumberland" (58) with Rear-Admiral Charles Watson (1714-1757). Watson's squadron co-operated with Clive in the conquest of Bengal. In 1755 Pocock became rear-admiral, and was promoted vice-admiral in 1756. On the death of Watson he took the command of the naval forces in the eastern seas. In 1758 he was joined by Commodore Charles Steevens (d. 1761), but the reinforcement only raised the squadron to seven small line-of-battle ships. War being now in progress between France and England the French sent a naval force from their islands in the Indian Ocean into the Bay of Bengal to the assistance of Pondicherry. To intercept the arrival of these reinforcements for the enemy now became the object of Pocock. The French force was indeed of less intrinsic strength than his own. Count D'Ache (1700?-1775), who commanded, had to make up his line by including several Indiamen, which were only armed merchant ships. Yet the number of the French was superior and Pocock was required by the practice of his time to fight by the old official fighting instructions. He had to bring his ships into action in a line with the enemy, and to preserve his formation while the engagement lasted. All Pocock's encounters with D'Ache were indecisive. The first battle, on the 29th of April 1758, failed to prevent the Frenchmen from reaching Pondicherry. After a second and more severe engagement on the 3rd of August, the French admiral returned to the Mauritius, and when the monsoon set in Pocock went round to Bombay. He was back early in spring, but the French admiral did not return to the Bay of Bengal till September. Again Pocock was unable to prevent his opponent from reaching Pondicherry, and a well-contested battle between them on the loth of September 1759 proved again indecisive. The French government was nearly bankrupt, and D'Ache could get no stores for his squadron. He was compelled to return to the islands, and the English were left in possession of the Coromandel and Malabar coasts. Pocock went home in 1760, and in 1761 was made Knight of the Bath and admiral. In 1762 he was appointed to the command of the naval forces in the combined expedition which took Havana. The siege, which began on the 7th of June, and lasted till the 13th of August, was rendered deadly by the climate. The final victory was largely attributable to the vigorous and intelligent aid which Pocock gave to the troops. His share in the prize money was no less than £122,697. On his return to England Pocock is said to have been disappointed because another officer, Sir Charles Saunders (1713-1775), was chosen in preference to himself as a member of the admiralty board, and to have resigned in consequence. It is certain that he re-signed his commission in 1766. He died on the 3rd of April 1792. His monument is in Westminster Abbey.
End of Article: SIR GEORGE POCOCK (1706-1792)
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