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SIR GEORGE TRYON (1832-1893)

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 340 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR GEORGE TRYON (1832-1893), British admiral, a younger son of Thomas Tryon, of Bulwick Park, Northamptonshire, was born on the 4th of January 1832. He entered the navy in 1848, on board Lord Dundonald's flagship on the North American station; was subsequently in the " Vengeance" with Lord Edward Russell in the Black Sea; was landed for service with the naval brigade; and was made a lieutenant in November, but dated back to the 21st of October 1854. From 1855 to 1858 he was in the " Royal Albert " flagship of Sir Edmund Lyons; and from 1858 to 186o in the royal yacht, which gave him his promotion to commander on the 25th of October 186o. From 1861 to 1864 he was commander of the " Warrior," the first British sea-going ironclad; from 1864 to 1866 he commanded the " Surprise" gun-vessel in the Mediterranean; and was promoted to be captain on the 11th of April 1866. In 1867 he was sent out as director of transports and store ships for the Abyssinian expedition, a post which involved a great deal of hard work in a sweltering and unhealthy climate. He discharged his duties exceedingly well, but his health broke down, and he returned to England a helpless invalid. From 1871 to 1873 he was private secretary to Mr Goschen, then first lord of the admiralty; and from 1874 to 1877 commanded the " Raleigh " in India with the Prince of Wales, and later in the Mediterranean. In the years 1878-1881 he had command of the " Monarch," one of the Mediterranean fleet under Sir Geoffrey Hornby and Sir Beauchamp Seymour, afterwards Lord Alcester. He was subsequently for two years secretary of the admiralty; and for three years more, on his promotion in April 1884 to the rank of rear-admiral, commanderin-chief on the Australian station. On his return in June 1887 he was made R.C.B.; afterwards he was for three years superintendent of reserves, in which capacity it fell to him to command one of the opposing fleets during the summer manoeuvres, when he showed marked ability and originality of ideas. In 1889 he was promoted to be vice-admiral; and in August 1891 was appointed to command the Mediterranean fleet, which under him—following the example of his old chief, Sir Geoffrey Hornby—became very distinctly an evolutionary and, in that sense, experimental squadron. Some of his methods were afterwards said to be dangerous; but those which were most severely criticized do not appear to have had anything to do with the lamentable accident which ended Tryon's career. On the 22nd of June 1893, the fleet being then off Tripoli on•the coast of Syria, in two columns, Tryon made the signal to invert the course, the ships turning inwards in succession. By a fatal error, the psychological cause of which has never been explained, he ignored the patent fact that the two columns were so near each other that the manoeuvre, as ordered, must entail the most serious risk, if not certainty, of collision. And, in fact, the two leading ships did come into collision, with the result that the " Victoria," Tryon's flagship, was cut open and sank in a few minutes. Tryon and 358 officers and men were drowned. See the Life, by Rear-Admiral C. C. Penrose-FitzGerald.
End of Article: SIR GEORGE TRYON (1832-1893)
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Additional information and Comments

At the subsequent court-martial of Markham and the 21 surviving officers of 'Victoria' all were acquitted; although for Markham his career was effectively ended. The court martial verdict was that ...it would have been fatal to the best interests of the service to say that he was to blame for carrying out the orders of the C-in-C present in person. The incident showed the attitude of blind obedience to orders which chracterised the mores of the Victorian Navy. 'Obedience right or wrong' was to linger in the service for many years, and to some extent still persists.
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