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British Industrial History

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William Hall (Admiral)

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Sir William Hutcheon Hall, (1797?–1878), naval officer

1811 Joined the Navy on the Warrior, under the Hon. George Byng,

1815 he was appointed to the sloop Lyra with Commander Basil Hall, and served in her during her voyage to China

He served actively on the African, West Indian, the Mediterranean, and the home stations until 1836; then, after studying steam engines at Glasgow and on steamers trading to Ireland, he went to the United States, and was employed on steamboats on the Hudson and Delaware.

1839 John Laird of Birkenhead, advocate of iron ships, built, in secrecy and on speculation, the first iron warship, the paddle-steamer Nemesis. Laird, as owner, appointed Hall to command her

1840 Laird sent the Nemesis as a private armed steamer to the First Opium War. Her voyage out was the longest yet by a steam-assisted vessel, and she reached China in January 1841.

1841 Nemesis was bought by the East India Co in 1841. Hall, by his energy and his skilful handling of the Nemesis, won mention in dispatches.

1841 Promoted to lieutenant; an order in council sanctioned his time on the Nemesis as though on one of the Queen's ships

1843 he was promoted commander. The Nemesis was paid off at Calcutta, and Hall returned overland. He was appointed to the royal steam yacht Victoria and Albert

His report had considerable influence on the Admiralty decision to use iron ships.

He invented iron bilge tanks for ships, adopted by the navy, and ‘Hall's patent anchor’.

1845 Hall married the Hon. Hilare Caroline Byng, third daughter of his first captain, Viscount Torrington

1847 He served in Ireland during the famine.

1847 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

1854 accepted command of the Hecla, a small paddle-steamer. The Hecla and two other ships under Hall's command, on his initiative, bombarded the Bomarsmund fortifications, but caused little damage.

1855 he commanded the blockship Blenheim, in which he was present at the successful bombardment of Sveaborg in July was made a CB.

1863 became rear-admiral

1867 KCB

1869 Promoted vice-admiral on the retired list

1875 became an admiral.

1878 Died in London

1879 Their daughter married Captain C. D. Lucas RN, who, as a mate in the Hecla, had won the Victoria Cross by throwing a lighted shell overboard, before Bomarsmund, on 21 June 1854.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of William Hall, ODNB