Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, our naughty heroic hunk this Monday, was born in Norfolk in 1758. He was the son of a minister with a large family who went to sea as a 13 year old boy and went up the ranks quickly. Nelson is considered one of Britain’s greatest heroes because of his achievements primarily inEngland’s battle against France and her allies. He was known for his leadership, strategy, and tactics. In his service to Britain, he lost the sight of an eye, his arm, and his life. He died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, shot through the spine. Throughout his heroic naval service he suffered from seasickness. (See pic on right)
Despite all his heroics, Nelson was known to be naughty. In 1787, Nelson married Frances “Fanny” Nisbet, a young widow with a child on the island of Nevis, an island in the Caribbean. Despite all of Nelson’s failings as a husband, Fanny remained faithful to her husband, even taking care of his ailing father.
Nelson first met Lady Emma Hamilton in Naples after the battle of the Nile. Emma was the daughter of a blacksmith who had progressed from theater seamstress in London, to actress, to mistress of a succession of men. She was known for her wit and extreme beauty. Her last lover who needed to be rid of her to marry an heiress sent her to his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, who was the British ambassador to the court of Naples. Imagine the nephew’s chagrin when Sir William married Emma who was more than 40 years her senior.
When Nelson met Emma, they began an affair with Sir William’s knowledge. As a matter of fact, they often cohabited, all living together in the same house. Their behavior was absolutely scandalous by the morals of the period. Emma had Nelson’s child who was named Horatia. When the threesome took up a joint residence in London and went on a tour of England where they were welcomed as heroes, wife Fanny gave Nelson THE ultimatum about Emma. His famous response was: “I love you sincerely but I cannot forget my obligations to Lady Hamilton or speak of her otherwise than with affection and admiration.” This confrontation ended forever Nelson’s relationship with his wife, though they never divorced. In 1802 Nelson bought Merton Place in Surrey where he and the Hamiltons lived together until Sir William died in 1803.
Nelson was called to war soon afterwards, leaving Emma pregnant with a child that survived only a few weeks. In 1805 while commanding the Victory at Trafalgar he was shot in the spine and died soon afterwards. His body was placed in a cask of brandy mixed with camphor and myrrh and eventually transported to London in a lead coffin. He was buried with honor inSt. Paul’s. Emma was not allowed to attend the funeral. All money and honors went to Nelson’s family and she was soon broke. She, along with Horatia, fled to France where she died of dysentery in 1815. Horatia married a minister and lived a long life filled with children. (See pic on Right)
Next week, A Regency Surprise of a Personal Nature Rita Bay