Maurice Suckling

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Maurice Suckling
Maurice Suckling by Thomas Bardwell.jpg
Maurice Suckling, by Thomas Bardwell, 1764
Born4 May 1726[1]
Barsham, Suffolk
DiedJuly 1778 (aged 52)[2]
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy
Battles/warsSeven Years' War

Captain Maurice Suckling (4 May 1726 – 14 July 1778) was a Royal Navy officer and Comptroller of the Navy who was instrumental in the training of his nephew, Horatio Nelson. He sat in the House of Commons from 1776 to 1778.

Early life[edit]

Maurice Suckling was born on 4 May 1726 at the rectory house in Barsham, Suffolk, he was the second of four children to the Reverend Maurice Shelton Suckling of Barsham, and Anne Suckling, a niece of Robert Walpole.[3] His father died in 1730 and the family relocated to Beccles. At the age of thirteen Maurice left home for Sheerness where on 25 November 1739 he enlisted as an ordinary seaman aboard the elderly 54-gun warship Newcastle.[3]

Seven Years War[edit]

Suckling was the commander of Dreadnought in action in the Battle of Cap-Français off Saint-Domingue on 21 October 1757.[4]

It was Suckling who was responsible for Nelson's early training.[4] Young Nelson was entered on the books of the newly commissioned Raisonnable, commanded by Suckling, and joined the crew several months later, in early 1771.[4] Suckling was transferred to the Nore guardship and arranged for his nephew to sail to the West Indies in a Hibbert, Purrier and Horton merchantman, the Mary Ann captained by John Rathbone,[5] gaining experience of seamanship and life at sea (he sailed from Medway, Kent, on 25 July 1771 sailing to Jamaica and Tobago, returning to Plymouth on 7 July 1772). Suckling also used his influence to have Nelson appointed to the Carcass for a 1773 expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. Suckling became Comptroller of the Navy [4] in 1775 and was able to speed Nelson's career, he continued to use his influence on Nelson's behalf until his death in 1778.

Suckling had a brief career in Parliament, presumably with Admiralty support, he was returned unopposed to represent Portsmouth on 18 May 1776, replacing Sir Edward Hawke who had been created Baron Hawke and called to the House of Lords, but there is no record of Suckling having voted or spoken.[6]


Captain Maurice Suckling's sister was Catherine Suckling (1725–95), wife of Reverend Edmund Nelson. Maurice and Catherine were the great-great grandchildren of the poet Sir John Suckling, and grandnephew and grandniece of the first British Prime Minister Robert Walpole.

Suckling's nephew, Lieutenant Maurice William Suckling (1761–1820), also served with his uncle.



  1. ^ Laughton, L.G.C.; Anderson, R.C.; Perrin, W.G.; Society for Nautical Research (London, England) (2002). The Mariner's Mirror. 88. Society for Nautical Research. ISSN 0025-3359. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  2. ^ Mahan, A.T. (2011). The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 21. ISBN 9781108026048. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b Syrett 2013, p. 33
  4. ^ a b c d "National Maritime Museum | Captain Maurice Suckling". Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Joining the Royal Navy". Nelson, Trafalgar and those who served. National Archives. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Suckling, Maurice (1726-78)". History of Parliament. Retrieved 15 August 2016.


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Edward Hawke
Peter Taylor
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth
With: Peter Taylor 1776–1777
Sir William Gordon 1777–1778
Succeeded by
Hon. Robert Monckton
Sir William Gordon
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Palliser
Comptroller of the Navy
Succeeded by
Lord Barham