East India Company
The East India Company known as the Honourable East India Company or the British East India Company and informally as John Company, Company Bahadur, or The Company, was an English and British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region with Mughal India and the East Indies, with Qing China; the company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China. Chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies", the company rose to account for half of the world's trade in basic commodities including cotton, indigo dye, spices, saltpetre and opium; the company ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India. In his speech to the House of Commons in July 1833, Lord Macaulay explained that since the beginning, the East India company had always been involved in both trade and politics, just as its French and Dutch counterparts had been.
The company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600, coming late to trade in the Indies. Before them the Portuguese Estado da Índia had traded there for much of the 16th century and the first of half a dozen Dutch Companies sailed to trade there from 1595; these Dutch companies amalgamated in March 1602 into the United East Indies Company, which introduced the first permanent joint stock from 1612. By contrast, wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned the EIC's shares; the government owned no shares and had only indirect control until 1657 when permanent joint stock was established. During its first century of operation, the focus of the company was trade, not the building of an empire in India. Company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th century as the Mughal Empire declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, the French East India Company during the Carnatic Wars of the 1740s and 1750s; the battles of Plassey and Buxar, in which the British defeated the Bengali powers, left the company in control of Bengal and a major military and political power in India.
In the following decades it increased the extent of the territories under its control, controlling the majority of the Indian subcontinent either directly or indirectly via local puppet rulers under the threat of force by its Presidency armies, much of which were composed of native Indian sepoys. By 1803, at the height of its rule in India, the British East India company had a private army of about 260,000—twice the size of the British Army, with Indian revenues of £13,464,561, expenses of £14,017,473; the company came to rule large areas of India with its private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India began in 1757 and lasted until 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown's assuming direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new British Raj. Despite frequent government intervention, the company had recurring problems with its finances, it was dissolved in 1874 as a result of the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act passed one year earlier, as the Government of India Act had by rendered it vestigial and obsolete.
The official government machinery of British India assumed the East India Company's governmental functions and absorbed its navy and its armies in 1858. Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the captured Spanish and Portuguese ships with their cargoes enabled English voyagers to travel the globe in search of riches. London merchants presented a petition to Queen Elizabeth I for permission to sail to the Indian Ocean; the aim was to deliver a decisive blow to the Portuguese monopoly of Far Eastern Trade. Elizabeth granted her permission and on 10 April 1591 James Lancaster in the Bonaventure with two other ships sailed from Torbay around the Cape of Good Hope to the Arabian Sea on one of the earliest English overseas Indian expeditions. Having sailed around Cape Comorin to the Malay Peninsula, they preyed on Spanish and Portuguese ships there before returning to England in 1594; the biggest capture that galvanised English trade was the seizure of the large Portuguese Carrack, the Madre de Deus by Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Cumberland at the Battle of Flores on 13 August 1592.
When she was brought in to Dartmouth she was the largest vessel, seen in England and her cargo consisted of chests filled with jewels, gold, silver coins, cloth, pepper, cinnamon, benjamin, red dye and ebony. Valuable was the ship's rutter containing vital information on the China and Japan trades; these riches aroused the English to engage in this opulent commerce. In 1596, three more English ships were all lost at sea. A year however saw the arrival of Ralph Fitch, an adventurer merchant who, along with his companions, had made a remarkable fifteen-year overland journey to Mesopotamia, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Fitch was consulted on the Indian affairs and gave more valuable information to Lancaster. On 22 September 1599, a group of merchants met and stated their intention "to venture in the pretended voyage to the East Indies, the sums that they will adventure", committing £30
Court-martial of James, Lord Gambier
The Court-martial of James, Lord Gambier, was a notorious British naval legal case during the summer of 1809, in which Admiral Lord Gambier requested a court-martial to examine his behaviour during the Battle of Basque Roads in April of the same year. Noted for the acrimony and corruption of proceedings, it has been described as "one of the ugliest episodes in the internal history of the Royal Navy."Gambier was the Royal Navy commander of the Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars tasked with the blockade of the French Atlantic Fleet in Brest. In February 1809 the French fleet tried to break out into the Atlantic and was chased into the anchorage of Basque Roads near the Charente River. On 11 April a major attack was launched on the anchored fleet by fireships and over several days the French fleet was driven ashore and battered by an inshore squadron commanded by the maverick officer Lord Cochrane. Gambier, stationed just offshore with the main fleet, refused to support Cochrane and as a result, although damaged, most of the French fleet escaped to safety.
On his return to Britain, Cochrane used his position as a Radical Member of Parliament to attempt to block an effort to thank Gambier for the victory, placing him in direct opposition to Prime Minister Lord Portland's administration and First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Mulgrave. Mulgrave warned Gambier of Cochrane's position, who responded by demanding a public examination of his conduct via a court-martial. Convened at Portsmouth on 26 July 1809, the members of the court were deliberately chosen by Mulgrave to favour Gambier, over the next eight days a series of witnesses were called who discredited Cochrane with misleading evidence; when Cochrane was called to give evidence he was subject to aggressive questioning, lost his temper and was reprimanded. At the conclusion of the court-martial the members of the court unanimously found in Gambier's favour and despite Cochrane's best efforts Parliament voted thanks to Gambier. Gambier was restored to command and served in the Navy until his death in 1833.
Despite popular support, Cochrane's resistance had alienated much of the naval and political establishment in Britain and not long afterwards he was implicated in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814, convicted and publicly humiliated. He was dismissed from the Royal Navy, although he was pardoned and reinstated in 1832. Historians have subsequently sided with Cochrane, with French Emperor Napoleon describing Gambier as a "fool". In February 1809 the French Atlantic Fleet, based at Brest was ordered to sail to the Caribbean. Since the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803 the French Navy had suffered a series of defeats and the British were now threatening to invade the Caribbean island of Martinique; the fleet, under Contre-amiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez, sailed on 22 February but was unable to escape British pursuit and four days anchored in the sheltered position of Basque Roads at the mouth of the Charente River retreating into the more-sheltered Aix Roads nearby, under the batteries of the fortified Île-d'Aix.
A fleet from the British Channel Fleet, commanded by Admiral Lord Gambier, had followed Willaumez to the harbour and there enacted a close blockade. Gambier was an unpopular officer, whose reputation rested on being the first captain to break the French line at the Glorious First of June in 1794 in HMS Defence. Since he had spent most of his career as an administrator at the Admiralty, earning the title Baron Gambier for his command of the fleet at the Bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. A strict Methodist, Gambier was nicknamed "Dismal Jimmy" by his men. While Gambier debated what action to take, Willaumez was censured for his failure to escape the British fleet and was replaced by Contre-amiral Zacharie Allemand, who strengthened the fleet's defences and awaited a British attack. In Britain, First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Mulgrave called on one of the nation's most popular, maverick young naval officers for a solution, Captain Lord Cochrane. Cochrane had operated off the Charente and knew the area well, but he was a controversial choice for the operation.
Placing him in command would mean by-passing a number of more senior officers causing offense, while his status as a Radical Member of Parliament for Westminster made him an outspoken opponent of Prime Minister Lord Portland. Cochrane refused the offer, but was directly ordered to prepare and lead the operation, sailing to join Gambier in his ship, the frigate HMS Imperieuse. Cochrane arrived on 3 April, his orders causing a storm of controversy among the officers of the fleet, several of whom had been passed over by Cochrane's appointment. Rear-Admiral Eliab Harvey was so furious that he directly accused Gambier of incompetence and was sent back to Britain to face a court-martial for insubordination. Gambier expressed his misgivings about the attack but could not ignore a direct instruction from Mulgrave and so allowed Cochrane to proceed with the operation. Cochrane fitted out 24 fireships and explosion vessels from the fleet transports and on the night of 11 April led them into the Roads, accompanied by a squadron of small vessels and the bomb vessel HMS Aetna.
The fireships failed to ignite any of the French warships, but their presence caused panic among the French crews, who cut their anchor cables and drifted onto the rocks and shoals of the anchorage. When morning came, Cochrane found that the entire French fleet was at his mercy, signalled to Gambier suggesting that if he would lead the British fleet into the Roads they could destroy the entire French force. Gambier did not respond, in frustration Cochrane led his own small force directly into combat with the French battle fleet. Unable to leave his subordinat
Commander-in-Chief, Africa (Royal Navy)
The Commander-in-Chief, Africa was the last title of a Royal Navy's formation commander located in South Africa from 1795 to 1939. Under varying titles, it was one of the longest-lived formations of the Royal Navy, it was often known as the Cape of Good Hope Station. From 1750 to 1779 the Cape of Good Hope became strategically important due to the increasing competition between France and Great Britain for control of the seas. In 1780 Holland joined the American Revolutionary War in alliance with France and Spain against Great Britain; the first attempt was subject to prolonged delays and the fact that the French were able to reinforce their defences enabled them to defend it from the British attack. From 1781 to 1791 various attempts were made to capture the station: all failed and it remained under the control of France and the French were successful in attacking and disrupting the trade cargo of the East India Company's ships that were travelling between Asian subcontinent and Europe. In 1792 hostilities temporarily ceased and by 1793 the Directors of the East India Company expressed their concern about the cape being retained by the French.
The British government and the Admiralty decided to act and retook it in 1795: the first Naval base was established at Table Bay. In 1802 the British government agreed to restore the Cape to the Dutch control but this was not finalized until 1803 and lasted until 1806 when a new British Administration under William Pitt cancelled the agreement between both countries and re-took the cape once more in 1807 which from this point on remained under British control. In 1811 the Royal Navy decided it wanted to move from its current base to a new base at Simon's Town bay. From 1815 to 1849 the base was used for re-fitting and repair work on vessels and acted as a port of call for nautical surveyors who were mapping the region. During the 1850s and 1860s improvements were made to the dockyard facilities with some being re-built in order to accommodate larger ships. On 17 January 1865, it was combined with the East Indies Station to form the East Indies and Cape of Good Hope Station. From 1870, it absorbed the former West Africa Squadron.
By the start of the Second Boer War in 1899 a long period of relative peace had existed. In 1910 a new East Dock was built together with a dry dock facility which proved timely in the event of the breakout of the First World War. From 1914 to until 1919 its primary tasks was to seek out and destroy German commerce raiding forces. During the interwar period it resumed the work of maintaining and refitting vessels stationed there and those travelling en route to Asia. In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, the base played an early prominent role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, that led to the Battle of the River Plate. After the conclusion of that engagement the station ceased as a command operations center with the senior naval staff moving to the newly formed South Atlantic station headquartered at Freetown; the naval base remained as part of that command until 1957. In 1958 the British government handed over the facility to the South African Navy.
The commanders-in-chief were: Vice-Admiral George Keith Elphinstone, Rear-Admiral Thomas Pringle, Rear-Admiral Sir Hugh Cloberry Christian, Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, Note: from 1803-06 a Dutch colony Commodore Sir Home Riggs Popham, Rear Admiral Charles Stirling, Commodore Josias Rowley, Vice-Admiral Sir Albemarle Bertie, Rear-Admiral Hon. Robert Stopford, Rear-Admiral Charles Tyler, Rear-Admiral George Cockburn, Rear-Admiral Robert Plampin, Rear-Admiral Robert Lambert, Commodore James Lillicrap, Commodore Joseph Nourse, Commodore Robert Moorsom, Commodore Hood Hanway Christian, Commodore William Skipsey, Commodore Charles Schomberg, Rear-Admiral Frederick Warren, Rear-Admiral Patrick Campbell, Rear-Admiral Hon. George Elliot, Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Durnford King, Rear-Admiral Hon. Josceline Percy, Rear-Admiral James Dacres, Rear-Admiral Barrington Reynolds, Note:Incomplete list of commanders from 1853 to 1857 Rear Admiral Sir Frederick Grey Rear Admiral Sir Henry Keppel Rear Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker Commodore Frederick Montresor Commodore Charles Hillyar Commodore Sir William Dowell Commodore Sir John Commerell Commodore Sir William Hewett Commodore Sir Francis Sullivan Commodore Sir Frederick Richards Rear Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon Rear Admiral Sir Walter Hunt-Grubbe Rear Admiral Sir Richard Wells Rear Admiral Sir Henry Nicholson Rear Admiral Sir Frederick Bedford Rear Admiral Sir Harry Rawson Rear Admiral Sir Robert Harris Rear Admiral Sir Arthur Moore Rear Admiral Sir John Durnford Rear Admiral Sir Edmund Poë Rear Admiral Sir George Egerton Rear Admiral Sir Paul Bush (1
British invasions of the River Plate
The British invasions of the River Plate were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of areas in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata that were located around the Río de la Plata in South America — in present-day Argentina and Uruguay. The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of Napoleonic France; the invasions occurred in two phases. A detachment from the British army occupied Buenos Aires for 46 days in 1806 before being expelled. In 1807, a second force stormed and occupied Montevideo, remaining for several months, a third force made a second attempt to take Buenos Aires. After several days of street fighting against the local militia and Spanish colonial army, in which half of the British forces were killed or wounded, the British were forced to withdraw; the social effects of the invasions are among the causes of the May Revolution. The criollos, who had so far been denied important positions, could get political strength through military roles.
The successful resistance with little help from Spain fostered the desire for self-determination. An open cabildo and the Royal Audience of Buenos Aires deposed the viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte and designated instead the French popular hero Santiago de Liniers, a unprecedented action: before that, the viceroy was only subject to the King of Spain himself, no one from the colonies had authority over him. Pedro de Mendoza founded the Ciudad de Nuestra Señora del Buen Ayre on 2 February 1536 as a Spanish settlement; the site was abandoned in 1541, but re-established in 1580 by Juan de Garay with the name Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Ayre, the city became one of the largest in the Americas. A Portuguese colony was founded nearby at Colonia del Sacramento in 1680. To deter Portuguese expansion, the Spanish founded Montevideo in 1726, Colonia was ceded to Spain under the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777, one year after the creation of the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, the forerunner of modern Argentina.
The South Sea Company was granted trading concessions in South America in the time of Queen Anne, under the Treaty of Utrecht. The British had long harboured ambitions in South America, considering the estuary of the Río de la Plata as the most favourable location for a British colony; the Napoleonic Wars played a key role in the Rio de la Plata conflict and since the beginning of the conquest of the Americas, England had been interested in the riches of the region. The Peace of Basel in 1795 ended the war between France. In 1796, by the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain joined France in its war with Britain, thus giving Britain cause for military action against Spanish colonies. In 1805 Britain judged it the right moment after the defeat of the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar; this battle forced Spain to reduce to a minimum its naval communications with its American colonies. Buenos Aires had been neglected by Spain, which sent most of its ships to the more economically important city of Lima.
The last time a significant Spanish military force had arrived in Buenos Aires had been in 1784. There were six Anglo-Spanish Wars from 1702 to 1783, most of which lasted for several years and Britain had long harboured interests in taking control of the region from the Spanish before the invasions. Back in 1711, John Pullen stated that the Río de la Plata was the best place in the world for making a British colony, his proposal included Santa Fe and Asunción, would have generated an agricultural area with Buenos Aires as the main port. Admiral Vernon declared the benefit of opening markets in those areas in 1741. By 1780 the British government approved a project of colonel William Fullarton to take the Americas with attacks from both the Atlantic and the Pacific; this project was cancelled. In 1789 the war between Britain and Spain seemed imminent after the Nootka Crisis; the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda took the opportunity to appear before prime Minister William Pitt with his proposal to emancipate the New World territories under Portuguese and Spanish rule and turn them into a great independent empire governed by a descendant of the Incas.
The plan presented in London requested the assistance of the United Kingdom and the United States to militarily occupy the major South American cities, ensuring that the people would greet the British cordially and would be rushing to organize sovereign governments. In return for this help, Britain would receive the benefits of unrestricted trade and usufruct of the Isthmus of Panama, in order to build a channel for the passage of ships. Pitt began to organize the expedition; the Nootka Convention in 1790 ended hostilities, the Miranda mission was canceled. Nicholas Vansittart made a new proposal in 1796: the plan was to take Buenos Aires move to Chile and attack from there the Spanish stronghold of El Callao in Peru; this proposal was canceled the following year, but was improved by Thomas Maitland in 1800 as the Maitland Plan. The new plan was to seize control of Buenos Aires with 4,000 soldiers and 1,500 cavalry, move to Mendoza, prepare a military expedition to cross the Andes and conquer Chile.
From there, the British would move from sea to seize Peru and Quito. All these proposals were discussed in 1804 by William Pitt, Lord Henry Melville, Francisco de Miranda and Sir Home Riggs Popham. Popham did not believe a complete military occupation of South America was practical but argued for taking control of key locations to allow the main objective, to open new markets for the British economy. Although there was consensus for weakening Spa
HMS Phaeton (1782)
HMS Phaeton was a 38-gun, Minerva-class fifth rate of Britain's Royal Navy. This frigate was most noted for her intrusion into Nagasaki harbour in 1808. John Smallshaw built Phaeton in Liverpool between 1780 and 1782, she participated in numerous engagements during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars during which service she captured many prizes. Francis Beaufort, inventor of the Beaufort Wind-Scale, was a lieutenant on Phaeton when he distinguished himself during a successful cutting out expedition. Phaeton sailed to the Pacific in 1805, returned in 1812, she was sold on 26 March 1828. Phaeton was commissioned in March 1782. Within a year she had been paid off. In December 1792 Phaeton was commissioned under Sir Andrew Snape Douglas. In March 1793 Phaeton captured the 4-gun privateer lugger Aimable Liberté. On 14 April Phaeton sighted the French privateer Général Dumourier, of twenty-two 6-pounder guns and 196 men, her Spanish prize, the St Jago, 140 leagues to the west of Cape Finisterre.
Phaeton was part of Admiral John Gell's squadron and the entire squadron set off in pursuit, but it was Phaeton that made the actual capture. St Jago had been sailing from Lima to Spain. In trying to fend off General Dumourier, St Jago fought for five hours, losing 10 men killed and 37 wounded, before she struck, she suffered extensive damage to her upper works. St Jago's cargo, which had taken two years to collect, was the richest trusted on board a single ship. Early estimates put the value of the cargo as some ₤ £ 1.3 million. The most valuable portion of the cargo was a large number of gold bars that had a thin covering of pewter and that were listed on the manifest as "fine pewter". General Dumourier had taken on board 680 cases, each containing 3000 dollars, plus several packages worth two to three thousand pounds; the ships that conveyed St Jago to Portsmouth were St George, Edgar and Phaeton. The money came over London Bridge in 21 wagons, escorted by a party of light dragoons, lodged in the Tower of London.
On 11 December the High Court of Admiralty decided that the ship should be restored to Spain, less one eighth of the value after expenses for salvage, provided the Spanish released British ships held at Corunna. The agents for the captors appealed and on 4 February 1795 the Lords of the Council put the value of the cargo at £935,000 and awarded it to the captors. At the time, all the crew, captains and admirals could expect to share in the prize. Admiral Hood's share was £50,000. On 28 May Phaeton took the 20-gun Prompte off the Spanish Coast; the Royal Navy took Prompte into service under her existing name. Together with Weasle, Phaeton took two privateers in the Channel in June - Poisson Volante, of ten guns, Général Washington. On 27 November Phaeton and Latona were among the six vessels of a squadron that captured the 28-gun Blonde off Ushant. In February 1794 Phaeton was paid off, but the next month Captain William Bentinck recommissioned her. During the battle of the Glorious First of June, Phaeton came to the aid of the dismasted Defence.
While doing so, Phaeton exchanged broadsides with the French ship-of-the-line Impetueux. Phaeton suffered five wounded, she was the only one of the support vessels there to suffer casualties. In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the survivors to that date of all the vessels at the battle, including Phaeton, the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "1 June 1794". In September, Phaeton came under the command of Captain Stopford. In May 1795 Phaeton escorted Princess Caroline of Brunswick to England. Began what would become a spectacular string of prize-taking. During Stopford's service in the Channel, Phaeton captured some 13 privateers and three vessels of war, recovered numerous vessels that the French had taken. On 10 March 1796, Phaeton engaged and captured the French corvette Bonne Citoyenne off Cape Finisterre, she had a crew of 145 men. She had left Rochefort on 4 March in company with the French frigates Forte, Seine and Régénérée and the brig Mutine, all sailing for the Île de France with troops and military supplies.
Stopford took her back to England as his prize. The Royal Navy bought her in as Bonne Citoyenne, a Sixth Rate sloop of war. While cruising in the Channel, on 6 March 1797, Phaeton took the French privateer Actif, she had a crew of 120 men. She had sailed from Nantes on the 17 of February and ten days had captured the packet ship Princess Elizabeth, her only prize. On 28 May, Phaeton and the hired armed lugger Speedwell detained Frederickstadt. On 16 September Phaeton took the 6-gun Chasseur. Two days she took the privateer Brunette. With Unite she took 16-gun Indien on 24 September off the Roches Bonnes. On 9 October Unite captured Découverte, with Phaeton in company. Phaeton recaptured three British vessels; these were Adamant and Recovery. On 28 December Phaeton took the 12-gun Hazard in the Bay of Biscay; the next day, the 44-gun Anson, Captain Philip Charles Durham, with Phaeton, retook the 20-gun Sphinx-class post ship Daphne, which the French had captured exactly three years earlier. Out of a crew of 276, including 30 passengers of various descriptions, lost five men killed and several wounded before she surrendered.
Anson had no casualties. On New Year's Day, 1798, Phaeton took Aventure. On 19 February she took the 18-gun Légère in the Channel. On 22 March she participated in damaging the 36-gun frigate Charente near the Cordouan lighthouse. Phaeton fired on Charente, chasing her first i
Greenwich Hospital, London
Greenwich Hospital was a permanent home for retired sailors of the Royal Navy, which operated from 1692 to 1869. Its buildings were used by the Royal Naval College and the University of Greenwich, are now known as the Old Royal Naval College; the word "hospital" was used in its original sense of a place providing hospitality for those in need of it, did not refer to medical care, although the buildings included an infirmary which, after Greenwich Hospital closed, operated as Dreadnought Seaman's Hospital until 1986. The foundation which operated the hospital still exists, for the benefit of former Royal Navy personnel and their dependants, it now provides sheltered housing on other sites. The hospital was created as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich on the instructions of Queen Mary II, inspired by the sight of wounded sailors returning from the Battle of La Hogue in 1692, she ordered the King Charles wing of the palace—originally designed by architect John Webb for King Charles II in 1664—to be remodelled as a naval hospital to provide a counterpart for the Chelsea Hospital for soldiers.
Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor gave their services free of charge as architects of the new Royal Hospital. Sir John Vanbrugh succeeded Wren as architect. An early controversy arose when it emerged that the original plans for the hospital would have blocked the riverside view from the Queen's House. Queen Mary II therefore ordered that the buildings be split, providing an avenue leading from the river through the hospital grounds up to the Queen's House and Greenwich Hill beyond; this gave the hospital its distinctive look, with its buildings arranged in a number of quadrants. Its four main buildings are bisected north-south by a Grand Square and processional route, east-west by an internal road from the East Gate to the West Gate by Greenwich Market in Greenwich town centre; the Grand Square and processional route running north-south maintained access to, a river view from, the Queen's House and Greenwich Park beyond. Construction was financed through an endowment, financed through the transfer of ₤19,500 in fines paid by merchants convicted of smuggling in 1695, a public fundraising appeal which brought in ₤9,000, a ₤2,000 annual contribution from Treasury.
Parliament passed etc.. Act 1695, long titled An Act for the Increase and Encouragement of Seamen, which established the basic rules of use and benefits for seamen, amended it the following year by the Greenwich Hospital, etc. Act 1696. In 1705 an additional ₤6,472 was paid into the fund, comprising the liquidated value of estates belonging to the hanged pirate Captain William Kidd; the first of the principal buildings constructed was the King Charles Court, completed in 1705. The first governor, Sir William Gifford, took up office in 1708; the other principal buildings constructed included Queen Mary Court, completed in 1742, Queen Anne Court, King William Court. Queen Mary Court houses the hospital's chapel, its present appearance dates from 1779–89, when it was rebuilt to a design by James "Athenian" Stuart after a devastating fire. King William Court is famous for its baroque Painted Hall, painted by Sir James Thornhill in honour of King William III and Queen Mary II, of Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark and George I.
The Painted Hall was deemed too magnificent for the pensioned seamen's refectory and was never used as such. It became a tourist destination, opened for viewing. On 5 January 1806, Lord Nelson's body lay in state in the Painted Hall of the Greenwich Hospital before being taken up the river Thames to St Paul's Cathedral for a state funeral. In 1824 a National Gallery of Naval Art was created in the Painted Hall, where it remained until 1936, when the collection was transferred to the National Maritime Museum, newly established in the Queen's House and adjacent buildings. On the riverside front of the north-east corner of King Charles Court is an obelisk, designed by Philip Hardwick and unveiled in 1855, erected in memory of the Arctic explorer Joseph René Bellot, who died in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the members of John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to open a Northwest Passage in northern Canada. A Royal Hospital School opened on the site in 1712 to provide assistance and education to the orphans of seafarers in the Royal and Merchant Navies.
In 1933 it moved to Suffolk. The Greenwich Hospital buildings included an infirmary, constructed in the 1760s to a design by James Stuart, where pensioners were attended by trained medical staff. After some adaptation and rebuilding this became the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital in 1870; the treatment for tropical diseases moved in 1919 to the Seamen's Hospital Society hospital near Euston Square, in central London, to form the Hospital for Tropical Diseases. The Dreadnought Seaman's Hospital closed in 1986, with special services for seamen and their families provided by the Dreadnought Unit at St Thomas's Hospital in Lambeth. Greenwich Hospital closed in 1869; the remains of tho