Sir Thomas Foley - Encyclopedia

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SIR THOMAS FOLEY (1757-1833), British admiral, entered the navy in 1770, and, during his time as midshipman, saw a good deal of active service in the West Indies against American privateers. Promoted lieutenant in 1778, he served under Admiral (afterwards Viscount) Keppel and Sir Charles Hardy in the Channel, and with Rodney's squadron was present at the defeat of De Langara, off Cape St Vincent in 1780, and at the relief of Gibraltar. Still under Rodney's command, he went out to the West Indies, and took his part in the operations which culminated in the victory of the 12th of April 1782. In the Revolutionary War he was engaged from the first. As flagcaptain to Admiral John Gell, and afterwards to Sir Hyde Parker, Foley took part in the siege of Toulon in 1793, the action of Golfe Jouan in 1794, and the two fights off Toulon on the 13th of April and the 13th of July 1795. At St Vincent he was flagcaptain to the second in command, and in the following year was sent out in command of the "Goliath" (74), to reinforce Nelson's fleet in the Mediterranean. The part played by the "Goliath" in the battle of the Nile was brilliant. She led the squadron round the French van, and this manoeuvre contributed not a little to the result of the day. Whether this was done by Foley's own initiative, or intended by Nelson, has been a matter of controversy (see Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, 1885, p. 916). His next important service was with Nelson in the Baltic. The "Elephant" carried Nelson's flag at the battle of Copenhagen, and her captain acted as his chief-of-staff. Illhealth obliged Foley to decline Nelson's offer (made when on the point of starting for the battle of Trafalgar) of the post of Captain of the Fleet. From 1808 to 1815 he commanded in the Downs and at the peace was made K.C.B. Sir Thomas Foley rose to be full admiral and G. C. B. He died while commanding in chief at Portsmouth in 1833.

See J. B. Herbert, Life and Services of Sir Thomas Foley (Cardiff, 1884).

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