Edward Riou - Encyclopedia

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EDWARD RIOU (1758 ?-1801), British sailor, entered the navy at an early age. In 1780 he was promoted lieutenant, and nine years later he was in command of the "Guardian" when that vessel, crowded with convicts, struck a hidden rock off the African coast. Riou, after parting with as many of his men as the boats would hold, not only successfully navigated his halfsinking ship 400 leagues to the Cape of Good Hope, but kept order amongst the panic-stricken convicts, an achievement which had few parallels in naval annals, and won Lieutenant Riou's immediate promotion. He did not long remain a commander and in 17 9 1 he was posted. Under Sir John Jervis he was present at the operations about Martinique and Guadeloupe in 1794, and in the "Amazon" he accompanied the expedition under Sir Hyde Parker to the Baltic in 1801. His frigate led the way through the Channel at Copenhagen, and in the battle he was attached as commodore of a light squadron to Nelson's division. Through the grounding of three ships of the line, Riou and his frigates found themselves opposed to the full force of the great Trekroner battery. Early in the fight he was wounded, but refused to leave the deck, and, as he was sitting on a gun-carriage and directing his men's fire, he was cut in two by a cannon ball. Nelson, who had not known him before this expedition, had conceived a great affection for Riou, and spoke of his loss as "irreparable." Brenton, the naval historian, declared that he had all the qualities of a perfect officer. Parliament commemorated the memory of the "gallant good Riou" by a memorial in St Paul's Cathedral.

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