Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Admiral Philip Westphal 1782 – 1880

Battle of Copenhagen by Neumann
Battle of Copenhagen by Neumann

The oldest commissioned officer in her Majesty’s navy, Admiral Philip Westphal died at Ryde on Tuesday 16 March 1880 aged 98 years.

Philip Westphal was born in 1782 and was the eldest son of George Westphal, a gentleman of noble Hanoverian descent. His younger brother was Sir George Augustus Westphal.

Philip entered the navy at a young age in 1794, under the patronage of the Duke of Kent, on board the L’Oiseau. After serving for about 12 months on that frigate on the coast of North America and the West Indies, he served in the Albatross and then the Shannon, on the home station. From 1797 to 1800 he served in the ‘Asia’, again on the coast of North America and in 1801 he became master’s mate in the Blanche, one of the frigates with Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April. Three days after that event Westphal was promoted to lieutenant and transferred to the Defiance, flagship of Sir Thomas Graves.

His next appointment was in May 1802 to the Amazon, in which vessel he saw some active service in the Mediterranean and shortly afterwards accompanied Lord Nelson to the West Indies and back, in search of the combined fleets of France and Spain.

In 1806 Lieutenant Westphal took part in a long running fight which ended in the capture of two of the enemy’s vessels. One was the French frigate Belle Poule which struck the Amazon. The first lieutenant of the Amazon was killed in the action, and Westphal was given an acting order as captain of the Belle Poule, which he refitted and took to England. The admiralty, however, refused to confirm the acting order, and Westphal continued lieutenant of the Amazon until she was paid off in 1812.

He was then appointed to the Junon, a 38-gun frigate, in which he saw much sharp service on the coast of North America. In January 1815 he was moved by Sir George Cockburn into his flagship, and on 13 June was at last promoted to commander. In November 1828 he was appointed to the Warspite, and shortly after was moved to the Kent, from which on 22 July 1830, he was advanced to post rank.

In 1847 he was retired on a Greenwich Hospital pension, rising in due course, on the retired list, to be rear-admiral on 27 Sept, 1855, vice-admiral on 4 Oct, 1862, and admiral on 2 April 1866. He died at Ryde on 16 March 1880.

Admiral Philip Westphal grave