David Hannay was born in London on 25 December 1853, son of a former naval officer who became a journalist. He was educated at Westminster School, and followed his father and also became a journalist. At one stage he was for some months vice-consul at Barcelona, where his father had been Consul. He was a specialist on the works of Smollett and Captain Marryat. He became a recognised authority on Spanish affairs and South American politics, and was a frequent contributor to The Times. He died in 1934.
He was one of that group of journalists before World War I who helped to form public opinion on sea power and the need for an adequate fleet, so that he rendered national service through his writings, and by the influence he had over young officers in the Royal Navy when lecturing at the Royal Naval College. He was a founder member of the Navy Records Society.
His publications include
• The Letters of Lord Hood (Navy Records Society, 1895).
• A Short History of the Royal Navy, 2 volumes (1898, 1909).
• The Sea Trader: His Friends and Enemies (1912).
• Naval Courts Martial (1914)
• The Great Chartered Companies (1926).
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