Richard Vesey Hamilton was born on 28 May 1829, the son of a vicar. He was educated at the Royal Naval School in Camberwell and joined the Royal Navy in July 1843. He twice volunteered to take part in missions to search for Franklyn’s ill-fated expedition to the North-West Passage. He saw action in the Second Opium War of 1857 and served both in the East and the West Indies. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1877 serving at the Admiralty, and later as Commander-in-Chief China Station in 1885. As a full admiral he became Second Naval Lord in 1888 and First Naval Lord in 1889. He became President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1891, retiring from the Royal Navy in 1894 being awarded the GCB in 1895.
In retirement he wrote, and died at his home in Chalfont St. Giles on 17 September 1912.
His publications include
John Laughton was born in Liverpool on 23 April 1830, son of a Master Mariner. He was educated at the Royal Institution School, Liverpool and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics and graduated as a wrangler in 1852. He entered the Royal Navy as an instructor, joining his first ship, Royal George, in 1853, serving in the Baltic during the Crimean War. In 1866 he went ashore to teach at the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth, moving with the College to Greenwich in 1873, becoming Head of the Department of Meteorology and Marine Surveying.
In the 1870s he turned more to teaching history, delivering a famous lecture to the R.U.S.I. in 1874 on the importance of actually analysing historical events, rather than merely reporting them chronologically. This new approach meant that he “acted as a catalyst for the entire intellectual development of naval history as an independent discipline” (Andrew Lambert). He was an undoubted influence on naval thinkers of the time: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett and Herbert Richmond. In 1885 he left the Royal Navy to accept the position of Professor of Modern History at King’s College, London, and succeeded in convincing the Admiralty to allow limited public access to their archives. With Admiral Cyprian Bridge he founded the Navy Records Society in 1893. He wrote more than 900 entries on naval personalities for the Dictionary of National Biography. He was knighted for his work in 1907, awarded the Chesney Gold Medal in 1910 and died on 14 September 1915.
His publications include
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