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
• The Constitution, Character and Functions of the Board of Admiralty, and of the Civil Departments it Directs (G Bell, 1896).
• Journals and Letters of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin, 1733 – 1854 3 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1898, 1900, 1903).
• The Recollections of James Anthony Gardner, Commander R.N. 1775 – 1814 (Navy Records Society, 1906).
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