Napoleonic, Regency and Victorian soldiers of Ryedale.
Compiled byPaul Brunyee Adv Dip Ed, MA.
Adam Hopkirk and the battle of the Nile, 1798.
Adam Hopkirk shares a well preserved flat memorial stone in the old York cemetery with other members of his family. His part of the inscription reads:
- ADAM HOPKIRK
- WHO WAS BY LORD NELSON'S SIDE
- WHEN HE WAS SHOT AT THE BATTLE OF THE NILE
- COLLINS SON OF THE ABOVE . . .
- The inscription about Hopkirk is in almost perfect condition in York Cemetery. The battle of the Nile demonstrated Nelson's dazzling approach to warfare at sea. In 1798 the French fleet were anchored in a single line between the shore and poorly charted sandbanks. Their position appeared impregnable. However Nelson had his fleet manoeuvre close to the French and utterly destroyed it; only two French ships escaped.
- Sadly Adam Hopkirk's inscription does not quite match what we know about the actual battle.
- Hopkirks' memorial inscription was located by Mr David Poole of the York Cemetery Trust. Information about Hopkrk's service was provided by the archivist of The Nelson Society:
- he was at the battle of the Nile in 1798
- he held the rank of landsman with the number 935
This meant that he had few or no skills as a sailor and was confined in his work to those tasks, which did not require any specialised training.
- he was 27 years old in 1798
- he joined the navy on 31/03/1795 and first appears on Culloden's muster list on 4/06/98
- he was born in Sunderland
- unfortunately he was aboard HMS Culloden.
- Culloden had been the lead ship negotiating the narrow channel in which the French had anchored for safety. As she prepared for the final dash down to the enemy she struck run down to the French fleet and remained stuck there until the end of the battle. The rest of Nelson's fleet used Culloden as a marker and carried on down the channel where they engaged the unprepared French. (As Clifford Mansfield remarked on the phone. It's a bit like the number of sailors who carried Nelson down to the cockpit at Trafalgar - he must have had 7,000 men carrying him down those steps!)
- Culloden's captain was Troubridge who was one of Nelson's 'band of brothers'
- Nelson's flagship was HMS Vanguard which typically was in the centre of the fighting - unlike HMS Culloden
A Sailor of the Nelson Period
Photo : with thanks to Ian
of the Historical Maritime Society