Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Alexander Milne appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
30 December 1896

Sir Alexander Milne.

We regret to announce the death of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, G.C.B., which took place yesterday morning at Inveresk-house, Musselburgh, after a short illness resulting from a chill which had developed into pneumonia.

The deceased Admiral was a son of Sir David Milne, who commanded the Seine, 48, upon the occasion of her victorious conflict with the Vengeance, 52, on August 21, 1800, and who, after having been engaged in many other gallant actions with the French, died Admiral of the White in 1845. Sir David married, in 1804, as his first wife, Grace, daughter of Sir Alexander Purves. By this lady he had two sons, of whom the younger, Alexander, was born on November 11, 1806, at a time when Sir David was in command of the Forth District of Sea Fencibles. Alexander was from his childhood intended for the Royal Navy, and in 1817 he entered the Royal Naval College. Two years later he embarked in the Leander, 50, his father’s flagship on the North American station. He subsequently served in the Conway, 26, Ramillies, 74, Ganges, 84, Albion, 74, Ganges again, and Cadmus, 10, on the South American, West Indian, Home, and Brazilian Stations; and was promoted to be lieutenant on September 8,1827, and to be commander on November 25, 1830. For six years from the latter date he was unemployed, but at the end of 1836 he was appointed to the Snake, 16, and sent to cruise in the West Indies for the repression of the slave trade. While on this station, he captured, on November 23, 1837, the Portuguese brig Arrogante, with 406, and on December 5, 1837, the Spanish schooner Mathilda, with 259 slaves on board. The Snake, during his command of her, was twice struck by lightning. On January 30, 1838, he was posted as captain to the Crocodile, 26, and in her succeeded in capturing on April 13,1840, the Spanish slaver Mercedita, and then proceeded northward to take charge of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries. In November, 1840, he removed to the Cleopatra, 26, and, returning to the West Indies, took, on January 27, 1841, the Spanish schooner Secundo Rosario, laden with 284 slaves. In March he resumed command of the Crocodile, and proceeded again on fishery protection duty till he came home and paid off in November. From 1842 to 1845 he was flag-captain in the Caledonia, 120, to his father, who was then Port-Admiral at Devonport; in 1846-47 he held a similar appointment in the St. Vincent, 120, to Sir Charles Ogle, Port-Admiral at Portsmouth; and to Sir Charles Napier, who was in command in the Channel. From 1847 to 1859 he was a Junior Lord of the Admiralty. While thus serving, he was on January 20, 1853, promoted to be rear-admiral and made a K.C.B.(civil).

In 1860 Sir Alexander hoisted his flag in the Nile, 98, as Commander-in-chief on the North American Station, and during part of the period in this command he was given temporary rank as a vice-admiral. It will be remembered that it was in 1860, while Sir Alexander was on the station, that the Prince of Wales paid his visit to the United States. In 1863 the Admiral made representations to the Duke of Somerset, then First Lord of the Admiralty, with regard to the restrictions which existed in the matter of British flag officers visiting American ports, and received permission to proceed to New York. This he did in the Nile in company with the Immortalité, Medea, and Nimble. His reception, which he had been warned might be unsatisfactory owing to the strong feeling which had arisen through the Civil War and its attendant circumstances, turned out to be of the most cordial description, and the effect was calculated to dissipate a great deal of friction and misunderstanding. Sir Alexander’s command of the station was extended for one year in recognition of his services, and general commendation of his tactful conduct was expressed in high quarters. Soon after his return to England Sir Alexander was, on April 13, 1865, made a vice-admiral, and in June of the following year he went back for two years and a half to the Admiralty as Senior Naval Lord. In April, 1869, he accepted the appointment of Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, and hoisted his flag in the ironclad Lord Warden, where it flew until September, 1870. In the meantime, on April 1, 1870, he had attained the rank of admiral, and in the following August commanded the combined Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons. From 1872 to 1876 he was again Senior Naval Lord, and in the latter year he was created a baronet, and on June 10, 1881, Admiral of the Fleet.

His service at the Admiralty brought to a close the active part of Sir Alexander’s professional career; but it marked neither the beginning nor the end of his intimate association with work of a more general character. He had been a Royal Commissioner for the Exhibition of 1851 and for the Paris Exhibition of 1867; in 1879 he served as chairman of a committee which was ordered to inquire into the state of the colonial defences; and in 1881 he was a member of the Royal Commission on the Defence of British Possessions and Commerce Abroad. He was also, at different times, a member of various other committees, and was an Elder Brother of the Trinity House, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1887 he was chairman of the committee for the presentation of the jubilee naval gift to her Majesty, and in November, 1888, he personally attended at Windsor to offer to the Queen the silver models of the Britannia of 1820 and the Victoria of 1887. which had been dutifully subscribed for by all ranks of the service. Finally, in 1890-91, he took an active interest in the Royal Naval Exhibition, of the council of which he was a member. Sir Alexander, who was a J.P. for the county of Berwick, was made K.C.B. (civil) in 1858, a K.C.B. (military) in 1864, and a G.C.B. in 1871. He married, in 1850, Euphemia, daughter of the late Mr. Archibald Cochran, of Ashkirk, Roxburgh, but had the misfortune to lose his wife in 1889. His only surviving son, who succeeds to the baronetcy, and who was born in 1855, is a captain in the Royal Navy.

Few officers of his day enjoyed fuller opportunities than Sir Alexander Milne of benefiting the service of which he was a distinguished ornament. Such opportunities he never neglected. He was instrumental, during the 18 years of his various periods of office at the Admiralty, in introducing numerous improvements which still wholesomely affect the officers and men, as well as the material of the Royal Navy; and it will be long before the country and the service forget all the debts of gratitude that are owing to his memory.

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