HOOD, Samuel, 1st Baron Hood [I] (1724-1816), of Catherington, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 12 Dec. 1724, 1st s. of Rev. Samuel Hood, and bro. of Alexander Hood. m. 25 Aug. 1749, Susanna, da. of Edward Linzee of Portsmouth, 3s. cr. Bt. 20 May 1778; Baron Hood  12 Sept. 1782; Visct. Hood [GB] 1 June 1796.
Entered R.N. 1741; lt. 1746; cdr. 1754; capt. 1756; r.-adm. 1780; v.-adm. 1787; adm. 1794.
Ld. of Admiralty 1788-95.
Hood was created an Irish peer for his services as second-in-command to Rodney in the West Indies. In June 1782, while still at sea, he was nominated without his consent candidate for Westminster, at the by-election following Rodney’s elevation to the peerage; but his son withdrew his name. Letters written by Hood after hearing this illustrate his attitude at this time towards Parliament and the service.1
What a lucky escape have I had in the affair of Westminster! [he wrote to Sir Charles Middleton, 1 Feb. 1783] ... poor as I undoubtedly am, I would sooner have given £500 than have stood a contest ... A seat in the House of Commons, I have no ambition after, and will never offer myself for it anywhere. If ... any corporation in England ... make choice of me as its representative, from perfect free will of the electors, well! If not, I shall be full as well satisfied. I shall ever most carefully and studiously stand clear ... of all suspicion of being a party man; for if once I show myself of that frame of mind ... I must ... expect to lose every degree of consideration in the line of my profession ... the first and greatest object of my wishes ... I ... acknowledge myself totally unfit to fight the battles of a minister in a House of Parliament; and ... I think it an employment derogatory to the true character of a sea officer.
Hood was connected with Pitt through the marriage of his brother to Pitt’s aunt; and in 1784 stood at Westminster as ministerial candidate with Sir Cecil Wray in opposition to Fox. The election was prolonged (‘the most arduous and unpleasant business I ever took in hand’, wrote Hood to the Duke of Rutland, 24 Aug. 17842), and though Hood came out top of the poll the return was delayed for almost a year.
Hood’s first recorded vote, 18 Apr. 1785, was for Pitt’s parliamentary reform proposals. His first speech, 23 May 1785, was against the proposed shop tax—much disliked by his constituents, many of them small shopkeepers. He became Pitt’s spokesman in the Commons for naval affairs, and as such spoke in the debate of 27 Feb. 1786 on Richmond’s fortifications plan.
On 12 Jan. 1786 he wrote to Pitt, applying for the appointment of major-general of marines:3
The situation of my finances (which the King is fully apprized of) stands in great need of assistance, as the being so much in town the last two years and the consequences of my election for Westminster have embarrassed me much, and unless Government does something for me I shall be obliged from dire necessity to retire and take a final leave of London at the close of the next sessions of Parliament.
He did not get the appointment for which he asked, but was given the command at Portsmouth.
His most notable speech was on 2 Mar. 1787, against the impeachment of Warren Hastings.4
Lord Hood called the serious attention of the House to the consequences of proceeding with too scrupulous a nicety to canvass the conduct of those who had filled stations abroad of high difficulty and important trust ... Should the fear of an impeachment by Parliament be hung out to every commander in whose hands was placed the defence of our national possessions, it must necessarily operate as a dangerous restraint to their exertions.
When Hood stood for re-election at Westminster in 1788 after being appointed a lord of the Admiralty he was unexpectedly defeated; and was out of Parliament until a seat was found for him on the Cocks interest at Reigate.
Hood died 27 Jan. 1816.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: John Brooke
- 1. To Maj.-Gen. de Bude (wrongly attributed to Sir W. Fawcett), 16 Jan. 1783, Fortescue, vi. 208-12; to Sir Chas. Middleton, 1 Feb. 1783, Barham Pprs, i. 246-51; to Geo. Jackson, 29 Jan. 1783, Letters by Sir Sam. Hood, 155-61.
- 2. HMC Rutland, iii. 134.
- 3. Chatham mss.
- 4. Stockdale, x. 394-5.
- 5. Mems. iv. 416.
- 6. Life Letters, i. 133.