Admiral John Commerell
Gosport’s only Victoria Cross Winner.
John Commerell was the second son of John Williams Commerell of Strood Park, Horsham (13 January 1829 – 21 May 1901)
Commerell entered the navy in 1842 He was a Lieutenant in 1848.
In 1854 he was awarded a V.C.
As Admiral Sir John Edmund Commerell, RN, VC he was resident with his family at Alverbank at Stokes Bay for a number of years in the 1860s and 1870s probably until his move to Southampton 1869.
Gosport Historian Philip Ely has confirmed that:
January 1863 the trustees leased to Captain John Edmund Commerell VC of Alverbank for 21 years from 1 November 1862 at £150 per annum rent with covenants to keep in repair etc
August 1869 lease surrendered. (May 1868 Jessie Sophia Commerell aged 2 years, daughter of Capt John Edmund Commerell RN & Matilda Maria Commerell of Alverbank, was buried at Anns Hill Cemetery)
Commerell stood as a parliamentary candidate for Southampton in 1880 but came last in votes. He stood again in 1885 and was successful, coming second. He was a supporter of the Volunteer movement, in particular the Hants Volunteer Artillery and Hants Volunteer Engineers.
His Naval Career
He was a Commander in 1855, a Captain in 1859.
October 1859 Captain Commerell was appointed to command the Magicienne of the China Squadron
On October 12, 1865 he commanded the The Scorpian Turret Ship
He served on the Alverstoke Board of Guardians. He Resigned in May 1866 on his appointment to H.M.S. Terrible, Paddle frigate. He was involved in the 1866 Atlantic Telegraph Cable expedition.
On August 18 1866 Commerell was reported as being able to “lay claim to being the first captain of her Majesty’s navy who enjoyed the luxury of getting news form Europe twice a day on the Atlantic Ocean.”
On Saturday, April 6, 1867 Commerell was described as being “one of the most popular officers of her Majesty’s service”
In 1869 he was serving on Monarch an iron armour-plated turret ship of the Channel Squadron
In 1869/1870 the body of the American philanthropist and great benefactor of the industrious poor, Mr Peabody was transported from Portsmouth to American on board Monarch. On the death of Mr. Peabody who had contributed half a million sterling to the relief of the poor of London, it was decided by the British Government, at the suggestion of H.M. the Queen, to send the body of England’s dead benefactor across the Atlantic in a man-of-war, in order to let it be seen how greatly his generosity was appreciated by the nation.
In October 1870 Commerell was appointed Commodore to command Cape of Good Hope station.
In 1873 a false report was issued that he had died from the effect of wound he had received at the passage of the Prah during the in the Ashantee War.
On April 1st 1874 He was given Knight Commander of the Bath following the Ashantee Expedition. He was appointed Captain Sir John Commerell.
He became a Rear Admiral 1877 and a Vice Admiral in 1881.
In June 1879-80 he was appointed a Naval Lord of the Admiralty under the new Tory Ministry.
Rear-Admiral Commerell was at Constantinople in 1877-78
Second in command of the British Fleet at Besika Bay on H.M.S. Agincourt
He was a naval A.D.C. to Queen Victoria from 1872 to 1877.
Commander in Chief North American and West Indian Station 1882-1885.
In June 1888 he became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. He retired in 1891. He died in 1901 at the age of 72