Admiral John Benbow

1653? - 1702

Portrait of Admiral BenbowJohn Benbow is believed to have been born sometime in 1653. He was an officer in the Royal Navy who would eventually rise to the rank of Admiral.

It was thought that he was born into a family in the Shropshire town of Newport, though it is also believed that he was born in Coton Hill, Shrewsbury. He was the son of William and Martha Benbow. Astrologer John Partridge records Benbow's birth as being at noon on 10 March 1653, but no evidence exists to support this and the inscription on Benbow's tomb states he was 52 at the time of his death in 1702. This suggests Benbow was born three years earlier than Partridge's account, in 1650.

Amongst Benbow's relations included another John Benbow who had been a clerk to the chancery who had been granted arms in 1584 and also a John Benbow who had been a captain in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War.

Benbow attended the free school in Shrewsbury and became an apprentice to a waterman on the River Severn. After completing his apprenticeship, he went to sea.

He achieved his fame whilst fighting the French during the war of Spanish succession. During this conflict a number of captains under his command refused to support his decisions.

Benbow became a popular figure and his exploits were often celebrated in song.

During an engagement with the French off Santa Marta, Benbow lost one of his legs which caused his death but ensured his place in the list of British naval heroes.