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Edward Vernon


Born in Westminster, England. Son of James Vernon, Secretary of State 1697-1700.

Entered Navy in 1701 as a second lieutenant at age 18. Served with Sir George Rooke at the taking of Gibraltar in July 1704. Elected to Parliament and served 1722 to 1734.

Porto Bello was a Spanish outpost in what is now Panama. Admiral Hosier had attempted to capture Porto Bello without success in 1726 with 20 ships. Vernon declared in 1739 that he could take Porto Bello with six ships. On July 9, 1739, Vernon was appointed Admiral of the Blue. He sailed for the West Indies with nine ships but left three in Jamaica.

The British declared war on Spain October 23, 1739. Vernon attacked Porto Bello (with five ships) November 21, 1739. The town surrendered the following day. The victory brought him great fame in England and throughout the British colonies. Hundreds of "Admiral Vernon" medals were produced to commemorate the event.

In 1740 he attacked Cartagena but withdrew without victory. In 1741 he attacked Santiago de Cuba without victory. Later that year he was elected to Parliament again and held his seat until his death.

Vernon wore a peculiar grogram boat cloak and was nicknamed "Old Grog" by his crew. He introduced the custom of mixing rum with water. This has come to be called "grog" after Vernon.

bio: ApCAB; Drake

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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