Forbes, Admiral John

Scope and Content

Manuscript justification written by Admiral John Forbes of his attitude in refusing to sign the warrant for the execution of Admiral Byng on a charge of neglect of duty in the face of the French fleet off Minorca in 1756. Signed 'J.F.' 16 February 1757.

Administrative / Biographical History

Admiral John Forbes (1714-1796) was the second son of George Forbes, 3rd Earl of Granard. He entered the Royal Navy at a young age, and had risen to the rank of Rear Admiral by 1747. in 1749 he was created Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean. As a Lord of the Admiralty, Forbes refused to sign the death warrant of Admiral John Byng in protest at the harshness of the sentence, and as a consequence of this disagreement with his colleagues retired from the Board of Admiralty on 6 April. He was reappointed on 29 June 1757. Created a Vice Admiral in 1755, Forbes became an Admiral of the Blue, 1758, General of Marines, 1763, Admiral of the White, 1770, and Admiral of the Fleet, 1781. He also published a Memoir of the Earls of Granard (1868). He died in 1796. Admiral John Byng (1704-1757) was court-martialed, convicted and sentenced to death in 1757, following an abortive attempt in 1756 to to relieve the British garrison in Port Mahon, Menorca, from French forces. He was executed by firing squad on the deck of HMS Monarch on 14 March 1757.


Single item.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Given by Mrs F. Higham in 1959.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

9" x 7¼"

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Separated Material

Further material relating to Admiral John Forbes may be found at the Centre for Kentish Studies, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


Forbes's 'Justification' was printed as a broadsheet in 1757.