Edward Nixon

RolesNaval Sailor 
First Known Service1656CSORN
Last Known Service17.5.1665CSORN
Date of Death17.5.1665BWAS-1603

Event History

Date fromDate toEventSource
16561657Red Horse (10), Commander and Commanding OfficerBWAS-1603
1660 CaptainCSORN
16601661Phoenix (38), Captain and Commanding OfficerB051
24.10.166120.2.1662/63Mermaid (24), Captain and Commanding OfficerB051
1.5.166417.5.1665Elizabeth (38), Captain and Commanding OfficerB051

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Aaron Shields on Saturday 26th of October 2019 14:09

Nixon strikes me as a victim of bad timing. The date of death in 1665 was due to a death sentence passed by the Lords of the Admiralty and he was put to death by firing squad. He was accused of cowardice in the face of the enemy. However, he had already displayed acts of great courage in the past which was why he was recommended to the Duke of York for a commission as captain. His ship the 42gun frigate Elizabeth had been one of the ships involved with the embarrassing debacle of abandoning Tangier - made doubly as bad with a mistake in navigation that nearly wrecked the whole squadron if not for the quick thinking of Captain Digby. The Elizabeth was no stranger to privateering and two Dutch prizes had been taken earlier in the year. However, on the night in question the weather was freshening and the Elizabeth could not run out her lower guns while being pursued by two Dutch capers (privateers) of about 30 guns each. Her and another frigate whose captain had been wounded in the head fled up into the Thames but were pursued by the Dutch until 4am. The Dutchmen followed the two English frigates into the estuary which was considered a great embarrassment. When brought to answer, Nixon stated that his officers advised fleeing because of the audacity of the enemy and the choppy weather. They believed there to be more Dutch ships behind the noted two and which good reason as Dutch capers were known to attack in packs of six or more. The darkness and stormy weather did not help things nor did the condition of his escort ship's commander. According to Pepys diary 21 flag officers voted and six or seven voted to commute the sentence and acquit Nixon - among these the very experienced and infamous old pirate turned RN admiral Sir Christopher Myngs. From my research of the incident it appears that the more seasoned commanders voted to acquit and the royal genteel appointees to execute. I think they saw him as an embarrassment not just because of this one incident, but also because of his intimate knowledge with the King's "Irish Fleet", and the debacle at Tangiers. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and he paid for it with his life. Just unlucky I think and this nearly buried and exceptional historical RN tribunal and execution I think shows some heavy and unfair justice metted out. Fascinating. V/R Aaron Shields

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