Herbert Richmond

Herbert Richmond books and biography


Herbert Richmond

Admiral Sir Herbert William Richmond (born 15 September 1871 at Beavor Lodge, Hammersmith, England - died 15 December 1946 in Cambridge, England) was a prominent naval officer, who also served as Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at Cambridge University and Master of Downing College, Cambridge.


Early Life and Naval Career

The grandson of the portrait painter George Richmond and son of another artist, Sir William Blake Richmond the Slade Profesor at Oxford University, Herbert Richmond joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1885. He served on the Australian Station and in the Hydrographic Service before qualifying as a torpedo offcier in 1897. He began to develop a serious interest in nval history while serving in HMS Empress of India in 1897-98, HMS Ramillies in 1899, and HMS Canopus in 1899-1900.

In 1900-1903, Richmond served in the flagship of the Channel Fleet HMS Majestic. Promoted to commander in 1903, he became first officer in HMS Crescent, flagship of the Cape of Good Hope Station. He was assigned to the Admiralty in 1906-08, where he served briefly as naval assistant to Admiral Jackie Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher. Inspired by the work of the naval historian Julian Corbett, Richmond began to research the naval aspects of the War of the Austrian Succession, which he completed in 1914, but which was not published until 1920.

Promoted to captain, Richmond commanded HMS Dreadnought from 1909 to 1911, then, in 1911-12, the Torpedo School training ships HMS Furious and HMS Vindictive. In 1912, he founded the Naval Review (magazine), in order to promote innovative thought within the Royal Navy. Richmond became assistant director of operations on the Naval Staff in 1913-15 and liasion officer to the Italian Fleet in 1915. From those assignments, he went on to command HMS Commonwealth in 1916-18, served as director of staff duties and training in 1918, and commanded HMS Erin in 1919.

Career as a Flag Officer and Academic

Promoted to Rear-Admiral, he became admiral president of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1920. In 1924, he was assigned as commander-in-chief, East Indies Squadron. Promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1925, he was created knight commander of the Order of the Bath in 1926. Returning to London in 1927, he became commandant of the Imperial Defence College. In 1929, he was promoted to Admiral and served as presdient of the International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea. Following his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1931, Cambridge University appointed him Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, an academic chair he held from 1934 to 1936. In 1934, he was also elected master of Downing College, Cambridge, a post he held until his death in 1946. While Master of Downing College, he delivered the Ford Lectures in English History at Oxford University in 1943.


  • James Goldrick and John Hattendorf, eds., Mahan is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond (1993)
  • Barry D. Hunt, Sailor Scholar: Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, 1871-1946 (1982)
  • Arthur J. Marder, Portrait of an Admiral: The Life and Papers of Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond (1952)
  • D. M. Schurman, The Education of a Navy: The Development of British Naval Strategic Thought, 1867-1914 (1965)

Published Writings

  • Papers relating to the loss of Minorca in 1756 Navy Records Society (1913)
  • The navy in the war of 1739-48 (1920)
  • Command and discipline (1927)
  • National policy and naval strength and other essays by H.W. Richmond; with a foreword by Lord Sydenham of Combe (1928, 1934, 1993)
  • The navy in India, 1763-1783 (1931)
  • Economy and naval security : a plea for the examination of the problem of the reduction in the cost of naval armaments on the lines of strategy and policy (1931)
  • Imperial defence and capture at sea in war (1932)
  • Naval history and the citizen / by Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond ... an inaugural lecture delivered before the University on 25 April 1934 (1934)
  • Private papers of George, second earl Spencer, first lord of the Admiralty, 1794-1801 Navy Records Society
  • Sea power in the modern world (1934)
  • Statesmen and sea power The Ford Lectures
  • The Navy as an instrument of policy, 1558-1727 Edited by E.A. Hughes. (1953)

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