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William Blair

In the north transept of Westminster Abbey is a tall monument (25 feet high) of white and coloured marbles, known as The Three Captains memorial, by the sculptor Joseph Nollekens. It commemorates Royal Navy captains William Bayne, William Blair and Lord Robert Manners who were killed in 1782. On a column are relief portraits of all three with their names and ages (50, 41 and 24 respectively). A figure of Fame surmounts the column and below is Neptune on a sea-horse and Britannia with a lion. Naval trophies flank the inscription panel which reads:

Captain William Bayne, Captain William Blair, Captain Lord Robert Manners, were mortally wounded in the course of the naval engagements under the command of Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, on the IXth and XIIth of April MDCCLXXXII. In memory of their services the King and Parliament of Great Britain have caused this monument to be erected.

The monument was not finished until 1793 and cost £4,000.

William was born in 1741, son of Daniel Blair of Edinburgh. He served in merchant ships and became a navy lieutenant in 1760. In the ship Dolphin he took part in the battle of Dogger Bank and in the Anson he sailed to the West Indies where he was killed in action at the battle of Les Saintes.

See separate entries for William Bayne and Lord Robert Manners.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Occupation

Sailor

Location

North Transept

Memorial Type

Statue

Material Type

Marble

William Blair
Three Captains memorial to William Bayne, William Blair and Lord Robert Manners

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.

Gerlinde - Abbey Marshal

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