Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
Per L&M Companion:
(1639-66) of the Somerset Berkeley's; younger brother of Sir Charles Berkley, (1st. Viscount Fitzharding 1663, 1st. Earl of Falmouth 1664 http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/1686/ ) and, like his brother, one of the Duke of York's favorites. Though only in his 20's, a flag-officer in the Second Dutch War & killed in action.
BERKELEY, Sir William,—was the noble, and very gallant descendant, of a most ancient and honourable family, lineally deduced from Robert Fitzharding, a personage of considerable eminence at the time of the conquest. Having betaken himself to the sea, he was appointed lieutenant of the Swiftsure in 1661 : in 1662 he was removed into the Assistance; and a very short time afterwards, during the same year, was promoted to command the Bonadventure. In 1663 he was appointed to the Bristol, and in the ensuing year to the Resolution. All this happening in the time of peace, there was, as yet, no opportunity for his natural gallantry to expand itself, as it afterwards did so much to the credit of the British name, and so heroically to the reputation, though, alas! so fatally to the life of this great and truly brave man. In 1665 he was appointed to command the Swiftsure; and, notwithstanding his youth, he being at that time not more than twenty-six years old, was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red squadron, under the duke of York. On the return of the fleet into port, after the defeat of the Dutch, he was advanced to be vice-admiral of the white under sir William Penn; but no second action took place during the remainder of the year. In 1666, when the fleet was put under the command of prince Rupert and the duke of Albemarle, sir William went to sea as vice-admiral of the blue, and led the van of the fleet with his squadron. The separation of the white, under prince Rupert, from the blue and red squadrons, which remained with the duke of Albemarle, and the bloody and desperate conflict which took place in consequence of that fatal, though perhaps necessary and unavoidable plan of operations, is well known. Towards the conclusion of the first day's action sir William's ship, the Swiftsure, a second rate, being, with two others, cut off from our line, was, after being completely disabled, unfortunately taken. To aggravate the misfortune, as if the national distress would otherwise have been incomplete, and which was, indeed, a greater loss than that of the ship which he commanded : here fell the brave sir William Berkeley. Adorned with every quality necessary to constitute an hero, he lived only to make known his rising virtues to the world, leaving it to mourn their absence, without even knowing their full extent. Every possible respect was paid to his memory by the Dutch, his body being embalmed and deposited in the chapel of the great church at the Hague, by order of the states. A special messenger was sent to England, to king Charles, requesting he would give the necessary orders for the disposal of it; a civility they professed to owe to his corpse, in respect of the quality of his person, the greatness of his command, and the high courage and valour he displayed in that action, in which he, as has been already related, unfortunately fell.---Biographia Navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.
Nothing can be more honourable than the testimony of his valour given by the Dutch themselves. Lediard has the following note extracted from the Life of Van Tromp, which, as it contains a most particular account of the manner of sir William's death, its reinsertion here will, probably, not be thought an improper or impertinent act of plagiarism.
"Highly to be admired was the resolution of vice-admiral Berkeley, who, though cut off from the line, surrounded by his enemies, great numbers of his men killed, his ship disabled and boarded on all sides, yet continued fighting, almost alone, killed several with his own hand, and would accept of no quarter, till, at length being shot in the throat with a musket ball, he retired into the captain's cabbin, where he was found dead, extended at his full length on a table, and almost covered with his own blood."---Biographia Navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.
Sir William Berkeley was son of Sir Charles Berkeley, and brother to Charles, earl of Falmouth. He was vice-admiral of the white squadron, and led the van in the desperate engagement with the Dutch, which began on the first of June, and continued four days. Prompted by his usual courage, he steered into the midst of the enemy's fleer, where he was soon overpowered by numbers. He was found dead in his cabin, covered with blood. Ob. 1 June, 1666.---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.
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