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WESTPHAL, Sir GEORGE AUGUSTUS ALEXANDER, admiral in the Royal Navy; b. probably in Preston, N.S. (he was christened in St George’s Church, Halifax) on 27 March 1785, youngest son of George Frederick and Anna Westphal; m. in 1817 to Alicia Chambers, a widow; d. 12 Jan. 1875 at Hove, Brighton, Eng.

George Augustus Alexander Westphal entered the Royal Navy in 1798 on board the frigate Porcupine, then serving on the North American Station. In 1803 he was a midshipman in Amphion which took Horatio Nelson to the Mediterranean as commander-in-chief. Westphal was transferred to Victory and served in her at the battle of Trafalgar where he was severely wounded. When he was taken below to the cockpit, his head was laid on Nelson’s rolled coat; some of the bullions of an epaulette became tangled in his hair and were so fixed with dried blood that they had to be cut out. For the rest of his life Westphal treasured these bullions as a memento of Nelson.

Promoted lieutenant on 15 Aug. 1806, Westphal served for a short time in the West Indies but was captured by a French privateer when returning to England in a merchant ship. Although again severely wounded, he escaped from prison in Guadaloupe, made his way back to England after being picked up at sea by an American schooner, and returned to the West Indies as lieutenant first in the Neptune and then in the Belleisle, under the command of Commodore Sir George Cockburn. He served ashore at the reduction of Martinique, and, after further naval employment in European waters, returned with Cockburn to the Chesapeake where his many gallant services brought him promotion to commander on 8 July 1813. He was advanced to post-rank on 12 Aug. 1819 and in May 1822 commanded Jupiter which took Lord Amherst to India as governor general. Knighted on his return, Westphal served in 1832 as flag-captain to Sir George Cockburn on the North American station but was invalided early in 1834 and saw no further active service.

On the retired list, he was promoted rear-admiral on 17 Aug. 1851, vice-admiral on 10 Sept. 1857, and admiral on 23 March 1863. For the last 40 years of his life he lived at Hove, Brighton. Westphal was the longest surviving officer of those who had served at Trafalgar on the Victory. His brother, Philip (1782–1880), was also a Royal Navy admiral. They served together, though not on the same ship, in the operations in the Chesapeake in 1813.

Peter Kemp

St George’s Church (Halifax), Register of births and children baptized by the Reverend B. M. Houseal (microfilm in PANS). Times (London), 14 Jan. 1875. DNB. John Marshall, Royal naval biography . . . (2v. and supps., London, 1823–30). O’Byrne, Naval biog. dict.

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Cite This Article

Peter Kemp, “WESTPHAL, Sir GEORGE AUGUSTUS ALEXANDER,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 2, 2022, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/westphal_george_augustus_alexander_10E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/westphal_george_augustus_alexander_10E.html
Author of Article:   Peter Kemp
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1972
Year of revision:   1972
Access Date:   December 2, 2022