Reverend John Greenly - Battle of Trafalgar 1805

Trafalgar Medal 1805

From the book, Voices from the Battle of Trafalgar (Peter Warwick).


On Monday 21 October 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, with 27 ships of the line, attacked the 33 ships of the combined French and Spanish fleets under the command of Vice Admiral Villeneuve. 


Firing started at midday and by tea-time the most famous sea battle in British history was over. Napolean's fleet had been virtually annihilated with 17 ships captured. 


50,000 men took part; around 15,000 were killed or wounded, mostly on the French side. 


Britain had not lost one ship but had lost their hero and most celebrated naval commander. 


Famous Signal ... England expects ...


Immediately after the battle the Reverand John Greenly in the REVENGE wrote down his recollection of the famous signal in a letter to his father ...


... Lord Nelson's ship, which you may be sure, behaved as he always does. The last signal he made by telegraph (a series of flags hoisted), was 'England expects everything from this day's action, and trusts every man will do his duty'. 


Battle of Trafalgar

 [ Medals ] Naval General Service 1793-1840, one bar, Trafalgar (John Greenly, Chaplain).


Roll confirms John Greenly, Chaplain, H.M.S. Revenge.


Greenly, Reverend John, was the son of William Greenly of Hereford and educated at Christchurch, Oxford. Appointed a Chaplain, R.N., in 1804, he saw service at Trafalgar aboard the Revenge, which ship sustained heavy casualties as a result of several close engagements 28 killed and 51 wounded.


In his book, "The Sea Chaplains", Gordon Taylor confirms that Greenly was the only Chaplain wounded in the battle. Moreover, the same author has only traced three Naval Chaplains who were wounded throughout the entire Great War, E793-181 5 Of these, it would seem that Greenly was the only one who lived to claim his N.G.S Medal.


Taylor makes further reference to Greenly gallantly supplying a pair of shoes to a French lady called Jeanette, presumably before he fell wounded. Said lady had been conveyed to the Revenge by the schooner Pickle, having been picked out of the water near the sinking French 74-gun Achille.


She was infact stark naked but it seems Greenly's fellow officers spared him any embarrassment by quickly rummaging around for some spare clothes. Thus the gallant and blushing?.) Chaplain had but to spring forward with a pair of shoes. The Revenge was commanded by Captain Robert Moorsom and fought in the Lee Column.


In attempting to pass through the enemy's line and secure an advantageous position against the hawser of the French Aigle, she fouled the latter's jib-boom. Thus interlocked, she delivered a couple of broadsides into the French- man's bows. Then, standing on, she was in the act of hauling up on the port tack when a tremendous fire was poured into her lee quarter by the Spanish Principe de Asturias.


Three two- deckers also hemmed her in, and greatly punished her until they were driven off by the approach of other British vessels. Apart from the subsequent loss of life amongst her crew, this gallant ship sustained considerable damage. Her bowsprit, three lower masts, maintop mast and gaff were all severely punished, in addition to taking nine shots "below the copper" and having several chain plates shot away.


She also had a number of her lower deck ports destroyed and three of her guns dismounted ( Mackenzie, "The Trafalgar Roll" refers).


On leaving the Senior Service, John Greenly became Minor Canon at Salisbury Cathedral. At the time of his death on 1 December 1862, he was Curate of St. Thomas and Rector of Sharncote, Wiltshire.

... and finally a famous and inspiring story of unity in the face of the enemy:


If there was one thing more than another required that day, it is that we present a united front to the enemy. There is a great need of aggressive unity.


Just before the battle, Nelson inquired of Admiral Collingwood where his captain was, and learned that he and Captain Rotherham were not on good terms with each other.


Sending a boat for the captain, he placed the hands of Collingwood and Rotherham together, pointed to the enemy's ships, and earnestly looking them both in the face, he uttered the simple words: 'Look, yonder is the enemy.' It was enough; disagreements were forgotten, and victory was gained.


Reverand John Greenly. 

Lord Nelson's Funeral 1805 


Lord Isaac Coffin Greenly, the wife of Lady Elizabeth Greenly of Titley Court, was one of the six pallbearers at the funeral. 

A newspaper account of the funeral which mentions Admiral Isaac Greenly
Nelsons Funeral _ Admiral Sir Isaac Coff[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [1.2 MB]

SALISBURY 1818 Report




THE CLOSE SCHOOL in SALISBURY was founded by Bishop POOKK, for the Education of The Choristers of The Cathedral, and endowed with £35. per annum; for the payment of which there is a Fund appropriated. The Choristers consist of EIGHT ; who are clothed, instructed in Latin, Writing, and Arithmetic, and when Fourteen years of age, there is a Fund to apprentice them. Day-boys, and Boarders, are received in the School; and in the time of the late Master, The Revd Dr. JAMES EVANS, the number was EIGHTY-THREE. The ETON Latin and Greek Grammars are used; And the ETON system of Education is pursued.


The present Head Master is, The Revd. JOHN GREENLY, A. B., who has a spacious House, capable of accommodating Fifty Pupils: his Terms, for Board and Education, being £40. per annum. Salisbury, Monday, March 23, 1812. The Rev.John Greenly, B.A. of Christ Church Oxford, is elected by the Dean and Chapter of Sarum to be one of the Vicars of the Cathedral and Vicar of the Close, in the room of the Rev.Edward Moore, deceased.

The original ships log for HMS Revenge on which John Greenly served during the Battle of Trafalgar. His name is at the bottom of the log.