Dorset is a county with strong seafaring connections. Over the ages it has produced more than its share of sea going families. In the Parish church of St. Mary at Netherbury there is a plaque in memory of one such family on which is inscribed
“to the glory of God and in memory of three gallant Dorset sailors, sons of Samuel Hood, Purser, R.N., of Kingsland, Netherbury, and Ann his wife. Lieutenant Arthur Hood R. N. (1755 – 1775) drowned while serving in the West Indies on board HMS Pomona. Captain Alexander Hood R.N. (1758-1798) killed in the hour of victory while commanding HMS Mars in her famous duel with the French ship ‘Hercule’. And Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, Bart., KB., KSI., sometime M.P. for Bridport, who served his country with great distinction under Lord Nelson at Santa Cruz in 1797, and in command of HMS Zealous at the Battle of the Nile as well as at Rochefort 1806 where he lost his right arm. Born at Kingsland 27 Nov 1762. Died at Madras while Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, 24 Dec 1814.”
Samuel and Alexander are often mistaken for their equally famous cousins and contemporaries, Sir Samuel Hood, (1st Viscount Whitby) and his brother Alexander, (1st Viscount Bridport) who were the sons of the Rev Samuel Hood. A mistake further compounded by the fact that the Rev Samuel was headermaster of Tuckers School in Beaminster from 1715 to 1724, at that time part of the parish of Netherbury. His two illustrous sons however were born later whilst he was vicar of Butleigh in Somerset and not as is often reported at Thornicombe, were the Rev. Samuel obtained the living in 1761. The Rev Samuel Hood had a nephew (by his elder brother, Alexander), also named Samuel, born 1715 at Kingsland, Netherbury. This Samuel was a purser in the navy, and had three sea-faring sons (among other children), and it is they who are remembered by the inscription in Netherbury church:
Due to his untimely death at the age of 20, Arthur was denied the fame of his two younger brothers. Alexander was born 23 Apr 1758 and baptized on 27 April 1758 at Mosterton, (were ironically the village inn is now named after his cousin Samuel, Admiral Viscount Hood). Samuel was born on 27 Nov 1762 and baptized on 25 May 1763 at Netherbury.
As described in the inscription in Netherbury church, Samuel Hood was present at The Battle of the Nile on the 1st of August 1798, where under Vice Admiral. Sir Horatio Nelson he commanded HMS Zealous, a 590 man, 74 gun ship of the line. His actions that day earning him a mention in Nelsons despatches to the admiralty.
‘The Ships of the Enemy, all but their two rear Ships, are nearly dismasted: and those two, with two Frigates, I am sorry to say, made their escape; nor was it, I assure you, in my power to prevent them. Captain Hood most handsomely endeavoured to do it, but I had no Ship in a condition to support the Zealous, and I was obliged to call her in.’
Vanguard, off the Mouth of the Nile, 3 August 1798
published London Gazette Extraordinary. 2 October 1798.
Samuel Hood was mentioned in despatches again in 1807 in a letter from Admiral Gambier to the Hon. William Wellesley Pole, dated on board his Majesty’s Ship the Prince of Wales, off Copenhagen, the 20th October, 1807 and published in a Supplement to the London Gazette on October 31.concerning the capture of Copenhagen. By which time he had been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and been conferred a knighthood.
Having so far accomplished the service on which I have been employed, I feel it my duty to state the great activity, energy, and zeal which have been shewn by Vice-Admiral Stanhope and Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, in superintending the equipment of the Danish ships and the embarkation of the stores from the arsenal; nor has the same spirit been less manifest in the captains, officers, seamen, and mariners, who have all executed their respective parts in the general exertion with a promptitude and alacrity, which has not only entitled them to my warmest thanks and praise, but will, I doubt not, when the aggregate result of their labour is considered, obtain for them the approbation of their sovereign, and the applause of the nation.